Sunday, May 28, 2006

Fun-Sized Reviews

109. Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere (2006)

I can't believe that it has taken me this long to reveal my ultimate criteria for a good song: It should sound awesome playing over the loudspeakers in a store. This collaboration between Danger Mouse (he's the D.J.) and Cee-Lo (he's the soul singer) contains a goodly number of songs that fulfill that criteria. Both the songs and the CD make their point quickly, while managing to be both innovative and accessible.

Grade: B+
Fave Song: Storm Coming

110. Glen Phillips - Mr. Lemons (2006)

Ack! The artist behind my favorite album of 2005 returns, but all is not well. He's left the big-name collaborators behind, along with his electric guitar and the hooks. The songs are mostly quiet, and have a tendency to meander. A disappointment, but at least the title is accurate.

Grade: C-
Fave Song: Everything But You

111. Paul Simon - Surprise (2006)

Paul Simon has never made a bad album, and it doesn't seem he's about to start. On Surpise, he plays around with both traditional song and lyrical structure, but still manages to sound like himself. As the blue water/baby face cover indicates, the songs are concerned mostly with parenthood (7 of the 11 songs contain a word such as father, mother, children, baby, etc.), but nature imagery abounds (every song mentions some form of water). It's a few steps above his last couple of efforts.

Grade: B
Fave Song: Everything About It Is A Love Song

112. Rock Kills Kid - Are You Nervous? (2006)

Who ever thought Duran Duran would become so influential? The latest stylish pop synth band is Rock Kills Kid. They've got chops and songs and an ace producer (Jimmy Eat World maestro Mark Trombino) . Songs like Hide Away, Midnight and Hope Song provide thrills, but downer lyrics such as the ones on Life's A Bitch and Run Like Hell dampen the mood. The band should take some advice from Duran Duran themselves: "it doesn't have to be serious."

Grade: B-
Fave Song: Midnight

113. Dixie Chicks - Taking The Long Way (2006)

Rick Rubin and a host of famous helpers (John Mayer, Bonnie Raitt, Neil Finn, Sheryl Crow, Gary Louris, and Dan Wilson) are along, but the disc is all Chicks. The tempos are snappy (for the most part) and the lyrics sassy. The girls address their new Nashville outcast status at length, but not too much. There are love songs too! Though lots has been made of their move toward a poppier sound, the album seems most akin to their first effort, Wide Open Spaces. Both that record and this one are full of highlights and harmonies.

Grade: A
Fave Song: So Hard

1 comment:

wcdixon said...

I dig these music blog sites...

Want to get the Paul Simon and the Gnarl's Barkley, and really enjoying the new Dixie Chicks.

Pulled out Matthew Sweet's 'Girlfriend' yesterday - man, that was a great cd...might end up on my top ten if I made such a list.

Going to browse a while...