Below, a couple new CD reviews…
Race for Titles, The Closer (Redemption) – My biggest gripe with RFT always has been that their vocals seemed like an afterthought. Sure, Jamie Massey’s ghost-howl is suitably atmospheric, but it feels casually laid atop RFT’s dreamy, Cure-ish riffage. Songs like “Under/Above” and “Dimmer,” for example, may have been better served as instrumentals when you realize that you’re not paying much attention to what Jamie is singing as much as imagining his voice as an extended guitar solo, again, added after the fact. What you’re missing by not CONCENTRATING are lines like “Something makes me want to pick you up / Take you away from here” (Lighter on the Inside) and, from the title track, “Build me from the ground up / To tear it all back down / These walls don’t have the secrets to keep / From us anymore.” Instead of words, I was mesmerized by the tense, intricate, duo-guitar interplay and the throaty, tribal rhythms that set this album apart from past RFT efforts. Maybe some things are better left unsaid, or unsung. Rating: Yes. The Reader rating: Three stars.
Guns N’ Roses, Chinese Democracy (Geffen) – Fourteen years. Was it worth the wait? For die-hard fans, yes; for the rest of us… well, let’s go down the list of pluses and minuses. Axl’s voice sounds surprisingly good, but maybe that’s because these vocals were recorded during the Clinton administration. The riffage (at times) is stone-head heavy metal at its finest — blunt, uncaring, brutal. And the songs? All the best ones — “Shacker’s Revenge,” “Better,” the title track — come from the first half (or “side one) and have that classic G n’ R swagger. This comes out of the box smoking. But things dampen when Axl channels his inner-Elton John. The syrupy “This I Love” is Axl’s “Lick My Love Pump” right down to the cheesy piano chords. But unlike Spinal Tap, it’s not played for laughs. Had he thrown out most of the meandering ballads, this would have stood up right next to Appetite. And had he released it 12 years ago it might not have been considered merely a retro oddity or a tribute to procrastination by rock’s Rip Van Winkle, who woke up to find that music had passed him by. Rating: Yes. The Reader rating: Three stars.
The Grammy nominations came out yesterday. The list is here. When did the Grammy’s turn into the AMA’s and People’s Choice Awards? Looks like the “new Bob Dylan” got passed over again. Well, he’s not in it for the awards anyway, right?
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