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CD Reviews:
Listening Room: Was (Not Was), P.O.D. and more...

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Sunday, April 6, 2008

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Was (Not Was), “Boo!” (Rykodisc) ***

During the 18 years since its last album (“Are You Okay”), the Detroit-formed collective Was (Not Was) has broken up and principles Don Was (ne Fagenson) and David Was (Weiss) have sculpted out the kind of careers that can easily sustain them without re-forming a band. The good news about that, though, is that it’s genuine desire that brought the band back to active duty, and “Boo!” grooves as much authoritative force as, and maybe even more cohesion than, any of its four predecessors. Fronted by the triumvirate of singers Sweet Pea Atkinson, Sir Harry Bowens and Donald Ray Mitchell and featuring longterm members Randy Jacobs on guitar, David McMurray on saxophone and Luis Resto on keyboards, Was (Not Was) comes out swinging on “Boo!” with “Semi-Interesting Week,” all deep grooves and stabbing horn-and-guitar lines supporting Atkinson’s whiskey-throated growl. “Forget Everything,” “Mr. Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” and “Your Luck Won’t Last” mine a similar vein, the latter with the slight tech touch normally associated with Minneapolis funk, while “It’s a Miracle” and “Crazy Water” dip into more vintage soul flavors that hew closer to classic Motown. And for “From the Head to the Heart,” Weiss — whose irreverent wit gets a workout throughout “Boo!” — draws lyrics from a true-life crime story in Pontiac. Unlike other Was (Not Was) outings, meanwhile, “Boo!” is not littered with guests; the only one here is Kris Kristofferson, who gives a spoken-word exposition on the album-closing “Green Pills in the Dresser.” And when he intones that “God, I hate leaving this place,” truer words have seldom been uttered.


P.O.D., “When Angels & Serpents Dance” (INO/Columbia) **1/2

P.O.D. has been in an odd kind of holding pattern since original guitarist Marcos Curiel left in 2003, sounding a little off the mark it set with early decade hits such as “Boom!” and “Alive.” After a two-album absence Curiel returns to the fold and helps the San Diego headbangers deliver their most mature and ambitious outing to date, feeding the mosh pit on tracks such as “Addicted,” “End of the World,” “Condescending” and “God Forbid,” the latter with Helmet’s Paige Hamilton. But P.O.D. charts an even broader course with the roots reggae-flavored “I’ll Be Ready” (with the Marley Sisters), the slinky funk of “Kaliforn-Eye-A” (with Suicidal Tendencies’ Mike Muir), the Spanish guitardriven instrumental “Roman Empire,” the bluesier touch of “Rain Everyday” and mellower fare such as “This Ain’t No Ordinary Love Song” and “Tell Me Why.” It’s a fresh start to P.O.D. rather than merely returning to the good old days.


Ashes dIVIDE, “Keep Telling Myself It’s Alright” (Island): The debut album by the latest project from A Perfect Circle co-founder Billy Howerdel.

Eric Avery, “Help Wanted” (Dangerbird): The former Jane’s Addiction bassist’s solo debut features help from Garbage’s Shirley Manson, Foo Fighters’ Taylor Hawkins and the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea.

Marcia Ball, “Peace, Love & BBQ” (Alligator): Dr. John, Terrance Simien and Wayne Toups are among the guests on the Austin, Texas, songstress’ latest release.

The Breeders, “Mountain Battles” (4AD): Former Pixie Kim Deal’s “other” band releases its first album since 2002.

Michael Burks, “Iron Man” (Alligator): The Milwaukee-born blues guitarist and singer wrote or co-wrote seven of the songs on his first new album in five years.

Hayes Carll, “Trouble in Mind” (Lost Highway):

Texas singer-songwriter Carll includes a version of Tom Waits’ “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up” on his third album.

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, “Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!” (Anti-): Cave and company’s 14th studio album comes four years after the celebrated “Abattoir Blues/TheLyre of Orpheus.”

Clinic, “Do It!” (Domino):

The fifth studio album from the contemporary-leaning British rock quartet.

Tina Dico, “Count To Ten” (Defend Music): The fourth studio album from the Danish-born, British-based singer-songwriter and member of Zero 7.

Marie Digby, “Unfold” (Hollywood): The Los Angeles singer’s debut features her stripped-down version of the Rihanna smash “Umbrella.”

Fixer, “Before the Sun” (Riker Hill): The quartet of New York college friends debuts with a blend of Guns N’ Roses, Stone Temple Pilots and Green Day brands of rock.

The Heavy, “Great Vengeance and Furious Fire” (+1 Records): The U.S. rollout by the British rock-funk hybrid that’s made a name for itself at several recent Playboy Rock the Rabbit shows.

Leona Lewis, “Leona Lewis” (Syco Music/J): The debut album from the British singer who’s already taken “Bleeding Love” to the top of the Hot 100 chart.

Longview, “Deep in the Mountains” (Rounder): The bluegrass all-star band resurfaces with its first album in six years.

Man Man, “Rabbit Habits” (Anti-): The war-painted experimental rockers from Philadelphia find a new label home for their third album.

Rosey, “Luckiest Girl” (Quango): A solo album from the singer whose “Love” was a highlight of the “Bridget Jones’ Diary” soundtrack.

Tapes ‘N Tapes, “Walk It Off ” (XL): The Minneapolis group worked with a “real” producer (Dave Fridmann) and in a “real studio” for its second full-length outing.

Various Artists, “Punk Goes Crunk” (Fearless): A set of rap songs delivered by punk and emo bands such as Say Anything, New Found Glory, Scary Kids Scaring Kids and more.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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