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CD Reviews:
Listening Room: Grizzly Bear, Marilyn Manson and more...

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Tuesday, May 26, 2009

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Grizzly Bear, “Veckatimest” (Warp Records) ***

A band name like Grizzly Bear conjures up something hard and stomping and maybe Southern — or at least a wideopen Western energy. Instead this a Brooklyn quartet that’s as arty as they come, a lush and intimate kind of 21st century Beach Boys built on rich four-part harmonies and chamberish instrumentation built from guitar chime and producer/band member Chris Taylor’s carefully deployed woodwinds. It’s an easy, ethereal listen — a bit odd in its restraint but a sonic journey that has a particularly strong headphone appeal. Grizzly Bear’s four voices charge out of a jazz-flavored forest on the opening track, “Southern Point,” whose aural details swell and recede in a symphonic kind of fashion. “Two Weeks” (with Beach House’s Victoria LeGrand on backing vocals), “While You Wait For Others” and “Cheerleader” offer more uptempo fair, the latter with a martial rhythm and a trippy, psychedelic ambience that’s echoed in several other songs. “Fine For Nte slice of neo folk, while the pensive “Hold Still” is highlighted by Daniel Rossen’s avant guitar attack and “Live With You” builds from its woodland-flavored beginning into a biting, if vague, rumination on external forces keeping a couple apart. “Veckatimest” is a broader soundscape than the group fashioned on 2006’s well-received “Yellow House,” and in a just world it will bring mainstream ears to the adventurous, but entirely accessible, indie group.


Marilyn Manson, “The High End of Low” (Interscope) **1/2

It’s easy to say that 13 years after “Antichrist Superstar,” Marilyn Manson’s shock rock value has slipped from hard R to PG-13 — and perhaps barely that. The 15 tracks on his seventh studio album find him continuing to rant about politics, religion and relationship problems, but this time out it’s the music that merits more attention. With original cohort Twiggy Ramirez back in the band, Manson sounds revitalized, which leads to his most diverse and dynamically broad set yet. “Pretty aka” offers punk of the Stooges variety, while “I Want to Kill You Like They Do in the Movies” is a sweeping nine-minute epic and “Running to the Edge of the World” and “Into the Fire” are bona fide power ballads. “... Low” does run a bit long, and some of the clear references to Manson past — particularly “Arma...geddon” — undermine its ambitions, but this at least reminds us that there’s some musical meat behind the gratuitous controversy that’s his stock in trade.

New & Noteworthy:

• Herb Alpert and Lani Hall, “Anything Goes” (Concord Jazz): The couple’s collection of jazz standards represents their first joint musical project as well as Alpert’s first new album in a decade.

• Dave Alvin, “Dave Alvin & the Guilty Women” (Yep Roc): The Blasters guitarist delivers the debut recording by the all-female counterpart to his Guilty Men ensemble.

• Charm City Devils, “Let’s Rock-N-Roll” (Eleven Seven): The debut outing from the Maryland hard rockers who will spend the summer on this year’s CrueFest 2 tour.

• Nigel Dupree Band, “Attraction” (Mighty Loud!):

The debut outing from the Georgia band fronted by the son of Jackyl singer Jesse James Dupree.

• Hiding in Public, “Worlds Away, Yards Apart” (self-released): The third album by the British consortium that features Queen + Paul Rodgers’ second guitarist Jamie Moses.

• LMFAO, “Party Rock” (Geffen): A son and grandson of Motown founder Berry Gordy, Jr. comprise this funky bunch, which moves from successful remixes (Kanye West, Fergie, Katy Perry) to their own music.

• Julian “JuJu” Marley, “Awake” (Ghetto Youths/ Universal): The third album by this son of Bob (Marley) includes guest appearances by his siblings Stephen and Damian “Jr. Gong,” as well as rapper Mr. Cheeks.

• Ministry, “Adios Puta Madres” (Thirteenth Planet):

Al Jourgenson and company say farewell with this CD/DVD chronicle of the industrial rocker outfit’s final tour.

• Mandy Moore, “Amanda Leigh” (Storefront): Continuing her quest to be viewed as more than just the “Candy” girl, Moore co-wrote songs with Lori McKenna and Inara George for her latest album.

• Original Cast Recording, “Eddie Money’s Two Tickets

to Paradise: The Musical” (self-released): The Money man’s hits sung by Jesse Kinch, the musical’s star, plus eight new songs Money wrote especially for the piece.

• The Paper Chase, “Someday This Could All Be Yours (Part 1)” (Kill Rock Stars): The first of two planned ruminations on life, death, mortality and other weighty subjects from this Dallas quartet.

• Passion Pit, “Manners” (Frenchkiss): The full-length debut from the electronic indie rock quintet from Cambridge, Mass., led by singer-keyboardist and chief songwriter Michael Angelakos.

• Naomi Shelton and the Gospel Queens, “What Have

You Done, My Brother?” (Daptone): This church-flavored soul set from the New York R&B diva includes her version of Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come.”

• Luciano Souza, “Tide” (Verve): The Brazilian jazz singer’s latest work includes songs based on the poetry of e.e. cummings as well as a new guitar piece, “Amulet,” by Paul Simon.

• Stratovarius, “Polaris” (Armoury): New guitarist Matias Kupiainen joins the symphonic metal group for an album recorded during the fall of 2008 in Finland.

• Tiga, “Ciao!” (Last Gang): The Montreal electronic/dance artist gets help on his latest album from Scissor Sisters’ Jake Shears, who sings backup on three tracks.

• Various Artists, “Man of Somebody’s Dreams:

A Tribute to the Songs of Chris Gaffney” (Yep Roc): Dave Alvin curated this salute that includes versions of his late Guilty Men bandmate Gaffney’s songs by Los Lobos, Alejandro Escovedo, James McMurtry, Calexico and others.

• War Tapes, “The Continental Divide” (Sarathan): The heavy rock quartet from Los Angeles reprises four songs from the EP that generated a buzz around the group last fall.

• James Yuill, “Down Water For Air” (Nettwerk):

The debut album from this London singer-songwriter has stirred interest in England with its blend of folky conventions and contemporary electronic rhythms.

• Zap Mama, “ReCreation” (Heads Up):

Bilal, G. Love and actor Vincent Cassel are among the guests on this multi-cultural, Afrocentric collective’s latest effort.

From the Vaults: The Del-Lords, “Frontier Days,” “Johnny Comes Marching Home” and “Based on a True Story” (Collector’s Choice); Gary Lewis & the Playboys, “The Complete Liberty Singles” (Collector’s Choice); Tito Puente, “Dance Mania: Legacy Edition” (RCA/ U.S. Latin/Legacy); Johnny Winter, “The Johnny Winter Anthology” (Shout! Factory)

New Music DVDs: Diana Krall, “Live in Rio” (Eagle DVD and Blu-Ray); Moody Blues, “Live at the Isle of Wight” (Eagle DVD and Blu-Ray)

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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