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CD Reviews:
The Listening Room: Disturbed, Goo Goo Dolls and more...

of the Oakland Press

Posted: Sunday, August 29, 2010

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A decade after its multi-platinum debut, “The Sickness,” we pretty much know what to expect from Chicago headbangers Disturbed — the sledgehammer rhythms, the heavy guitar riffs, the emotional angst, a few politically provocative lyrics and a better brand of vocal pyrotechnics from frontman and ordained cantor David Draiman. Given that the group is on a run of three consecutive chart-topping debuts, it’s clearly an equation that works and requires only incremental changes from album to album in order to please both the masses and the band’s own creative ambitions. And so it is that the differences on “Asylum” are indeed subtle, and mostly coming from guitarist Dan Donegan, who’s also producing for the second time. There are new tonalities in his six-string range, best heard in the bluesy flavor of the album-opening instrumental “Remnants,” the layered assault of “The Infection” and the treacly guitar solo on “The Animal.” Draiman, meanwhile, is at his force-of-nature best, confronting larger issues such as the Holocaust (“Never Again”), global warming (“Another Way to Die”) and general accountability (“Innocence”) but mostly fueled by a broken relationship that’s yielded heart-wrenching odes like the title track, “Sacrifice” and “Serpentine,” in which he declares that “I’ve never known before such exquisite suffering.” The dynamically shifting “My Child,” meanwhile, starts with a baby crying and a heartbeat before Draiman begins singing about a girlfriend’s miscarriage. Heavy stuff, yes, but, from Disturbed, we would not want it any other way.


Goo Goo Dolls, “Something For the Rest of Us” (Warner Bros.) **1/2

By design or not, the Goos’ ninth studio album bridges the divide between those lamenting the group’s move away from its punk-styled path and those who have fully embraced its multi-platinum parade of melodic ballads and pop hits. “Something For the Rest of Us” is hardly “Jed” or “Superstar Car Wash,” but the Goos’ first new album in four years has a guitar-driven punch and muscular attack we haven’t heard for awhile, particularly on tracks such as “Sweetest Lie,” “One Night,” “Still Your Song” and the pair sung by bassist Robby Takac, “Now I Hear” and “Say You’re Free.” “Nightmares and Dreams” and “Soldiers” are lush epics that also benefit from the same kind of sonic heft, while “As I Am” takes the group in a more ambient direction. There’s definitely a little “Something” for everybody here, without sounding like too much of a hodgepodge.

New & Noteworthy

American Bang, “American Bang” (Reprise): The Nashville rockers take us through the “Whiskey Walk” and other musical excursions on their debut album.

Bobby Bare Jr. “A Storm — A Tree — My Mother’s Head” (Thirty Tigers): The singer-songwriter’s first album in nearly four years was recorded over two days at a log cabin near Nashville.

Ryan Bingham, “Junky Star” (Lost Highway): “The Weary Kind,” which he wrote for “Crazy Heart,” won a Golden Globe and an Oscar — not a shabby set-up for the country singer’s third album, eh?

Chocolate Genius Inc., “Swansongs” (One Little Indian): The soulful New York singer-songwriter delivers his fourth album and first since his stint touring with Bruce Springsteen’s Seeger Sessions Band.

DJ Muggs and Ill Bill, “Kill Devil Hills” (Uncle Howie/Fat Beats): The formidable hip-hop duo joins forces for a joint project, with help from Cypress Hill’s B-Real, Everlast, Raekwon and others.

Micky Dolenz, “King For a Day” (RED): The Monkee pays tribute to Carole King, who wrote the group’s hit “Pleasant Valley Sunday.”

Bill Frisell, “Beautiful Dreamers” (Savoy Jazz): Grammy Award-winner Frisell brings his latest trio to disc after two years of playing together live.

Heart, “Red Velvet Car” (Legacy): The Wilson sisters recruited Ben Mink (k.d. lang, Barenaked Ladies) to produce their first new studio album in six years.

Lyfe Jennings, “I Still Believe” (Asylum): The R&B singer’s delayed fifth album features guest appearances by Ludacris, Anthony Hamilton, Jazmine Sullivan and more.

Jenny and Johnny, “I`m Having Fun Now” (Warner Bros.): Rilo Kiley’s Jenny Lewis teams up with boyfriend Johnathan Rice for their first joint recording project.

Alain Johannes, “Spark” (Dangerbird/Rekords): The first solo album by the Eleven member who’s now part of Queens of the Stone Age and Them Crooked Vultures.

Sammy Kershaw, “Better Than I Used to Be” (RED): The country singer is joined by Jamey Johnson on a cover of Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show’s “The Cover of the Rolling Stone.”

Murderdolls, “Women and Children Last” (Roadrunner): The second album, and first in eight years, from the trash-rock outfit fronted by Slipknot’s Joey Jordison and Wednesday 13.

Original Broadway Cast, “Sondheim on Sondheim” (P.S. Classics): Barbara Cook, Vanessa Williams and Tom Wopat are among those taking on some of composer Stephen Sondheim’s classics in this raved-about musical.

Papa Roach, “Time For Annihilation...On the Record and On the Road” (Eleven Seven): The Sacramento, Calif., hard rockers pair five brand new songs with nine live tracks as they change labels.

Calvin Richardson, “America’s Most Wanted” (Shanachie): After paying tribute to Bobby Womack last time out, the R&B singer-songwriter returns with a set of his own material.

Philip Selway, “Familial” (Nonesuch): The first solo album from Radiohead’s drummer, who established himself outside the band previously on Crowded House leader Neil Finn’s 7 Worlds Collide project.

10 Years, “Feeding the Wolves” (Republic): The Knoxville, Tenn., hard rockers teamed with Grammy Award-nominated producer Howard Benson for their third major label album.

Terrible Things, “Terrible Things” (Universal Motown): The first outing by the indie rock “supergroup” formed by former members of Taking Back Sunday, Coheed & Cambria and Hot Rod Circuit.

Richard Thompson, “Dream Attic” (Shout! Factory): The British cult guitar hero and songwriter took these 13 new songs on the road and recorded them in front of an audience rather than in a conventional studio.

Various Artists, “Now 35: That’s What I Call Music” (EMI/Sony/Universal): The latest entry in the popular compilation series features recent hits by Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Black Eyed Peas and more.

The Weepies, “Be My Thrill” (Nettwerk): The California husband-wife duo’s latest comes after taking some time off the road after the birth of their son in 2008.

From The Vaults: Bryan Adams, “Icon” (A&M); Miles Davis, “Bitches Brew (Legacy Edition)”; Kiss, “Icon” (Island/Mercury); Gerald Levert, “The Best of Gerald Levert”; Rush, “Icon” (Island/Mercury); Frank Sinatra, “September of My Years” (Concord); Weird Al Yankovic, “The Essential 3.0” (Sony Legacy); Trisha Yearwood, “Icon” (Mercury/UMe)

New Music DVDs: Black Label Society, “Doom Troopin’ Live — The European Invasion” (Eagle Rock); Leonard Cohen, “Bird on a Wire” (Tony Palmer); Jane’s Addiction, “Live Voodoo” (Eagle); Pixies, “Acoustic & Electric Live” (Eagle Rock); Various Artists, “The Best of Soul Train” (Time Life); Various Artists, “Legends of the Canyon: Classic Artists” (Image)

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