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CD Reviews:
The Listening Room: Lloyd, HeadCat and more...

for Journal Register Newspapers

Posted: Sunday, July 3, 2011

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“King of Hearts”

(Young Goldie/Zone 4/Interscope)

★★ 1/2

The drama surrounding New Orleans R&B singer Lloyd Polite Jr.’s fourth album — and first in three years — was behind the scenes. Citing a desire to “grow,” Lloyd left Irv Gotti’s The Inc. and signed with producer Polow da Don’s Zone 4, a move that lets the onetime N-Toon member reach beyond the loverman murmurings of his previous work and get both bigger and broader at the same time. A little bit of the lothario remains, of course, and can be found in tunes such as “Naked” and “Bang!!!,” as well as the languid, Chris Brown-featuring “Luv Me Girl.” Far more interesting is fare such as “Dedication to My Ex,” a full-on old-school party tune whose occasionally unsavory revenge sentiments are mitigated by Lloyd’s divalike vocal delivery and guest raps by Andre 3000 and Lil Wayne, and the soul-meets-hip-hop spirit of “Shake It 4 Daddy.” “Angel,” “This is 4 My Baby” and “You’ll” show that Lloyd can explore more gentlemanly aspects of romance. The album-closing “World Cry,” meanwhile, delivers a spiritual social consciousness assisted by R. Kelly and Keri Hilson. When “King of Hearts” falls short, meanwhile, it’s mostly due to familiarity; he’s done the pillow talk stuff to the point where songs such as “Naked,” “Cupid” and “Lay It Down” sound redundant, while “Be the One,” with Tre Songz and Young Jeezy, is just messy. Nevertheless, “King of Hearts” is a step forward, benefiting from fresh associations and new sonic vistas.


HeadCat, “Walk the Walk ... Talk the Talk” (Niji Entertainment)★★★

Head Cat hasn’t exactly been prolific since forming for an Elvis Presley tribute album in 2000; this is just the all-star trio’s second album and first in five years. But Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister, the Stray Cats’ Slim Jim Phantom and Danny B. Harvey (Lonesome Spurs, the Rockats) still breathe boozy fire into rock ’n’ roll’s roots, thanks to Kilmister’s guttural delivery and the thunderous attack they bring to favorites such as Chuck Berry’s “Let It Rock,” Eddie Cochran’s “Something Else,” Presley’s “Trying to Get to You” and even off-genre selections such as the Beatles’ “You Can’t Do That” and Robert Johnson’s Cream-popularized “Crossroads.” A pair of originals — the hard rocking “American Beat” and the bluesy “The Eagle Flies on Friday” — show the trio is no mere cover band.

New & Noteworthy:

Nick Colionne, “Feel the Heat” (Trippin’ ‘N Rhythm): The latest set of funk-flavored material from the contemporary jazz singer and guitarist.

The Crimson Armada, “Conviction” (Artery): The Columbus extreme rockers’ sophomore album includes guest appearances by members of A Plea For Purging and Miss May I.

Digitalism, “I Love You Dude” (V2): The sophomore album from the German electronic duo features a songwriting collaboration with Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas on the track “Forrest Gump.”

Draconian, “A Rose For the Apocalypse” (Napalm): The fifth studio album, and first in three years, from the headbanging Swedish septet.

Tim Easton, “Since 1966: Vol. 1” (Dualtone): The Americana troubadour recorded some of this acoustic album’s set in front of a campfire and also in the front yard of his house.

Robert Ellis, “Photographs” (New West): The Texas singer-songwriter has sequenced his new album in two distinct halves, similar to the A and B sides of a vinyl recording.

Brian Eno, “Drums Between the Bells” (Warp): Eno returns to Britain’s Map-Making project leader Rick Holland to finish some work the two began nearly a decade ago.

Exhumed, “All Guts No Glory” (Relapse): The first full-length album of new material in nearly eight years from the California death metal quartet.

Jackie Johnson, “Memphis Jewel” (Catfood): The blues ’n’ soul singer’s latest set was produced by Grammy Award-winner Jim Gaines and includes a duet with Johnny Rawls.

Ninety Miles, “Ninety Miles” (Concord Picante): A two-CD/DVD document of the Havana-recorded collaboration led by vibraphonist Stefon Harris, saxophonist David Sanches and trumpeter Christian Scott.

Old 97’s, “Grand Theatre Vol. 2” (New West): A second edition of concert recordings from Dallas, following the first Grand album from the fall of 2010.

Pop Evil, “War of Angels” (eOne): The western Michigan rockers’ second album was recorded in Chicago and comes after a necessary label switch.

Redlight Kings, “Something For the Pain” (Hollywood): “Old Man,” the first single from the Canadian rockers’ debut album, samples from the Neil Young song of the same name.

Reik, “Peligro” (Sony U.S. Latin): The title means “danger,” which is a safe description of how combustible this Latin pop group from Mexicali in California’s Baja can be.

Teddybears, “Devil’s Music” (Big Beat/WEA): B.o.B., the Flaming Lips, the B-52’s, Cee-Lo Green, Robyn and Eve are among the guests on the U.S. version of the Swedish troupe’s 2010 release. Continued...

Unearth, “Darkness in the Light” (Metal Blade): Killswitch Engage’s Justin Foley fills in on drums on the Massachusetts metalcore group’s fifth studio album, which was produced by KSE bandmate Adam Dutkiewicz.

Vanna, “And They Came Baring Bones” (Artery): The third full-length from the Boston headbangers follows a 2010 EP, “The Honest Hearts.”

Ben Williams, “State of Art” (Concord Jazz): The first album from the winner of 2009’s Thelonioius Monk International Bass Competition.

Mitch Winehouse, “Rush of Love” (MVD): Yes, he’s Amy’s father — and a vocalist in his own right, though more at home with jazz and pop standards than his controversial daughter’s contemporary R&B fare.

Phil Woods and Bill Mays, “Woods & Mays” (Palmetto): A nine-song instrumental pairing between saxophonist Woods and pianist Mays.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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