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CD Reviews:
The Listening Room: blink-182, Chickenfoot and more...

for Journal Register Newspapers

Posted: Monday, September 26, 2011

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It should not be surprising that eight years after its last album, blink-182 sounds a bit more grown up, and is all the better for it. "Neighborhoods" is not a haven for songs about first dates, falling in love at a rock show or getting your rocks off; rather, the new set 10 tracks on the standard edition, 14 on the deluxe marks an interim that includes the trio's fractured and then repaired relationships and drummer Travis Barker's near-death in a 2008 plane crash. Building on the more serious tone of 2003's "blink-182," these are sober, sometimes bleak ruminations on mortality, betrayal and loss, but also stoic resolve; a good case in point is "After Midnight," in which -- amidst treacly, U2-like guitar patterns -- Tom DeLonge warns "hold on as we crash into the earth/a bit of pain will help you suffer when you hurt" but, in the chorus, announces "Did you know I'm here to stay?" And "Neighborhoods" does sound like a band with a plan for the long haul, a sonically ambitious collection that touches on the groups the blink members started during their time apart (+44 and Angels & Airwaves) while forging in new but familiar sounding directions. blink can still kick up a head of steam with the galloping, punky paces of "MH 4.18.2011," "Even If She Falls," "Wishing Well" and "Natives," but it also taps into the droning ambient conventions of vintage Cure and Echo & the Bunnymen for "Ghost on the Dance Floor," "Snake Charmer" and "This is Home." A twisting, metallic grind propels the first single, "Up All Night," while a subtle ska rhythm drives "Kaleidoscope" and "Fighting the Gravity" wallows in murky, dense atmospherics. "Hearts All Gone," meanwhile, blasts from a textured opening into prog rock dynamics that would make Rush proud. This may not be your older sibling's blink-182, but as the group notes here, "It's a long road to get it right." And "Neighborhoods" was certainly worth the long wait.


Chickenfoot, "Chickenfoot III" (earMUSIC/eOne Music) ★★★

Chickenfoot emerged in 2009 as the rare "supergroup" that worked, and its smirkily titled sophomore album shows that the chemistry between Sammy Hagar, Joe Satriani, former Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer (and Detroit native) Chad Smith hasn't lost any potency. "Chickenfoot III's" 10 tracks cover a lot of ground: "Lighten Up" nods to Deep Purple, a collective influence; Hagar and Anthony recreate their Van Halen Harmonies for "Different Devil;" and "Alright Alright" culls its riffs from the Rolling Stones songbook. Hagar delves into the country's economic zeitgeist in the spoken verses of "Three and a Half Letters," but mostly "Chickenfoot III" is about good times and, as he sings in the first single, putting his "big foot on the gas."

New & Noteworthy

Acoustic Alchemy, "Roseland" (Heads Up): The contemporary jazz is assisted this time out by Bonnie Raitt keyboardist Ricky Peterson and well-credentialed trombonist Fayyaz Virji.

Allstar Weekend, "All the Way" (Hollywood): The Disney Channel-popularized San Diego group features rapper Anth Melo on "Not Your Birthday," the first single from its second album.

Sebastian Bach, "Kicking & Screaming" (Frontiers): Detroit-born guitarist John5 (nee Lowery) makes a guest appearance on the latest outing by the former Skid Row frontman.

Pieta Brown, "Mercury" (Red House): Mark Knopfler guests on "So Many Miles," one of the tracks on this latest release from the daughter of fellow singer-songwriter Greg Brown.

J. Cole, "Cole World: The Sideline Story" (Roc Nation/Columbia): Jay-Z cameos on the debut album from his North Carolina protege, joining fellow guests such as Drake, Missy Elliott and Trey Songz.

Jason Derulo, "Future History" (Beluga Heights/Warner Bros.): The R&B singer's second album includes samples from Robin S.'s "Show Me LOve" and Harry Belafonte's "Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)."

Jackie DeShannon, "When You Walk in the Room" (Rockbeat): The veteran pop singer revisits some of her biggest hits, including the title track and the original "Bette Davis Eyes," on her first new release since 2000.

Bill Frisell, "All We Are Saying" (Savoy Jazz): The guitar auteur put together an all-star quintet to interpret 16 John Lennon solo and Beatles songs.

Steve Hackett, "Beyond the Shrouded Horizon" (InsideOut): Yes bassist Chris Squire is among the guests on the former Genesis guitarist's 24th solo album.

Daryl Hall, "Laughing Down Crying" (Verve Forecast): The tall half of Hall & Oates started working on his first solo album in 14 years with longtime cohort T-Bone Wolk, who passed away in the midst of its production.

Beth Hart with Joe Bonamassa, "Don't Explain" (J&R Adventures): Hart teams up with guitarist Bonamassa to cover blues and soul favorites originally done by Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Ray Charles and others.

Will Hoge, "Number Seven" (Rykodisc): The Nashville singer-songwriter serves as his own producer for the first time on his seventh studio album (in case you were wondering where the title came from).

Stanley Jordan, "Stanley Jordan & Friends " (Mack Avenue): The guitar virtuoso's friends on this outing include Detroit's Regina Carter, Charlie Hunter, Christian McBride, Nicholas Payton, Kenny Garrett and others.

Kasabian, "Velociraptor!" (Columbia): The fourth album by the British quartet was recorded in England, then brought San Francisco for some psychedelic sheen in the mixing.

Kyang, "Trampled Sun" (Realid): The first full-length release from this stomping trio that defines its sound as "California heavy."

Sonia Leigh, "1978 December" (Southern Ground): The Zac Brown protege releases a debut album that includes a guest shot by the Indigo Girls' Amy Ray on "Virginia."

Machine Head, "Unto the Locust" (Roadrunner): The seventh album from the Oakland, Calif., headbangers opens with a three-part "sonata" in C-flat.

Dan Mangan, "Oh Fortune" (Arts & Crafts): The Canadian singer-songwriter's third album follows a Polaris Prize nomination for 2009's "Nice, Nice, Very Nice."

Mastodon, "Hunter" (Reprise): The Georgia hard rockers eschew elaborate concepts on their fifth album for a song-oriented set that includes drummer Brann Dailor's first lead vocal.

Christian McBride, "The Good Feeling" (Mack Avenue): The bassist and Detroit Jazz Festival favorite unveils his first-ever big band recording.

Maria Muldaur, "Steady Love" (Stony Plain): For her 39th studio album, Muldaur returns to the sounds of New Orleans, taking on songs by Percy Mayfield and Bobby Charles as well as Eric Bibb, Greg Brown and others.

LeAnn Rimes, "Lady and Gentlemen" (Curb): The country diva's second album of covers was co-produced by Vince Gill and includes songs by Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson and other legends.

Derek Sherinian, "Oceana" (Music Theories): The former Dream Theater keyboardist gets help from Toto's Steve Lukather, Billy Idol sidekick Steve Stevens and Black Country Communion bandmate Joe Bonamassa on his new solo project.

Matthew Sweet, "Modern Art" (Missing Piece): Even as he celebrates the 20th anniversary of his landmark "Girlfriend" album, Sweet delivers another dozen brand new compositions.

Switchfoot, "Vice Verses" (lowercase people/Atlantic): The San Diego modern rockers' eighth studio album includes tracks the group previewed while touring to promote 2009's "Hello Hurricane."

Various Artists, "Miles Espanol" (Entertainment One): Saxophonist and producer Bob Belden assembled more than 30 jazz all-stars for this collection that pays tribute to Davis' "Sketches of Spain" and "Kind of Blue" albums.

Various Artists, "Note of Hope: A Celebration of Woody Guthrie" (429): Bassist Rob Wasserman collaborates with Jackson Browne, Ani DiFranco, Lou Reed, Pete Seeger and others on these musical interpretations of some of Guthrie's unpublished material.

Wilco, "The Whole Love" (dBpm): The always-intriguing Chicago sextet kicks off its own label with the release of its eighth studio album.

Steven Wilson, "Grace For Drowning" (K-Scope): The Porcupine Tree leader takes the Blu-ray route for his expansive second solo album.

Johnny Winter, "Roots" (Megaforce): The blues-rock legend teams up with a wealth of guests -- including his brother Edgar Winter, Warren Haynes, Derek Trucks, Vince Gill and John Popper -- on his first new album in seven years.

Young Man, "Ideas of Distance" (Frenchkiss): This debut album by Young Man (aka Colin Caulfield) is the first of three he plans to release during the next 18 months.

Dan Zanes & Friends, "Little Nut Tree" (Festival Five): Singer-songwriter Zanes teams with Sharon Jones, Joan Osborne, Andrew Bird and others on his first new family music album in five years.

Soundtracks: Various Artists, "Drive" (Lakeshore); Various Artists, "Footloose" (Atlantic)

From The Vaults: Barenaked Ladies, "Hits From Yesterday and the Day Before" (Rhino); Buck Owens, "Bound For Bakersfield 1953-1956" (Rockbeat); "Elvis Presley, "Elvis Presley: Legacy Edition" (RCA/Legacy)

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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