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CD Reviews:
The Listening Room: The Ting Tings, Say Anything and more...

for Journal Register Newspapers

Posted: Sunday, March 11, 2012

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The Ting Tings

“Sounds From Nowheresville”



This British duo’s second album is, in some ways, worth the price of admission simple for the single “Hang It Up,” a tight, sinewy blast of party funk in which Katie White notes that, “This is all about starting out again/Same old same old/Never stay the same.” Those are true words, indeed, since “Sounds From Nowheresville” had a difficult birth during the four years since the Ting Tings’ debut, “We Started Nothing.” White and Jules De Martino, in fact, made an entire other sophomore record in Berlin that they ultimately scuttled in 2010 because they felt it hewed too close to the electro Euro-pop scene that took them there in the first place. “...Nowheresville” retains some of that — check out the disco sci-fi of “One By One” — but weaves in a wealth of other sources, particularly the hip-hop cadence in White’s vocals on “Hit Me Down Sonny” and “Hang It Up” and nods to reggae (“Soul Killing”), kinetic New Wave (“Give It Back”) and surprising turns into gentle acoustic pop (“Day To Day,” “Help”), trancey ambience (“Silence”) and the noir spookiness of “In Your Life,” with a gypsy violin adding shrill drama. White’s strident ‘tude, meanwhile, goes full-throttle in “Guggenheim,” a part-spoken rumination about a curious girl-on-girl relationship and the self-awareness that follows. “This time I’m gonna get it right,” she declares, and on “...Nowheresville,” she and De Martino definitely get somewhere new and worth waiting for.


Say Anything, “Anarchy, My Dear”(Equal Vision) ***

Just because frontman Max Bemis has grown up, grown older and is happily married (to Eisley’s Sherri DuPree, who guests here) doesn’t mean he’s gotten rid of the demons and axes to grind that Say Anything’s fans love so much. The difference on the group’s fifth studio album is that he’d like to get rid of them. “I’ll be fine/Sever this for all time/I’ll laugh it off when this ends/You can just go get high with all of your dumb friends,” Bemis sings in “Peace Out.” That said (or sung), he’s still absolutely conscious of the ins and outs of the alt.rock scene and seemingly well aware of any words of hate uttered about his band. And his angst remains good fuel, even on Say Anything’s most varied and sophisticated set yet. The group can still pound away with conviction on “Burn a Miracle,” “Say Anything” and the dance-tempoed “Sheep,” but songs such as the soul-pop “Overbiter,” the tempo-shifting “Admit It Again” and the Americana-flavored title track bode well for Bemis and the band’s future growth.

New & Noteworthy:

Adrenaline Mob, “Omerta” (Elm City Music): The first full album by the hard rock “supergroup” whose members have logged time with Symphony X, Dream Theater and more.

Dave Barnes, “Stories To Tell” (Razor & Tie): For the first time, singer-songwriter Barnes -- who co-wrote Blake Shelton’s “God Gave Me You” -- recorded away from his home town of Nashville and added more electronic and pop elements to his music.

Cannibal Corpse, “Torture” (Metal Blade): Hate Eternal guitarist Erik Rutan was tapped to produce his third consecutive album for the death metal quintet from Buffalo.

The Decemberists, “We All Raise Our Voices to the Air (Live Songs 04.11-8.11)” (Capitol): Grand Rapids’ Calvin College was among the 11 locations where tracks for this two-disc live set were recording.

Del Castillo, “Infinitas Rapsodias” (Smilin’ Castle): Monte Montgomery, Malford Milligan and German opera diva Anna Maria Kaufmann are among the guests on this Latin blues-rock troupe’s latest album.

Delta Spirit, “Delta Spirit” (Rounder): The San Diego indie rockers’ third album was recorded at a converted 19th century church in Woodstock, N.Y.

Dropkick Murphys, “Going Out in Style: Live at Fenway Park” (self-released): The title says it all -- a two-disc set of Boston’s Celtic rockers on fire in their town`s iconic baseball mecca.

Elisa, “Steppin’ On Water” (Sugar/Decca): The Italian singer-songwriter stretches out to cover hard rockers Queens of the Stone Age on her third U.S. release.

Shooter Jennings, “Family Man” (eOne): The fifth album by Waylon Jennings’ son marks the first time he’s produced himself.

Kathy Kosins, “To the Ladies of Cool” (Resonance): The veteran singer uses her latest release to pay tribute to 50s forebears Anita O’Day, June Christy, Chris Connor and Julie London.

David Lanz, “Here Comes the Sun” (Blind Man Sound): The New Age pianist covers eight Beatles songs and dedicates his own “Sir George (Liverpool Farewell)” to producer George Martin.

Lucero, “Woman & Work” (ATO): The Memphis soul-rockers move to a new label -- Dave Matthews’ ATO -- for their latest album, and first in three years.

Janiva Magness, “Stronger For It” (Alligator): The Detroit-born blues/R&B singer wrote three new songs for her third album, which sit alongside selections from Tom Waits, Shelby Lynne, Grace Potter and others.

Gregoire Maret, “Gregoire Maret” (eOne): The harmonica virtuoso makes his first solo album with help from Cassandra Wilson, Marcus Miller, Raul Midon and more.

Meat Loaf, “Hell in a Handbasket” (Legacy): Still going thirty-five years after “Bat Out of Hell,” the Meat man gets jiggy with Public Enemy’s Chuck D and Lil Jon on his latest release.

Original Cast Recording, “Once” (Sony Masterworks): The Broadway musical based on the 2006 film includes a pair of new songs -- including the Czech folk tune “Ej Pada Pada Rosicka.”

One Direction, “Up All Night” (Columbia): The debut outing by the quintet composed of individual contestants from the British “X Factor” show.

Soulfly, “Enslaved” (Roadrunner): Max Cavalera and company load up on the guests for their eighth set of metal, including Dez Farfara (Coal Chamber, DevilDriver), Travis Ryan (Cattle Decapitation) and several Cavalera family members.

Ruben Studdard, “Letters From Birmingham” (Shanachie): The second-season “American Idol” champ worked with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Stargate, Teddy Riley and country boy John Rich on his fifth album.

Tribes, “Baby” (Universal Republic): This quartet may hail from Britain, but its first full album shows influences steeped in decidedly American alt.rock.

VCMG, “Ssss” (Mute): Former Depeche Mode mates Vince Clarke and Martin Gore reunite for the first time since 1981, this time for a set of minimal electronic dance music.

Caetano Veloso and David Byrne, “Live at Carnegie Hall” (Nonesuch): The former Talking Heads frontman teams with the Brazilian troubadour for a concert set that encompasses both of their catalogs.

Peter White, “Here We Go” (Heads Up): The guitarist enlisted David Sanborn and Kirk Whalum to guest on his 13th album.

From The Vaults: Big Brother and the Holding Company featuring Janis Joplin, “Live at the Carousel Ballroom 1968” (Columbia/Legacy); Jeremy Camp, “I Still Believe: #1’s Collection” (Bec Recordings); Chicago, “If You Leave Me Now & Other Hits” (Rhino Flashback); John Mayall, “Big Man Blues” (Blues Boulevard); Omar & the Howlers, “Essential Collection” (Ruf); Robin Trower, “Farther On Up the Road: The Chrysalis Years 1977-1983)” (EMI); Earl Van Dyke, “Motown Sound” (Motown/UMe)

Soudtracks: Daniel Licht, “Silent Hill: Downpour” (Milan); Brian Tyler, “Transformers Prime (Music From the Animated Series)” (Lakeshore)

New Music DVDs: Tony Bennett, “Duets II: The Great Performances” (RPM/Sony)

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