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CD Reviews:
The Listening Room: Godsmack, Spoon, Andy Grammer and more...

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Sunday, August 3, 2014

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When Sully Erna announces that it's "time to rewind" at the start of Godsmack's sixth studio album, the sentiment comes with layers of meaning. It's been an eventful four years since the Boston headbangers released "Oracle," with Erna launching a solo career, the other band members pursuing their own activities and a general sense that Godsmack could go away as easily as it could come back. Fortunately the ship righted itself, and "1000hp" lives up to its title as a high-octane, heavy-hitting 11-song set mines new territory within the quartet's well-honed Metallica/Black Sabbath roots (the latter particularly evident on the track "Livin' in the Gray"). Song such as "Something Different," "Generation Day" and "Nothing Comes Easy" introduce a different kind of ebb-and-flow dynamic, incorporating droning ambience without softening the punch that's Godsmack's stock in trade; "Generation Day" in particular has a trancey kind of energy and winds its way into a slower mid-song section that build back up into an even more explosive conclusion. Erna is characteristically defiant throughout, blending chin-out anger and artery-opening angst on "What's Next," "Locked & Loaded" and "I Don't Belong," while the "Life is Good," a bonus track on the Best Buy edition of "1000hp," is a chunky party anthem that has Future Concert Favorite written all over it. All of "1000hp" is more forward than rewind, and gratifying proof that Godsmack has not yet run out of steam.

New & Noteworthy:

The Empty Hearts, "The Empty Hearts" (429): Straight-up, old school power rock from a new "super group" featuring the Romantics' Wally Palmar, Blondie's Clem Burke, the Cars' Elliot Easton and the Chesterfield Kings' Andy Babiuk.

Andy Grammer, "Magazines or Novels" (S-Curve): The California pop singer-songwriter culled his sophomore release from more than 100 available songs.

Al Jarreau, "My Old Friend: Celebrating George Duke" (Concord): The singer's tribute to his late friend includes duets with Dianne Reeves, Gerald Albright, Lalah Hathaway, Boney James and more.

Billy Joe Shaver, "Long in the Tooth" (Lightning Rod): The Americana and outlaw country icon's first set of new material in seven years features a guest appearance from longtime running buddy Willie Nelson.

Spoon, "They Want My Soul" (Loma Vista): The arty Austin, Texas rockers' eighth studio album is its first for its own label and also introduces new utility man Alex Fischel.

Tuatara, "Underworld" (Sunyata): The first album since 2008 by Mad Season drummer Barrett Martin's instrumental group features contributions by members of Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains, among others.

Also Out:

Gerald Albright, "Slam Dunk" (Heads Up); John Garcia, "John Garcia" (Napalm); Shooter Jennings, "Don't Wait Up For George" (Black Country Rock); Kix, "Rock Your Face Off" (Loud & Proud); Ben Miller Band, "Any Way, Shape or Form" (New West); The Psycho Sisters, "Up on the Chair, Beatrice" (RockBeat); Secret Sisters, "Put Your Needle Down: Deluxe Edition" (Cracker Barrel); The 69 Cats, "Transylvanian Tapes" (Cleopatra); Skid Row, "Rise of the Damnation Army -- United World Rebellion: Chapter Two" (MRI); Somi, "The Lagos Music Salon" (Okeh); Andreas Varady, "Andreas Varady" (Verve); Various Artists, "Now 51: That's What I Call Music"; "Now Party Anthems" (UMe)

From The Vaults: Guess Who, "Power in the Music" (Iconoclassic); Elvis Presley, "That's The Way It Is" (RCA/Legacy)

Soundtracks: Various Artists, "Ragamuffin: Music Inspired By the Motion Picture" (CCMG)

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