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CD Reviews:
The Listening Room: Lifehouse, Alesso, Anti-Flag, Daniel Johns and more...

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Wednesday, May 27, 2015

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"Out of the Wasteland"


Grade: B

"Open the cage...we're starting over," Lifehouse's Jason Wade sings at the start of the group's seventh studio album, and "Out of the Wasteland" is indeed a bit -- but only a bit -- of a reboot for the California pop-rock trio. It comes after the disappointing showing of 2012's "Almeria" and a year-long hiatus that saw the group leave the major label ranks and start its own imprint. For all that, however, "Wasteland" still sounds like the Lifehouse we know, with the same earnest, stoic melodicism that launched "Hanging By a Moment" to the top of the charts in 2001 and which the trio has hewed to ever since. Declaring they've been "through hell and back again," "Hurricane" blasts off with an anthemic energy, while "One For the Pain" pulses with taut urgency. Wade and Lifehouse remain most comfortable in the midtempo zone of a "Stardust," but there is a bit more dynamic range here, from gentle paeans such as "Fight," "Central Park" and the angsty love song "Firing Squad" to the Beatlesque acoustic track "Wish," the rootsy "Hurt This Way" and the richly harmonized "Yesterday's Son." "Hell and back" might be a bit of a stretch, but Lifehouse is hardly languishing in any sort of "Wasteland" this time out.

New & Noteworthy:

Alesso, "Forever" (Def Jam): The Swedish DJ and EDM star delivers his first artist album with help from OneRepublic, Tove Lo, Roy English and more.

Anti-Flag, "American Spring" (Spinefarm): The poltically minded Pittsburgh punk outfit stays true to form on its ninth studio album, taking an optimistic turn on the closing track "The Debate Is Over (If You Want It)."

The Bad Plus Jonathan Redman, "The Bad Plus Jonathan Redman" (Nonesuch): The long-awaited first studio offering from the union of the Minneapolis avant garde jazz troupe and the like-minded California saxophonist.

Daniel Johns, "Talk" (Eleven): The Silverchair frontman goes solo after an eight-year hiatus and a resurfacing EP, "Ariel Love," earlier this year.

Jessy J, "My One & Only One" (Shanachie): The fourth album from the saxophone-playing contemporary jazz artist from Portland.

The Vaccines, "English Graffiti" (Columbia): The British rock quartet`s third album was co-produced by regular Flaming Lips collaborator Dave Fridmann.

Also Out: The Alectro, "School Desire" (BeBop); John Anderson, "Goldmine" (Bayou Boys); Arcturus, "Arcturian" (Prophecy); Michael Dean Damron, "When the Darkness Come" (self-released); Hillsong UNITED, "Empires" (Hillsong); Eilen Jewel, "Sundown Over Ghost Town" (Signature); Mark Kozelek, "Rock N` Roll Singer" (Badman); Monoswezi, "Monoswezi Yanga" (World Music Network/Riverfront); Maysa, "Back 2 Love" (Shanachie); Nneka, "My Fairy Tales" (Bushqueen); Oak Ridge Boys, "Rock of Ages: Hymns & Gospel Favorites" (Gaither); Gary Peacock and Marc Copland, "Now This" (ECM); Steve Roach, Skeleton Keys" (Projekt); Snarky Puppy, "Sylva" (Impulse!); Spiro, "Welcome Joy and Welcome Sorrow" (Real World); Henry Threadgill & Zooid, "In For a Penny In For a Pound" (Pi); Thunder, "Wonder Days" (earMUSIC); Turbowolf, "Two Hands" (Spinefarm)

From The Vaults: Ryan Adams, "Heartbreaker" (Pax Americana); The Grateful Dead, "Dave`s Picks: Volume 14" (Deadnet/Rhino); Bruce Hornsby, "The Essential Bruce Hornsby" (RCA/Legacy); Buddy Rich, "Birdland" (Lightyear/Lobitos Creek); Yes, "Progeny: Seven Shows From Seventy-Two" and "Progeny: Highlights From Seventy-Two" (Atco/Rhino)

Soundtracks: Murray Gold, "Doctor Who -- Series 8"; Various Artists, "Bloodborne" (Silva America); Various Artists, "Songs of Aloha: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack" (Madison Gate/Legacy)

New Music DVDs: Various Artists, "Lost Songs: The Basement Tapes Continued" (Eagle Rock)

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