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CD Reviews:
Muse does battle with "Drones"

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Sunday, June 7, 2015

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(Warner Bros.)

Grade: B+

Muse did not really need Mutt Lange to bring out the bombast on its seventh album; the British trio's catalog is already full of the kind of dense, dramatic soundscapes and cinematic detail Lange brought to his multi-platinum productions for Def Leppard, AC/DC and Foreigner. But the teaming is also a perfect fit, and Lange's sonic sensibilities certainly don't hurt "Drones' " high-concept pretensions -- and perhaps even help Muse return to the heavy rock template of earlier works such as 2001's "Origins of Symmetry" and 2003's "Absolution" after experimenting with electronic and even symphonic approaches on its more recent albums. It's certainly a heady set with frontman Matthew Bellamy waxing about disembodied killing machines and detached consciousness, even employing dialogue between a drill sergeant and his plebe and a John F. Kennedy speech warning about a world of "intimidation instead of free choice" -- with a "Defector" ready to lead a "Revolt" against the 21st century version of the military-industrial complex. A big theme like that deserves a big sound and gets it, from the synthesizer jabs of the opening "Dead Inside" to the guitar heroics of "Reapers" and the stomping assaults of "The Handler" and "Psycho. The 10-minute "The Globalist" suite starts with a whistle and the ambience of a Sergio Leone Western theme before stacking the harmonies in Queen-like fashion, while "Drones' " title track, with its a capella wall of Bellamys, closes the album on a quiet note. its impact on the global drones dialogue may be minimal, but "Drones" certainly succeeds as an adventure in exiting and over-the-top record making.

Mb>New & Noteworthy:

"Classic Quadrophenia" (Deutsche Grammophon/Universal Music Classics): The Who's 1973 rock opera gets an orchestral workover, with Alfie Boe stepping into the "role" created by Roger Daltrey.

FFS, "FFS" (Domino): This first team-up of quirky veterans Sparks with British guitar rockers Franz Ferdinand leaves us hoping it's more than a one-off collaboration.

Major Lazer, "Peace Is the Mission" (Mad Decent): The third album from Diplo's all-star EDM troupe features guest vocals by Ellie Goulding, 2 Chainz, Pusha T and more.

Of Monsters and Men, "Beneath the Skin" (Republic): The sophomore set from the critically lauded indie rock group from Iceland.

Rolling Stones, "Sticky Fingers (Deluxe Edition)" (UMe): The 1971 masterpiece gets a sonic overhaul and is expanded with plenty of unreleased bonus material, including live tracks and a version of "Brown Sugar" recorded with Eric Clapton.

Tremonti, "Cauterize" (Fret12): Creed/Alter Bridge guitarist (and Detroit native) Mark Tremonti's second "solo" set is another heavy hitter, this time with Wolfgang Van Halen on bass.

Also Out: Ash, "Kablammo" (earMusic); A Thousand Horses, "Southernality" (Republic Nashville); Ryan Adams, "Ten Songs From Live at Carnegie Hall" (Blue Note); Beauvoir-Free, "American Trash" (Frontiers); Amy Black, "The Muscle Shoals Sessions" (Reuben); Bulletboys, "Elefante" (Deadline); Black Rebel Motorcycle Club," "Live in Paris" (Vagrant); Al Di Meola, "Elysium" (inakustik); Dave Edmunds, "On Guitar...Rags & Classics)" (RPM); Kirk Elling, "Passion World" (Concord Jazz); Melissa Etheridge, "A Little Bit of Me: Live in L.A." (Shout! Factory); Sharon Van Etten, "I Don't Want To Let You Down" (Jagjaguwar); The Fall, "Sub-Lingual Tablet" (Cherry Red); HoneyHoney, "3" (Rounder); House of Lords, "Indestructible" (Frontiers); Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road, "Country Grass" (Pinecastle); Sammy Kershaw, "I Won't Back Down" (Goldenlane); Sonny Landreth, "Bound By the Blues" (Provogue); Large Professor, "Re-Living" (Fat Beats); Montgomery Gentry, "Folks Like Us" (Blaster); Royal Southern Brotherhood, "Don't Look Back -- The Muscle Shoals Sessions" (Ruf); Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow, "Ex Machina" (Invada); Antonio Sanchez, "The MEridian Suite" (CamJazz)/Sunnyside); Tamia, "Love LIfe" (Def Jam); Trixter, "Human Era" (Frontiers); Various Artists, "Operation Song" (Operation Song); Dale Watson, "Call Me Insane" (Red House); Young Guns, "Ones and Zeroes" (Wind-Up)

From The Vaults: Faith No More, "The Real Thing (Deluxe)" and "Angel Dust (Deluxe)" (Slash/Rhino); Little Village, "The Action in Frisco" (Sonic Boom); Frank Sinatra, "Ultimate Sinatra" (Capitol)

Soundtracks: "Fly By Night (Original Off-Broadway Cast Recording)" (Yellow Sound); Michael Giacchino, "Jurassic World" (Backlot); "Gigi (New Broadway Cast Recording)" (DMI); "The King and I (Original Broadway Cast Recording)" (Universal Music Classics); "Tomorrowland" (Walt Disney); Various Artists, "Bronson (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)" (Milan)

New Music DVDs: Melissa Etheridge, "A Little Bit of Me: Live in L.A." (Shout! Factory); Fleetwood Mac, "Iconic" (Iconic Pictures)

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