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CD Reviews:
The Listening Room: Def Leppard, Bryan Adams, Seth MacFarlane, Disney

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Thursday, October 29, 2015

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Def Leppard

"Def Leppard"


Grade: B+

"Welcome to the carnival," Joe Elliott sings at the start of Def Leppard's 11th studio album and first set of new material in 70s years. And that's exactly what "Def Leppard" is -- 55 minutes of Big Rock music, from bombastic anthems to ringing power ballads, marked by walls of guitars and lush vocal harmonies. That, however, is exactly what we want from the Leps, and that in turn makes "Def Leppard" the quintet's most satisfying release in years, maybe even since 1987's multi-platinum "Hysteria." The 14-songs set gets going with the big-beat stomp of "Let's Go," the riffy rock propulsion of "Dangerous" and the bass-led funk (think Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust") of "Man Enough" before catching breath with the gentle ring of "We Belong," establishing a scope that defines the rest of the album. Def Lep nods to punk on "All Time High," glam on "Forever Young" and psychedelia on the album-closing "Blind Faith," while "Last Dance" pulls on sentimental heartstrings. Mostly, however, "Def Leppard" is filled with the hard rock hooks and shout-along choruses of "Invincible," "Energized," "Broke 'N' Brokenhearted" and "Sea of Love." It may not bring the hysteria back, but it certainly reminds us of what these guys do best.

New & Noteworthy:

Ryan Adams, "1989" (Blue Note): The iconoclastic singer-songwriter's recasting of Taylor Swift's latest album rolls out in physical form after last month's digital release.

Bryan Adams, "Get Up!" (Polydor): The Canadian rocker's latest release was produced by ELO leader Jeff Lynne and will certainly please fans of the youthful rock flavor of Adams' earlier releases.

Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, "So Familiar" (Rounder): The unlikely duo teams up for a second studio set with a dozen new songs produced by the legendary Peter Asher.

Seth MacFarlane, "No One Ever Tells You" (Republic): The multi-talented MacFarlane's third album makes its terrestrial debut after its digital release hit No. 1 on the iTunes jazz chart.

Puscifer, "Money Shot" (Puscifer Entertainment): The third studio album by Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan's other band is a characteristically wide-ranging and sonically adventurous outing.

Straight No Chaser, "The New Old Fashioned" (Atlantic): The popular a capella group combines renditions of current hits ("Shut Up and Dance," "Take Me To Church") with some classic rock and R&B covers and a medley of favorite movie songs.

Various Artists, "We Love Disney" (Verve): Arina Grande, Gwen Stefani, Fall Out Boy, Ne-Yo and more take on favorite songs from the Disney world. But be warned; there IS an all-star version of "It's a Small World;" there is no escape...

Also Out: A Fragile Tomorrow, "Make Me Over" (MPress); Trey Anastasio, "Paper Wheels" (Rubber Jungle/ATO); Babes, "Untitled" (Barsuck); Beach House, "Thank Your Lucky Stars" (Sub Pop); Jonathan Butler, "Free" (Rendezvous); Cage, "Ancient Evil" (SMG); Caravan Palace, "Robot" (Le Plan); Peter Case, "HWY 62" (Omnivore); Celtic thunder, "Celtic Roots, Myths & Legends" (Legacy); Deerhunter, "Fading Frontier" (4AD); Drive-By Truckers, "It`s Great to Be Alive" (ATO); El Vy, "Return to the Moon" (4AD); Melissa Errico, "What About Today? Live at 54 Below" (Broadway); Escape The Fate, "Hate Me" (Eleven Seven); Fat Freddy's Drop, "Bays" (The Drop); Lalah Hathaway, "Live" (eOne); The Infamous Stringdusters, "Undercover" (self-released); G. Love & Special Sauce, "Love Saves the Day" (Brushfire); Travis Greene, "The Hill" (Daywind); Chris Janson, "Buy Me a Boat" (Warner Music Nashville); Nigel Kennedy, "Vivaldi: The New Four Seasons" (Sony Classical); Last Forever, "Acres of Diamonds" (Storysound); Maluma, "Pretty Boy Dirty Boy" (Sony Latin); Alison Moyet, "The Turn" (Cooking Vinyl); The Neighbourhood, "Wiped Out" (Columbia); Tim O`Brien, "Pompadour" (Howdy Skies); Saxon, "Battering Ram" (UDR); TG Sheppard, "Legendary Friends & Country Duets" (Goldenlane); Skindred, "Volume" (Napalm); Slobber Pup, "Pole Ax" (Rare Noise); Armin Van Buuren, "Embrace" (Avex); Various Artists, "Now That`s What I Call Disney Princesses" (Disney); Various Artists, "Now That`s What I Call Music 56" (UMe);

From The Vaults: a-ha, "East of the Sun West of the Moon (Deluxe Edition)," "Memorial Beach (Deluxe Edition)"; "Stay on These Roads: Deluxe Edition" (Warner Bros./Rhino); Black Stone Cherry, "Thank You: Livin' Live, Birmingham, UK October 30, 2014" (Eagle Rock); The Byrds, "1978 Reunion Concert" (Rox Vox); Cowboy Junkies, "Notes Falling Slow" (Razor & Tie); Gentle Giant, "Octopus -- Steven Wilson 5.1 Remix" (Alucard); The Jam, "Fire and Skill: The Jam Live" (Polydor); Marshall Tucker Band, "Live in the UK 1976" (Ramblin'); Alanis Morissette, "Jagged Little Pill -- Collector's Edition" (Maverick/Rhino); Van Morrison, "Astral Weeks" "His Band and Street Choir" (Warner Bros./Rhino); Pantera, "History of Hostility" (Rhino); Elvis Presley and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, "If I Can Dream" (RCA/Legacy); Lou Reed, "The Sire Years: Complete Albums Box" (Sire/Rhino); Rolling Stones, "From the Vault 00 Live at the Tokyo Dome 1990" (Eagle Rock); Pete Seeger and Roger McGuinn, "Bottom Line Archive Series: In Their Own Words" (Bottom Line); Son Volt, "Trace" (Rhino); Velvet Underground, "Loaded: Re-Loaded 45th Anniversary Edition" (UMe)

Soundtracks: "Arrow: Season 3" (La-La Land); Chris Tilton, "Assassin's Creed: Unity Volume 1 (Original Game Soundtrack)" (Sumthing Else Musicworks); Sarah Schachner, "Assassin's Creed: Unity Volume 2 (Original Game Soundtrack)" (Sumthing Else Musicworks); "The Flash" (La-La Land); "Halo 5: Guardians (Original Soundtrack" (Microsoft 343); Amy Winehouse, "Amy: Official Motion Picture Soundtrack (Republic)

New Holiday Albums: Mario Frangoulis, "Tales of Christmas" (Beautiful Things); Essential Voices USA and Jamie Barton, "Holiday Harmonies -- Songs of Christmas" (Sono Luminus); Pentatonix, "That's Christmas to Me (Deluxe Edition)" (RCA); Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, "It's a Holiday Soul Party" (Dap-Tone); Various Artists, "Blues Christmas" (Cleopatra); Rhonda Vincent, "Christmas Time" (Upper Management)

New Music DVDs: Katy Perry, "The Primatic World Tour Live" (Capitol/Eagle Rock)

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