3.5 out of 5 stars
Ever since Radiohead burst onto the scene in the mid-90s with their hit-single “Creep,” Thom Yorke, the band’s enigmatic front man, has been a favorite among fans of “smart rock.”
Yorke recently took a sabbatical from Radiohead’s haunting sound to release a nine-track experimental/electronic disc titled “The Eraser.”
While this is a solo album, Yorke has no problem acknowledging his band’s influence throughout the CD. Yorke and Radiohead guitarist Johnnie Greenwood compiled several unused tracks from Radiohead’s previous albums, including “The Eraser’s” title track.
The album’s single “Black Swan” does manage to detour somewhat from Yorke’s previous work with Radiohead.
Yorke puts a muzzle on his dynamic voice and employs a crooning humdrum vocal pattern that meshes nicely with the song’s melancholy rainy-day sound.
Toward the end of the CD, Yorke returns to the political analysis that helped put Radiohead on the map.
“Harrowdown Hill” was written about the late David Kelly, a former employee of the British Ministry of Defense who was found dead after being accused by the Blair administration of discussing confidential government matters. Yorke has been quoted as saying it was the angriest song he ever wrote.
“The Eraser” is part acid trip soundtrack and part self-important indie rock. In either case, Yorke’s semi-reinvention should appease most Radiohead fans.
Best Tracks: “The Clock,” “Black Swan,” “Harrowdown Hill,” “The Eraser”
– James Queally,
Arts & Entertainment Assistant
“The Wee Hours Revue”
4.5 out of 5 stars
It’s a phenomenon that’s becoming rarer and rarer in the era of MTV and single-determined radio, but every once in a while an album comes along that just blows you away from start to finish.
Not only has the North Carolina-based band crafted such a record, but they’ve done it on their first try.
Riding the line between alt-country and indie-rock, the album is a collective of rootsy country-influenced rock that features hooky choruses and reflective lyrics.
Reminiscent of some of Ryan Adam’s better moments, this is just a damn catchy album, folks. If this doesn’t make my top 10 list come year’s end, then it will have been a damn good year in music!
Key Tracks: “Something Left to Say,” “You Don’t Belong to the World,” “Another Summer”
Dirty Pretty Things
“Waterloo to Anywhere”
4 out of 5 stars
When the rest of the Libertines kicked guitarist and co-frontman Pete Doherty out of the band due to his destructive drug and law problems, fans and critics alike both wrote off the group as finished.
And consequently they were done.
Doherty kept going with his new (and terribly disappointing) group Babyshambles.
But what do we have here?
Co-frontmen Carl Barat and Gary Powell struck out on their own forming the band Dirty Pretty Things, quite possibly debunking the myth that it was Doherty who was the most talented member of the group.
Whereas Babyshambles lived up to their name, Dirty Pretty Things has put together a set of concise songs that recall the nitty-gritty charm of the first Libertines record.
The stomping, mod-punk that the Libertines did so well on their first album (and not so well on the second) is alive and vibrant.
It stands as testament that Barat was perhaps the talented one and not Doherty.
Nevertheless, check this out, it’s quite good indeed.
Key Tracks: “Wondering,” “Bang Bang You’re Dead,” “Last of the Small Town Playboys”
“Monument to the Masses”
3.5 out of 5 stars
Here’s a story for the kids!
Way back in 2003 with those six words, the band Ima Robot burst onto the scene and immediately caused a whole bunch of people to wonder what the hell they were.
Using every tool available to me in Lester Bangs’ musical dictionary, the best way to describe them was as jittery new wave art-punk.
However, if there was a music genre called “spastic” Ima Robot would be its poster child.
Lead singer Alex Ebert’s nasally vocal delivery is terribly recognizable to even the most casual of observers.
Meanwhile the songs, just as on their last record, are at times more sugary than a pixie stick. Nevertheless they are good, hook-filled pop tunes.
The only downside to this record is that it doesn’t seem quite as instantly catchy on first listen as its predecessor, but it’s still good despite that.
But nobody will probably ever understand the mindset of this band.
Key Tracks: “Creeps Me Out,” “The Beat,” “Cool Cool Universe”
“Crazy Itch Radio”
3 out of 5 stars
On a new label, the production duo of Simon Ratcliffe and Felix Buxton, along with vocalist Corrine Josephs, aka Basement Jaxx, has returned with its first new album since 2003’s “Kish Kash.”
This album isn’t too different from the house-influenced dance-pop they have produced in the past.
There are a few instances on the album where a few of the songs are actually held back by an overabundance of production canoodling.
It’s a good dance record like all three of the group’s prior albums, though I doubt it will have the crossover appeal of “Kish Kash.”
Key Track: “Hush Boy”
1 out of 5 stars
This sucks. Period.
Key Tracks: None
– Chris Kubak,
WTSR Music Director