Entertainment Music

Sam Roberts Band, Michael Buble, The Pretenders and Oasis reissue tops this week's new music

By Darryl Sterdan, Special to Postmedia Network

Sam Roberts Band

Sam Roberts Band

CAN-CON

Sam Roberts Band
TerraForm


They’re looking up at the stars with their feet on the ground. Assisted by co-producer Graham Walsh of Toronto electronic experimentalists Holy F---, singer-guitarist Roberts and his longserving crew explore spacier musical realms on their seventh studio disc — while keeping their lyrical focus firmly anchored in topics like love and personal growth. Boldly going.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)



Michael Buble
Nobody But Me


“I believe in starting over,” Mr Bubble claims on his seventh disc. You’d never know it. Nobody But Me sticks to his tried-and-true formula, mixing swingin’ standards from Frank and Dean’s songbooks with radio-ready retro-pop ditties, a classic-rock cover and VIP cameos. Granted, it’s as charming as the man himself. Even so, nobody but your mom needs it.

RATING: 3 (out of 5)



David Clayton-Thomas
Canadiana


From Canada to the world. True to its title, Clayton-Thomas’s covers set is rooted north of the 49th, with CanCon classics from Neil, Joni, Gordon, Leonard, Sarah, Buffy and even Rush. But the BS&T vet also ventures beyond the border by reworking them into everything from Southern soul and Americana to reggae and calypso. True patriot love with a twist.

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

Tomi Swick
Yukon Motel


Talk about getting back to roots. After decamping to England for his self-titled 2012 sophomore album, grainy-throated Hamilton singer-songwriter Swick — winner of the Best New Artist Juno in 2007 — finally checks back in with this earthy, freewheeling batch of Tom Cochrane-style Can-rock, roots-pop and alt-country. It’s off the beaten path, but worth the trip.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

NOW HEAR THIS

The Pretenders
Alone


Well, not all alone. For her first Pretenders disc in eight years, leader Chrissie Hynde enlists Black Keys leader and producer du jour Dan Auerbach — who blankets the undiminished beauty and rich vibrato of her voice with his dusty psychedelic-roots twang and lazy flowing grooves. The results are equal parts unforced and unfocused. But never uninteresting.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)



CRX
New Skin


No, Nick Valensi isn’t pimping Hondas. The Strokes guitarist’s new side project is supposedly named after a drum machine. And to his credit, this Josh Homme-produced disc finds Valensi capably shifting gears, with elements of new wave, power pop and desert rock riding shotgun next to all the spiky guitars and dusty vocals of his day job. Worth a test drive.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

Sleaford Mods
TCR


FYI: It stands for Total Control Racing — the old car-race game. Which is apparently a metaphor for the endless, pointless repetition of life. But fear not: The Mods aren’t toying with us on this EP, which features five new blasts of Jason Williamson’s razor-sharp acerbic harangues set against Andrew Fearn’s post-punk garage-band minimalism. Right on track.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

Tove Lo
Lady Wood


Once is not enough for Tove Lo. Not nearly enough. The Swedish pop tart continues to give zero, um, firetrucks on her sizzling sophomore set, explicitly and frankly singing about threesomes and open relationships and girl-meets-girl action — all the better to titillate her teenage audience with. Thankfully, her stylish Nordic electro-pop elevates the proceedings.

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

The Game
1992


Comin’ straight outta the ’90s. Hot on the heels of the O.J. and NWA retrospectives, the Compton gangsta-rapper fires up the wayback machine once again for his eighth disc. And as he samples Ice-T and Marvin, recalls the Rodney King riots and reminisces about Wu, Nas and Pac — while staying rooted in the here and now — Game delivers another winner.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

KoRn
The Serenity of Suffering


Here to stay? Apparently. Nearly 20 years after Freak on a Leash, the nu-metal oldsters are still kicking. And still suffering, judging by songs like Black is the Soul and The Hating. Equally predictable: Their mix of hip-hop beats, craggy riffs, sinister ambience and anthemic choruses designed to rouse your eternally angst-ridden inner teen. So much for serenity.

RATING: 2.5 (out of 5)

D.R.A.M.
Big Baby D.R.A.M.


No, not the Drag Racing Association of Manitoba. This D.R.A.M. — the nom de rap of Virginia’s Shelley Massenburg-Smith — stands for Does Real-A-- Music. And on his fun-loving debut, that translates to: Gleefully ribald rhymes, exuberant crooning and resiliently positive vibes set atop eccentric, woozy tracks flecked with piano-pop. Like candy from a baby.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

Jamie Lidell
Building a Beginning


“Nothing’s gonna change,” promises Lidell on his seventh album. Maybe that’s true — but only because it already has. Continuing (though not completing) his evolution from electro-glitch nerd to sincere retro-soul crooner, the British ex-pat recalls ’70s-era Stevie Wonder, Teddy Pendergrass and Al Green as he celebrates love and family. Right from the start.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

Meshuggah
Violent Sleep of Reason


There is such a thing as being too perfect. So, for their eighth studio effort, these Swedish metal extremists turned off the computers and recorded live in the studio. While it has no effect on the proggy intricacy of their compositions and brutal propulsion of their attack, it does appear to add some humanity and warmth to the proceedings. Should you need that.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

The Dillinger Escape Plan
Dissociation


Out with a bang. A bloodcurdling scream. And another brain-cramping slate of insanely complex, tempo-shifting intensity. After nearly 20 years, these metal extremists are reportedly calling it a day with this sixth disc. But if this truly is their parting gift, at least it’s a magnificent one, fusing metal, jazz-rock, techno and more into an explosive memento. RIP, DEP.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

Chris de Burgh
A Better World


Better is in the eye of the beholder. Which is to say: Those who can’t get enough of Irish troubadour de Burgh’s artsy soft-rock narratives and wistful, orchestrated ballads will indeed find their lives enriched by the singer-songwriter’s 21st studio creation. But those who haven’t paid attention since his ’70s glory days might be better off keeping their distance.

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

Lost Frequencies
Less is More


Emphasis on less. Belgian deep house DJ and producer Felix (Lost Frequencies) de Laet lives up to the title of his debut album, eschewing his EDM peers’ party-hearty vibe, rapid-fire bpms and audacious sonics for mellow jams — including a reworking of What is Love? — that emphasize tenderly melodic vocals and flowing low-impact grooves. Easy does it.

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

Donny McCaslin
Beyond Now


Beyond the Thin White Duke: Sax man McCaslin and his band — who backed Bowie on his swan song ★ — stay in the zone here. Inspired by and dedicated to Ziggy, the disc explores similarly edgy jazz-rock terrain, and even includes two Bowie covers, along with tunes by Mutemath, Deadmau5 and Chainsmokers. Talk about being in good company.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

Kentucky HeadHunters
On Safari

From Dumas Walker to Alice Cooper? It’s true; the ’Hunters cover the Coop’s Caught in a Dream on this disc. But fear not, purists: It fits right in on this solid disc, which features the band’s tried-and-true amalgam of rough-and-tumble southern rock, blues and boogie — all voiced in a moonshine-swilling rasp and laced with plenty of guitar twang. Love it to death.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

Melanie C
Version of Me


Let’s be honest: Does anybody want — I mean really, really want — another album from the former Spice Girl? Particularly one as unexciting as this? While Melanie Chisholm earns points for co-writing her material — and for aiming higher than the bubblegum of her old gig — these vanilla EDM-flecked soul-pop tracks won’t spice up anybody’s life. Poor Sporty.

RATING: 2 (out of 5)

Omar Rodríguez-López
Cell Phone Bikini/Infinity Drips


Good things come in twos. And in more ways than one. Guitarist Rodríguez-López lets bewitching bandmate Teri Gender Bender handle vocals and lyrics on his seventh and eighth discs of the fall — and whether it’s the experimental indie-rock of Cell Phone Bikini or the psychedelically exotic Eastern rhythms and drones of Infinity Drips, they make a fine pair.

RATING (BOTH): 4 (out of 5)

Dee Snider
We Are the Ones


Whaddaya wanna do with your life? Twisted Sister’s Snider clearly wants to leave his past behind. So, on his first album of originals in 16 years, he gamely (or foolishly, depending on your view) dumps glam-metal for bombastic modern rock inspired by Foos, NiN and Meat Loaf — and even redoes We’re Not Going to Take It as a piano ballad. That’s a twist.

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

Todd Snider
East Side Bulldog

Unleashed. Untamed. And definitely not house-trained. Nashville hellion Snider humps your leg with his umpteenth disc. His guitar growling as he tosses off old-school garage-rock, rockabilly, R&B and Tex-Mex, Snider celebrates “chicks and cars and partying hard,” disses pretty boys, dances the Funky Tomato and praises his beloved Bocephus. Good dog.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

Gurr
In My Head


This music stuff isn’t rocket surgery. Not to Andreya Casablanca and Laura Lee Jenkins, anyway. The Berlin guitar-and-drums duo keep things superbly simple on their debut full-length. Thankfully, their unfussy garage-pop — all sweet vocals and jangle-twang guitars over zippy no-frills ditties — is every bit as intoxicating as it is uncomplicated. Heads up.

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

NxWorries
Yes Lawd!


Collaboration can be co-operation or competition. This cool, fat-free joint effort from hip-hop phenom Anderson.Paak and beatmaker Knxwledge lands squarely in the first category. Knxwledge lays down mellow, casually flowing tracks; .Paak tops them with rich freeflowing vocals; nobody steps on anyone’s toes and no cut overstays its welcome. Yes, indeed.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

OLDIES & GOODIES

Lazarus: Original Cast Recording
Various Artists


He has risen. At least sonically. The companion album to the Bowie-themed musical supposedly features his final recordings — the poignant No Pain, the jazz-rocking Killing a Little Time and the moody When I Met You, all penned for the show. But stick around for the rest of the set, which features surprisingly spot-on Bowie-oke from Dexter’s Michael C. Hall.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)



Elvis Presley
The Wonder of You: With The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra


Hey, it worked the first time. So, a year after producers gave The King the Royal (Philharmonic) treatment on If I Can Dream, here’s more Presley fare gussied up with strings and horns. Like last time, rockers like A Big Hunk o’ Love benefit from the punch-up. Pity the disc is too heavy on heartbreak-hotel ballads. Maybe they’ll fix that for the third go-around.

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

Tad
God’s Balls | Salt Lick | 8-Way Santa


Meet the greatest grunge band you never heard. And the gnarliest. Led by the blowtorch-lunged Tad Doyle, the Seattle behemoths fused scraping metal guitars, aggressively lurching beats and darkly demented redneck narratives into pure evil genius. Hear for yourself: Sub Pop has reissued their three ’89-’91 discs in expanded editions. Ignore them at your peril.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

Oasis
Be Here Now: Deluxe Edition


The 1997 original was a definite maybe. Bloated and self-indulgent, the Gallaghers’ third (and longest) album was a drug-fuelled mess of epic proportion. This expanded reissue aims for redemption with a second disc of similarly overcooked B-sides, live cuts and whatnot — but the real treat is a third disc with Noel’s gritty, rawboned original demos. Go there first.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)



Pantera
Great Southern Trendkill: 20th Anniversary


What didn’t kill them etc. Despite tension that left the band and singer Phil Anselmo recording separately, the groove-metal monsters’ penultimate studio release packs some of their heaviest and hardest-hitting fare. This remastered reissue ups the ante further with a second disc of early mixes, instrumental versions and live recordings. Greatness made greater.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

IN THE PIPELINE

Nov 4

Bon Jovi, This House Is Not For Sale
Susan Boyle, A Wonderful World
Common, Black America Again
The Darcys, Centerfold
Glenn Hughes, Resonate
Jim James, Eternally Even
Alicia Keys, HERE
Mötley Crüe, The End – Live in Los Angeles
Mother Love Bone, On Earth As It Is: The Complete Works
Stevie Nicks, Bella Donna (Deluxe Edition)
Queen, Queen On Air
Chris Robinson Brotherhood, If You Lived Here, You Would Be Home By Now
Rossington, Take It On Faith
Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions, Until the Hunter
Kate Tempest, Let Them Eat Chaos
Robbie Williams, Heavy Entertainment Show