Entertainment

Train, Mraz top CD reviews 0

Darryl Sterdan, QMI Agency
Jason Mraz and Patrick Monahan of Train (Reuters photos)

Jason Mraz and Patrick Monahan of Train (Reuters photos)

This week: Train stay on track, Mraz gets lovey-dovey, Measha goes pop, the Crows have it covered and more. Looking for a review of Jack White’s Blunderbuss? We’ve got that covered online.

Train

California 37

Pop-Rock

3 stars out of 5

Train aren’t geniuses, but they’re no fools either. After having their career revived by Hey, Soul Sister, the trio enlisted the song’s co- writers and producers to help craft the bulk of this disc — which is predictably heavy on hooky folk-pop and radio-rock ditties laced with cute pop-culture references. Pity a bunch of those are misspelled in the lyric sheet. Told you they’re no geniuses.

Download: Drive By; 50 Ways to Say Goodbye

Jason Mraz

Love is a Four-Letter World

Pop-Rock

2.5 stars out of 5

Innovation is not Mraz’s MO. From the cliche title to the CTV-logo cover art — and most vitally, his endless stockpile of easy-breezy folk-pop and mellow-fellow neo-soul about falling in (and out of) love and living in the moment — there’s nary an original thought on the hat- loving wimp’s fourth album. Sure, it’s pleasant enough. But ultimately, the real four-letter word for Love is: Zzzz.

Download: Freedom Song; Everything is Sound

Measha Brueggergosman

I've Got a Crush on You

Popera

2.5 stars out of 5

Opera lovers know Brueggergosman’s got talent. But here, the world- renowned soprano shows she’s also got love for music sung without Viking helmets. The eclectic live CD finds the down-to-earth diva casually leading a jazzy combo through gems by everyone from Gershwin to Feist — when she isn’t flirting with reggae or clowning with Martin Short. A tad loosey-goosey but likable.

Download: I’ve Got a Crush on You; Whole to My Half

Counting Crows

Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did on Our Summer Vacation) Country-Rock

3.5 stars out of 5

You can tell a lot about a band by the songs they cover. For this country-flavoured collection, Adam Duritz and co. avoid hit singles in favour of personal faves by the likes of Teenage Fanclub, Travis and Fairport Convention, along with cuts from friends and former bandmates. The result is less a jukebox than a journey through the players’ pasts and playlists. Surprisingly engaging.

Download: Hospital; Coming Around

Spiritualized

Sweet Heart, Sweet Light

Space-Rock

3.5 stars out of 5

Ladies and gentlemen, he is floating in place. Jason Pierce is up to his old tricks again on the seventh Spiritualized studio disc. Which is to say: Bashing out drone-rock nuggets from the Velvet goldmine, cranking out psychedelic epics, and mellowing out on drowsy space-pop with strings and gospel choirs. There’s more of the latter this time, but otherwise it’s the same old-same old.

Download: Hey Jane; I Am What I Am

Neon Trees

Picture Show

Pop-Rock

3 stars out of 5

More like Slide Show. These Killers proteges from Utah spend far too much time on their overenthusiastic sophomore album playing Name That Influence, flitting impatiently between one sonic touchstone after another — from punky new wave to sweet ’60s pop to gospel-tinged funk to spiky alt-rock to swirly dance-pop and back. In the end, you can’t really see the Trees for the forest.

Download: Moving in the Dark; Everybody Talks

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Johnny Cash

Bootleg IV: Soul of Truth

Country-Gospel

3.5 stars out of 5

When Cash wasn’t raising hell, he was praising heaven. Not that anyone listened. The country god made 11 gospel discs, most of which sold poorly. This 51-cut comp resurrects those seldom-heard spirituals from the ’70s and ’80s, along with a few outtakes. With songs that run the gamut from sombre balladry to boom-chicka country and hillbilly boogie, it might make you a believer.

Download: Gospel Boogie; Strange Things Happening Everyday

Black Mountain

Year Zero: The Original Soundtrack

Psychedelic Rock

3 stars out of 5

Black to the beach? Not quite. The Vancouver psychedelic rockers meld something old and something new with this post-apocalyptic surf-flick soundtrack, mixing edited numbers from previous albums with five new cuts that tie into the film. Pity that most of the newbies tend toward moody and experimental, heavy on spoken-word vocals, robotic beats and synths. For die-hards only.

Download: Mary Lou; Breathe

Camouflage Nights

Camouflage Nights

Electro-Rock

3.5 stars out of 5

Their past has caught up with them. Finally. Thrush Hermit’s Robert Benvie and Ian McGettigan waited and waded through years of record- label politics to release this album by their electro-rock project. So yeah, sometimes those itchy beatboxes, squelchy synths and dance-rock beats sound a tad dated. But the hooks behind them are still razor- sharp. Can’t wait for the sequel in 2020.

Download: Five Five Minutes; (It Could Be) Love

Halestorm

The Strange Case of ...

Alt-Metal

3 stars out of 5

Move over, Amy Lee; there’s a new metal queen on the scene. Lizzy Hale has what it takes to be the belle of the headbangers’ ball — powerhouse pipes, ballbusting attitude, sex appeal. What she still needs are stronger tunes and more focus: Her band’s second CD is a disappointingly inconsistent collision of alt-metal grind, riff-rock anthems and icky power ballads. Strange but true.

Download: Love Bites (So Do I); Freak Like Me

Mares of Thrace

The Pilgrimage

Metal

4 stars out of 5

Don’t let their looks fool you. These two Calgary women appear harmless, but one listen to their cataclysmically intense sophomore disc hammers home the brutal truth: They are malevolent mistresses of mayhem who seek to savage our eardrums with their noisy sludge-doom screamfests. Meet the demonic love children of The Melvins and Jucifer. Gaze upon them and know fear.

Download: The Pragmatist; The Perpetrator

Screaming Females

Ugly

Indie-Rock

4 stars out of 5

There’s really just one screaming female in this New Jersey trio:

Marissa Paternoster. And the power of her feral paint-peeling yowl is matched only by her fearsome guitar shredding. Put them together with a rugged rhythm section, a slate of ragged indie-rock and anti- producer Steve Albini, and you’ve got a disc that fuses Sleater-Kinney with Dinosaur Jr. Something to scream about.

Download: Rotten Apple; Tell Me No

Killing Joke

MMXII

Post-Punk

4 stars out of 5

The end is nigh. But thanks to these post-punk dark lords, it comes with a bang, not a whimper. KJ’s 15th album — and second since the original lineup’s 2008 reunion — supply anthems for the impending apocalypse, as Jaz Coleman bellows about shifting poles, work camps, corporate evil and societal collapse atop huge, propulsive slabs of majestic doom-rock. Brace yourself.

Download: Corporate Elect; Glitch

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DOWN/STREAM

B.o.B & Taylor Swift

Both of Us

Bobby Ray Simmons is no stranger to strange bedfellows; the rapper has already teamed up with Paramore's Hayley Williams and Weezer's Rivers Cuomo. But on this cut from his May 1 album Strange Clouds, he meets none other than T-Swizzy, who injects sweet acoustic-pop melodies and fingerpicked guitar between his staccato rhymes and lurching beats.

Double your pleasure.

hypem.com

Joey Ramone

Rock ’n’ Roll is the Answer

Gabba gabba yay! More than a decade after he died from lymphoma, Joey Ramone returns on May 22 with ...Ya Know?, a star-studded compilation of fleshed-out demos and recordings by the punk legend. This first single is a splendid chunk of garage-rock forged from a crunching riff, fully fleshed vocals from Joey, and even a couple of lines nicked from Elton. A winner. No question.

www.joeyramone.com

Coachella 2012

Various Artists

It’s deja vu all over again. Last weekend, the Coachella music fest kicked off with The Black Keys, Radiohead, Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg and scores of other great bands. This weekend, the fest closes with ...

all the same bands playing one more time. Best of all: If you missed them the first time, you can watch nearly all the performances live from the comfort of your couch. Rock on.

www.coachella.com

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DVDs

Alice Cooper

The Strange Case of Alice Cooper: Live 1979 Shock Rock HHH Welcome to his breakdown. Filmed shortly after alkie Alice dried out in a sanitarium — an ordeal that inspired his From the Inside album — this 72-minute San Diego show from his Madhouse Rock Tour finds the gaunt shock-rocker and his snake doing battle with dancing liquor bottles, tranny nurses and evil docs with giant syringes. Not his finest moment, but entertaining enough.

Diana Ross

Live in Central Park

Soul

3 stars out of 5

Ain’t no deluge heavy enough to keep Miss Ross from the stage for long. When a storm shortened her 1983 Central Park show, she returned the next day for a redo. You get both sets here, and while the performances aren’t that impressive — it’s mostly Ross alone on a giant stage in a series of ridiculous outfits — her refusal to bow to Mother Nature may be the supreme diva moment.

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GARAGE BAND

Mojave Bloom

Burlington, Ont.

www.reverbnation.com/mojavebloom

The first surprise: Despite their horribly sucky name, these guys are a metal band. The second and far better surprise: They’re an insanely good metal band. The guitarists totally destroy. The drummer is a monster. The vocalist has a scream that would scare the bejesus out of Beelzebub. And their songs are ridiculously complex without sacrificing raw power, ingeniously melding elements of thrash, prog, death-metal and even anthemic alt-metal into a relentlessly inventive hybrid. Truly an oasis in the arid desert of lunkhead metal.

VERDICT: “Bloomin’ geniuses.”

4 stars out of 5

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UPCOMING

May 1

Strange Clouds

B.o.B

Aufheben

Brian Jonestown Massacre

20 Dozen

Dirty Dozen Brass Band

...Little Broken Hearts

Norah Jones

Born Villain

Marilyn Manson

All or Nothing

Pennywise

Go! Pop! Bang!

Rye Rye

Master of My Make-Believe

Santigold

Blown Away

Carrie Underwood

Out of the Game

Rufus Wainwright

 

 


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