Mitchell: McGraw one of country music’s best
Emotional Traffic (Curb)
This new Tim McGraw country CD was two and a half years in the making as his recording label released a Greatest Hits package in the interim—incidentally, against his wishes which caused McGraw to take legal channels to get Emotional Traffic released.
The album also comes stickered with a rote quote from McGraw that states “This is my best album ever” which most reviewers ignore because almost every artist says that about their new babies.
But with Emotional Traffic McGraw may actually be right this time out.
This is a generous 12-track album and there isn’t a dud on the disc as McGraw co-produces with veteran Byron Gallimore who spent a lot of time and money to get the right sounds and balance.
There is also an undercurrent of southern soul in this country mix where McGraw shares a ballad with Ne-Yo on Only Human while he covers the old ’60s nugget One Part, Two Part which is also the only song on the album where McGraw shares some mic time with his long-time wife Faith Hill.
This is the number one selling country album on the charts right now and should spawn at least three hits. If you go by the ‘feature song’ sticker on the jewel box they would be the redemption ballad Better Than I Used To Be, the cool country R&B groove of Right Back Atcha Babe (that for some reason had me thinking back to The Little River Band) and the arena chant rocker Felt Good On My Lips.
The list of credits for guests and session musicians is huge on this album which gives the disc its all-pro sheen but once again Tim McGraw proves he is one of the best singers and interpreters in the contemporary country genre.
Gym Class Heroes; The Papercut Chronicles II (DecayDance)
The Gym Class Heroes have been critics’ darlings for a few years now but they have also crossed over to the mainstream after several years of near obscurity and struggle for survival.
Their first album, Papercut Chronicles I (2006), did not sell well and none of their other four albums had much more than one minor hit per disc which just barely allowed the group to hang on with extensive touring.
Well, Papercut II now has two huge hits in the top 40 with the dance/hip hop/pop gems Stereo Hearts that features Adam Levine of Maroon 5 and Ass Back Home that features the soulful voice of distaff Brit Neon Hitch.
What sets the GCHs apart from other hip hop/pop groups besides being interracial is that they play live instruments in their energetic and busy mix and rely less on electronics. Check out the cool descending bass lines of the delightful Martyrial Girl (sic) and the hooky pop rock of Life Goes On.
Success has finally arrived in a big way for these veterans yet their songs are always positive and upbeat while there are a few harder existential questions along the way—in a word, an amiable, thought provoking album.
iCARLY: Soundtrack II (Columbia)
Like the first soundtrack to the popular Nickelodeon series iCarly, this album includes “music from and inspired by the hit TV show.”
The show and these putative soundtracks are excellent vehicles for its star, Miranda Cosgrove, who will probably blossom into a pop music sensation as she matures. This is reflected in the more mature selection of outside songs not sung by the iCarly cast and Cosgrove with hits from Katy Perry (Hot N Cold), Ke$ha (Blow), Taio Cruz (Dynamite), Jennette McCurdy (Generation Love) and Leona Lewis (I Will Be).
Fans will want to note that some of these popular hits are here in radio edit form while the sometimes cheeky Perry has had her Hot N Cold served up as a ‘clean version’ for those parents who keep a close ear to what their younger teens are listening to.
Cosgrove offers up her minor hit Crazy Dancing and an acoustic version of Shakespeare but the best indication of the somewhat growing sophistication and maturation of the iCarly brand is the inclusion of two cool tunes from The Ting Tings (That’s Not My Name) and The Black Kids (I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You). The former was a No.1 smash hit in the U.K. a couple of years ago for the Tings while the Black Kids song is considered something of an overlooked classic that might get a second chance on this slightly more hip and grown up soundtrack.