Broken Bells: After The Disco (Columbia)
I wasn’t as big a fan as the marketplace for Broken Bells’ debut album which sold very well and spawned a major hit with The High Road. But I quite like this new offering that has hit the charts in the top five on both sides of the border while the act remains the duo of The Shins’ James Mercer and Danger Mouse (aka Brian Burton).
The songs are somewhat less experimental and more accessible especially with the pop hit Holding On For Life that sounds at times like a great lost Bee Gee’s outtake while the title track After The Disco borrows a little of Roxy Music’s bass line from Love Is The Drug.
What is more impressive is this album gets even better the deeper you get into it with its sharp hooks and seemingly sure fire hits with the trippy Lazy Wonderland and pure poppy Medicine.
Check out too the Led Zep ballad accents of The Angel And The Fool, the garage rock like No Matter What You’re Told and the meandering orchestral pop of The Remains Of Rock And Roll.
To my ears, a far stronger release than the first effort.
Roch Voisine: My Very Best (flaimic/Sony)
Singer songwriter Roch Voisine released a Best Of album back in 2008 but it was made mostly for his huge Quebec and Western European audiences with mostly all French language songs.
This newly released My Very Best is almost all English language songs and includes his big crossover hits like Shout Out Loud, Kissing Rain, Deliver Me and of course his signature song I’ll Always Be There.
However, the big selling point here is the four new songs highlighted by the piano- and orchestra-driven power ballad Living Out My Dreams along with the electric guitar-driven pop of One Day and the rock-styled cover of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ nugget Under The Bridge that offers some fine fret work by Carlos Santana.
Voisine has stuck almost exclusively to his own compositions so there are no outtakes from his Americana trilogy which fans might have hoped for.
A fine set for the anglophone newcomer to Voisine’s large catalogue.
Craig Handy: 2nd Line Smith (OKeh)
It has been several years since Craig Handy has put his own name to a new album as he has been playing with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Wynton Marsalis, Roy Haynes and others.
The great sax player is a graduate of Texas U after winning the Charlie Parker scholarship.
However, this new post-bop album finds Handy exploring the dance funk of New Orleans music (there is a tuba-like Sousaphone on every track) by way of tunes associated with keyboard great Jimmy Smith—making this a tribute album to some degree.
Craig wants to put dance back into jazz so many of the 10 tracks here are up-tempo workouts including new renditions of classics such as High Heel Sneakers and the Muddy Waters gem Mojo Working.
Cool covers too of Smith’s Mellow Mood and Ready ‘n’ Able while noted jazz singer Dee Dee Bridgewater steps up for a nifty take of On The Sunny Side Of The Street.