Kings Of Leon: Mechanical Bull (RCA)
Mechanical Bull is the Kings Of Leon’s sixth album and something of a return to form after the mixed reception of the belaboured 2010 album Come Around Sundown that sold relatively poorly.
The group’s 2008 album, Only By Night, was an absolute stunner where it seemed rock radio played just about every track on the album as a hit single.
That disc had at least a half dozen airwave hits while the uber-hits Use Somebody and Sex On Fire virtually saturated modern rock radio and crossed over to pop radio and even got club play.
The follow-up Come Around Sundown was a relative flop scoring but one hit while the rest of the album had some songs that were weak and came off as filler.
Every track on this new release is a winner even though nothing is as immediately likable as the aforementioned signature songs.
The lead off up-tempo single Supersoaker mixes the band’s unique brand of post punk southern rock and their arena leanings nicely with chiming guitars and the telling lyric “down in the delta you’re ringing bells.”
Meanwhile, rock radio has already jumped ahead to feature another song from this album with the spare and rootsy ballad Wait For Me which lyrically comes across as open ended, even though there is a theme of over indulgence that may explain the weakness of the Come Around Sundown album.
But for variety check out the glam rock overtones of Don’t Matter and Rock City (as in a southern Suffragette City), the R.E.M.-ish ringing guitars of Temple and the U2-like guitar dynamics of Tonight.
A very strong 11-track album but confirmed fans will want to check out the Deluxe Edition that has two additional songs with the demo-like Work On Me and the rootsy rocker Last Mile Home taken from the film August: Osage County.
Earth, Wind & Fire: Now, Then & Forever (Sony)
Earth, Wind & Fire should be considered something of an American national treasure.
They formed back in 1969 and for the last few decades have been releasing imaginative and groundbreaking blends of funk/pop/rock/jazz/disco and soul.
It is this amalgam that drives this new album where EW&F have scored a minor hit on the Adult Contemporary charts with the funky soul of My Promise, while they have charted on Smooth Jazz sites with the new age soul of Guided Lights where the band performs a six plus minute workout complete with horns, woozy synths and honeyed harmonies.
My fave track is the energized Night Of My Life with its Carpe Diem dance sound that stands with the best the band has ever made.
Fans will want to note that this comes with six ‘free’ bonus tracks of yesteryear’s smash hits including Sing A Song, September (their signature song), Let’s Groove, After The Love Is Gone and their terrific cover of Got To Get You Into My Life re; the following GLEE/Beatles CD review.
Glee; Sings The Beatles (Columbia)
There is no denying the success of the GLEE franchise and its many, many so-called “soundtrack” albums. The recording label keeps pumping them out so people must be buying them and GLEE Sings The Beatles promises to be one of their biggest sellers given the tragic drug overdose death of Cory Monteith combined with the overwhelming popularity of The Beatles’ music. But if you were hoping to get your last fix of Monteith (sorry for the addiction idiom) you won’t find it on Sings The Beatles.
There is no Monteith here but it would have been interesting to see the public reaction if he had indeed sung ironic titles such as Help or Yesterday or even (gulp) A Hard Days Night.
Anyway, this season’s premier ran yesterday and I am sure that ratings will be way up as the morbidly curious wonder how they will write the Monteith character out of the show while this mediocre soundtrack neither advances nor hinders the Beatles legacy.