TEDDYBEARS – Devil’s Music
THE GOOD: Swedish outfit Teddybears mix it up on their sixth full-length.
THE BAD: Devil’s Music isn’t all that innovative but the album gets the job done.
THE NITTY GRITTY: The new record isn’t much different from 2006′s Soft Machine. (Remember "Cobrastyle" popping up in all those movies and TV commercials?) It just has a more high-profile list of guest vocalists.
Hip-hop’s Eve adds a streetwise twist to "Rocket Scientist." The Flaming Lips put their neo psychedelic spin on "Crystal Meth Christian." Robyn gets the club pumping with "Cardiac Arrest." "Cho Cha" is a seamless jam about a pussycat that finds Cee-Lo Green fronting the B-52′s. You get the idea. Devil’s Music shifts its mood and changes its groove often; dancehall bouncing off house ricocheting off disco before getting back to rock-infused electronica. And for the most part, the collection bangs and sizzles; a disc that plays more like some long-forgotten mix tape than an actual "album." (And in the age of the iPod, I guess that’s a good thing.) The guys may not possess the most distinct personality, but you won’t care.
BUY IT?: Oh yeah. Teddybears still shake up a room.
THIEVERY CORPORATION - Culture of Fear
THE GOOD: Washington DC producer/DJ outfit Thievery Corporation sneak back with a tepid sixth collection.
THE BAD: I said "tepid." Culture is a decent record, but not quite as gripping as past efforts.
THE NITTY GRITTY: For the most part, the guys stick with their tried and true formula, mixing trip-hop with little bits of ambient, dancehall and straight-up rap in spots. The entire album possesses that TC flow that’s both sonically rough but rhythmically smooth. As always, many cuts are politically charged; the modern high tensions permeating the title track immediately spring to mind. And long-time collaborators like Mr. Lif (token tough rapper) and Lou Lou (token breathy female) do their usual shtick. (Uh-oh. He just used the word "shtick.")
But something is missing or maybe it’s just time for Thievery Corporation to move in an entirely new direction, because Culture feels like a retread. We’ve all been here before and the last three times were all far more compelling.
BUY IT?: Your call. Long-time fans still may find much to embrace. Newbies would be better off picking up 2005′s The Cosmic Game or 2008′s Radio Retaliation.
HERCULES AND LOVE AFFAIR – Blue Songs
THE GOOD: House music and production outfit Hercules and Love Affair are back with their second full-length.
THE BAD: The group shuffled their line-up over the past couple of years, and this shake-up leaves Blue Songs somewhat lukewarm.
THE NITTY GRITTY: New members are still getting settled and longtime mainstays like producer/songwriter Andy Butler and DJ/vocalist Kim Ann Foxman seem to be recycling ideas. There are some strong moments here. 80′s house throwback "My House" is extremely funky; "Leonora" steamy and mysterious; "Visitor" slick and otherworldly.
On the flipside though, there are far too many cuts that simply meander. Low key down tempo moments such as "Answers Come In Dreams" and a reworking of "It’s Alright" drum up very little excitement (if any). Blue‘s biggest problem is that it feels more like a straight "listening" album as opposed to something that’s supposed to set a dance floor on fire. And the new producers and guest vocalists on board (some legendary) only offer so much.
BUY IT?: Your choice. Blue Songs doesn’t suffer the sophomore slump, but Hercules has already proven they’re capable of so much better.
NEW RELEASES – CD
BEN LEE – Deeper into Dreams
BJORK – Biophilia
ERASURE – Tomorrow’s World
EVANESCENCE – Evanescence
RYAN ADAMS - Ashes and Fire
NEW RELEASES – DVD
THE GREEN LANTERN with Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively
HORRIBLE BOSSES with Jason Bateman and Charlie Day
JUDY MOODY AND THE NOT BUMMER SUMMER with Jordana Beatty and Heather Graham
ZOOKEEPER with Kevin James and Rosario Dawson