Some 30 years on, few female vocalists can deliver ache and intimacy with the seeming ease of Karen Carpenter. Add in her tragic death in 1983, and the music of the Carpenters holds an indelible melancholy.
It's ironic—and more than a little sad —that one of the most anticipated rock releases of the fall contains only one new song, which was recorded in 1994. Perhaps more notable is the fact that it will likely prove to be among this quarter's most satisfying rock offerings, which speaks volumes about the woeful current state of the genre and the immeasurable legacy of the tragic genius of Kurt Cobain. Unlike most previously unreleased cuts tacked onto best-of sets, "You Know You're Right" is a potent addition to Nirvana's cache of classic material. It unfolds with equal parts of hauntingly quiet lyrical intensity and brutal instrumental aggression. Cobain's pained rants provide added depth, allowing listeners a view into what is now documented to be his scalding depression. At the core of the track is an infectious pop hook that morphs into a hypnotic mantra that leaves the listener, by turns, sated and grieving all over again.—LF
OK, let's all try to wipe the horribly derivative "Dirrty" from our collective consciousness and focus on the actual direction of Aguilera's long-awaited sophomore effort, which is decidedly more substantive and mature than that single indicates.
Taproot's sophomore project is a 12-track battle between soft and violent narration about personal demons and relationships. The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based quartet's hard-rock style is both melodic and lyrically contemplative and takes constructive risks within each song. Take, for instance, the opening track, "Mine"; the song begins with a heavy guitar riff, then breaks into a lower-tempo, expressive verse sung by vocalist Stephen Richards. Its chorus then comes on hard musically and with a gruff and growly "you're mine" refrain. Each track is a similar mixture of hard and soft, which makes for an aurally interesting listening experience. Notable tunes include "Sumtimes," which grapples with the issue of self-esteem; "Like," one of the album's slower pieces about a growing relationship; and "Everything," which depicts
As one-third of Birmingham, England, outfit Bentley Rhythm Ace, Fuzz Townshend was once on the Skint and Astralwerks labels, creating a party-rocking sound much in line with their famous former labelmate Fatboy Slim.
With nine cuts that clock in at an underwhelming 37 minutes, this series of snapshots from the famed VH1 program is kind of like the proverbial meat loaf in need of breadcrumbs in order to make it stretch.
In the wake of Rhino's rerelease of the Blasters' '80s recordings for Slash, the original lineup of the Downey, Calif.-bred roots-rock band regrouped for a stirring series of West Coast dates this spring. This live album is drawn from performances at L.A.'s House of Blues that found the quintet recapturing the fervor of its career-making shows, with nearly two decades of experience under its belt. Guitarist/songwriter Dave Alvin's dynamic chops are on full display, and his original tunes—"American Music," "Marie Marie," "Long White Cadillac," and more—remain durable. His brother Phil's