Album Reviews: Rob Zombie, Gloriana, Jesse Harris, and the 'Sparkle' Soundtrack



"Mondo Sex Head"

Producers: various

Universal Music Enterprises

Release Date: Aug. 7

Assembled by music director Jason Bentley of the tastemaking Santa Monica, Calif., noncommercial station KCRW, "Mondo Sex Head" is the latest remix collection from musician/filmmaker Rob Zombie, with new versions of 13 tunes from his solo career and his lengthy stint fronting White Zombie. The album follows White Zombie's "Supersexy Swingin' Sounds" (1996) and "American Made Music to Strip By" (1999). A handful of cuts fall in line with the current electronic dance music craze, including Document One's dubstep-steeped take on "Let It All Bleed Out" and a bludgeoning disco-punk version of "Burn" by Italy's Bloody Beetroots. Elsewhere, Big Black Delta's "More Human Than Human" preserves the fist-pumping vibe of its recent remixes of tracks by Daft Punk and M83. But Bentley commissioned artier, more idiosyncratic work, too, such as Tobias Enhus' creepily atmospheric "Devil's Hole Girls" and a hushed goth-funk rendition of "Dragula" by Deftones frontman Chino Moreno's new outfit +++€ . And then there's Korn frontman Jonathan Davis, who basically remakes "Thunder Kiss '65" as though it were his own. - Mikael Wood



"A Thousand Miles Left Behind"

Producer: Matt Serletic

Emblem Music Group/Warner Bros. Records

Release Date: July 31

After withstanding quite a few career bumps following its 2009 debut, country trio Gloriana has managed to put the past in its rearview mirror and concentrate on what it does best. Reteaming with producer Matt Serletic, the three-piece sounds refreshed and re-energized on its sophomore set, "A Thousand Miles Left Behind." But one of the ties that bind the two releases is their harmony. That's apparent on the opening track, "Gold Rush," as well as "Doing It Our Way," both of which could see exposure as singles. Vocalist Rachel Reinert shows plenty of sass throughout the album, with "Sunset Lovin'" and "Go On ... Miss Me" most exemplifying her swagger, and the track "Soldier Song" highlights the depth of brothers Tom and Mike Gossin. The ballads here have a particular sparkle; "Carolina Rose" is an absolute jewel. Gloriana has held firm in a world of change, and A Thousand Miles Left Behind should help it reap the rewards of doing so. - Chuck Dauphin



"Sub Rosa"

Producers: Jesse Harris, Bill Dobrow

Dangerbird Records

Release Date: July 31

New York singer/songwriter Jesse Harris is best-known for his behind-the-scenes work with such folky-jazzy female vocalists as Lizz Wright, Madeleine Peyroux and Norah Jones, whose smash 2002 debut contained such Harris originals as the Grammy Award-winning "Don't Know Why." But he's been making his own appealingly low-key albums since well before Jones' success turned him into a prized collaborator, and you can hear his carefully developed talent in play throughout his 11th studio album, "Sub Rosa." It's a typically refined excursion into the sleek subtleties of Brazilian music for which Harris traveled to Rio de Janeiro; guests include Vinicius Cantua¡ria and Marisa Monte's bassist, Dadi; as well as old pals like Jones, Conor Oberst and Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Nick Zinner. Those players (and more) appoint Harris' songs handsomely, as in the album's swinging opener, "I Know It Won't Be Long," and "It's Been Going 'Round," with Cantua¡ria and guitar whiz Bill Frisell. But they never overpower the hushed intimacy Harris establishes in "Rocking Chairs" and "Waltz of the Rain." - Mikael Wood


Various Artists

"Sparkle: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack"

Producers: various

RCA Records

Release Date: July 31

The obvious emphasis cuts on the soundtrack to "Sparkle" - a high-gloss remake of a 1976 film that itself featured a soundtrack album by Aretha Franklin - are the two new recordings by Whitney Houston, perhaps the final ones she made before her passing in February. In "Celebrate," an R. Kelly-helmed duet with former "American Idol" champ Jordin Sparks (who co-stars with Houston in the movie), the late pop-soul legend channels some of the dignified exuberance of her huge mid-'80s hits, while her deeply churchy rendition of the gospel standard "His Eye Is on the Sparrow" suggests she had more voice left than might have been presumed at the time of her death. Both tunes do well by Houston's legacy, but they're not the only pleasures here. Cee Lo Green's "I'm a Man" and Goapele's "Running" ride crisp old-school funk grooves, and a new version of "Something He Can Feel" (written by Curtis Mayfield for the original "Sparkle") summons nearly as much girl-group sass as En Vogue's 1992 cover did. - Mikael Wood


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