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MODEST MOUSE Good News for People Who Love Bad News ****


Can there be a bad Modest Mouse release? Objectivity aside, this may be the most addictive MM album to date. Simpler than previous efforts, a little less bitter—a little—Good News is given to cool, notable instrument tangents. Violins, timpanis and a tin whistle butter up “The World at Large;” carousel keyboards underscore Isaac Brook’s bewildered, lispy, existential cry in “Bury Me With It”; banjo simpers in “Bukowski” and “Satin in a Coffin;” trumpet shimmers in “The Devil’s Workday;” accordion hushes in “Interlude (Milo).” Verdict: Seventeen tracks and not a single weak link. (Epic)

ERIC CLAPTON Me and Mr. Johnson ***


Eric did a dangerous thing—covered his greatest mentor—and pretty much pulled it off. Unfortunately, even for Mr. Clapton, tributes imply dilution—a removal from the source. Eric’ll sell a gob of records, but if he really felt like Robert Johnson’s music “scared me in its intensity ... like he was singing only for himself, and now and then, maybe God,” well, hell, can anyone improve on that? (Reprise)

BLACK LABEL SOCIETY Hangover Music Vol. VI **


Although Black Label Society, indeed, isn’t Britney Spears, as Zakk Wylde, Ozzy’s on-again off-again lead guitarist since 1987, so astutely points out, they definitely ain’t the “most dark, fearsome and thunderous hard rock of the Modern Age,” either. Damn press kits. Wylde’s baby BLS is yawn-inducing Alice-in-Chainsy ’90s metal-ballad plodders sprinkled with a bunch of Staind-like “yey-aaaaahs.” Guests include Mike Inez (Alice in Chains) and John Tempesta (White Zombie). Didn’t help. (Spitfire)

KATY ROSE Because I Can **


Teen siren Katy Rose, with her burning, come-hither eyes, does have a genuine, fascinating rebel soul. Too bad her pop music hasn’t caught up to her yet. Nor her lyrics: “I wish there was a fairy tale that turned into my life, so I could kiss Prince Charming man and be his princess wife.” She’s better than all the other child stars tripping around in stilettos, but here’s hoping that she’ll grow into her vast potential—fast. (V2)

JANET JACKSON Damita Jo *


Funny that the J-Boob debacle occurred scant weeks before Damita Jo reviews started appearing. But shapely breasts can’t distract from the fact that Janet’s music is as painful to listen to as finger-painting with fire ants. Being sexual doesn’t automatically make you sexy, and unlike princesses of nasty Missy Elliot and Lil’ Kim, Janet’s grossly dumbed-down pop/R& can’t be heated up with pathetic moaning and graphic descriptions of oral sex. (Virgin)

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