Saturday, February 7, 2009

Music Zone
Saurabh & Gaurav

Glasvegas — Glasvegas
(Sony BMG)

Glasvegas sounds something like the collaborative effort of The Jesus And Mary Chain and pop stars of the 1950s and 1960s. With their wall of guitars and drums lifting singer James Allen’s thickly accented vocals to epic heights, the band create some stunning moments throughout the record’s 10 tracks. The opener Flowers & Football Tops`A0is a fitting and near epic introduction to the rest of the album. It’s an absolutely stellar song followed by the equally impressive Geraldine, a song about a social worker promising to be "the angel on your shoulder." Other highlights include the anthemic rocker Go Square Go and the drum-heavy ballad S.A.D. Light. What makes the album so sonically perfect is the contrast between the grandeur of Rich Costey’s big New York production, the simplicity of the songs and the immediacy of their Dion & The Belmonts-via-Dalmarnock inflections. Their most socially aware songs, Stabbed and Daddy’s Gone, remain as astounding as at first listen. The former rips through a classic indie-rock template to the raw guts underneath by the sheer force of Allan’s retching-up-his-soul delivery and its genius subject matter. It’s My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry similarly still stuns with its frank but never mawkish sense of abandonment.

Best track: Flowers & Football Tops

Worst track: Ice Cream Van

Rating: ***

All The Saints — Fire On Corridor X

All the Saints are a three-piece from Atlanta who have been described as a metal radiohead or the missing link between space-rock and grunge. For an early effort, Fire On Corridor X is remarkably cohesive and varied, its more pensive interludes leading relentlessly into riff-bending onslaughts. Too many elements often make for a mucky mix, but not this time. All the Saints keep form and function simple. Each track tilts forward, amassing pressure in volume. The weighty sound warns to self-destruct, to collapse into the noise of hopelessness and tired aggression, but the three-piece holds it together, pacing themselves with rhythm — their terminal discipline. Songs like the bursting opener Sheffield form the bread and butter of the disc, and even on more subdued tracks like the Black Heart Procession — influenced Hornett, another explosion is only the three-minute mark away. Regal Regalia grinds ahead and Papering Fix is the winner for best groove. Farmacia carries the darkened, reverb-shuddering twang, with Jim Crook’s furious drums providing the bulk of the adrenaline surge. The acoustic Leeds is an exception. Even when the volume level drops, All The Saints’ immense sound permeates the atmosphere, leaving the listener to swim inside of their lush creation.

Best track: Sheffield

Worst track: Shadow, Shadow

Rating: ***

Fall Out Boy — Folie A Deux

Frontman Patrick Stump’s confidence and enthusiasm for new sounds and genres brings an easy sense of fun to the album, regularly breaking into falsetto and adding swooping harmonies to the mix. To get the right classic 1980s vibe on Donnie, the band enlisted Elvis Costello, who turns in a tasty but quick cameo near the song’s end. Other surprising guest stars include rap superstar Lil Wayne on Tiffany Blews and Deborah Harry, who’s excellent on West Coast Smoker. Their cover of Beat It rocks even harder than Michael Jackson’s original, Headfirst Slide Into Cooperstown On A Bad Bet is a steady foot-stomper complete with nice stabs of brass, and Coffee’s For Closers is a useful showcase of the band’s ability to deliver witty lyrics. On a weaker note, the band so often picks up interesting sounds and then drops them just as quickly. Production from Pharrell Williams seems like a promising concept, but the things that do catch the ear disappear in the mix or are swiftly discarded. She’s My Winona and 20 Dollar Nose Bleed contains an intriguing electronic presence during the verses. The single I Don’t Care, with its Goth-rock elements and T-Rex nods, is interesting, volatile. Folie absolutely succeeds on the musical front, adding buckets of new flavors and textures into the Fall Out Boy palette — most of which stem from Stump’s newfound discovery of vocal harmonies.

Best track: 20 Dollar Nose Bleed

Worst track: W.A.M.S.

Rating: **

Album of the month

Anthony Hamilton — The Point Of It All (LaFace)

Seven-time Grammy-nominated artist Anthony Hamilton has proven himself to be one of the logical heirs to Marvin Gaye. His rich vocal prowess, steeped both in R&B and the traditions of the church, is a rarity during a time when soul has been hijacked by digitisation. The Point Of It All contains a wide range of raw soul-infused music with Hamilton at the helm co-writing and co-producing on the album with his longtime collaborators, producer/songwriter Kelvin Wooten and Mark Batson. Differing from immediate predecessors, the album embraces Hamilton’s newfound happiness on tracks like the piano-driven, Falling In Love and Soul’s On Fire, setting the tone for Anthony’s story of infidelity where he confesses and prays to be freed of guilt. So Hard to Breathe truly goes back to the early days when Gospel singers took their traditions into secular music. Whether it’s the horn-drenched opener The News or his stripped-down collaboration with David Banner on Cool, Hamilton exudes easy, confident style. A rock classicism also is evident at points, such as in Fine Again, an anthem that owes as much to Gnarls Barkley as it does to late-period Beatles. The best songs are the ones that allow the most open space for Hamilton’s voice, such as the old-school soul of the closer, She’s Gone. Hamilton makes a few hip hop moves here, yet does not follow in the footsteps of R&B revivalists, instead he plows his own path, making a mature brand of soul that’s still vital in every sense.

Best track: Soul’s On Fire

Worst track: Please Stay