Five-Minute Record Reviews: Tenacious D, Willie Nelson, Best Coast, And MORE!

OK, here's the premise.  We not only listen to each album in five minutes, we review it too.  I mean, seriously, in today's world, five minutes should be more than enough time to decide if an album is crap or not.  Man, could this introduction be any longer?  On with the reviews!
Lisa Marie Presley / Storm And Grace Does Lisa Marie Presley have the talent to be making records if she wasn't the daughter of Elvis Presley? Not for a major label. With her limited range and a voice that tries (and fails) to emulate the smoky, world weary Dusty Springfield at her Memphis best, Presley would be the local gal who shows up on open mic night like clockwork, but not much else. As The King's only offspring, though, here we find her making her third album for her second major label.
This time around, she's going faux-country because, well, that's whateverybody else is doing. This, of course, is the hallmark of her previous two attempts at trend-hopping.
A song like the ethereal and haunting "Close To The Edge" is much too great to not get the vocal workout it deserves. I hate to say it, but if Carrie Underwood knew this song existed, she'd do it proper justice. Of course, this would have been a career turn in the hands of the aforementioned Springfield.
Did we mention that the album was produced by T Bone Burnett? While he's able to create a moderately interesting musical bed for Presley to mumble along to, there seems to be an audbile haze over the whole thing, rounding off some of the musical edges that could have made this album interesting from that standpoint.
Willie Nelson / Heroes It's getting so I can't tell a new Willie Nelson album from any of the hundreds he's put out over the years. I could swear I've been looking at this cover in record bins for the past couple years, but apparently this is brand new as of May 15 2012. This time around Willie shares vocal duties with an all-star cast that includes Sheryl Crow, Merle Haggard, Ray Price, and Snoop Dogg.
It's on tunes where he shares the limelight with son Lukas that this album really lifts off, providing an enjoyable lesson in "how to do it right" that lies in stark contrast to whatever it is Lisa Marie Presley is doing.
I mean, Willie can barely stand still long enough to sing any of his hits, making his live shows faster-paced than a Circle Jerks gig, but give him a song he's heard only once and even he musters a little "spit and vinegar" here and there.
Best Coast The Only Place I am convinced that if Best Coast had existed in the '60s, they'd have been huge. They add just enough grit to the girl-group aesthetic and come up with a sound that Phil Spector would kill for.
While singer Bethany Cosentino was briefly a pop princess half a decade ago and a child sctress before that, so her credentials thus far are suspect at best. Even so, her swagger ad charm will quickly win you over on songs like the Ramones-meet-Twin Peaks rocker "Last Year" and the Dusty Springfield-influenced dust-up "Do You Love Me Like You Used To".
Santana / Shape Shifter
Imagine if you took Rob Thomas' vocals off of Santana's monster hit "Supernatural"? You'd still have something more exciting than this record, which is a collection of Santana instrumental cuts that the artist has "stached away" for the decade or two that he's been riding the wave that Thomas' song set in motion in 1999.
Bet his next album will again be top-loaded with guest vocalists and perhaps a return visit from Thomas himself.
Tenacious D / Rize Of The Fenix What sets this album apart from other musical comedy albums is that it actually works as a real album after you've heard the funny lyrics a couple times. I almost get the feeling that Black and Gass set out to make an album that worked on both levels and the good news is that they succeeded. With a crack band behind them that includes Dave Grohl (drums), John Spiker (bass, piano, organ) and John Konesky (electric guitar), how could they not?
The tunes, the skits, the fucking jams, all are firing on all sixteen cylinders. It's almost enough to make you forget the crap-on-celluloid that was The Pick of Destiny.

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