Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Five-Minute Record Reviews: Rob Zombie, 10 Years, Susanna Hoffs, Redd Kross, and Sixpence None The Richer

Rob Zombie - Mondo Sex Head

Those looking forward to an album of new material from rocker-turned-horror flick director will have to keep on waiting, as this new effort is comprised of remixes of his better-known material.

As with most remixes, the intent seems to see how far from the original recording the remixers can take the song before finally working in a chorus or some other element from the song to remind listeners what song it is they're listening to.  While that may be extremely interesting to those who created the remix, it is rarely as exciting for listeners who, unless they're sweating it out on the dancefloor, may be more inclined to listen to something else.

Hate to say it, but this project has "quick money grab" and/or "contractual obligation" written all over it.

10 Years - Minus The Machine

Our apologies to anyone who might be a diehard fan of this band, but this album sounds like somebody hit the "Three Doors Down" button on their Pro Tools rig and this album popped out along with a bunch of songs that sound like generic approximations of current pop metal radio hits.  The problem with an album like this is indicative of music in general; bands don't strive to stand out from one another, but to blend in so as not to be the one singled out on some rock & roll version of Sesame Street's "One of these things is not like the other".  If faceless pop metal is your bag, then this album is for you.

Redd Kross - Researching The Blues

Despite the connotations of the album title, this is not a blues album, which we wouldn't normally have to mention at all if not for the fact that Redd Kross are already a sorely underrated and, well, underfamous rock band from L.A. making their first album of new material in fifteen years and the last thing we'd wanna do is scare any potential listeners with a title that might hint of tired blues boogies.

But, hey, Redd Kross obviously doesn't give a shit.  On their new record, they don't so much pick up where they left off as create a joyous blast of melodic riff rock that seems lost in time, never hip, never passe, but essential to a discerning few who love rooting for musical underdogs.

Where does this new one rank among past Redd Kross releases, you ask?  Production-wise, it's a gritty, striped-down affair that seems to take a page from bassist/producer Steven McDonald's recent tenure in the punk "supergroup" OFF!, whose motto is "keep it short and simple, asshole".

In a perfect world, Redd Kross would be headlining Lollapalooza every year and their music would be blasting out of every pristine muscle car parked at a red light.  While the world will never be as perfect as the one Redd Kross' music seems to inhabit, you can crank up this album and visit anytime you like.

Sixpence None The Richer - Lost In Transition

Best known as the Christian band whose remake of The La's "There She Goes" pushed the superior original off radio playlists, this reviewer has a callous on his right index finger from reflexively changing the station at the first hint of that or the band's annoyingly precious hit, "Kiss Me".

So who asked these guys to reform and make a new record?  Not me!

Having said that, it pains us to say that the record is actually a pretty listenable collection of pop tunes that fall very much in the Cranberries/Dixie Chicks wheelhouse.  Singer Leigh Nash's once recognizable vocal style - a combination of cheerful exuberance, and in-your-face innocence - has been copied so much by the current crop of faux-country artists (Lady Antebellum, Taylor Swift, et al) that my ears are hard-pressed to tell them apart anymore.

Regardless, songs like "My Dear Machine" and "Radio" sound tailor made for radio playlists (duh), and I suppose there's a toilet paper commercial with animated bears perfect for "Should Not Be This Hard".  Sadly, that's as far as we got before Nash's voice started to grate on our last nerve.

Susanna Hoffs - Someday

From the album cover to the song selection, everything about this album seems intent on harkening back to those halcyon days of the 60's when landmark songs seemed to come at you from all angles, not so much screaming for your attention, but deceptively seducing you one note at a time.  With producer Mitch Froom, Hoffs has created the album of her career at a time when it is guaranteed that the fewest amount of people will ever get to hear it, the music business being reduced to supplying background music for...toilet paper commercials with animated bears.

While we were never a huge fan of The Bangles during their heyday, we have begrudgingly come to respect Hoffs for her continuing artistic choices and dedication to the music she loves.  She isn't making desperate stabs to regain past glory like, say, Bon Jovi, but, rather, continuing to make music for the absolute love of it.  Put this album on the next time you're reading the paper and, regardless of whatever gruesome headlines there may be, this album will put a smile on your face.

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