Five-Minute Record Reviews: Natalie Maines, Rod Stewart, Fitz & The Tantrums & Savages!

Rod Stewart - Time

In recent years, the career of this two- time Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee has been on cruise control as the singer has become increasingly known for his seemingly never-ending series of Great American Songbook releases.  Mind you, Stewart had run out of gas long before he chose to begin covering easy-listening and soul standards, so the idea of Stewart recording his first album of new original material in 20 years seems like a disaster waiting to happen.

Quite surprisingly, the album is quite good and I am left wondering what took Stewart so long to record his own material.  Oh right, those covers albums were hugely successful.

While I wouldn't call the album a full return to past greatness, Time is an album that shows Stewart sounds best when he's mining that MOR rock sound that spawns such hits as "Some Guys Have All The Luck" and "Forever Young".

Natalie Maines - Mother

Continuing the theme of "albums that have no right to be this good" is the latest solo outing from "former" Dixie Chick Natalie Maines.  The oddly-titled Mother begins with the painfully predictable mid-tempo "Without You" before transitioning to a cover of Pink Floyd's "Mother" and, while it's impossible to know what led Maines to record the song, she doesn't do a half bad job on it.

Of course, with songwriting help from Semisonic's Dan Wilson, Ben Harper, and fellow Dixie Chicks Martie Maguire and Emily Robison, the quality of the material is undeniable.

"Free Life", written by Wilson, should be a huge hit.

Fitz & The Tantrums - More Than Just A Dream

After the meteoric success of their last album, Pickin' Up The Pieces, and a necessary transition from indie Dangerbird Records to major Elektra, it's good to see that the band's indie vibe and knack for carving out irresistibly catchy melodies remains fully intact.

Those looking for a "Moneygrabber Pt 2" will find a lot to like on this album as the band seems quite intent on mining a similar sonic territory that doesn't throw too many curve balls at the band's rabid audience.

Highlights include "Last Raindrop" (which sounds like something The Killers could have recorded for Day And Age) and the bombastic "Spark".

Savages - Silence Yourself

If you dig brutal post-punk apocalyptic rock and haven't yet heard of this all-female British four-piece, then you owe it to yourself to check them out first chance you get.

The band mixes the ferocity of early Killing Joke, Gang Of Four, and Siouxsie & The Banshees, creating an brooding, atmospheric landscape over which Jehnny Beth's "Siouxsie Sioux-inspired vocals can glide to and fro.

Unlike most bands that get stuck with the post-punk tag, Savages do not get caught playing the same "fast & furious" style tunes, but, instead, use a wide variety of sonic colors and tempos to create an album that breathes with an intoxicating ebb and flow.

If the future of rock & roll is found in the past, this band stands as good a chance as any of leading the new rock & roll revolution.

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1 comment:

  1. The Natalie Maines record was a pleasant surprise to me. Had to give the NPR stream( a few listens, but ended up buying the record in the end. Definitely worth every cent.