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Michael Buble’s ‘To Be Loved’: Album Review

Seriously, you guys, Michael Buble is pretty good. Who knows how, or if he’ll be remembered generations from now — even the most remarkable musicians are forgotten — but at this time and place he’s the world’s most successful male jazz vocalist, and with good reason.

On the crooning Canuck’s eighth studio album, To Be Loved (out today, ) his performance is ever strong and mature. Now 37, he’s aging well and lays into the opening track — Mack Gordon and Josef Myrow‘s “You Make Me Feel So Young,” popularized by Frank Sinatra almost six decades ago — with some obvious maturity in his delivery. It’s a traditional big band arrangement that sets a classic tone for the album to follow. And, I mean, really, he sounds great. He doesn’t have that same masculine oomph as Sinatra, but that standard’s too steep to hold him to. Simply, that Buble’s smooth baritone would make me sit back, loosen my tie, tap my foot and snap my fingers a few times, in the moment, it feels like I’ll owe him for that forever. More »

Fall Out Boy’s ‘Save Rock And Roll’: Album Review

There’s irony in the title of Fall Out Boy‘s new album, Save Rock And Roll (out today, ), in that it’s the band’s least “rock and roll” album yet. Modern hopped-up pop production flows through the album’s veins, and rock feels like more of an idea than anything specific, while only bones are left of the pure pop-punk that defined the group’s sound and vice versa.

Indeed, such a title demands attention. It’s so brazen, there’s a skeptical gut “yeah right” scoff that comes with it, and one feels an embarrassed reluctance to even think of it too much. But rather than the cocksure assertion, “With this, Fall Out Boy will save rock and roll,” there’s relief in the Elton John-featuring song of the same title. It’s the album’s final track, wherein singer Patrick Stump describes a life almost tragically dedicated to the idea of saving the idea of rock and roll. It feels self-aware in that this is a desperate way to live — “We don’t know when to quit,” he sings — though he commits himself to it nevertheless. More »

Dido’s ‘Girl Who Got Away’: Album Review

Oh, tormenting mediocrity! Oh, sweet beige! What is there to say about Dido‘s new album, Girl Who Got Away (out today, )? Internationally, the album has performed fairly well since its release earlier this month across the pond, with Top 5 chart peaks in the United Kingdom, France and Germany. Yet one feels unimpressed, disinterested, sidetracked and distracted when considering what any such casual-sounding pop singer could provide to us on her fourth album something like 15 years into her career.

Even though some will suggest Girl Who Got Away is as a strong stylistic departure for Dido — because of her and her brother-producer Rollo Armstrong‘s mixing it up with electro beats instead of their previous mostly-acoustic instrumentation, drawing attention to this point does the album little benefit. More »

Green Day’s ¡TRE!: Album Review

If nothing else, looking at the ¡UNO! ¡DOS! ¡TRE! album trilogy Green Day has released in the past four months, we should be impressed by the sheer songwriting prolificacy Billie Joe Armstrong and his brothers in pop-punk arms have put on boisterous display. This band that’s been going since 1987 just tacked on another third to their studio recording catalog, and did so, it seems, with incredible ease. If there was any question before, who is the most proficient rock band in mainstream America? We’ve found our answer.

But simply because you can do something, is that a reason why you should do something? The big hype around this trilogy was that, following a decade of outlandish conceptual rock-operas and musicals, it would be a return to form for MTV’s favorite snotty East Bay trio, with not just one album, but three of them. But even that idea, for this gang of middle aged eyeliner-wearing, hair-dying, tattooed, John Varvatos-modeling designer punks, is a gimmick. And it begs the question: Why not show some creative restraint and make just one really good album? More »

Big Boi’s ‘Vicious Lies And Dangerous Rumors’: Album Review

Big Boi has never proven shy of experimenting and expanding his sound. But for this one-half-of-Outkast, it’s always been clear where he came from — Atlanta hip hop. So, perhaps it makes good sense that, after years touring festival circuits with indie’s most popular electronic and rock acts, he’d try maneuvering his raps through those sounds, mixing his ATL crew into the hipster music mix for something bizarre and adventurous. Alas, only on paper does Big Boi’s maximalist Vicious Lies And Dangerous Rumors (out today, ) make sense. In reality, his second true solo studio album is a variable mess of eccentric genre mashing, lacking astute direction or creative vision.

Following up on the nasty funk of 2010′s Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son Of Chico Dusty, on which Big Boi employed guests on nearly every track, here too he packs his lineup for success. Only, rather than the Miami Heat, it looks more like this year’s Los Angeles Lakers — a whole lot of talent that just can’t play well together. Phantogram and Little Dragon have writing credits on three songs each, and WavvesNathan Williams, Kid Cudi and A$AP Rocky each have single contributions as well, making for a smorgasbord of music’s coolest acts. More »

Green Day’s ‘¡DOS!’: Album Review

¡DOS! (out today, ), The second installation in Green Day‘s current trilogy of releases, begins with the home-recording sounds of ambient background noise and Billie Joe Armstrong striking muffled guitar strings before launching into the minute-long opening track, “See You Tonight.” It’s a discordant, quickly forgotten bit that lasts just a couple seconds, but is tone-establishing, intentionally unpolished and personal, bringing listeners close, quickly, like one moves to an old jukebox. And, just as soon, it’s out of mind as thin-sounding strokes on a Les Paul Junior start in and Armstrong croons with a timeless manner in layered harmonizing vocals, “Maybe I’ll see you tonight. Wherever the night takes you, maybe you’ll see me too.”

In contrast to the regrettably old-(in age, not in time)-sounding teenage anthems that filled ¡UNO!, the first of the trilogy, on ¡DOS! the East Bay Kings of Pop Punk lay off most of the bratty pandering in favor of good ol’ fashioned love songs. Retro-rock runs deep here with decent success. Dipping into the more carefree party roots of the band’s garage-y side-project, Foxboro Hot Tubs, ¡DOS! is filled with moving bass lines and catchy melodies. More »

Muse’s ‘The 2nd Law’: Album Review

For more than the past decade, lofty have been the goals of Muse. It’s served the British trio well, too, defining itself with heavy-shredding future music that’s led them to become one of the world’s biggest bands. But for a group that persistently established itself as the most anthemic and awesome of all, melding alt-, prog- and space-rock, and further pushing those sounds increasingly with severe musicianship and composition, frontman Matt Bellamy and company have seemingly discovered a limit to this course. More »

Green Day’s ‘¡UNO!’: Album Review

Judging by Green Day’s oeuvre over the past decade, frontman and principal writer Billie Joe Armstrong works best these days with a theatrical or cinematic image in mind, composing a soundtrack to some greater concept. So it was on the band’s two narrative-driven rock operas — 2004’s American Idiot and 2009’s 21st Century Breakdown — and so it continues on its new album, ¡UNO! (out today, ).

This long-player, which is the first in a trilogy of records seeing release over the next four months, is a departure from those past albums’ dramatic, structural formats and lacks their hyper-angsty and political themes. But, still, it feels that Armstrong, now 40, is writing with a camera’s eye that has him conjuring scenes of late-night romanticism and YOLO parties for which to build these raucous and youthful pop anthems. And the trouble is, they don’t feel genuine. Perverted by time and distance, these notes of rebellious whimsy and emotional longing seem rather pre-packaged for some teenage sap’s most formative experiences.

It’s fantasy or farce — the attempt of a wild middle-aged musician to write about his audience, as opposed to his own self, creating something that feels impersonal and smutty. More »

Kelly Clarkson Covers TLC’s ‘No Scrubs’ In Virginia

Kelly Clarkson TLC No Scrubs Cover
Kelly Treats Pampers Fans With A Little TLC
Kelly Clarkson treated her fans in Bristow, VA, Thursday night to a cover of TLC‘s seminal 1999 Grammy-winner, “No Scrubs.”

“This is definitely my jam, I’m just saying,” she said, introducing the song. “This is gonna date me, and I know a lot of you aren’t even gonna know this song, and don’t tell me that because I’m gonna feel old, I’m gonna cry and drink more… But this is one of my favorite songs from junior high.”

She performed the song with minimal accompaniment, just an acoustic guitar, light drumming, three singers and a jokingly flamboyant male backup dancer behind her. And, yeah, she pretty much killed it.

Kelly is the queen of covers, but what song do you want to see her take on? Tell us in the comments below, or on Facebook and Twitter.

Usher Wins Custody Battle Against Ex-Wife

Usher‘s recent spate of trouble has reached a climax: A judge has awarded him primary custody of his two boys, beginning Sept. 1, in a ruling passed down on Friday (Aug. 24), the Washington Post reports.

The verdict concludes the drawn-out legal battle with his ex-wife, Tameka Foster Raymond, in which she accused him of using drugs in front of and being an absent father to their two sons — Raymond V, age 4, and Naviyd, age 3. She also claimed he bogusly mourned his stepson’s death in July. Earlier this week, Usher was held in contempt of court for violating sections of their 2009 settlement agreement. More »