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Listening Room: Pitbull, Mudvayne and more...
Pitbull, “Boatlift” (TVT) **1/2
Since his 2004 debut “M.I.A.M.I.: Money Is A Major Issue” went gold, Cuban-American rapper Pitbull has been trying to scratch ’n’ claw his way back to the top — or at least closer than he’s come on his subsequent two albums. Not surprisingly, he puts a more urban focus on “Boatlift,” his fourth release, but without completely plowing under the Latino roots that differentiate him in the rap game. There are still plenty of Spanish lyrics and polyrhythmic ethnic flavors on tracks such as “The Anthem” (which features mentor Lil Jon), “Get Up/Levantate,” “Un Poquito” (with Yung Berg) and the “Fuego” remix with Don Omar, but this time out Pit (real name Armando Christian Perez) prefers to spend most of his time in da club. A synthesizer hook and handclaps drive the brazen “Go Girl,” while a heavier jeep beat and chanted choruses put the thump in “Dukey Love.” “Midnight” pumps like a South Beach disco staple, and “Sticky Icky” brings in Jim Jones for a sly and slinky playa feature. The good news is that amidst all of this Pitbull shows a bit more bite than he did on last year’s “El Mariel.” But it gets fuzzy on highly musical, New Jackstyled tracks such as “My Life,” “Secret Admirer” and “Tell Me,” which shine such a bright spotlight on guests such as Jason Derulo, Lloyd and Frankie J that Pitbull is relegated the background of his own record. “Boatlift” may be smoother sailing than anything since “M.I.A.M.I.,” but for all its virtues it’s not without a few major issues of its own.
Mudvayne, “By the People, For the People” (Epic) **1/2
As the title implies, this is a fan-oriented release for which Mudvayne’s faithful picked the songs they wanted to hear and the band chose the rare and unheard versions. So there are live takes of favorites such as “Dig” and “-1,” and demos of songs like “Silenced,” “Death Blooms,” “Fall Into Sleep,” “Skrying” and “On the Move.” There’s also a pair of new recordings — a doomy take on the Police’s “King of Pain,” and “Dull Boy,” a dynamically shifting new original that was slated for the studio album Mudvayne has sidelined for the time being. With frontman Chad Gray’s introductions for each track this is a bit more interesting than the usual odds ’n’ sods collection and is solid enough to be a primer for novices as well as a treat for those who already, er, “Dig” the group.
NEW AND NOTEWORTHY
As Tall As Lions, “Into the Flood” (Triple Crown/EastWest) — Five freshly recorded tracks grace his new EP by the buzzed-about Long Island modern rockers.
Jesse Dayton & Brennen Leigh, “Holdin’ Our Own and Other Country Gold Duets” (Stag) — Veteran guitarist Dayton and upcoming singer Leigh combine originals and covers on these Texas-style collaborations.
Sterling Harrison, “South of the Snooty Fox” (HackTone) — Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin produced this long-delayed outing by old school soul singer, which was recorded in 1999 but is only coming out now.
The Ocean, “Precambrian”
(Metal Blade) — The German collective’s latest is a two-CD opus — one of which is a 22-minute “mini-CD.”
The Rumble Strips, “Alarm Clock” (Kanine) — An introductory EP, including a cover of Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys are Back in Town,” from the U.K.’s latest buzz band.
Justine Timberlake, “FutureSex/LoveSounds (Deluxe Edition)” (Jive) — He brings “Sexyback,” again, on this expanded version of his hit album, which features “Until the End of Time,” his hit duet with Beyonce.
Various Artists, “Causes 1”
(Waxploitation) — A Darfur benefit album featuring rarities donated by Bright Eyes, the Cure, the Black Keys, Death Cab For Cutie and others.
Various Artists, “Ultimate Grammy Collection: Contemporary R&B” (Shout! Factory) — “Ultimate Grammy Collection: Contemporary Pop” (Shout! Factory): The first two of a seven-volume series chronicling Grammy winners of the past.
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