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CD Reviews:
Listening Room: Scars On Broadway, Alice Cooper and more...
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

ROCK

Scars on Broadway, “Scars on Broadway” (Velvet Hammer/ Interscope) ***1/2

We certainly miss the dormant System of a Down — but a little less after hearing frontman Serj Tankian’s solo album, “Elect the Dead,” earlier this year and especially now, with the arrival of the debut from Scars on Broadway, the new band from SOAD guitarist and chief creative force Daron Malakian and drummer John Dolmayan. Fans certainly won’t be disappointed by this 15-song set, especially when the duo cranks into the idiosyncratic, machine-gun dynamics SOAD fans love on tracks such as “Serious,” “Exploding/Reloading,” “Chemicals” and “World Long Gone.” But Malakian and Dolmayan open the door even wider with this project, with a more accessible mix that delves into a poppier brand of melodicism of “Funny” and “Insane,” the fierce but direct power rock of “Kill Each Other/Live Forever,” the fullon funk of “Enemy,” the subtle bluesy shadings of “Whoring Streets” and the metallic muscle of “Stoner Hate.” The 15 tracks find Malakian more accomplished and ambitious than ever as a songwriter and finding a comfortable footing as a frontman and lead singer, lacing plenty of strong, if sometimes oblique, socio-political commentary into Scars’ ouvre via “World Long Gone,” “Universe,” “Whoring Streets” and the eco-conscious “Enemy.” On “Stoner Hate” Malakian sings that he’s “rude, obnoxious, with an intent to kill” — but the exciting sonic tumult of “Scars on Broadway” makes it a slaying we accept willingly.



ROCK

Alice Cooper, “Along Came a Spider” (SPV) ***

One of Detroit’s favorite sons returns to the conceptual realm on his 25th album, with a tale of a serial killer who wraps his victims in silk (that’s even the color of their eyes) and cuts off one leg to use in creating his own arachnophobic appendage. “... Spider” might not make you forget “Welcome to My Nightmare” but it’s nevertheless a cheerfully twisted yarn delivered with a full-on dose of guitar rock with a requisite ballad (“Killed By Love”), a soaring anthem (“Salvation”), some sly humor (“(In Touch With) Your Feminine Side”) and nods to Cooper’s glam rock past in “I’m Hungry” and “The One That Got Away.” Slash, meanwhile, laces some guest solos into “Vengeance is Mine.” The tale ends with a terrific twist, but we won’t tell you here, just in case the Spider is reading.



NEW & NOTEWORTHY:

Steve Cropper and Felix Cavaliere, “Nudge it Up a Notch” (Stax): A super-session style summit between the Booker T & the MGs guitarist and the Rascals singerkeyboardist.

Eddie Floyd, “Eddie Loves You” (Stax): The “Knock on Wood” singer’s first new album in six years is comprised of songs he wrote for other Stax Records artists but never recorded himself. Until now.

Johnny Flynn, “A Larum” (Lost Highway): The U.S. debut from South Africanborn British troubadour.

Greta Gaines, “Whiskey Thoughts” (Justice): The rockin’ singer-songwriter is joined by Willie Nelson, Raul Malo, Ian Moore and others on her fourth album.

Alyssa Graham, “Echo” (Sunnyside): The sophomore album from the contemporary jazz singer-songwriter who mixes pop and Brazilian flavors into her music.

Neil Halstead, “oh mighty engine” (Brushfire): The second solo album from the former Slowdive and current Mojave 3 frontman.

Richie Havens, “Nobody Left to Crown” (Verve): The Greenwich Village veteran and Woodstock alumnus delivers his 30th album.

Roy Hargrove, “Earfood” (Decca): The wellcredentialed trumpeter mixes originals with covers — including Sam Cooke’s “Bring it on Home” — with the help of his regular Quintet Big Band.

Javelins, “Heavy Meadows” (Suburban Sprawl/Quack!): The debut album from the Detroit trio featuring the rhythm section from Thunderbirds Are Now!

Osaka Popstar, “Rock ’em O-Sock ’em Live!”

(Misfits): A mini-LP of concert tracks from the all-star punk group of Ramones, Black Flag and Misfits alumni.

Matt Pryor, “Confidence Man” (Vagrant): The Get Up Kids and New Amsterdams frontman goes solo with 15 stripped-down, acoustic-centered tracks.

Rare Earth, “Fill Your Head: The Studio Albums 1969-1974” (Hip-O Select): The Motown rock group’s five original albums spread across three CDs, along with some rare B-sides.

Soulfly, “Conquer” (Roadrunner): The sixth album from the metal band led by Sepultura founder Max Cavalera.

Rick Springfield, “Venus in Overdrive” (New Door): The rocker and soap opera star’s first new album in three years was co-produced by his bassist, Detroit native Matt Bissonette.

Sugarland, “Love on the Inside” (Mercury Nashville): The country duo had a hand in writing all 12 tracks on its third album.

Third Day, “Revelation” (SonyBMG): The first studio effort in three years by one of the country’s top-selling Christian rock bands.

Wild Sweet Orange, “We Have Cause to Be Uneasy” (CanvasbackMusic): The debut full-length from the Birmingham, Ala., rock quartet follows last year’s wellreceived “Whale” EP.

Andre Williams, “Can You Deal With It” (Bloodshot): The man known as Mr. Rhythm, a favorite of the Detroit garage rock scene, teams with the New Orleans Hellhounds on his latest outing.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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