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Listening Room: Brad Paisley, Hinder and more...
Brad Paisley, “Play” (Arista Nashville) ***
After 11 No. 1 often humortinged country hits — including “I’m Gonna Miss Her (The Fishin’ Song)” and “Tickets” — we know that Brad Paisley can write, sing and ultimately sell a song. But alongside that, the reigning Country Music Association Male Vocalist of the Year can, well, “Play,” and that part of his musical persona is the star on the West Virginia native’s seventh album. In the liner notes Paisley calls “Play” “my love affair with the guitar,” and there are only five songs with vocals on the 15-track collection. Those are doozies, mind you: the hitworthy “Start a Band” with fellow axe enthusiast Keith Urban; a hot rendition of “Let the Good Times Roll” with B.B. King; “Come On In,” built from a demo with the late Buck Owens; the islandy “More Than Just This Song” with another guitar hero, Steve Wariner; and the sentimental “Waitin’ on a Woman” with actor Andy Griffith. But if it’s “Play”ing you want to hear, Paisley starts off rocking with the twangy flash of “Huckleberry Jam” and the surf-styled gallop of “Surf ’s Up and later mixes in quiet acoustic pieces such as “Kim” and “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” as well as the jazzy tribute to Les Paul, “Les is More” and the pomp-rock of “Cliffs of Rock City,” which sounds like an outtake from a Trans-Siberian Orchestra opus. Rapper Snoop Dogg is a chucklesome presence with his intro to the fiddle-led “Kentucky Jelly,” but the real pickin’ and grinnin’ can be found on “Cluster Pluck,” a dizzying six-string summit with “Play”mates Wariner, Vince Gill, Albert Lee, James Burton and others. It may not be the easy sell of last year’s platinum “5th Gear,” but “Play” plays — in a big way.
Hinder, “Take it to the Limit” (Universal Republic) **1/2
Oklahoma’s Hinder came out of nowhere two years ago with a big hit, “Lips of an Angel,” and a triple-platinum debut, “Extreme Behavior.” The quintet vows to “Take it to the Limit” with its sophomore album — and a limited edition X-rated cover -- but mostly the group plays it safe and down rock’s mainstream middle on this 11-track set. Rockers such as “Heaven Sent,” “Lost in the Sun,” “Without You” and the first single, “Use Me,” flaunt a Bon Jovi type of anthemic sensibility, while Motley Crue’s Mick Mars guests on the big-grooving title track. Hinder’s tender side, meanwhile, gets plenty of airing via a plethora of power ballads (some with strings, even) like “Last Kiss Goodbye,” “The Best is Yet to Come,” “Thing For You” and “Far From Home.” It’s just as listenable and more polished than the first album but Hinder’s musical behavior here is a long way from “Extreme.”
NEW & NOTEWORTHY:
• Andrew Bocelli, “Incanto” (Sugar/Decca): The classical singer celebrates his 50th birthday with a CD/DVD compilation of Italian love songs.
• Deadmau5, “Random Album Title” (Ultra): The latest set from the Canadian electronic artist gets a terrestrial release after surfacing digitally in September
• Dido, “Safe Trip Home” (RCA): The third album by the British singer (and voice of Eminem’s “Stan”) features a song co-written with Brian Eno and production by her brother, Rollo Armstrong, and Jon Brion.
• Filter, “Remixes For the Damned” (Pulse): Tracks from the rock group’s comeback album, “Anthems For the Damned,” are shake ’n’ baked by a variety of remix artists.
• Gringo Star, “All Y’all” (My Anxious Mouth): The debut album by the punky Atlanta rock quartet.
• Little Joy, “Little Joy” (Rough Trade): The first album from the Brazilian/American rock trio featuring Strokes drummer Fabrizio Moretti.
• Q-Tip, “The Renaissance” (Universal Motown): The MC from A Tribe Called Quest’s third solo album boasts features by Norah Jones and Raphael Saadiq and production by Mark Ronson and the late Detroit legend J Dilla.
• Lou Reed, “Berlin: Live
at St. Ann’s Warehouse” (Matador): A CD companion to the documentary of Reed performing his dark 1973 album in New York.
• The Rescues, “Crazy Ever After” (Red Wind): The coalition of L.A. indie rockers’ debut features a mash-up of the Outfield’s “Your Love” with Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way.”
• Christian Scott, “Live at Newport” (Concord Jazz):
The Grammy Award-nominated trumpeter captured on CD and DVD from an August concert in Rhode Island.
• Shiny Toy Guns, “Season
of Poison” (Universal Motown): The sophomore album from this hip Los Angeles pop quartet features new lead singer Sisely Treasure.
“Madagascar 2: Escape 2
Africa” (will.i.am Music Group/Interscope): Black Eyed Peas leader will.i.am teams with Academy Award winner Hans Zimmer for the second installment of this DreamWorks animated animal feature.
• Soundtrack, “Soul Men” (Stax):
John Legend, Anthony Hamilton and Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings are among those contributing music to the late Bernie Mac’s film swan song.
• Soundtrack, “Twilight” (Chop Shop/Atlantic): A new Paramore single, “Decode,” stars in the film adaptation of the hit Stephenie Meyer novel,
supported by tracks from Linkin Park,
Muse, Perry Farrell and others.
• Mavis Staples, “Live: Hope at the Hideout” (Anti-): The soul and gospel great, now 69, tears it up at this small
club gig in her home town of Chicago.
• Cat Stevens, “Tea For the
Tillerman — Deluxe Edition” and
“Teaser and the Firecat — Deluxe Edition” (A&M/UMe): The two biggest albums by the singer-songwriter now known as Yusuf Islam are expanded with rare outtakes and live tracks.
• Travis, “Ode to J Smith”
(Red Telephone Box/Fontana International): The British group wrote and recorded its sixth album in a scant seven weeks, yielding the quartet’s most rocking set since its 1997 debut, “Good Feeling.”
• Unk, “Second Season” (Big Oomp/Koch): The Atlanta rapper’s sophomore album features guest appearances by Ray J, Three 6 Mafia, Ying Yang Twins, Sean Kingston and others.
• White Denim, “Exposion” (Transmission Entertainment): The Austin power trio releases its first full
album, recorded in drummer Joshua
Block’s home studio.
• Yancey Boys, “Yancey Boys” (Delicious Vinyl): The debut album from Detroit-born Illa J, who taps into
unreleased beats crafted by his late older
brother, J Dilla.
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