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Listening Room: Fall Out Boy, Keyshia Cole and more...
Fall Out Boy, "Folie a Deux" (Island) ***1/2
The difference between the current generation of punk rockers and last decade's model -- and before -- is that they don't mind becoming who their forebears rebelled against. In other words, Fall Out Boy and its peers are happy to make big, commercial pop music, as long as it has some semblance of attitude and bite that separates it from the pro forma of boy bads or -- dare we say it? -- Fall Out Boy bassist and lyricist Pete Wentz's wife, Ashlee Simpson. It needs to be clever, in other words, and few groups fit that bill better than this quartet. So marriage and fatherhood haven't tempered Wentz's taste for cheeky puns ("detox just to retox") and earnest proclamations such as "The best of us can find happiness in misery" or "You can only blame our problems on the world so long before it all becomes the same old song." And his songwriting partner, singer-guitarist Patrick Stump, makes sure that Fall Out Boy and "Folie a Deux" (French for, appropriately enough, "madness of two") keep moving, hopping from the lockstep, "Baba O'Riley" power chords of "Disloyal Order of Water Buffaloes" to the Queen-flavored cabaret of "America's Suitehearts," the dance rock bounces of "Headfirst Slide Into Cooperstown on a Bad Bet" and the Neptunes-produced "w.a.m.s.," or the epic, orchestrated pop constructions of "(Coffee's For Closers)" and "20 Dollar Nose Bleed." It's all gleefully, and engagingly, over-the-top, and it leaps another few feet on "What a Catch, Donnie," another harmony-laden parade that ends with a parade of big-name guests -- Elvis Costello, Panic at the Disco's Brendon Urie, Gym Class Heroes' Travis McCoy, William Beckett of The Academy Is... and others -- singing chorus lines from Fall Out Boys' previous hits. You'll be hard-pressed to actually hear purported cameos by Lil Wayne and Blondie's Debbie Harry, but that takes nothing away from an E-ticket sonic ride that that makes us happy to be in the midst of this madness.
Keyshia Cole, "A Different Me" (Imani/Geffen)***
Keyshia Cole murmurs that "I'd like to invite you to a sexier side of me" at the start of her third album, and the platinum-certified (and Grammy Award-nominated) Oakland-born singer and reality TV show star is certainly in sultry form on the 13 tracks that follow. "A Different Me" is Cole's most mature work to date and also her happiest as she spends most of the album cooing come-ons and pillow talk to paramours -- but managing to sound sophisticated while doing it. Something like "Make Me Over" may come from the Beyonce school of bouncy, but the spare construction of "You Complete Me," the breathy ambience of "Brand New" and the jazzy flavor of "Thought You Should Know" display some real reach on Cole's part. She gets some help from famous friends -- the late 2Pac slotted into the first single, "Playa Cardz Right" and rapper Nas on "Oh-Oh, Yeah-Yeah" -- but Cole still runs the show, and an assortment of ace producers keep the spotlight on her vocal performances, which more than hold their own in the glow.
NEW & NOTEWORTHY
All American Rejects, "When the World Comes Down" (Interscope): The anything-but Rejects worked on their third album in a variety of locales, from a cabin in rural Georgia to George Lucas' Skywalker Ranch facility.
Jamie Foxx, "Intuition" (J): The actor's third album still has some bump 'n' grind slow jams, but this time he hits it harder, too, with club-worthy tracks featuring T.I., Lil Wayne, T-Pain, Ne-Yo, Kanye West, Timbaland and others.
Ghostface Killah, "Ghostdeini the Great" (Def Jam): The Wu Tang Clan member takes stock of his solo career to this point, with a compilation that features remixes and loads of guest features, including Mary J. Blige, Kanye West, Ne-Yo and Amy Winehouse.
Anthony Hamilton, "The Point of it All" (So So Def/Zomba): The North Carolina R&B singer's third studio album finds him working with some new production teams as well as rapper David Banner on the track "Cool."
Dave Matthews Band, "Live at Mile High Music Festival" (RCA): This three-CD set from one of the group's summer appearances this year is the first with Jeff Coffin standing in for the late founding saxophonist LeRoi Moore.
Plies, "Da REAList" (Big Gates/Slip-n-Slide/Atlantic): The Florida rapper's third album comes a mere six months after his sophomore set, "Definition of Real" and makes a case for letting one's "Pants Hang Low."
Saliva, "Cinco Diablo" (Island): The hard-rocking Memphis band's fifth album is already making noise with the single "Family Reunion," while Shinedown's Brent Smith shows up for "My Own Worst Enemy."
Soulja Boy, "iSouljaboytellem" (Collipark Music/Interscope): The rapper of "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" fame returns, hoping to turn the single "Bird Walk" into his next dance craze and joining forces with Gucci Mane, Sean Kingston, Sammie and Shawty Lo on the other tracks.
Soundtrack, "Yes Man" (Lakeshore): A combination of the eels [cq] and Munchausen ByProx featuring Zooey Deschanel and Von Iva put together this companion set to Jim Carrey's latest film.
Charlie Waldhams, "In a Goldmine" (Sargent): The singer-songwriter from East L.A. issues a modest follow-up EP to his 2007 debut album, "Free Up Your Schedule."
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