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CD Reviews:
The Listening Room: Foo Fighters, Alison Krauss & Union Station and more...
 

By GARY GRAFF
of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

ROCK

Foo Fighters

“Wasting Light”

Rockwell/RCA

***

Foo Fighters’ first new album in four years starts with the declaration that “These are my famous last words” and a song about bridges being burned, a finality that’s oddly counter to the vital and explosive tone of this 11-song set. “Wasting Light” is an angsty affair, to be sure, with founder and frontman Dave Grohl talking stock and perhaps putting to rest any number of past relationships — most poignantly his previous band, Nirvana, on the track “I Should Have Known,” which features that group’s bassist Krist Novoselic and presumably tells the late Kurt Cobain that “I cannot forgive you yet” for his 1994 suicide. There’s more angst and anger throughout “Wasting Light,” which was produced by Butch Vigg (of Nirvana’s “Nevermind”) and recorded in Grohl’s home garage, but the real fire is in the delivery of what is the Foos’ most charged album, a sonic fulissade bolstered by the recording return of guitarist Pat Smear (who left after 1997’s “The Colour and the Shape”) and a set of arch, twisting dynamics that owe as much to Rush as they do to Led Zeppelin and the Sex Pistols. The quiet moments are indeed merely moments that build into crescendos on “Walk” and “These Days,” while “Rope’s” staccato rhythm pattern drives a textured wall of guitars and “White Limo’s” metallic fury sounds like it’s about to become unhinged at any second. “Miss the Misery” is a slab of heavy, blues-flavored rock and “Dear Rosemary,” with Bob Mould of Husker Du/Sugar fame guesting, is tight and sinewy, and the ebb-and-flow power pop melodicism that’s Foo Fighters’ stock in trade is in fine form on tracks such as “A Matter of Time,” “Arlandria,” “Back & Forth” and “Bridge Burning.” Rather than “last words,” “Wasting Light” sounds like a new beginning of sorts for Grohl and company and a welcome return after a prolonged time away.



AMERICANA

Alison Krauss & Union Station, “Paper Airplanes”(Rounder) ***

Thanks to 2007’s Grammy Award-winning “Raising Sand,” there’s probably a legion of listeners who know Alison Krauss as that woman who sang with Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant. “Paper Airplanes” brings her back to musical terra firm with Union Station for the first time in seven years, and the austere and melancholy 11-song set has all the rich and understated beauty that’s populated the group’s previous albums. And if the Krauss-sung tracks about heartbreaks and farewells (including versions of Jackson Browne’s “My Opening Farewell” and Richard Thompson’s “Dimming of the Day”) seem a bit, well, sober, bandmate Dan Tyminski is back alongside to rev things up on “Dust Bowl Children,” “On the Outside Looking In” and “Bonita and Bill Butler.”

New & Noteworthy

Bell XI, “Bloodless Coup” (Yep Roc): The Irish rock trio recorded its fifth album at home with producer Rob Kirwan and the adjunct members of its touring band.

Between the Buried and Me, “The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues” (Metal Blade): The North Carolina headbangers fill the gap between albums with this EP of three long, extended pieces.

Brett Dennen, “Loverboy” (Dualtone): The fourth album from the red-headed singer-songwriter from Oakdale, Calif.

Bob Dylan, “Bob Dylan in Concert — Brandeis University 1963” (Columbia/Legacy): An early live appearance that captures Dylan at two weeks before the release of his debut album.

Jason Isbell and 400 Unit, “Here We Rest” (Lightning Rod): The former Drive-By Truckers guitarist delivers his second album with his current band.

Jessie J, “Who You Are” (Lava/Universal Republic): The multi-faceted British pop/R&B/hip-hop singer brings her first album out on these shores after taking it to platinum heights in her homeland.

Femi Kuti & the Positive Force, “Africa For Africa” (Knitting Factory): The African music icon recorded his latest set in the same Nigerian studio where he worked with his late father, the famed Fela Kuti.

k.d. lang, “Sing It Loud” (Nonesuch): Lang records with her own band for the first time since she had the Reclines backing her during the 80s.

Low, “C’mon” (Sub Pop): The Minnesota indie rockers deliver their ninth studio set still basking in the buzz of Robert Plant recording two of their songs on his “Band of Joy” album.

Mana, “Drama Y Luz” (WEA Latina): The Mexican Rock en Espanol superstars bring plenty of “Drama and Light” on their first new album in five years.

Del McCoury Band and Preservation Hall Jazz Band, “American Legacies” (McCoury Music/Preservation Hall Recordings): Two iconic ensembles join forces to find common ground in the music of their respective genres.

Brian McKnight, “Just Me” (eOne): The pop/R&B singer-songwriter offers up one disc of new studio recordings and another drawn from a solo acoustic concert during February in Los Angeles.

Meat Puppets, “Lollipop” (Megaforce): The hard rocking trio, reunited since 2006, recorded its latest album in Austin, Texas.

Never Shout Never, “Year One” (Warner Bros.): A compilation of self-released EPs and unreleased tracks to tide us over while we’re waiting for Christofer Drew to deliver his third album.

John Oates, “Mississippi Mile” (Elektra): Oates’ third solo album was recorded in Nashville and features covers of songs by Curtis Mayfield and Hall & Oates’s 1981 classic “You Make My Dreams Come True.”

Panda Bear, “Tomboy” (Paw Tracks): The fourth solo album from Animal Collective’s Noah Lennox includes his 2010 singles “Tomboy” and “You Can Count on Me.”

The Pretty Reckless, “Light Me Up” (Interscope): The debut album from the group fronted by “Gossip Girl’s” Taylor Momsen debuted at No. 1 in the U.K.

Paul Simon, “So Beautiful or So What” (Concord): Simon has been unusually effusive about his first solo studio album in 2006 years, which he co-produced with Phil Ramone.

Soundtrack, “Scream 4” (Lakeshore): The Sounds, Locksley, the Novocaines and more contributed songs to the companion for this Detroit-filmed horror flick.

TV On the Radio, “Nine Types of Light” (Interscope): The hipster favorites recorded their fourth studio album in Los Angeles, the first time the group has worked outside of its Brooklyn home base.

Thursday, “No Devolucion” (Epitaph): The New Jersey hard rockers take a darker, more ambient turn on their sixth studio album.

Mb>From The Vaults: Autechre, “EPs 1991-2002” (Warp); Jimi Hendrix, “South Saturn Delta” (Experience Hendrix/Legacy); Jack Johnson, “Brushfire Fairytales — Remastered” (Everloving); Roy Orbison, “The Monument Singles Collection” (Monument/Legacy); Various Artists, “Power of Soul: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix” (Experience Hendrix/Legacy)

New Music DVDs: Rory Gallagher, “Irish Tour ‘74” (Eagle Rock); Jimi Hendrix, “Band of Gypsys (Live at Fillmore East)” (Experience Hendrix/Legacy)

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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