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CD Reviews:
The Listening Room: Greyson Chance, Trace Adkins and more...
 

By GARY GRAFF
for Journal Register Newspapers

» See more SOUND CHECK

POP

Greyson Chance

“Hold On ‘Til the Night”

(eleveneleven/Maverick/Streamline/Geffen)

★★

Greyson Chance finishes his debut album by asking us to “stop and take a look at me now,” but the truth is we’ve been watching — and listening — for the past 16 months, since his YouTube performance of Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” made the 13-year-old from Oklahoma a viral sensation and the first signing to former “American Idol” judge Ellen DeGeneres’ label. Chance is the new Justin Bieber of sorts, a precocious adolescent with a voice and songwriting and performing abilities beyond his years — and hardly the first time we’ve seen this model. “Hold On ’Til the Night” pairs him with hitmaking go-tos such as The Matrix and Billy Steinberg, who help put a sheen of dynamic polish on all 10 songs, but it’s a mark in Chance’s favor that the album’s best moments are its most stark, where he’s left to sing with just spare accompaniment — piano for the openings of “Waiting Outside the Lines,” “Cheyenne” and “Take a Look at Me Now,” strings and piano on the title track, acoustic guitar on “Home is In Your Eyes” and “Summertrain.” Even if his voice seems to warble around a bit on some of these songs, there’s an honesty and intimacy that’s buffed out of the music of many of his teen peers. And, yes, no matter how earnest Chance sounds, it’s a bit hard to really buy into the heartbreak of “Unfriend You” and the moody “Heart Like Stone,” but those are balanced by the buoyant, summery exuberance of “Little London Girl” and “Stranded.” Chance is clearly still a developing talent, but “Hold On ’Til the Night” mitigates some of the gimmicky appeal that’s driven him to this point.



COUNTRY

Trace Adkins, “Proud To Be Here”(Show Dog/Universal Music) ★★★

If last year’s “Cowboy’s Back in Town” played up the yucksome side of Trace Adkins’ musical makeup, we find him in a more serious and sober mood on his 10th studio album — to good effect. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any grins on this 10-song set (or 14 on the Deluxe Edition); “It’s a Woman Thang” mixes some funk with his twang and slyly machismo lyrics, while “It’s Who You Know” lets loose with a bit of preacher-style brimstone. But most of the album is populated by heart-melting love songs such as “Million Dollar View” and “That’s What You Get” and the Lifetime channel-worthy “Just Fishin’,” all delivered in Adkins’ trademark baritone rumble. Adkins made his name as a bit of a maverick, but his soft side can be just as appealing.

New & Noteworthy

Antigone Rising, “23 Red” (101): Trimmed to a quartet, the all-female rock group from New York breaks a bit of a hiatus that was marked by a live EP and a holiday single.

Battlecross, “Pursuit of Honor” (Metal Blade): The Detroit thrash metal troupe unleashes its debut album, recorded in Bay City.

Rick Braun, “Sings With Strings” (Artistry Music): The trumpeter teams with producer-arranger Phillipe Saisse on this tribute to “Chet Baker Sings” and “Clifford Brown With Strings.”

Richard Buckner, “Our Blood” (Merge): After a number of technical difficulties, the idiosyncratic New York state-based singer-songwriter delivers the long-awaited follow-up to 2006’s lauded “Meadow.”

Dir En Grey, “Dum Spiro Spero” (The End): The Japanese headbangers’ eighth album includes the track “Hageshisa To ...,” which first appeared on the “Saw 3D” soundtrack.

The Ettes, “Wicked Will” (Ford Object/Krian Music Group): The female-fronted garage-rock trio from Nashville return to debut album producer Liam Watson (White Stripes, the Kills) on their fourth set.

Fountains of Wayne, “Sky Full of Holes” (Yep Rock): The masterful pure pop troupe from New York unveils its first new album in four years, singing about “The Summer Places,” “A Dip in the Ocean” and “Cemetery Guns.”

John Hiatt, “Dirty Jeans & Mudslide Hymns” (New West): For his 20th solo album, the veteran singer-songwriter tapped producer Kevin “Caveman” Shirley to bring a bit more rock muscle to the proceedings.

Justin Hines, “Days to Recall” (Decca): Canadian singer-songwriter Hines makes his U.S. debut with an album that includes a duet with actress Jill Hennessy.

Ingrid Gerdes, “Shed” (self-released): The Boston-based singer-songwriter’s latest release adds Motown and other soul flavors to her usual blues and Americana mix.

Mat Kearney, “Young Love” (Universal Republic/Aware): The Nashville singer-songwriter laces a few more rap-style vocals into his fourth studio album.

Keb’ Mo’, “The Reflection” (Yolabelle/Ryko): Singer, songwriter and guitarist Kevin Moore made his first new album in five years at the home studio he built in Nashville. It’s also the first released on his own Yolabelle label.

Manraze, “punkfunkrootsrock” (Rocket Science): The “supergroup” trio of Def Leppard, Sex Pistols and Girl members releases a second album that adheres to the sonic mix described in its title.

Mariachi El Bronx, “Mariachi El Bronx (II)” (ATO): L.A. punk rockers The Bronx worked with Oingo Boingo’s John Avila on the sophomore album by its Rock en Espanol alter ego.

Nekromantix, “What Happens in Hell, Stays in Hell” (Hellcat): Guitarist Franc and drummer Lux have joined Kim Nekroman in the Danish psychobilly trio since its last album in 2007.

O.A.R., “King” (Wind-Up): The quintet of former Ohio State students continues to straddle a pop/jam band line, with a bit more of a hip-hop influence thrown into its seventh and strongest studio album.

Kenny Wayne Shepherd, “How I Go” (Roadrunner/Loud & Proud): The guitar whiz’s first new studio album in four years covers songs by the Beatles, Bessie Smith and Roy Orbison as done by Albert King.

Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter, “Marble Son” (Station Grey/Thirty Tigers): The alt.country group goes for a slightly darker and heavier sound on its fourth album, including the eight-minute, psychedelic-flavored opening track “Hushed by Devotion.”

Various Artists, “Phineas & Ferb Across 1st & 2nd Dimensions” (Walt Disney): Guns N’ Roses/Velvet Revolver guitarist Slash guests on “Kick It Up a Notch” from the new companion album to the Disney Channel movie.

The Wood Brothers, “Smoke Ring Halo” (Southern Ground): Real-life brothers Oliver and Chris Wood offer up a third set of rootsy Americana recorded with well-credentialed producer Jim Scott.

From The Vaults:

Archers of Loaf, “Icky Mettle” (Merge); Drive By Truckers, “Greatest Hits 1998-2009” (New West)

New Music DVDs: Elvis Presley, “Elvis: The Great Performances” (UMe); Various Artists, “Ed Sullivan Presents; Rock ‘n’ Roll Revolution” (UMe)



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