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CD Reviews:
The Listening Room: Insane Clown Posse, Fleetwood Mac tribute and more...
 

By GARY GRAFF
for Journal Register Newspapers

» See more SOUND CHECK

RAP

Insane Clown Posse

"The Mighty Death Pop!"

Pyschopathic Records

***

Attention Juggalos and all others; Insane Clown Posse cares about you. Really. And not necessarily just because you might buy albums, T-shirts and videos. The second installment of the Detroit duo's second series of Joker's Card albums is an hour-long rumination on mortality and the randomness of death -- and a need to appreciate life in the face of that. "Live life like a train wreck and you're next," Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope caution in the title track, adding that "You'll be shocked when your clock stops and your mighty death pops." This is still an ICP album, of course, so there's an abundance of profanity and a body count that Slim Shady would envy as the duo catalogs all sorts of sudden death opportunities, from skits about misguided thrill-seekers and homicidal airplane pilots to songs about psycho killers ("Night of the Chainsaw," "Chris Benoit") and unhinged victims of bullying ("The Blasta," an ICP equivalent of Pearl Jam's "Jeremy"). The group asks some blunt questions in "Where's God?," offs Chris Brown in "Shooting Stars" and warns in "Ghetto Rainbows" about the potentially fatal mistake of taking your eyes off the street in the inner city. There's a bit of lightness in the Faygo-promoting "Juggalo Juice," while "Forever" chronicles the rewards of living a "good" life. The 17 tracks (plus an unlisted bonus cut) also continue ICP's growing musical sophistication, with the two MCs getting even more inventive with their flow and producer Mike E. Clark building a flowing bed of eclectic soundscapes that range from the slinky rock guitar hook and Parliament-Funkadelic swagger of the title track to the sinister, vibey ambience of "Hate Her to Death" and "Ghetto Rainbows" and the whistling pop smoothness of "Forever." "The Mighty Death Pop!'s" three packages come with some intriguing bonus CDs -- of which the "Red Pop" covers set "Smothered, Covered, and Chunked!" is the best -- but the main album is the story here, gritty, provocative and, ultimately, redemptive, showing maturity but with enough explicit carnage to maintain ICP's snotty cool.

ROCK

Various Artists, "Just Tell Me You Want Me: A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac" (Hear Music): **1/2

Tribute albums are tricky beasts, but with 45 years and a bunch of different lineups, Fleetwood Mac has the kind of varied catalog that allows a diverse group of artists to take on its songs -- from former Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo's aching rendering of "Albatross" with Dinosaur Jr.'s J Mascis to a dry march through "Oh Well" by ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons and The Crystal Ark's electro-fueled version of "Tusk." Best Coast delivers a buoyant take of "Rihannon" while the Kills turn out a raw and vibey "Dreams" and Karen Elson is assisted by Beck for a expansive "Gold Dust Woman." None of these 17 interpretations better the originals, of course, but a great deal of care was clearly put into each, making this a tribute any Mac fan will indeed want.

New & Noteworthy:

Cheryl Bentyne, "Let's Misbheave: The Cole Porter Songbook" (Summit): The Manhattan Transfer member takes another dip into one of the Great American Songbook's finest catalogs.

Blackberry Smoke, "Whippoorwill" (Southern Ground): The Southern rockers from Georgia join Zac Brown's Southern Ground family for their third album.

Black Light Burns, "The Moment You Realize You're Going to Fall" (Rocket Science/THC): The second album by Limp Bizkit guitarist Wes Borland's other band was a long time in coming and features "I Want YOu To" from the soundtrack to 2009's "Unerworld: Rise of the Lycans."

Dead Can Dance, "Antastasis" ([PIAS] America): LIsa Gerrard and Brendan Perry reunite for their first album of all-new material in 16 years

The Dirty Guv'nahs, "Somewhere Beneath All These Southern Skies" (Dualtone): The third album from the brash rock sextet from Knoxville, Tenn.

Dublin Death Patrol, "Death Sentence" (Mascot): The latest from the thrash metal outfit formed by the frontmen of Testament and Exodus.

Radney Foster, "Del Rio, TX Revisited: Unplugged and Lonesome" (Devil's River): The Texas troubadour revisits his lauded 1992 solo debut album in a complementary acoustic format

Fozzy, "Sin and Bones" (Century Media): The fourth album from the Atlanta headbangers includes a guest vocal from Avenged Sevenfold's M. Shadows.

Hot Club of Detroit, "Junction" (Mack Ave.): The Motor City gypsy jazz troupe's latest adds a couple of new members and expands its sound into pop and avant garde directions on its latest release.

Incubus, "Incubus HQ Live" (Legacy): A CD/DVD compendium of the group's inventive residence in Los Angeles that preceded the release of last year's studio set "If Not Now, When."

In This Moment, "Blood" (Century Media): The fourth album from the Los Angeles metalcore quintet features a pair of new members and was preceded by its title track and first single.

Kottonmouth Kings, "Mile High" (Suburban Noize): The lucky 13th album from the California rap rockers includes guest features by MIckey Avalon, Saint Dog, (hed) p.e. frontman Jahred Gomes and the Detroit duo Twiztid.

Loverboy, "Rock N Roll Revival" (Frontiers): The Canadian rockers add three new songs to a collection of re-recorded versions of hits such as "Turn Me Loose" and "Working For the Weekend."

Charlie Mars, "Blackberry Light" (Rockingham): The Mississippi singer-songwriter turned to award-winning producer Daniel Lanois to helm his sixth release.

Daniel Powter, "Turn On the Lights" (Warner Bros.): The Canadian singer's fourth studio album comes out on these shores a month after its release in the U.K.

The Prog Collective, "The Prog Collective" (Cleopatra): A musical chops-flexing exercise by present and former members of Yes, Asia, King Crimson, XTC, Mr. Mister, Procupoine Tree and other groups.

Saint Etienne, "Words and Music By Saint Etienne" (Heavenly/UMe): The British pop trio named after a French soccer team returns to disc for the first time in six years, which came out three months ago in its homeland.

Shoes, "Ignition" (Black Vinyl): The Zion, Ill., power pop troupe regroups for its first album of all new material in 18 years, with a book about the quartet's history coming out alongside.

Slightly Stoopid, "Top of the World" (Stoopid): The reggae/punk collective's first new album in four years packs in 21 tracks and guest appearances by Barrington Levy, Don Carlos of Black Uhuru, G. Love, Fishbone's Angelo Moore and more.

Ben Taylor, "Listening" (Sun Pedal/LG): The first set of new material in four years from the son of James Taylor and Carly Simon.

2 Chainz, "Based on a T.R.U. Story" (Def Jam): The first artist album from the Georgia rapper, writer and producer includes guests such as Kanye West, Drake, Nicki Minaj, The-Dream, Chris Brown and Detroit's Mike Posner.

Steve Vai, "Story of Light" (Favored Nations): The rock guitar virtuosos first full-length new studio album since 2005 sports vocal contributions by Aimee Man and "The Voice's" Beverly McClellan.

Various Artists, "Songs of the Century: An All-Star Tribute to Supertramp" (Cleopatra): A collective of musicians from Asia, the Doors, XTC, Deep Purple, Yes and other bands revisit hits such as "The Logical Song" and "Give a Little Bit," among others.

Robin & Linda Williams, "These Dark Old Hills" (Red House): The duo's latest album features a guest appearance by Garrison Keillor, who regularly features the Williams on "A Prairie Home Companion."

Yellowcard, "Southern Air" (Hopeless): The Florida modern rockers get help from members of All Time Low, Hey Monday and We Are The In Crowd on their eighth studio album.

From The Archives: Mike Oldfield, "Platinum," "Two Sides: The Very Best of Mike Oldfield," "Qe2" (all Blue Plate/Caroline)

Soundtracks: Jesper Kyd, "Darksiders II" (Thq)

New Music DVDs: George Michael, "Live: Rock in Rio" (Hudson Street); Staind, "LIve From Mohegan Sun" (Eagle Rock)





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