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CD Reviews:
The Listening Room: P!nk, Carly Rae Jepsen and more...
 

By GARY GRAFF
for Journal Register Newspapers

» See more SOUND CHECK

POP

P!nk

"The Truth About Love"

(RCA)

***

One would think P!nk might be tamed by motherhood and humbled by her publicly acknowledged turbulent relationship with husband Corey Hart. Naaaaah. The strongest member of the turn of the century pop triumvirate with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, P!nk remains feisty as ever on her sixth album, cheerfully celebrating being a "Slut Like You," taking the "Walk of Shame" and even giving Eminem a run for his money in the club-banging give-and-take of "Here Comes the Weekend." She also proclaims that "the truth about love is it's all a lie," but we don't believe her; if P!nk meant it, she wouldn't spend so much of "The Truth About Love" singing about just that, and chronicling the lessons learned through her marriage in frank accounts such as "How Come You're Not Here," "Where Did the Beat Go?" and "True Love" ("You're the only love I've ever known/But I hate you, I really hate you"). An A-list of hitmakers (Butch Walker, Dan Wilson, Max Martin, Shellback, Greg Kurstin and Billy Mann) puts a muscular pop-rock sheen on the whole thing; "Slut Like You" marries glam and punk stylings with an insistent four-on-the-floor beat, while P!nk and fun.'s Nate Ruess role-play couples counseling on "Just Give Me a Reason." "Beam Me Up" is a rare gentle moment of reflection (on death in this case) and the opening "Are We All We Are" is an energetic "power to the people moment," with the gospel-flavored "The Great Escape" closing the album on a note of emotional reassurance. P!nk's willful and abundant personality makes for a wild roller coaster, but it's well worth hanging on tight and taking the ride.

POP

Carly Rae Jepsen, "Kiss" (604/Schoolboy/Interscope)**

The mid-twentysomething Canadian songstress is all the rage after a summer that saw her dominate the airwaves with "Call Me Maybe" and her irresistible collaboration with Owl City, "Good Time." None of the other songs on her second full-length album match those, however, and she certainly covers a lot of extremely familiar -- and unapologetically frothy -- pop ground here. But those with a musical sweet tooth will find a guilty pleasure or two, whether it's her duet with Justin Bieber ("Beautiful"), the buoyant title track (one of two songs co-produced by LMFAO's Redfoo), the clubby "Tonight I'm Getting Over You" or the emotive anthem "Heart is a Muscle."

New & Noteworthy:

Band of Horses, "Mirage Rock" (Brown/Columbia): The rootsy Seattle group turned to producing legend Glyn Johns for its fourth album.

Ben Folds Five, "The Sound of the Life of the Mind" (ImaVeePee/Legacy): The trio's first new album in 12 years follows three new songs for Folds' 2011 retrospective.

Big & Rich, "Hillbilly Jedi" (Warner Bros. Nashville): The country duo's first title in five years includes a songwriting collaboration with Jon Bon Jovi -- who coined the album's title -- and Richie Sambora.

Ryan Bingham, "Tomorrowland" (Axster Bingham): The Academy Award-winning "Crazy Heart" songwriter's fourth solo album introduces his own label after three predecessors on Lost Highway.

Johnny Colla, "I Hear Voices" (Way Out West): The guitarist and saxophonist from Huey Lewis & the News can sing, too -- quite well, as evidenced by these harmony-laded covers of well-chosen early rock, R&B and doo-wop songs as well as Colla's own "Naturally."

Easton Corbin, "All Over the Road" (Mercury Nashville): The Florida country singer's sophomore album follows a Top 5 debut that launched a pair of No. 1 hits. So no pressure at all...

Dinosaur Jr., "I Bet On Sky" (Jagjaguwar): Guitarist J Mascis produced the trio's 10th studio album and third since reuniting five years ago.

Down, "Down IV Part I -- The Purple EP" (Down/ILG): The first of four planned EPs from the all-star metal band featuring members of Pantera, Corrosion Of Conformity, Eyehategod and more.

Fourplay, "Espirit De Four" (Heads Up International): The all-star group's latest album features "Put Our Hearts Together," a tribute to victims of the 2011 tsunami sung by Japanese pop star Seiko Matsuda.

Nelly Furtado, "The Spirit Indestructible" (Mosley/Interscope): The Canadian singer`s first English language album in six years includes collaborations with Nas, Sara Tavares and Ace Primo.

Grizzly Bear, "Shields" (Warp): A spacious fourth album from the Brooklyn indie rock quartet.

Michael Jackson, "Bad25" (Epic/Legacy): The gloved one's second most famous album gets a silver anniversary treatment with a live CD and DVD and a worthwhile disc of demos and rarities.

Rickie Lee Jones, "The Devil You Know" (Concord): The singer-songwriter's latest was produced by Ben Harper and features covers of songs by the Rolling Stones, Neil Young, The Band, Van Morrison, Donovan and others.

The Killers, "Battle Born" (Island): The Las Vegas group worked with a variety of top-shelf producers -- including Steve Lillywhite, Daniel Lanois and Brendan O'Brien -- for its fourth album.

Aimee Mann, "Charmer" (Superego): The former 'Til Tuesday frontwoman's latest solo album includes a duet with James Mercer of the Shins on "Living a Lie."

Maceo Parker, "Soul Classics" (Razor & Tie): The James Brown band saxophone legend covers songs by his former boss, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder and others.

Paul Simon, "Live in New York City" (Hear Music/Concord): The legendary troubadour's latest concert album was captured during a June show in his home town.

Surrender The Fall, "Burn in the Spotlight" (Rum Bum): The debut full-length album from the Memphis hard rock troupe.

Turbo Fruits, "Butter" (Serpents and Snakes): The Nashville garage rockers' third album is its first for Kings of Leon's label and was produced by Spoon's Jim Eno.

Various Artists, "Kanye West Presents G.O.O.D. Music Cruel Summer" (G.O.O.D. Music/Def Jam): Kanye West shows off his label's roster on this first sampler, including Detroit's Big Sean, as well as friends such as Jay-Z, John Legend, Common and others.

The Whigs, "Enjoy the Company" (New West): The Athens, Ga., rock trio recorded its fourth album with producer John Agnello in Woodstock, N.Y.

Dwight Yoakam, "3 Pears" (Warner Bros. Nashville): The country icon's first new album in seven years features two tracks co-produced by Beck and a songwriting collaboration with Kid Rock.

From The Vaults: Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman Howe "AWBH Deluxe Edition" (Gonzo MultiMedia); Grateful Dead, "Spring 1990, So Glad You Made It" (DeadNet/Rhino); Jackson 5, "Come and Get It: Rare Pearls" (Motown/UMe)

New Music DVDs: Bob Dylan & the Band, "Down in the Flood" (Chrome Dreams); Peter Gabriel, "So: Classic Album" (Eagle Rock); The Groundhogs, "Live at the Astoria" (Eagle Rock)

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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