» Contact Us
» Advertise With Us
» Newspaper Ads
The Listening Room: Justin Timerlake, Clutch and more...
"The 20/20 Experience"
A long six and a half years after his last album, Justin Timberlake re-emerges with a record that was made with a capital R. Weighing in at 70 minutes, with only one of the 10 songs that's less than five, Timberlake and producer Timbaland clearly conceived "The 20/20 Experience" as a sonic exploration, loading it up with loops, textures, orchestrations and suite-like arrangements that recall, at least in intent, the most ambitious soul symphonies of Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye and Barry White. There are messy moments, to be sure: "Don't Hold the Wall" in particular is a meandering melange that doesn't hit its stride until the song's last third; while some of the lyrics sound like something Timberlake would have written for one of his ingenious "Saturday Night Live" skits -- although "space lover cocoon" is a silly kind of clever. The album's winning moments, meanwhile, include the slinky first part of the opening "Pusher Love Girl," the richly soulful "Mirrors," the steady Memphis soul cool of "That Girl" and the relentless pump of "Let the Groove In." "Blue Ocean Floor" closes the album with a long, liquidy bath of a lullaby, but the rest is well-earned after this kind of exhaustive aural adventure.
Clutch, "Earth Rocker" (Weathermaker Music) HHH
Clutch's 10th studio album, and first in more than three years, is also the Baltimore quartet's most trim and efficient -- and arguably its best. The psychedelic, molten and stoner-rock elements that the group's fans love are all still here, but the majority of the songs have been tightened to good effect, with Clutch and producer Machine going for quick-kill punch rather than expanse. Discerning listeners will hear "Earth Rocker's" title track as an updated cousin to the MC5's "Kick Out the Jams," while frontman Neil Fallon's politics add potency to the bluesy call to arms "D.C. Sound Attack!" and the meaty groover "Mr. Freedom." Clutch does loosen up again the end of the album, letting "Oh Isabella" and "The Wolf Man Kindly Requests" stretch out, but in this in this setting they hold up as dynamic complements to a concise overall work.
New & Noteworthy:
Alpha Rev, "Bloom" (Kirtland): The third album from the alt.rock group from Austin, Texas, fronted by Endochine's Casey McPherson.
Anthrax, "Anthems" (Megaforce): The thrash rock pioneers drill through songs by Journey, Boston, AC/DC, Rush and others on this eight-track EP.
Billy Bragg, "Tooth & Nail" (Cooking Vinyl): The outspoken British singer-songwriter's first new album in five years was produced by Rochester Adams alumnus Joe Henry.
Aaron Diehl, "The Bespoke Man's Narrative (Mack Avenue): The label debut by the pianist, winner of the 2011 Cole Porter Fellowship, and his quartet of young lions.
Simone Dinnerstein & Tift Merritt, "Night" (Sony Masterworks): A stately pairing between the classical pianist and the Americana singer-songwriter, with new songs contributed by Patty Griffin and Brad Mehldau.
The Fabulous Thunderbirds, "On the Verge" (Severn): The veteran blues-rock troupe covers songs by Junior Parker and O.V. Wright among the originals on its first new studio album in nearly a decade.
The Hellgoats, "Back to the Ache" (Greyday): The avant rock troupe led by Clem Snide touring member Chris Otepka returns to action after more than seven years apart.
Hem, "Departure and Farewell" (Waveland): The fifth studio album from the always ambitious, genre-blending Brooklyn group that's even taken on Shakespeare.
Intronaut, "Habitual Levitations..." (Century Media): The fourth full-length album from the progressive-minded Los Angeles metal band.
Lordi, "To Beast or Not to Beast" (AFM): The sixth studio album by the costumed Finnish heavy metal features cheerful fare such as "Candy For the Cannibal" and "We're Not Bad For the Kids (We're Worse)."
Low, "The Invisible Way" (Sub Pop): The Minnesota indie rock trio's 10th studio album was co-produced by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy.
Brian McKnight, "More Than Words" (Mr. Sloane/eOne): The R&B/pop artist's 15th album includes a collaboration with Colbie Caillat on the first single, "Sweeter."
Kacey Musgraves, "Same Trailer, Different Park" (Mercury Nashville): The debut album from the country artist Rolling Stone made its "pick for the next Taylor Swift." Boys, beware....
Josh Rouse, "Happiness Waltz" (Yep Roc): The Nashville-by-way-of-Nebraska troubadour's 10th album hearkens back to his early 2000s sound, which should please longtime fans.
Six Feet Under, "Unborn" (Metal Blade): The 10th studio album by the all-star death metal group formed by members of Cannibal Corpse, Obituary and others.
The Staves, "Dead & Born & Grown" (Atlantic): The debut full-length by the sister folk trio from England, which established its rep with three previous EPs and opening tours for the Civil Wars and Bon Iver.
Suede, "Bloodsports" (Warner Music Group): The first new album in nine years reunites the British rockers with their original producer, Ed Buller.
Vanna, "The Few and the Far Between" (Artery/Razor & Tie): The fourth album by the extreme-rocking, hard touring Boston quintet.
Various Artists, "Love For Levon" (StarVista/Time Life): A who's-who -- including Gregg Allman, Roger Waters, John Mayer, My Morning Jacket and more -- turned out for this tribute to the late Levon Helm, ably captured on these CD and DVD sets.
Various Artists, "RZA Presents Shaolin Soul Selection: Volume 1" (Soul Temple): The Wu-Tang Clan leader trolls through the vaults of Stax Records and its associated labels for this two-disc collection.
From The Vaults: Duane Allman, "Skydog: The Duane Allman Retrospective" (Rounder); The Eagles, "The Studio Albums 1972-1979" (Elektra/Asylum); Elvis Presley, "Aloha From Hawaii via Satellite (Legacy Edition)" (RCA/Legacy)
Soundtracks: Steve Jablonsky and Jacob Shea, "Gears of War: Judgment" (Sumthing Else/Epic Games); "Les Miserables: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Deluxe Edition) (Republic); Various Artists, "Walking Dead 1" (Universal Republic)
Send your thoughts and comments to