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The Listening Room: Paramore, Brad Paisley and more...
Fueled By Ramen/Atlantic
Paramore's Hayley Williams isn't pulling any punches -- or at least doesn't seem to be -- on Paramore's fourth full-length album, and first in nearly four years. It's certainly fraught with drama, coming after a nasty public split with co-founders Josh and Zac Farro in 2010. So maybe it's not surprising that there's a defiant tone informs this set, with Williams declaring at various points that "Tonight we want to have fun," "If there's a future we want it now" and "Hollowed out and filled with hate/All we want is you to give us a break" -- not to mention a handful of diss-filled, ukulele-accompanied interludes placed throughout the album. Mostly, however, Williams and her remaining bandmates, with help from producer Justin Meidal-Johnsen -- a veteran of nine inch nails and Beck's band -- seek to re-prove themselves with "Paramore's" music, a wide-ranging and decidedly contemporary outing which runs a bit long (17 songs, 64 minutes) for its own good and at times sounds too much like another Gwen Stefani/No Doubt disc but generally prevails with plenty of spirit and spunk and a winning sense of renewal. "Fast in My Car" gets the album going on a glam note, while "One of Those) Crazy Girls" references vintage girl group pop, "Part II" hearkens to 80s electro pop, "Daydreaming" could be a Cranberries outtake "Now" boasts a kinetic quality that will sound familiar to White Stripes fans. The soulful tinge of "Ain't It Fun" resolves into a full-blown gospel chorus by the end of he song, and Williams gets to indulge in some torchy emoting during "Hate To See Your Heart Break." There's a lot here, in other words; it doesn't all work, but "Paramore" assures us that Paramore is far from finished.
Brad Paisley, "Wheelhouse" (Arista Nashville) ***
Brad Paisley's winning, cheeky attitude lets him get away with a lot -- like the redneck-celebrating "Southern Comfort Zone" or the verge-of-blasphemous "Those Crazy Christians" on this, his ninth studio album. That's not to mention "Accidental Racist," a come-together treatise with rapper LL Cool J. But anyone who knows Paisley, and it's a platinum-plus legion, knows it's all in good fun, and "Wheelhouse" is as good a time as anything he's recorded. Produced and entirely co-written by Paisley, the set is fortified with guest appearances by Dierks Bentley, Roger Miller, Hayes, Mat [cq] Kearney and Charlie Daniels, while Monty Python's Eric Idle lends a droll verbal to "Death of a Married Man (the companion, "Death of Single Man," comes three songs later). And, of course, there's nothing at all funny about Paisley's guitar chops, which are still sharp throughout these 17 tracks.
New & Noteworthy:
Paul Anka, "Duets" (Legacy): The pop veteran teams collects his collaborations with a corps of all-stars, including Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra, Michael Buble, George Benson and Michael McDonald, Celine Dion and more.
James Blake, "Overgrown" (Republic): The British electronic artist's second studio album features a cover of Brian Eno's "Digital Lion" among its 10 tracks.
Jake Bugg, "Jake Bugg" (Mercury): The British rock singer and songwriter brings his debut album stateside after topping the charts in his homeland last fall.
Eric Church, "Live: Caught in the Act" (EMI Nashville): The red-hot country singer fills the gap between albums with this document of his galvanizing concert performances.
Dawes, "Stories Don't End" (Hub): Jacquire King (Kings of Leon, R.E.M.) produced the third album from this Los Angeles Americana troupe.
Deadstring Brothers, "Cannery Row" (Bloodshot): The hard-hitting alt.country rockers from Detroit keep things cooking on their fifth studio album and first since 2010's "Sao Paulo."
Device, "Device" (Warner Bros.): The debut outing by Disturbed frontman David Draiman's new band features guest collaborations with Lzzy [cq] Hale, System of a Down's Serj Tankian, Black Sabbath's Geezer Butler, Avenged Sevenfold's M. Shadows, Tom Morello and Glenn Hughes.
Drowning Pool, "Resilience" (Eleven Seven): The headbanging Dallas quartet introduces its fourth lead singer, Jasen Moreno, on its fifth studio album.
Ronnie Earl & Broadcasters, "Just For Today" (Stony Plain): Guitar ace Earl celebrates 24 years of his own band with this live set, recorded in Massachusetts.
Il Volo, "Mas Que Amor" (Universal Latino): The teenage Italian trio's latest Spanish release includes renditions of Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" and the theme from "Hidden Moon."
Boney James, "The Beat" (Concord): The saxophonist mashes up R&B and Latin flavors with help from singer Raheem DeVaughn and rhymer The Floacist.
John Medeski, "A Different Time" (Okeh/Sony Classical): The first solo outing from the Medeski, Martin & Wood keyboardist is a solo piano set of mostly originals, with a Willie Nelson cover for good measure.
Willy Moon, "Here's Willy Moon" (Island): The debut album from the buzzed-about indie rocker from New Zealand.
OMD, "English Electric" (BMG): The British electronic group's original lineup regroups to celebrate its 35th anniversary with a dozen new songs.
The Postal Service, "Give Up -- Deluxe 10th Anniversary Edition" (Sup Pop): The electronic pop group fronted by Death Cab For Cutie's Ben Gibbard celebrates its only studio album with 15 bonus tracks, including two brand new recordings and covers of its songs by The Sins and Iron & Wine.
Molly Ringwald, "Except Sometimes" (Concord): The onetime Brat Pack member and author turns to the Great American Songbook for her first album, plus her version of Simple Minds' "The Breakfast Club" hit "Don't You (Forget About Me)."
Duke Robillard, "Independently Blue" (Stony Plain): The award-winning blues guitar hero spotlights fellow six-string master "Monster" Mike Welch on his latest release.
Todd Rundgren, "State" (Esoteric Antenna): The veteran rock auteur takes stock of contemporary electronic and industrial styles on his latest release.
Serenity, "War of Ages"
Stone Sour, "House of Gold & Bones Part 2" (Roadrunner): The hard rockers (including Slipknot's Corey Taylor and Jim Root) finish the story they started last fall, again assisted by Skid Row bassist Rachel Bolan.
Tyga, "Hotel California" (Young Money/Cash Money/Republic): The Compton rapper's third album doesn't remake the Eagles hit but does feature appearances by Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Chris Brown, Whiz Khalifa, 2 Chainz and the late 2Pac.
Kurt Vile, "Walkin' On a Pretty Daze" (Matador): The fifth solo album from The War On Drugs guitarist shows his continuing evolution as both a player and songwriter.
Volbeat, "Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies" (Spinefarm/Republic): The Norwegian hard rock outfit benefits from new member and co-producer Rob Caggiano (late of Anthrax), while King Diamond and Walk Off The Earth's Sarah Blackwood make guest appearances.
From The Vaults: Julio Iglesias, "1 -- Greatest Hits" (Columbia/Legacy); Quicksilver Messenger Service, "Live at the Fillmore June 7, 1968" (Cleopatra);
Soundtracks: Joseph LoDuca, "Spartacus: War of the Damned" (Varese Sarabande); Cliff Martinez, "The Company You Keep" (Milan); Various Artists, "Oblivion" (Backlot)
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