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The Listening Room: Justin Timberlake, All Time Low and more...
"The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2"
After nearly seven years without an album, Justin Timberlake is certainly making up for lost time -- not just with two albums this year but with each weighing in at more than 70 minutes, and with even longer deluxe editions. That's a great deal of music for any artist to produce in a single year, but the good news is that "2 of 2" is actually better, and certainly more consistent, than the initial "20/20 Experiment." The new set has the benefit of the best song between the two -- the single "Take Back the Night" which, despite some controversy over its title, is a lithe slice of dance pop that sounds like what Philly soul producer Thom [cq] Bell might have done with Michael Jackson's "Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough." Coming in just behind that are tracks such as hard-hitting "TKO," the loping funk of the opening "Gimme What I Don't Know (I Want)," all nine-and-a-half minutes of the jungle-flavored "True Blood" and the gritty soul-rock of "Drink You Away." The album-ending couplet of "Not a Bad Thing" and the feathery hidden track "Pair of Wings," meanwhile, are the most outwardly pop songs Timberlake has recorded since his days with *NSYNC, and there are cameos by Drake ("Cabaret") and Jay Z ("Murder"), the latter of whom seems to have just learned that Yoko Ono broke up the Beatles. As on "The 20/20 Experiment," the sheer length of some of these songs gets Timberlake in a bit of trouble; "Only When I Walk Away" in particular goes through a pair of jarring shifts, none of which get any better than the first few minutes. But most of the material here holds up well, making "2 of 2" much more than afterthought or a collection of leftovers.
New & Noteworthy:
All Time Low, "Don't Panic: It's Longer Now!" (Hopeless): The Baltimore punk group's 2012 albums grows with eight bonus tracks, including four acoustic versions.
Blitzen Trapper, "VII" (Vagrant): The highly regarded Portland Americana group has switched labels after a six-year association with Seattle's Sub Pop.
Bongos, "Phantom Train" (JEM): The first new album in six years from the lauded New Jersey New Wave troupe.
Neil Byrne and Ryan Kelly, "Acoustically Irish" (self-released): Here's one title that tells you exactly what the two singer-songwriters are up to here.
Steven Curtis Chapman, "The Glorious Unfolding" (Reunion): The Christian singer-songwriter delivers his first full set of original material in seven years.
Deltron 3030, "The Event II," "Event II Instrumentals" (both Bulk Recordings): Thirteen years later, the all-star hip-hop group (Dan the Automator, Del the Funky Homosapien and Kid Koala) releases its second album.
Dr. Dog, "B-Room" (Anti_): The arty Pennsylvania rock group recorded its eighth album in its own newly built studio with co-producer and engineer Nathan Sabatino.
Elf Power, "Sunlight on the Moon" (Darla): The Athens, Ga., indie rockers recorded their latest album in a variety of locations, including frontman Andrew Rieger's home studio and dilapidated music theater.
Fates Warning, "Darkness in a Different Light" (Inside Out): The Hartford (Conn.) headbangers' first new album since 2004 marks the debut of drummer Bobby Jarzombek."
HAIM, "Days Are Gone" (Polydor): The California sister trio's debut comes after a pair of 2012 EPs and a string of buzz-building singles.
Hank 3, "Brothers of the 4x4," "Fiendish Threat" (both ??): The prolific grandson of Hank Williams and son of Hank Jr. unleashes new sets of country music and punk rock, respectively.
Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, "Unvarnished" (Blackheart): The veteran and barrier-breaking female rocker returns to the racks with her first new album in seven years.
K-Ci & Jojo, "My Brothers Keeper" (+FE Music/Hard Boiled): The Hailey brothers and former Jodeci members return with their first duo album since 2008.
Dustin Kensrue, "Water & the Blood" (Mars Hill Music/BEC): the Thrice frontman explores his faith-based side on his latest solo outing.
Moby, "Innocents" (Little Idiot/Mute): The electronic pioneer's latest includes collaborations with Flming Lips's Wayne Coyne, Skylar Grey, Screaming Tree's Mark Lanegan and others.
Moon Safari, "Himlabacken, Vol. 1" (Blomljud): The Swedish progressive rock group's fourth studio set is filled with the usual array of intricate musicianship and vocal harmonics.
New Model Army, "Between Dog and Wolf" (Eagle Rock): The British alt.rockers show a little teeth on the 14 songs that populate its latest release.
The Sadies, "Internal Sounds" (Yep Roc): The Canadian country rockers new set includes a collaboration with Buff Sainte-Marie.
Soulfly, "Savages" (Nuclear Blast): Members of Clutch, Napalm Death, I Declare War and others guest on the latest explosion from this metal all-star band.
Tired Pony, "Ghost of the Mountain" (Fiction/Mom+Pop): The debut set from the new all-star band featuring R.E.M.'s Peter Buck, Snow Patrol`s Gary Lightbody, Bell & Sebastian's Richard Colburn and others.
Randy Travis, "Influence Vol. 1: The Man I Am" (Warner Bros.) The country icon covers songs by influences such as George Jones, Merle Haggard, Lefty Frizzell and more, duetting on one with Joe Nichols.
Various Artists, "Beatles Reimagined" (Community Projects): Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes top the bill of indie bands covering Beatles favorites to benefit a network of music and youth charities.
VNV Nation, "Transnational" (Anachron Sounds): The ninth album from the experimental British electronic duo.
Matt Wertz, "Heatwave" (Handwritten): Ten new songs from the Nashville-based pop singer-songwriter.
Wood Brothers, "The Muse" (Southern Ground): The Nashville duo's latest was produced by Buddy Miller and adds drummer Jano Rix as a full-fledged member.
From The Vaults: Laura Nyro, "Live at the Carnegie Hall" (All Access); Bonnie Raitt, "Now & Then" (Redwing); Rush, "The Studio Albums 1989-2007" (Atlantic)
Soundtracks: Steven Price, "Gravity: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack" (Watertower)
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