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The Listening Room: Robin Thicke, Seether and more...
A year ago Robin Thicke was riding high with the hottest song of the summer, the six-times platinum "Blurred Lines," and a No. 1 album of the same name. But after a misguided twerk here or there, his marriage (to actress-model Paula Patton) feel apart and left Thicke tearing his heart out on this 14-song mea culpa. "Watch me crawl, watch me beg," he sings on "Still Madly Crazy," and he does just that throughout "Paula," pleading with her to "come back to me/come home to me" on the opening "You're My Fantasy," confessing that "vanity's my only friend" in "Something Bad" and referencing plenty of bad and even abusive behavior in "Black Tar Cloud." As a documentary of relationship woes It doesn't have quite the aesthetic magic of Bob Dylan's "Blood on the Tracks" or Marvin Gaye's "Here, My Dear," but "Paula" is nevertheless heartfelt -- uncomfortably so at times -- and is also Thicke's most diverse musical set. Flamenco guitar drives "Your My Fantasy" while "Get Her Back" offers smooth, hypnotic soul and "Whatever I Want" takes "Paula" to the disco. Thicke does his best James Brown imitation on "Living in New York City" and is in a Ray Charles state of mind on "Love Can Grow Back," with a tip of the hat Frank Sinatra on "The Time of Your Life" -- anything, it seems, to woo the lady back into his life. Best of all is "Lock the Door," which uses a trio of female backup singers as a kind of Greek chorus to make sure we know just what kind of cad Thicke is. Whether "Paula" serves its conciliatory purpose or not remains to be seen, but you can't say Thicke isn't giving it a maximum effort.
Seether, "Isolate and Medicate" (Bicycle Music Co./Concord) ***
"All I really want is something beautiful to say," Seether frontman Shaun Morgan pines on the group's sixth studio album. And, believe it or not, Morgan and company do make a little more room for the trio's gentle side here, from the lush ambience of "Crash" to the acoustic-based "Save Today," and even on unapologetically poppy, tightly crafted tracks such as "Same Damn Life," "Watch Me Drown" and "Nobody Praying For Me." Of course, those song titles (not to mention the album's) should indicate that there's still plenty of angsty emotions are still Morgan's stock in trade, and best heard in head- and heart-banging songs such as "See You at the Bottom," "Words as Weapons," "Keep the Dogs at Bay" and "Suffer It All." The Seether nation will certainly be satisfied.
New & Noteworthy:
Peter Matthew Bauer, "Liberation" (Mexican Summer): The first solo release from the bassist, organist and co-founder of the Walkmen.
The Dead Rabbits, "Shapeshifter" (Tragic Hero): The debut full-length album from the new group started by Escape The Fate frontman Craig Mabbitt.
Every Time I Die, "From Parts Unknown" (Epitaph): The Gaslight Anthem's Brian Fallon helps out the hardcore Buffalo metal band on its seventh album.
Hillsong Worship, "No Other Name" (Hillsong): More songs of faith and devotion from the musical wing of the Hillsong Church.
Kobra and the Lotus, "High Priestess" (Kobra Music/Titan): The third album by the Canadian metal group championed by Kiss' Gene Simmons.
Jim Lauderdale, "I'm a Song" (Sky Crunch): The veteran singer-songwriter returns to country music, co-writing songs with Elvis Costello, Gary Allan, Bobby Bare and Grateful Dead lyrics Robert Hunter.
Corb Lund, "Counterfeit Blues" (New West): The Americana singer-songwriter recorded his latest set at the legendary Sun Studio in Memphis.
Magic!, "Don't Kill the Magic" (Latium/RCA): The Toronto-formed reggae-rock group delivers a full-length debut on the heels of its hit single "Rude."
Old Crow Medicine Show, "Remedy" (ATO): The ace Americana troupe has teamed with Bob Dylan on "Sweet Amarillo," a follow-up to their 2004 collaboration "Wagon Wheel."
Quireboys, "Blacked Eyed Sons" (Off Yer Rocka): More hard-hitting rock from the British troupe that also partners with Def Leppard's Joe Elliott in the Mott the Hoople-saluting Down 'n' Outz.
Red Wanting Blue, "Little America" (Fanatic): The 10th album from the Americana group that formed at Ohio University.
Thorbjorn Risager & the Black Tornado, "Too Many Roads" (Ruf): The Danish blues band gets a welcome release on these shores.
Dulcie Taylor, "Only Worn One Time" (Mesa/Bluemoon): The California singer-songwriter brought together a particularly strong group of players to be part of her latest project.
Trey Songz, "Trigga" (Songbook/Atlantic): The singer/rapper`s sixth album features guest appearances by Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj, Juicy J, Ty Dolla $ign and others.
Various Artists, "The Midnight Ramble Sessions, Volume 3" (Vanguard): More from the late Band drummer's homespun barn jams, featuring Allen Toussaint and the Black Crowes' Chris Robinson as drop-in guests.
Various Artists, "Studio Rio Presents: The Brazil Connection" (Legacy): World Cup fever brings us another Brazilian music celebration, this time giving songs by Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Sly & the Family Stone and others a Latin twist.
From The Vaults: Bon Jovi, "New Jersey" (Island/UMe); Deep Purple, "In Concert '72" (Rhino): Emerson, Lake & Palmer, "Brain Salad Surgery" (Razor & Tie); Grateful Dead, "Dick's Picks Vol. 17 Boston Garden 9/25/91" (DeadNet); The Jayhwaks, "Sound of Lies," "Smile," "Rainy Day Music" (UMe); Jethro Tull, "A Passion Play" (Rhino); Landmarq, "Origins: A Landmarq Anthology 1991-2014" (Cherry Red); Bob Marley, "Legend -- 30th Anniversary Edition" (Island/UMe); Pink Floyd, "The Division Bell 20th Anniversary Box" (Warner Music Group)
Soundtracks: Ramin Djawadi, "Game of Thrones Season 4" (WaterTower); Fabio Frizzi, "City of the Living Dead" (Death Waltz); Original Broadway Cast, "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" (Atlantic); Jeff Ruso, "Fargo" (Masterworks)
New Music DVDs: Guns N' Roses, "Appetite For Democracy 3D: Live at the Hard Rock Casino -- Las Vegas" (UMe); Elton John, "The Million Dollar Piano" (Eagle Rock)
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