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CD Reviews:
The Listening Room: Kid Rock, Big Sean, Chris Brown and Tyga, Led Zeppelin and more...
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

» See more SOUND CHECK

Kid Rock

"First Kiss"

(Warner Bros.)

Grade: B+


Early on his 10th studio album, Kid Rock tells us that he's "never been a champagne drinking man" who also has an aversion to Coldplay and Coachella. Well, tells us something we DON'T know... "First Kiss" is that kind of Kid Rock album, though, a devil -- with or without a cause -- may-care Americana manifesto that leaves any Pimp of the Nation pretense behind and celebrates shot-and-a-beer normalcy with plenty of twang, grit and richly musical hooks. That's always been one part of Rock's outsized persona, of course, but he hones in on it this time out with nary a rap or metal riff on its 10 songs. The sentimental title track and first single blasts things off as a kissin' cousin to Rock's smash "All Night Long," while tracks such as "Good Times, Cheap Wine," the politically tinged "Ain't Enough Whiskey" and "Good Time Looking" are twangy roadhouse rockers fortified by a combination of his Twisted Brown Trucker band and Austin, Texas' Band of Heathens. There's a bit more poignancy in "Drinking Beer With Dad," "Best of Me," "Jesus and Bocephus" and the punchy love song "Johnny Cash," while "One More Song" is a slinky, grooving diss that nods to 1998's "Cowboy." And the sweet and sour sides of Rock's temperament are aired in the same-song/different lyrics bonus tracks, with "FOAD's" sneering flip-offs on the "explicit" version countered by the more polite sentiments, courtesy of Bob Seger, in "Say Goodbye" from the "clean" edition. The Early Mornin' Stoned Pimp, it seems has become an adult settled into the afternoon of his life, and on "First Kiss" it feels like an even more genuine place for Rock to plan his musical flag.

New & Noteworthy:

Alien Ant Farm, "Always and Forever" (Executive Music): The rejuvenated southern California is back with its first new studio album in eight and a half years, following last year's crowd-funded "Phone Home" EP.

Big Sean, "Dark Sky Paradise" (G.O.O.D. Music/Def Jam): The Detroit rapper is joined by label boss Kanye West, John Legend, Chris Brown, Lily Wayne and others on his third album, but you'll have to get the deluxe edition for a cameo by his girlfriend, Ariana Grande.

Chris Brown and Tyga, "Fan of a Fan: The Album" (Young Money/Republic/RCA): This collaboration between Chris Brown and rapper Tyga boasts a guest list that includes 50 Cent, Pusha T, Schoolboy Q and more.

Elana James, "Black Beauty" (Snarf): The Hot Club of Cowtown fiddler and singer goes solo with a combination of originals and covers of Bob Dylan, Grateful Dead and Woody Guthrie tunes.

Led Zeppelin, "Physical Graffiti (Deluxe Edition)" (Rhino): The latest release in the legendary group's archive series augments the original 1975 release with seven previously unreleased outtakes and alternative versions, making a great thing that much greater.

Revolution Saints, "Revolution Saints" (Frontiers): "Supergroup" alert; this trio is reeking high-level rock credentials from Journey drummer Deen Castronovo, who sings most of the leads, Night Ranger/Damn Yankees bassist Jack Blades and former Whitesnake guitarist Doug Aldrich.

Also Out: Airborne Toxic Event, "Dope Machines" (Epic); Jovan Alexandre, "Collective Consciousness" (Xippi Phonorecords); Altan, "The Widening Gyre" (Compass); Carach Angren, "This is No Fairy Tale" (Maddening Media); BadBadNotGood and Ghostface Killah, "Sour Soul" (Lex); Mahalia Barnes & The Soul Mates featuring Joe Bonamassa, "Ooh Yeah! The Betty Davis Songbook." (J&R Adventures); Black Ryder, "The Door Behind the Door" (The Anti-Machine Machine); Black Star Riders, "Killer Instinct" (Nuclear Blast); Kristin Diable, "Create Your Own Mythology" (Spunk); Diamond Rugs, "Cosmetics" (Sycamore); Ensiferum, "One Man Army" (Metal Blade); Falling In Reverse, "Just Like You" (Epitaph); Fashawn, "The Ecology" (Mass Appeal); Gang of Four, "What Happens Next" (Metropolis);

Gibson Brothers, "Brotherhood" (Rounder); Girls, Guns and Glory, "A Tribute to Hank Williams -- Live!!" (Dry Lightning); JJ Grey & Mofro, "Old Glory" (Provogue); Emile Hayne, "We Fall" (Interscope); Issa, "Crossfire" (Frontiers); Mat Kearney, "Just Kids" (Republic); Like a Storm, "Awaken The Fire" (Century Media); Parker McCollum, "The Limestone Kid" (PYM); James McMurtry, "Complicated Game" (Complicated Game); Of Mice & Men, "Restoring Force: Full Circle" (Rise); Misterwives, "Our Own House" (Republic); Public Service Broadcasting, "The Race For Space" (Test Card); Red, "Of Beauty and Rage" (Essential); Rick Springfield, "Stripped Down" (Loud & Proud); Torche, "Restarter" (Relapse); Uriah Heep, "Live at Koko" (Frontiers); The Verbs, "Cover Story" (Jay-Vee); Carl Verheyen, "Alone" (self-released); Rob Zombie, "Spookshow International Live" (UME)

Soundtracks: "Side Show: Original 2014 Broadway Cast Recording" (Broadway); Various Artists, "Songs of Anarchy, Volume 4" (Columbia)

From The Vaults: Chicago, "Live in `75" (Rhino); Dr. Feelgood, "I'm A Man (The Best of the Wilko Johnson Years 1974-1977)" (Rhino/Parlophone); Iron & Wine, "Archive Series Volume 1" (Black Cricket); J. Geils Band, "House Party -- Live in Germany" (Eagle Rock); Lead Belly, "Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection" (Smithsonian Folkways)

New Music DVDS: J. Geils Band, "House Party Live in Germany" (Eagle Rock); Rick Springfield, "Stripped Down" (Loud & Proud)

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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