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The Listening Room: Cage The Elephant, Chris Brown, Monica,
Cage The Elephant
"Tell Me I'm Pretty"
In the middle of Cage The Elephant's fourth album, frontman Matthew Schultz laments, "Got so much to lose/Got so much to lose/God don't let me loose my mind." The Kentucky quintet's first two albums certainly established CTE as a rock 'n' roll comer and undoubtable put some pressure on "Tell Me I'm Pretty," but the group delivers and even exceeds expectations with an artfully stripped-down set of psychedelic-tinged garage rock that certainly benefits from having kindred spirit Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys and the Arcs in the production chair. "Tell Me I'm Pretty" is cutting-edge retro, a high-tech lo-fi romp that swings like CTE is playing a hot gig with a bad PA for a basement dance party. Tracks such as "Cry Baby," "Mess Around," "That's Right" and "Portuguese Knife Fight" have plenty of hips and slinky hooks, while "Sweetie Little Jean" has a Mersey charm and "Cold Cold Cold" sounds like a folk-pop gem from the early Hollies. "Punchin' Bag" reels in swaggering white boy R&B, and "Too Late To Say Goodbye" slows things down into rough-hewn blues. Schultz notes early on that, "We all got something to say but talking is a waste of time;" good thing, then, that CTE lets its music do the talking and more than make its point on "Tell Me I'm Pretty."
New & Noteworthy:
Baroness, "Purple" (Abraxan Hymns): The fourth album from the Georgia headbangers features two new members and shows the group to be unbowed after a horrific 2012 bus accident.
Chris Brown, "Royalty" (RCA): The still-controversial R&B singer's sixth studio album goes light on the guests, keeping the spotlight on Brown's sultry vocal skills throughout.
Kid Cudi, "Speedin' Bullet 2 Heaven" (Wicked Awesome/Republic): The prolific Cleveland rapper's fifth outing includes collaborations with blink-182 drummer Travis Barker, among others.
Joseph LoDuca, "Ash vs. the Evil Dead" (Varese Sarabande): Who better to score the spin-off of this Michigan-born horror series than the Detroit homeboy who also works with "The Librarians."
Monica, "Code Red" (RCA): The Atlanta singer-actress' eight album finds Monica at her most aggressive, especially on team-ups with Missy Elliott on the title track and Lil Wayne on "Just Right For Me."
Pusha T, "King Push -- Darkest Before the Dawn: The Prelude" (GOOD Music/Def Jam): The Virginia album sets up his planned 2016 "King Push" album with this 10-song set featuring Kanye West, Jill Scott, A$AP Rocky, The-Dream and more.
Also Out: The Avett Brothers, "Live Vol. Four" (Republic); Bunbury, "MTV Unplugged: El Libro De Las Mutaciones" (Warner Music Latina); Seong-Jin Cho, "Winner: 17th International Chopin Piano Competition Warsaw 2015" (Deutsche Grammophon); Cass McCombs, "A Folk Set Apart" (Domino).
From The Vaults: Pantera, "The Complete Studio Albums 1990-2000" (Elektra/Rhino); Various Artists, "Senegal 70: Sonic Gems &...." (Analog Africa)
Soundtracks: "Be More Chill: Original Cast Recording" (Ghostlight); Various Artists, "Brooklyn: Music From the Motion Picture" (Lakeshore); James Newton Howard, "Concussion" (Sony Classical); "Daddy Long Legs: Original Broadway Cast Recording" (Razor & Tie); Ludwig Goransson, "Creed" (WaterTower); Various Artists, Jaco" (Sony Legacy); Cliff Martinez and Greg Tripi, "The Knick Season 2" (Milan); Night Club, "Moonbeam City: Original Series Soundtrack" (Milan); Various Artists, "Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight" (Verve); John Williams, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" (Walt Disney); "Youth: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack" (Milan).
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