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Listening Room: Constantine, Fuel and more...
Constantine, “Everybody Loves” (Sixth Place Records) **1/2
Constantine Maroulis’ debut comes off like a typical “American Idol” finalist’s season repertoire. A couple of rockers. Some pop tunes. A few ballads, something with Latin flavor and lots of heartbreak. Fair enough; Maroulis was, after all, the sixth-place finisher in “Idol’s” fourth season, distinguishing himself with a rendering of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” “Everybody Loves,” meanwhile, is a 12-song stylistic survey that slides the star of Broadway’s “The Wedding Singer” into the multiformatted turf of a Maroon5 or Rob Thomas. The former, in fact, seems something of a model for the hooky “Several Thousand,” while Constantine — who wrote three of the album’s tracks — has a little Ricky Martin on the brain for “Girl Like You,” Bon Jovi for “Heaven Help the Lonely” and a compelling combo of the Strokes and Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life” on “I Thought It Was Something.” The title track, which also is the album’s first single, soars with buoyant summertime spirit and a singalong nah-nah chorus, while “Child of the Revolution” cranks up the guitars — but not so loud that they’ll scare away ears more attuned to gentler fare such as “Sister, Sister,” “Fading Into You,” “So Long” and the angsty album closer “Midnight Radio.” Because it’s an independent release, “Everybody Loves” may have trouble reaching Kelly and Carrie kinds of numbers. But we’ll wager that in years to come we’ll be hearing more about Constantine than Season 4 runner-up Bo Bice.
Fuel, “Angels & Devils” (Epic) **
It’s been an eventful four years since Fuel released its last album, “Natural Selection.” In that time, the group got a new singer (Toryn Green) and added former Godsmack drummer Tommy Stewart to its ranks. The impact on the sound, however, has been minimal, although the hardrocking quartet has moved slightly closer to the mainstream center of things — especially with tracks such as “I Should Have Told You” (the Goo Goo Dolls with a bit more testosterone) and the Nickelbackian anthems “Hangin’ Round” and “Leave the Memories Alone.” The truth is, Fuel has always mined the melodic verse/blast-off chorus formula like so many other bands, but this time, the real sparks are harder to find.
NEW AND NOTEWORTHY
Greg Brown, “Yellow Dog” (Earthwork Music) — A live set by the singer-songwriter recorded at a 2005 show in Ishpeming to benefit the U.P.’s Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve.
Dave Brubeck, “Indian Summer” (Telarc) — The jazz legend mixes standards and originals on his latest set of solo piano pieces.
Peter Case, “Let Us Now Praise Sleepy John” (Yep Roc) — The former Plimsouls leader delivers his first album of all-original material in five years.
deSol, “On My Way” (saZon Records/Two22Music) — The East Coast Latin rock outfit continues to blend English, Spanish and Spanglish on its latest release.
Drowning Pool, “Full Circle” (Eleven Seven) — The Texas headbangers hope three times, specifically three albums with three different singers, is the charm.
Flight of the Conchords, “Distant Future” (Sub Pop) — The HBO duo’s debut is a six-song EP, and yes, it includes the hysterical “If You’re Into It.”
Bruce Hornsby, “Camp Meeting” (Sony Legacy) — The pianist teams with Christian McBride and Jack DeJohnette for his first instrumental jazz album.
Devin Lima & the Cadbury Diesel, “Mozart Popart” (One Eleven) — The debut outing by former LFO heartthrob Lima and his new band.
Piles, “Real Testament” (Big Gates/Slip-N-Slide/Atlantic) — The Florida rapper’s debut EP features hookups with Akon and T-Pain.
Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, “This is Somewhere” (Hollywood) — The Vermont-based organ trio finally gets a label deal for its funky, rootsy songs.
Chuck Ragan, “Feast or Famine” (SideOneDummy) — The first solo outing by the former frontman for hardcore rockers Hot Water Music.
Joe Satriani, “Surfing With the Alien” (Sony Legacy) — The rock guitar virtuoso’s landmark release celebrates its 20th anniversary by adding a DVD shot at the 1988 Montreux Jazz Festival.
Still Remains, “The Serpent” (Roadrunner) — The third release from the metalcore sextet from Grand Rapids.
UGK, “Underground Kingz”
(Jive) — The Texas rap duo’s two-CD set is loaded to the brim with guests, including T.I., Talib Kweli, Three 6 Mafia, Paul Wall and more.
Zap Mama, “Supermoon” (Heads Up) — The Afro-European troupe welcomes a number of Western rock and jazz musicians as guests on its sixth solo album.
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