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Listening Room: Jimmy Eat World, Angie Stone and more...
Jimmy Eat World, “Chase This Light” (Interscope) **½
Since the platinum breakthrough of its self-titled 2001 album (aka “Bleed American”) and its hit “The Middle,” Jimmy Eat World has not been a band to rush its album. The Arizona quintet has taken three years between each of its subsequent releases, but the time benefited “Chase This Light” — perhaps more than it did 2004’s “Futures.” Produced by Butch Vig (Nirvana, Pixies, Garbage), “Chase ...” follows a classic kind of modern power pop (or, if you prefer, emo) format: It’s filled with buoyant melodies, soaring vocal harmonies and rich, ringing guitars — and with the heartbreak and angst of failing, or failed, relationships. “I could never be the one that you want/Don’t ask,” frontman Jim Adkins declares in “Carry You,” one of the many pained paeans amid these 11 tracks. In “Like She’ll Always Be” he mourns that “you can’t keep safe what wants to break,” while in “Feeling Lucky” he castigates a mate who’s “sucked that lucky feeling right out of me.” Fortunately on “Chase ...” he rocks through his troubles rather than wringing his hands, leading the group through the anthemic attack of the opening “Big Casino,” the punchy drive of “Let it Happen” and “Firefight,” the near-disco groove of “Here It Goes” and the fierce political commentary of “Electable (Give It Up).” “Catch’s” quieter moments are just as potent though, particularly airy, string-laden tracks such as “Gotta Be Somebody’s Blues” (Depeche Mode calls and wants their frown back) and the albumclosing “Dizzy.” There are points where “Chase...” sounds like so many other so-called “emo” records out there, but the fact that Jimmy Eat World has been doing it since 1993 and ranks as one of the subgenre’s originators gives the group license to take the loosely defined format in any direction it wants.
Angie Stone, “The Art of Love & War” (Stax)***
On her fourth studio album, Stone tells us that she’s “so happy being me” — for reasons other than the fact that she lost 18 pounds on “Celebrity Fit Club” last year. The South Carolina-born songstress is at her soulful best here, and the ghosts of the late Marvin Gaye’s Marvin’s Room studio in Los Angeles, where she recorded this set, obviously lit a bit more spirit into her understated, old school delivery that avoids histrionic R&B cliches in favor of carefully crafted and layered arrangements. She’s a fine foil for duet partners such as Betty Wright (“Baby”) and James Ingram (“My People”), and the a cappella “Go Back To Your Life” shows just how much range Stone can really conjure. There’s plenty of art at work here, and “Love & War” is only part of it.
NEW AND NOTEWORTHY
AC/DC, “Plug Me In” (Columbia) — A career-spanning two-DVD retrospective that features five hours of visual rarities — and there’s a three-DVD “Collector’s Edition” with an additional two hours of material.
Stanley Clarke, “Toys of Men” (Heads Up/Roxboro) — The bass legend takes a look at war, and the need for peace, on this conceptual creation.
The Coral, “Roots & Echoes” (Columbia) — The fourth album from the British modern rockers comes after a hiatus to replace founding member Bill Ryder-Jones.
Aretha Franklin “Rare and Unreleased Recordings From the Golden Reign of the Queen of Soul” (Rhino) — The title says it all about this collection of demos, B-sides and other goodies from the vaults, only three of which have ever seen the light of day.
Gov’t Mule, “Mighty High” (ATO) — The jam-happy rockers take the dub route on this collection of remixes, with guest appearances by Toots Hibbert and Michael Franti.
Jimi Hendrix Experience, “Live at Monetrey”
(Experience Hendrix/Geffen) — A newly revamped look at the legendary 1967 show that put a generation of rock fans into a purple haze.
Kenna, “Make Sure They See My Face” (Star Trak/ Interscope) — The Ethiopian dance-pop artist continues to work with mentors the Neptunes for his sophomore album.
Bob Marley, “Exodus” (Tuff Gong/UMe) — A 30th anniversary edition of the landmark album, with a companion DVD from a 1997 concert in England.
R.E.M., “R.E.M. Live” (Warner Bros.) — The new Rock and Roll Hall of Famers’ firstever live album (which includes a DVD, too) was recorded in 2005 in Dublin.
Trey Songz, “Trey Day” (Atlantic) — The young R&B singer’s second release features production by R. Kelly, Stargate and Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis.
Santana, “Ultimate Santana” (Arista) — New collaborations with Jennifer Lopez and Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger dot this best-of set.
Soulsavers, “It’s Not How Far You Fall, It’s the Way You Land” (Columbia) — The British production team recruited singer Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees, Queens of the Stone Age) to provide a voice for its second album.
Steel Train, “Trampoline” (Drive Thru) — The sophomore full-length from the classic-minded New York rockers.
Tiesto, “In Search of Sunrise 6” (Nettwerk) — The Dutch DJ drew inspiration for this two-disc dance set from the potent nightlife scene in Ibiza.
Thrice, “The Alchemy Index Vols. I & II: Fire & Water” (Vagrant) — Don’t worry; the emo faves will deliver “Earth & Air” next spring. Guess we call this elementary rock ‘n’ roll, eh?
Underworld, “Oblivion With Bells” (ATO) — The British electronic duo delivers its first studio album in five years.
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