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|July 2- July 8, 2009
Sons of the Addicted, Fractal World (Variena Publishing/BMI)
by Margaret Grondorf
When one thinks of the Western Slope, images of mesas, banjos and homegrown peaches come to mind. Sons of the Addicted are most assuredly none of these things, with the exception of homegrown. Hailing from small towns along the western side of Colorado (Ridgeway, Ouray and Telluride most notably), the sounds coming from their debut album, Fractal World, feels more at home in a big city venue than in a slope-side tavern.
On both “Hold onto Me” and “State of the Union,” the technically proficient and metal-inspired guitar solos from Stosch Dembitsky are reminiscent of late-1990s progressive metal rock. With heavy drums and bass, the mood of the first several tracks is dark and predictable for the genre. Sons mixes up the tempo and trades in their metal sound for a softer, more melodic ride on “Lucid” and “Believe.” However, it’s toward the end of the album that things get more interesting, as Sons steps out of their safety zone, beginning with “I’ll Never Smoke Schwag Again (Herb Dream),” a witty Dear John letter recalling all the good times, but sadly stating the need to move on to, ahem, greener pastures. The final track, “Fractal World,” is a funky departure with dub-side beats and chorale vocals that give depth and show imagination.
As far as a freshman album goes, Sons does a lot of things right. Their sound is polished, their technique proficient and their presentation honed. At times, the album feels a bit too perfect, but that’s a minor criticism for a debut CD. The more interesting moments in Fractal World come when the band ignores the radio-friendly format and starts to experiment. Hopefully Sons will earn enough financial/critical clout with this album to really let their creative juices flow on the next one.
Regina Spektor, Far (Sire)
by Doug Wallen
Enlisting four producers for this fourth album, New York singer/songwriter/pianist Regina Spektor remains a mighty iconoclast, her expressively flighty singing and offbeat lyrics in full effect from the jaunty start of “The Calculation.” She goes on to wrangle vocal harmonies from Jeff Lynne on several tracks, approximate a dolphin on “The Folding Chair,” sing an ode to “the most human color” on the organ-humming “Blue Lips,” and sing through a vocoder alongside Reggie Watts’ beat-boxing on “Dance Anthems of the ’80s,” which fittingly evolves into dreamy ’80s-style pop. There’s an apocalyptic vibe to the creepy “Machine,” all insistent keys and splintered percussion, and on “The Wallet,” Spektor excitedly presents more tiny snapshots of daily life that graduate from mundane to profound in her able, fearless hands.
Jonas Brothers, Lines, Vines and Trying Times (Disney)
by David Hiltbrand
At least the teen idols get points for being ambitious. They also get docked for being overly so.
Right from the start (“World War III,” loaded with big-crunch guitars and a punchy horn section), the production dwarfs the Jersey boys’ callow songwriting and singing.
“Paranoid” sounds like a kiddie Billy Squier, but that musical posturing is still preferable to the Shania Twain-like “What Did I Do to Your Heart?”
The brothers sound most at home (and most impressive) on the more unadorned ballads like “Black Keys” and “Turn Right.”
But first you have to get past “Before the Storm,” which features a quavery-voiced Miley Cyrus. (Is she imitating Dolly Parton?)
For the most part Lines, Vines and Trying Times is an amorphous mess. Kind of like the CD’s pretentious title.
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