CD reviews: Aerosmith, Mike Doughty, Soundgarden
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Aerosmith Music from Another Dimension/Columbia
It’s been more than a decade since we’ve heard new original music from Aerosmith.
So after waiting so long, what do Aerosmith fans get?
The answer is a decidedly mixed bag of music.
Lead singer Steve Tyler spent a couple of seasons judging for “American Idol,” and at one point Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry stated that Tyler had left the band and that auditions for a new singer would commence shortly.
With all the drama, fans probably should be thankful to be getting anything from Aerosmith.
Still, tepid songs such as “LUV XXX,” “Tell Me” and “Can’t Stop Lovin’ You” (which features Tyler singing with country star Carrie Underwood) likely will leave some fans scratching their heads.
Those tunes and others seem like rejects from the band’s “Pump” era, and despite having years to recharge their batteries, the band sounds listless and uninspired on a lot of the album.
There are a few winning moments, as on “Out Go the Lights,” when the band seems to recall the period of time when they rocked harder than just about any band in America.
To Tyler’s credit, his voice still sounds as spry as it did on “Toys in the Attic,” which was released more than 35 years ago.
While the album itself is mediocre, at least we know that the inevitable world tour holds some promise.
Key Tracks: “Out Go the Lights,” “Legendary Child,” “Lover Alot”
Mike Doughty The Flip is Another Honey/Red
If you want to read a great story about overcoming drug addiction and major label rejection, Google Mike Doughty.
After rising from the ashes of Soul Coughing, one of the more original bands of the ’90s, Doughty started a solo career that went from him selling CD-Rs from the trunk of his rental car on the road to having his music played on radio, in films and on many popular TV shows.
A lover of words, Doughty’s songs are almost always as cerebral as they are funky. “The Flip is Another Honey” finds Doughty leaning back toward his Soul Coughing roots without quite making a total connection.
For the most part, this is an album of covers, but since Doughty has his own way of doing things musically, these covers are anything but straightforward.
The opener, “Sunshine,” features Doughty rapping over samples of John Denver’s “Sunshine on My Shoulders.”
Doughty also revisits the work of the late country/folk singer with a more traditional (for him, at least) version of “Take Me Home, Country Roads” that features Rosanne Cash.
Other interesting moments include takes on “Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat” from “Guys & Dolls,” Cheap Trick’s “Southern Girls” and “Reach Out,” and Randy Newman’s “Mankind.”
Other artists covered include Red House Painters, Low, Doveman and Thin Lizzy.
Countless artists have gone the cover album route, but Doughty gets extra points for mixing things up a bit.
Key Tracks: “Sunshine,” “Southern Girls,” “Mistress”
Soundgarden King Animal/Seven Four/Republic
In the days of grunge rock, which now seem oh-so long ago, there was any number of rock bands that had varying degrees of success.
There were also a few titans of the genre, including Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains and, of course, Soundgarden.
Soundgarden was never apologetic about its heavy sound — it was the Black Sabbath of its day — and between the howling vocals of Chris Cornell and the sludgy guitar riffs of Kim Thayil, few bands came close to its power.
After breaking up in 1997, the band reunited a couple of years ago. After a successful tour, the band headed back into the studio.
Fans of that distinct Soundgarden sound of the ’90s will be happy to hear that it remains largely intact 16 years after the band released its last studio album.
Once again, Cornell’s voice and Thayil’s ax are in sync with one another, and the resulting music doesn’t issue forth from your speakers or headphones so much as it oozes, like an evil musical syrup from another planet.
Tracks such as “Been Away Too Long” and “A Thousand Days Before” will have you digging for your copy of “Superunknown” for comparison.
The album’s best track, the dark and foreboding “Blood on the Valley Floor,” ends any argument fans might be having about Soundgarden’s return to form.
While the band members are a decade and a half older than when the last album was released, they still haven’t forgotten how to rock.
Key Tracks: “Been Away Too Long” “A Thousand Days Before,” “Blood on the Valley Floor”
By Devin Grant