CD reviews: The Black Crowes, Depeche Mode, Lil’ Wayne
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
The Black CrowesWiser for the Time/Silver Arrow
Now that the band once again has emerged from yet another hiatus, The Black Crowes are poised to reclaim the rock ’n’ roll crown from some of the younger whippersnappers out there.
Leading the charge this time is “Wiser for the Time,” a live album recorded during the band’s 2010 tour in support of the acoustic greatest hits album “Croweology.”
As anyone who caught the show when the tour stopped at the Family Circle Tennis Center on Daniel Island will tell you, the band was running on all cylinders at the time, and this new live album captures that feeling.
While the two-CD set features a handful of classic Crowes tunes (“Jealous Again,” “She Talks to Angels”), true Crowes fans will revel in how Chris Robinson and the rest of the band dig deep for more unfamiliar Crowes tracks and a few well-placed covers.
Disc One encompasses the acoustic first set of a typical show on the tour, with highlights that include “Cursed Diamond,” “Garden Gate” and a cover of The Flying Burrito Brothers’ “Hot Burrito #1 and #2.”
Disc Two turns up the volume a bit, with fully amplified versions of songs such as “Soul Singing,” “No Speak No Slave” and “A Conspiracy.”
If you’re planning a road trip to the band’s April 23 show in Atlanta, this album will make for some great road music.
Key Tracks: “Hot Burrito #1 and #2,” “Hotel Illness,” “She Talks to Angels”
Depeche ModeDelta Machine/Columbia
While Depeche Mode reached its creative zenith with the 1989 single “Personal Jesus,” I was always more of a fan of the band’s 1987 album, “Music for the Masses.” That album featured singles such as “Strangelove” and “Never Let Me Down Again,” and the resulting tour in support of the album was filmed for the documentary “101.”
While Depeche Mode has never quite been able to recapture those heady days of success in the mid- to late ’80s, its latest release, “Delta Machine,” demonstrates that even a quarter-century later, there is life left in the band.
Singer Dave Gahan still has that confident vocal swagger that endeared him to so many fans in the ’80s; one of the album’s best tracks, “Broken,” sounds as if it could have come straight from the sessions for “Music for the Masses.”
Gahan’s baritone vocals against the band’s mostly electronically produced music remains one of the best examples of the alternative/electronic style.
“Soft Touch/Raw Nerve” sounds like it could have come from the same era that gave us “People are People.”
All in all, longtime Mode fans will slip right into this album like a familiar pair of black jeans or a well-worn “Violator” tour T-shirt.
For the younger folks who are perhaps just discovering these admittedly older artists, just know that without Depeche Mode there would be no Killers, Nine Inch Nails or The Postal Service. Definitely start with “Music for the Masses” or “Violator,” but this new release dovetails nicely into those older albums.
Key Tracks: “Welcome to My World,” “Broken,” “Should Be Higher”
Lil’ WayneI Am Not a Human Being II/Cash Money
I’m probably going to get an amazing amount of grief for this, but I just do not get the appeal of Lil’ Wayne.
Sure, I understand that the rapper has been recording since age 9, and that he’s easily one of the biggest hip-hop artists on the planet at the moment, but while I get where superstars like Jay-Z and Eminem are coming from musically, what Lil’ Wayne continues to put out as finished material sounds as if he’s still noodling around in his home studio.
I’ll even give you that his 2008 release, “Tha Carter III,” was pretty good.
Listening to his latest, “I Am Not a Human Being II,” though, has me back to thinking that he’s trying to sneak an album of demos past us.
The album is a sequel to his 2010 release titled, you guessed it, “I Am Not a Human Being.”
On tracks such as “Curtains,” “No Worries” and “Trippy,” we find Lil’ Wayne spending more time manipulating his voice through auto-tune than paying attention to what he’s saying.
One later track, “Lay It Down,” which features Nicki Minaj and Cory Gunz, briefly takes us back to the glory of his “Tha Carter III” days.
Also amusing are “Hot Revolver” and “Hello,” which, rather than sounding like rap, come off as pop and punk rock songs, respectively.
Aside from that, there is nothing here that screams originality, or completion for that matter.
Key Tracks: “Lay It Down,” “Hot Revolver,” “Hello”
By Devin Grant