CD reviews: The Strokes, Terrell Bowers, “The Music is You: A Tribute to John Denver”
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
The StrokesComedown Machine/RCA
A few years back, the band OK Go, which up until then had released a couple of great rock ’n’ roll albums, put out “Of the Blue Colour of the Sky,” which found the band getting a bit more funky than before.
The change was far from unpleasant and demonstrated the versatility of OK Go.
Upon hearing “Tap Out,” the first track from The Strokes’ new album, “Comedown Machine,” I was afraid that the band’s members had decided to copy OK Go. That leadoff track features some sounds that are fairly close to what OK Go is producing these days, but the song was nonetheless intriguing.
Track Two, “All the Time,” seemed more along the lines of why we fell in love with The Strokes’ first album. Song Three could have gone either way, so I was surprised to hear a jumpy, almost plastic track that would have been perfectly suited for Ricky Martin.
Something was definitely up.
“Welcome to Japan” and “80s Comedown Machine” took the album back into dance-pop territory, making me wonder just what exactly the members of The Strokes have been listening to for inspiration.
A couple of later tracks, “Slow Animals” and “Partners in Crime,” hint at a return to the band’s garage rock sound of yore, but by then the damage had been done.
Key Tracks: “All the Time,” “Slow Animals,” “Partners in Crime”
Terrell BowersTurning Point/Independent
I always love learning that an artist is self-taught.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s a guitar, piano, bassoon, whatever; inevitably, the musician produces music that has a different slant than those that were taught by someone else.
Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters is a perfect example of this theory.
Another prospective example comes in the form of Johns Island resident Terrell Bowers, whose new CD, “Turning Point,” is a delightfully imaginative and entertaining independent release.
Everything about this CD, from its Peter Max- and R. Crumb-inspired cover art to the conceptual arc of the songs, which deal with Bowers life experience during the financial crisis of the past few years, is above average.
Two years in the making, “Turning Point” features different music styles to convey different moods on the album.
The opening track, “Freight Train,” is a rollicking roots-rock number complete with Hammond organ and backup singers.
The next song, “How You Doing Baby,” is divided up into three parts; it starts reminiscent of Delbert McClinton before delving first into Pink Floyd-inspired blues, then into a lovely pedal-steel section.
The album has a definite Americana vibe to it, and the musicians Bowers assembled to perform on the album are beyond impressive. We’re talking folks who have performed or recorded with the likes of fun., Shawn Colvin, Miles Davis and David Lowery. Check out Bowers’ website, turningpointbytb.com, for a complete list and prepare for your jaw to drop.
Another reason to check out the site is the fact that, for a limited time, you can download the entire album for $1. No catch, no tricks; one buck gets you what is obviously a labor of love for this self-taught musician.
The whole thing might sound a bit self-indulgent, but in this case, that actually works in the album’s favor.
Key Tracks: “Freight Train,” “How You Doing Baby,” “Will I Ever See You Again?”
Various artistsThe Music is You: A Tribute to John Denver/ATO
It has been 15 years since John Denver was killed in a plane crash.
In that time, music styles and trends have come and gone, but like other musicians whose music made an indelible mark on society, Denver’s music remains timeless.
Now, an impressive roster of contemporary artists has joined together to record a tribute album to Denver.
How impressive, you ask?
How does My Morning Jacket covering “Leaving on a Jet Plane” grab you?
That track, which leads off the album, is easily the best of the bunch, but the quality of the covers is maintained by the remaining artists.
Dave Matthews does a great job with “Take Me to Tomorrow,” while Old Crow Medicine Show works its usual acoustic magic on “Back Home Again.”
Lucinda Williams’ voice seems perfectly suited for “This Old Guitar,” and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros give My Morning Jacket a run for its money on “Wooden Indian.”
Other artists featured on the CD include J. Mascis, Amos Lee, Evan Dando and Mary Chapin Carpenter.
While the artists put their own special mark on their respective songs, they also keep faithful to Denver’s original sound.
It’s a loving tribute to an artist whose music touched a couple of generations of folk and country fans.
Key Tracks: “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” “This Old Guitar,” “Wooden Indian”
By Devin Grant