THIS WEEK’S CDS
Avril Lavigne – “Under My Skin”
One reason Avril Lavigne’s debut disc, “Let Go” sold over 15 million copies worldwide was that it was simple. The album was plain old rock ‘n’ roll by a 16-year old girl.
Lavigne’s second disc is similar in that respect. Listen to the frantic Blondie referenced on
“He Wasn’t” and you hear an uncomplicated melody. Where the disc breaks away is with emotional, adult lyrics.
In a way, this is a very risky disc for Lavigne, since most of her audience still isn’t old enough to have experienced love or heartache. This kind of content may head-surf right over the kids at the mall, but it also has the potential to expand her fans. And who knows? The catchy melodies may hold the kids’ attention long enough for them to grow into these songs.
Everlast – “White Trash Beautiful”
Even though Everlast doesn’t break out the banjos and yodel on his latest album, “White Trash Beautiful,” the disc heads the rapper further into the hills of hick-hop. On his third solo record, the one-time frontman for Boston’s House of Pain raps and rolls his distinctive bass-bottom vocals through melodies that range from straight-ahead rap (“The Warning”) to blues and country. With 15 tracks, the disc covers a lot of stylistic ground, but its theme stays focused on living life without love. The best of these dumpster love tracks is “This Kind of Lonely,” which opens with the sound of rain, acoustic guitar chords supporting Everlast’s guttural gravel, and ultimately bows to Saint Hank in a chorus of “I’m so lonesome I could die.”
Felix da Housecat- “Devlin Dazzle and the Neon Fever”
Amid cheesy keyboard swirls, beat-box thumps and his sexy club-girl vocalists (who lapse into French), Chicago’s Felix da Housecat has made dance music cool again. Felix has a way with party music that he says makes men want to dance and women want to strip. That formula was the essence of his work on Britney’s “Toxic” and it riddles this disc, from “Short Shirts” to “Everyone Is Someone in L.A.” The sound is ’80s new-wave retro with loads of guitars and layered vocals, yet the music of “Devlin Dazzle” isn’t intended for live performance. This is an intricate record that will be best appreciated through quality headphones that will give the listener total stereo separation.
Wilson Phillips – “California”
What better synchronicity to celebrate classic California rock than having Brian Wilson’s daughters, Carnie and Wendy, and the late Papa John Phillips’ girl Chynna perform them. On this album of cover songs – which includes Joni Mitchell’s “California,” of course, as well as “Dr. My Eyes,” “Monday, Monday” and “Get Together” – the trio, collectively know as Wilson Phillips, is on the comeback. This album reminds you that these three women have a gift for harmony. Their voices, especially on Brian Wilson’s “In My Room” and Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way,” make it clear that they sound better together than when they appear as solo artists. Some songs have lite-FM arrangements, but most never veer far from the original charts.
Skinny Puppy – “The Greater Wrong of the Right”
Artistically paralyzed since the overdose death of bandmate Dwayne Goettel eight years ago, industrial/alternative act Skinny Puppy picks up where its 1996 “The Process” left off. The electronic music projects a familiar sense of foreboding, even on musically up-tempo tracks such as “I’mmortal” and “DaddyuWarbash.” This is a dark, propulsive album with politically aware lyrics. Listen for Tool’s Danny Carey’s drumming and vocals by Static-X frontman Wayne Static on “Use Less,” the disc’s top track. The music here is aggressive, with vocals that talk their way through the melodies. They aren’t perfect, but they’re never bland. Listen to it loudly for a full appreciation of Skinny Puppy’s biting storm-to-calm dynamic.
THIS WEEK’S CDS