'Streets in the Sky' not original, but energetic
‘Streets in the Sky'
The Enemy UK (eOne)
When British trio the Enemy burst onto the scene in 2007 with their Oasis-meets-the-Jam brand of rock swagger, they generated all kinds of buzz. The breathless British press spent the next couple years touting them as “the next big thing,” but they've never managed to live up to the hype. They have a couple solid full-lengths under the belts and look to finally crack America with latest platter “Streets in the Sky.” It's an enjoyable collection of 12 high-octane tunes that, while not particularly original, are buoyed by the energy spewed forth by the band. Keepers include slapdash opener “Gimme the Sign,” “Bigger Cages (Longer Chains),” “Like a Dancer,” “2 Kids” and “Get Up and Dance.” This one's worthy of a few spins.
Jackson Delaney (Junebug)
Fans of bearded country crooner Jamey Johnson should get a similar jolt from newcomer Jackson Delaney. Armed with a twang-tastic deep baritone voice and more than his fair share of facial hair, Delaney knocks it out of the park on his self-titled debut. My only complaint is that with just six tracks clocking in at less than 23 minutes, we're left wanting more. Delaney has crafted a consistently excellent record, with songs like “Long Black Cadillac,” “Ugly, Luck & Me,” “Shotgun Wedding” and “Freedom (Never Goes Out of Style)” especially impressive. Even remaining tunes “You Make Me Wanna” and “The Good Drugs” are pretty darn good and I can't wait to hear more from this up-and-coming star.
‘1 Greatest Hits'
Julio Iglesias (Columbia Legacy)
Spanish crooner Julio Iglesias has been an international superstar since the late 1960s, but he didn't really break through in America until 1984's “1100 Bel Air Place,” an album that featured a duet with Willie Nelson called “To All the Girls I've Loved Before.” You might have heard it. In recent years, son Enrique has supplanted his dad on the pop charts, but new collection “1 Greatest Hits” serves as a reminder of how impressive the elder Iglesias' career has been. The set features 37 songs over two CDs and a DVD of Iglesias' historic 1990 concert at the famed Greek Theater in Los Angeles. Disc 1 focuses mostly on his English-language hits, including duets with Sting (“Fragile”), Diana Ross (“All of You”), Stevie Wonder (“My Love”), Dolly Parton (“When You Tell Me That You Love Me”) and Frank Sinatra (“Summer Wind”). “To All the Girls I've Loved Before” is here, of course, as well as renditions of “Crazy,” “When I Need You,” “Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)” and “Always on My Mind.” Disc 2 leans heavily toward international fare, including “Por El Amor De Una Mujer,” “Me Olvide De Vivir,” “El Amour” and “Caruso,” but is no less impressive.
Paul Anka (Legacy)
More than a half century after his days as a teen idol, 71-year-old Paul Anka is still at it. The aptly titled “Duets” finds Anka teaming up with fellow A-listers for a 14-track collection of new and classic recordings. Anka is equally at home performing with Dolly Parton (“Do I Love You [Yes, in Every Way]”), Michael Jackson (“This Is It”), Leon Russell (“I Really Miss You”), Willie Nelson (“Crazy”), Patti LaBelle (“You Are My Destiny”), Celine Dion (“It's Hard to Say Goodbye”) and Tom Jones (“She's a Lady”). Another highlight is the solo effort “Find My Way Back to Your Heart, which just shows that Anka can handle things all by himself.
Twin Tigers (Old Flame)
Another band from my old college stomping grounds in Athens, Ga., Twin Tigers first gained notice in 2008 with the release of their debut EP “Curious Faces/Violet Future” and continued to build momentum in 2010 with full-length debut “Gray Waves.” Sophomore effort “Death Wish” is their best record to date, with frontman Matthew Rain anchoring the eight-track release with vocals that remind of bands like the Cure, Joy Division and Bauhaus. The best song of the bunch is the title track, though Twin Tigers also roar on “Wildest Dreams,” “Opana,” “Blackmail” and sprawling, eight-minute closer “Holiday.” I have an admitted soft spot for bands from Athens, but Twin Tigers would be on radar no matter where they called home.
‘Big Black Delta'
Big Black Delta (Masters of Bates)
With a track record that includes stints in Mellowdrone and M83, Jonathan Bates decided to take things into his own hands for latest project Big Black Delta. Creating a wall of sound with guitars and electronics — all courtesy of his trusty laptop — Bates released a couple singles and now Big Black Delta's self-titled full-length debut. Some may find the 13-track, 55-minute platter off-putting at times (and truth be told, had Bates trimmed the album by 15-20 minutes, it might have been better), but Big Black Delta score with “Put the Gun on the Floor,” “Huggin & Kissin,” “Money Rain Down,” “Betamax,” “Dreary Moon” and “Love You This Summer.” If you are an adventurous sort, try Big Black Delta on for size.
Naomi Greenwald (Transom)
Singer/songwriter Naomi Greenwald has a terrific self-titled EP and a well-received full-length (“Darkbloom”) on her résumé, but the Los Angeles-based performer raises the bar on new EP “Composite.” Though she has a rock-solid singing voice, it's the writing that stands out most on this dynamic five-track release. Lovely opener “So We Try” sets the tone, and Greenwald also delivers the goods on personal favorite “Portraits,” “One Season” and “James Harris.” Here's hoping that “Composite” gives Greenwald the kind of profile boost that her music so richly deserves.
‘Back to the Ache'
The Heligoats (Greyday)
Chris Otepka is the driving creative force behind indie outfit the Heligoats and with a voice that has shades of John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats, in all its nasally glory, I can't believe Otepka & Co. haven't popped up on my radar before now. “Back to the Ache” is their second full-length album (I've set about tracking down a copy of 2010's “Goodness Gracious”) and it's a winner from beginning to end. The one-two opening punch of “Good Morning” and “Sleep Study” had me hooked from the outset, and the Heligoats continue bringing the awesome on “Dark,” “Sulfur, Baby,” “Right Then and There” and “Dancing to the Blues.” I may be a little late to the party, but count me as a fan from here on out.
‘Specter at the Feast'
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (Abstract Dragon/Vagrant)
In my opinion, veteran Bay Area rockers Black Rebel Motorcycle Club came into their own with the 2010 release of “Beat the Devil's Tattoo,” a record that pulled all their sonic elements together for their most consistent and accessible release to date. BRMC continue in that same vein on “Specter at the Feast,” an album that falls just short of its predecessor but ranks among the band's most enjoyable efforts. Though overstuffed with 12 tunes spanning more than 58 minutes, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club is clicking on all cylinders with “Let the Day Begin,” “Returning,” “Hate the Taste,” “Some Kind of Ghost” and “Lose Yourself.” It's nice to see a band that's not content to rest on their laurels.
Walk Off the Earth (Columbia)
Having loved both their four-track “R.E.V.O.” EP last fall and the viral video of the band covering Gotye's “Somebody That I Used to Know,” I've been anxious to hear the full-length debut (also, oddly enough, called “R.E.V.O.”) from Canadian pop collective Walk Off the Earth. The quintet doesn't disappoint on an 11-track release that includes all the songs from the EP (“Red Hands,” “Summer Vibe,” “Gang of Rhythm” and “Speeches”), the Gotye cover and several more infectious tunes. Among the new tracks, “Sometimes,” “These Times,” “Money Tree” and “No Ulterior Motives” stand out. The music of Walk Off the Earth isn't going to change the world, but just about every song these talented Canucks serve up is crazy fun.
‘The Next Day'
David Bowie (Iso/Columbia)
Over the course of a career closing in on five decades, David Bowie has pretty much done it all. “The Next Day,” a good-but-not-classic Bowie album, is his first studio effort in a decade and there are enough standouts songs to convince me that even at age 66, Bowie remains relevant. In the span of 14 mostly-solid tracks, Bowie dabbles in sounds that remind of the different segments of his eclectic career. There's a little something for those who love Thin White Duke-era Bowie, and for the Ziggy Stardust aficionados, and those who dig his Berlin work with Brian Eno can find a song or two for them as well. Among the standouts are the set-opening title track, “The Stars (Are Out Tonight),” “Where Are We Now?”, “If You Can See Me,” “You Feel So Lonely You Could Die” and “Heat.” While there's nothing we haven't heard before on “The Next Day,” it's an album that merits attention.
‘The Emerald City'
The Tossers (Victory)
Not as well-known as their popular counterparts, Irish punk outfit the Tossers actually predate higher-profile bands like Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly. The Chicago-based sextet are back with “The Emerald City,” their first new album in five years, and they haven't lost a step. The Tossers serve up the infectious punk-shaded Irish folk tunes we've come to expect on a 14-track release that's sure to please their longtime fans. Songs like “Here's to a Drink With You,” the title track, “St. Patrick's Day,” “The Break of Dawn,” “Where the Beer and Whiskey Flow” and “Johnny McGuire's Wake” are loads of fun even for those of us who don't bleed green.
All-girl indie pop duo BOY made a splash a couple years ago in Europe with the release of their “Mutual Friends” debut and at long last the album is getting an American rollout. Valeska Steiner and Sonja Glass have earned comparisons to Feist and Regina Spektor, but have a sound all their own. Opener “This Is the Beginning” sets the tone, and BOY also score with “Waitress,” “Little Numbers,” “Drive Darling,” “Waltz for Pony,” “Oh Boy” and “Silver Streets” are terrific, and acoustic versions of “Little Numbers” and “Oh Boy” also resonate. It's time you checked you “Mutual Friends” to see what all the (well-deserved) fuss is about.
Big Wreck (Zoe/Rounder)
When 2001 sophomore album “The Pleasure and the Greed” failed to appeal to the public and critics alike, it seemed like alt-rock outfit Big Wreck were done. But founding members Ian Thornley (vocals/guitar) and Brian Doherty (guitar) rekindled their friendship after a decade apart and put Big Wreck back together as a five-piece with three new members. “Albatross” is the fruits of that labor and, while not an essential record, there are a handful of nice moments on the 11-track release. There's a hint of an Alice in Chains vibe on personal favorite “A Million Days,” and Big Wreck shine on the title track,” “All Is Fair” and “Rest of the World.” Welcome back, guys.
‘I Just See You'
Tracy Newman & the Reinforcements (self-released)
As a founding member of famed Los Angeles improv group the Groundlings, an Emmy-winning television writer and creator of long-running ABC sitcom “According to Jim,” singer/songwriter Tracy Newman's show biz legacy was assured. But Newman was bitten by the music bug at a young age and has been writing songs her entire life. Her 2007 debut album “A Place in the Sun” earned critical kudos and folksy follow-up “I Just See You” (with her Reinforcements backing band) is every bit as good. There's a deliciously retro vibe in songs like “Already Missing You,” the title track, “Fire Up the Weed,” “Carpool,” “Table Nine” and “I Would Fly.”
Jeffrey Sisk is an editor for Trib Total Media.
Reach him at 412-664-9161 ext, 1952, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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