THIS WEEK'S SINGLES
Sticking firmly to the formula that made her famous, Ke$ha prattles on about clubs and one-night stands, cranks the auto-tune up to 11, and rhymes "feelin' like a saber-toothed ti-GRRR!" with "sippin' on a warm Budweis-ERRR!" More dreadful assembly-line electro-pop from the queen of dreadful assembly-line electro-pop. 'Ö'Ö
Brand New Me (RCA)
Longtime fans concerned the title might suggest Ms. Keys has drastically changed up her style needn't worry. The second single from her Girl On Fire album is a sultry, soulful slice of piano-driven balladry and a great showcase for her eternally elegant vocals. 'Ö'Ö'Ö1/2
Looking Hot (Kill Paris Remix) (Interscope)
After complaints about the music video being racist, No Doubt re-launches this single with brand new remixes, the strongest being the Kill Paris mix, which maintains the bouncy pop euphoria of the original while punching up the electricity and the bassline for a full-on dancefloor workout. 'Ö'Ö'Ö1/2
-- Reviewed by Steve Adams
-- POP & ROCK
Uno, Dos and Tre (Reprise Records)
AS record sales continue to wane, one has to wonder the logic behind separately releasing a trilogy of albums over the course of three months. Maybe when you're a punk band coming off a pair of hugely successful concept albums turned into a Broadway smash, you do things a little differently. Still, it's an unusual way to release your ninth, 10th and 11th studio albums.
Tre, the final instalment of the trilogy, out this week, is a bit more diverse than the others, with a slightly mellower and more mature sound that embraces a variety of styles. Imagine 1997's Nimrod, but with more songs like Good Riddance (Time of Your Life). Look no further than the opening and closing tracks to sum it up. There's the country blues-inspired Brutal Love to start, and the piano ballad The Forgotten to end.
While a common thread runs through the trilogy, each record is distinctly different.
The first, Uno, returns the band to their pre-American Idiot sound with a dozen rocking songs that are melodic and highly energetic. The songs are also more mature, with themes like married men on the brink of infidelity. Standout tracks on this riffy guitar assault include Fell For You and Oh Love.
Dos attempts to capture the no-frills sound of a garage rock band, but feels like a drop-off after Uno. Some of the tracks work well, namely, Stray Heart and Lady Cobra, but others don't fire on all cylinders.
Overall, this last instalment of the trilogy shows another direction of the band's evolution. ***1/2
DOWNLOAD THIS: 99 Revolutions
-- By John Carucci, The Associated Press
Unorthodox Jukebox (Atlantic)
HIS debut Doo-Wops & Hooligans showed that he would catch a grenade for ya, jump in front of a train for ya and, eventually, he wants to marry you. But all that genre-jumping smoothness does make you wonder where his musical heart really lies.
Mars' new album Unorthodox Jukebox won't answer that question. In the space of 10 songs, Mars hops from pop to doo-wop to reggae to funk and back again -- creating a jukebox of styles in his own image.
He plays the part of a lovelorn Sting in the sweaty rock ode to The Police, Locked Out of Heaven. He savvily channels Michael Jackson in the rock-R&B hybrid Moonshine. And he captures a No Doubt-ish reggae lilt on Show Me.
Mars' profile reached a new level recently when he hosted Saturday Night Live and showed off his impressive ability to impersonate a wide range of artists. In a way, he does that here as well, rather than actually baring his own emotions and desired musical direction.
The best moments on Unorthodox Jukebox come when Mars lets his guard down. The gorgeous guitar-driven R&B of If I Knew is a wonderful old-school surprise, while the shimmering '80s funk of Treasure is pure fun. However, it's the touching piano ballad When I Was Your Man that shows how effective Mars can be as a straightforward singer, when he lets himself be a little vulnerable. Perfect-sounding pop is never as interesting as some true, messy emotion. ***1/2
DOWNLOAD THIS: If I Knew
-- By Glenn Gamboa, Newsday
Tippy Agogo and Bill Bourne
Amoeba Collective (Busted Flat Records)
BILL Bourne is Canada's answer to something. We're not exactly sure what the question is, but this long-serving folk/world synthesist keeps a lot of originality under his trademark black top hat. This 10-track CD is a veritable cornucopia of styles, due of course to Bourne's natural tendency to turn weird in combination with the collection of artists joining him here. D.A. "Tippy Agogo" Mark brings along a solid grasp of all things dub wise and beat-related, while guitarist Madagascar Slim lays into some occasional gritty and soulful Jimi Hendrix-like, Malagasy-bred flights of six-string frenzy. Black Banks throbs and cracks languidly, mixing a pseudo hip-hop vibe with classic funk overtones. Tin Metal tosses some intricate experimental jam-jazz around and its loose feel doesn't detract from the sizzling playing. These cats pay attention to what each other is creating and build on instinctual grooves that are both boisterous and very cool. Collectively this band could go in any direction and it's the edge-of-your-seat quality of AC that puts the album in the must-have category. Adventurous and then some.
DOWNLOAD THIS: Black Banks
-- Jeff Monk
Jeff Holmes Quartet
Of One's Own (Miles High Records)
PIANIST Jeff Holmes surrounds himself with some top players on this nine-tune CD that ranges from gospel-tinged Macaroons to the Latin groove of One for C.J. to a slow, romantic Poinciana with saxophonist Adam Kolker substituting the warm tone of the bass clarinet.
Holmes wrote five of the tunes, including One for C.J. that gives former Ahmad Jamal bassist James Cammack, former Billy Taylor drummer Steve Johns and Kolker a workout along with the pianist.
Holmes shines on Waltz #3 with some delicate, effortless playing and Kolker's tenor solo is subtle, yet swinging. ***1/2
DOWNLOAD THIS: Of One's Own
-- Chris Smith