Diploid Love (Universal)
Former Distiller and Spinnerette Brody Dalle is now in her bottle-blond phase. That means she has been through a few top shades on her way to where she is now musically, but in rock 'n' roll, when the peroxide finds the follicles, it typically makes a tougher sound come out of the gal underneath.
Her first solo album doesn't pull any punches, and its Los Angeles-style punky swagger is a good fit for Dalle, but she is no one-trick punk-chick pony. I Don't Need Your Love, with its sawing strings, set against Dalle's moody croon, is more Garbage than grunge -- as long as you can ignore the mood-sinking, listen-to-my-babies-in-the-bathtub-don't-they-sound-cute quirk. The rabble-rousing Underworld confirms her place in the Joan Jett/Courtney Love axis perfectly. Dalle does wander from her anticipated comfort zone often to respectable results, indicating that she has some musical depth and ambition.
At a mere seven songs this short, sharp shock may be just enough to get Dalle noticed, again. 3 1/2
DOWNLOAD THIS: Underworld
-- Jeff Monk
Indie Cindy (Pixies Music)
The odds are stacked against a good reception for the Pixies' Indie Cindy, the alt-rock pioneers' first album in 23 years.
First off, the Pixies' previous four albums are so influential and beloved that trying to compete with those would be difficult for anyone. Second, Pixies' original bassist, Kim Deal plays no part in the album. And, finally, the bulk of Indie Cindy already has been released in a series of EPs over the past year.
However, singer-mastermind Black Francis, guitarist Joey Santiago and drummer David Lovering have faced incredible odds before and come out on top. Indie Cindy is actually no different.
The title track pretty much lays out the argument. Francis snarls and sneers about the indie-rock lifestyle, while Santiago's guitar matches the mood during the verses, but the chorus is completely conciliatory, sweetly requesting, "Be in love with me. I beg for you to carry me."
While there are plenty of moments to reminisce about past Pixies triumphs, the point here is to move forward, even if it means trying new things like the Britpop-tinged Ring the Bell or the off-centre pop of Bagboy that aren't as groundbreaking as the risk-taking Pixies of old. Indie Cindy showcases the solid Pixies of today, and there's nothing wrong with that. 4 stars
DOWNLOAD THIS: Blue Eyed Hexe
-- Glenn Gamboa, Newsday
Most Messed Up (Ato)
The new album from the Old 97's shows you don't have to be young and stupid to make great rock 'n' roll. Being middle-aged can work, too.
At 43, frontman Rhett Miller might be old enough to remember Chico Escuela. "Rock 'n' roll's been very, very good to me," he sings. Most Messed Up is a concept album, that rarity in these days of downloads, and Miller's exuberant embrace of excess and escapism makes for 12 terrific tunes. Guitarist Ken Bethea's cheerfully frantic fret work helps establish the mood, and with ex-Replacement Tommy Stinson sitting in, several songs sound like 'Mats outtakes.
This is ramshackle rock, but not carefree. Miller sings about oceans of alcohol, mountains of weed, the ups and downs of pill-popping and the charms of the road, such as motels with free ice. But he has one eye on the clock, noting that life's so short, there's barely time to cry. Make room for at least a few of these three-minute gems. 4 stars
DOWNLOAD THIS: Give It Time
-- Steven Wine, The Associated Press
Bring It Back (Jazz Village)
This is a wonderful disc of Jazz Age, swing and blues gems from New York singer Catherine Russell, who reworks vintage material with new arrangements and a tight band.
The sassy vocalist delivers great renditions of tunes by the likes of Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Harold Arlen and Johnny Otis. The bluesy Otis number, Aged and Mellow, is a standout on the 13-tune recording. She vividly captures the sexiness of the song, especially its refrain: "I like my men like I like my whiskey / Aged and mellow."
She gives Ellington's I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart a beautiful treatment. Lucille, by her father Luis Russell, a pianist who was a musical director for Louis Armstrong, is lovingly rendered, and the singer smoulders on After the Lights Go Down Low, one of three songs that feature Winnipeg expat Glenn Patscha on Hammond B-3 organ.
Russell renews some great old tunes on her fifth recording without losing their essence and charm. 4 1/2
DOWNLOAD THIS: Aged and Mellow
-- Chris Smith
THIS WEEK'S SINGLES
When the People Cheer (Def Jam)
The first offering from their upcoming 11th album (the oddly titled ...And Then You Shoot Your Cousin) is a fairly subdued blend of jazz and hip-hop, featuring some delicately tickled ivories, and a satirical look at rap music's obsessions with sex and riches. Unlikely to be considered a Roots classic down the road, but a solid track nonetheless. 3 1/2
Midnight (Giorgio Moroder Remix) (Parlophone/Atlantic)
The original is a very gentle, Bon Iver-like minimalistic electronic outing, but this remix adds just the right amount of thump and plenty of Moroder's trademark chugging synths to back Chris Martin's goosebump-inducing vocals. Wonderful. 4 stars
Ariana Grande feat. Iggy Azalea
One part Jason Derulo's Talk Dirty, one part Ying Yang Twins' The Whisper Song, and one part TLC's No Scrubs, Ariana Grande's sax-y new single is far from original, but it's definitely got "hit" written all over it. Prediction: you'll be hearing this one more than a few times this summer. 3 stars
-- Steve Adams