DAVID GUETTA FEAT. SAM MARTIN
Lovers on the Sun (Parlophone/Warner)
Combining moody, Old West shootout music with crackling EDM synths could have ended up like a real dog's breakfast, but the French producer makes it work, and the result sounds a bit like a cross between Avicii's Wake Me Up and Juno Reactor's Pistolero. HHH1/2
All About That Bass (Epic/Sony)
If Bootylicious had been done in the 50s, it would probably have sounded something like this. Newcomer Meghan Trainor serves up plenty of smoky vocals and old school R&B attitude with this clever, catchy novelty song, while declaring it's perfectly acceptable to have a little extra meat on your bones. HHH
Anaconda (Cash Money/Republic)
If you really love Sir Mix-A-Lot's Baby Got Back -- the heavily sampled source material for this posteriorly-possessed mess -- just listen to that instead. The musical sins committed here are raucous and rampant. Anaconda isn't quite as outrageously awful as Stupid Hoe, but then again, not much is. H1/2
-- Steve Adams
The Voyager (Warner Bros.)
JENNY Lewis first caught my ear with the Rilo Kiley song Portions for Foxes (from the 2004 album, More Adventures). The song is musically upbeat, guitar-ringing indie fare but its sweetly delivered lyric is actually a confession of poor choices and a lament on their inevitability. But, the song concludes ... life's short, right?
A decade later, Lewis is an established solo artist and The Voyager, released July 29, is a concise, 10-song, mid-life state of the union address that seems to stem directly from Portions for Foxes. While it's tempting to say Jenny's union is in disarray, these relationship-driven songs aren't so much confessions (though they are confessional) as they are fond, regret-tinged remembrances. Lewis is taking stock here and, while much has been made of a line in Just One of the Guys in which she says she's "just another lady without a baby," she's ultimately acknowledging her life's journey and, as she sings in Head Underwater, "there's a little sand left in the hourglass."
Yep, The Voyager is full of grown-up themes, but it's also damned easy to listen to. Seven of the 10 tracks were produced by Ryan Adams and, let loose in his studio with a band of top L.A. session players, Lewis summons a breezy, West Coast pop-rock vibe. Beck gives Just One of the Guys a rhythmic, girl-group treatment but The Voyager is ultimately a sweet, Rumours-ish ride on which even Lewis' girlish vocals belie the truth of her words. HHHH
DOWNLOAD THESE: Just One of the Guys, Slippery Slopes, Late Bloomer
-- John Kendle
The Gaslight Anthem
Get Hurt (Island)
IT'S not a 'bad thing' to be a rock band, despite what may be argued in the fashionable music pages. There are plenty of vital, good and even great rock bands still making music in the second decade of the 21st century. New Jersey quartet The Gaslight Anthem has been one of them since 2008's The '59 Sound, an album which blended the romanticism of heartland rock with the urgency of Strummer-worshipping garage-band kids.
Six years later, Get Hurt finds TGA singer/songwriter Brian Fallon at a crossroads, wrangling over where to go from here. But he ultimately seems to have more questions than answers about how to express himself within the confines of a two-guitars, bass and drums rock group. At times he hits the mark, as with the huge fuzz guitars of album-opener Stay Vicious, the stripped-down, acoustic lament of Break Your Heart or the Springsteen-esque desperation of album closer Dark Places.
Elsewhere, though, the Gaslight Anthem finds itself wallowing in the mid-tempo muddiness that has ruined Kings of Leon. It's disappointing, because Fallon is a clever lyricist and a deft writer of ringing guitar hooks. At one point on Get Hurt, Fallon sings "You can lean on me, if you wanna." He may need reminding to do that himself. HHH
DOWNLOAD THESE: Stay Vicious, Dark Places
-- John Kendle
Rockabilly Riot! All Original (Universal Canada)
FORMER Stray Cat Brian Setzer didn't mope around after he and his strutting buddies called it a day back in the mid-'80s. He's toured with Robert Plant and along the way released a bevy of fine solo albums as well as sets with a full orchestra all delivering pretty much the same thing -- rockabilly, rock 'n' roll and rhythm and blues for modern folk.
This latest 12-tracker cuts back any extra weight and delivers quartet rockabilly righteousness just like back in Setzer's golden age. Tracks like Vinyl Records and Stiletto Cool slap around dizzily, while Setzer and compadres Mark Winchester (bass), Kevin McKendree (piano) and Noah Levy (drums) turn back to a pretty realistic Sun Records sound on the stripped down Calamity Jane. There's plenty of Gretsch guitar pyrotechnics to keep the gearheads happy and even an edgeways homage to Johnny Horton's Battle Of New Orleans on I Should'a Had A V-8. It's not a complete riot, but it will make the 'billy cats and their Betties smile. HHH
DOWNLOAD THIS: What's Her Name
-- Jeff Monk
Rob Garcia 4
The Passion of Color (bjurecords)
INTENSE drummer Rob Garcia doesn't hold back on this third album with his quartet.
The opener, The Still Standing Blues, features some incisive, hard playing by Garcia, a funky solo by new-to-the-band bassist Joe Martin and swinging front line.
The band, which includes pianist Dan Tepfer and saxophonist Noah Preminger, slows down its cover of Max Roach's It's Time. Garcia uses mallets to imbue this version with a sense of the spiritual.
Lines In Impressions is a showcase for the drummer, with tasteful comping by Tepfer and Martin and some hard-driving soloing by Preminger. The Painter shows a more subdued Garcia in extended soloing, while he used both mallets and sticks on a cover of the rock classic, Little Wing by Jimi Hendrix.
This is a tight band, working its way through seven Garcia compositions and the two covers. HHHH
DOWNLOAD THIS: Lines In Impressions
-- Chris Smith