PLAY > SKIP: New Music for the Week of August 16, 2011
This week is full of funky flashbacks, false steps, and bad musical jokes. Sly Stone is still missing, Psychostick rules amateur hour, and Blue October can't get beyond the rage. Leave it to Jeff Bridges and his country heart to keep the week from being a total blow-out. Please, someone come back from summer break and bring us an album we want to play.
PLAY: Jeff Bridges, Jeff Bridges
I'm having a hard time thinking of an actor who ever made a record that meant a damn: Keanu Reeves, Eddie Murphy, Bruce Willis -- it's a vanity-filled, musical wasteland. If anyone can think of an exception to the actors-shouldn't-make-music-rule, let us know in the comment box below. I can only think of one: Jeff Bridges. Also a painter and photographer, Bridges says that he's been writing songs since he was a kid. He released his album debut in 2000, getting very little attention. Now, with some "Crazy Heart" wind still at his back, he's taking a higher profile swing at it. Call it "Jeff Bridges: Crazy Heart: the Sequel."
Soundtrack alums T Bone Burnett, Ryan Bingham, and Steve Bruton all return to support their star. But Bridges has no interest in playing the part. He deals in sincerity, not posturing. His collection of songs are soft and laid-back. One could argue that they're a little too much of both. Still, there's no questioning his motives. The dude just wants to follow his muse and groove.
WATCH the music video for the Jeff Bridges' single "What a Little Bit of Love Can Do."
SKIP: Sly Stone, I'm Back! Family & Friends
Fans of Sly Stone have been waiting for him to come back for decades. Instead, it's been a string of frustrating public teases: the bizarre 2006 Grammy Awards tribute, the bizarre 2007 tour with Sly abruptly leaving the stage early most nights. His 2009 debut on Cleopatra Records -- a label known for reissues and tribute albums -- is less bizarre than Sly's stagecraft but no less frustrating. Essentially a tribute album featuring Sly Stone, "I'm Back!" re-creates Stone's hits with such classic rock favorites as Heart's Ann Wilson, Jeff Beck, Ray Manzarek, and Johnny Winter. Skip this and play your "Stand!" CD while you wait for Sly to really come back. But don't hold your breath.
SKIP: Blue October, Any Man in America
Blue October's Justin Furstenfeld is now 13 years into his musical confessional. On "Any Man in America," his recent divorce and custody battle provide the angst and answers to his pain. For sure, Furstenfeld is an inspiration: he's been successfully living with bipolar disorder and giving his legions of fans some comfort in their own uncomfortable skins. Still, I'm more moved by Blue October's back story than the beats on the album. Yes, "Any Man in America" is certainly made from the best rock ingredients: passion, real pain, and palpable angst. For me, though, the memory of Furstenfeld's triumph lingers longer than any of the songs that blend into alt-rock background music.
SKIP: Eli Young Band, Life at Best
"Life at Best" is all shiny and sincere, full of mid-tempo country-pop tunes about girls who are crazy or crazy in love, all performed by a bunch of baby-faced Southern boys who you could take home to your mama. It's all good, clean country fun. How come it bugs me so much? God, it's lonely being a cynic.
SKIP: Psychostick, Space Vampires vs. Zombie Dinosaurs in 3-D
When a band is billed as "humorcore," you know you're in trouble. Psychostick sounds like "Weird Al" Yankovic's metalhead stepchild made an album high on whip-its while watching "Beavis and Butt-Head" reruns. It's got all of the adolescent, stoner humor with none of the irony. The jokes try too hard, and the music falls far too short. Play Lonely Island and Rob Zombie on shuffle for a better laugh.