TNB Music Staff Picks for February, 2012

The Skinny on Songbook

The November release of Chris Cornell’s album Songbook, recorded during live performances of his recent tour, is not intended for new fans. This album features tracks that date back to Cornell’s involvement with bands such as Temple of the Dog (a band that featured former members of Mother Love Bone, Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard, as well as a rising vocalist of the early 1990s, Eddie Vedder). The setlist offers long-time fans something from each Cornell era (from Temple of the Dog, to Soundgarden, to Cornell’s solo career, to Audioslave, and back to his solo career). Don’t be fooled, though — this is by no means a Greatest Hits-type compilation.

TNB Music’s staff picks for November, 2011:


Peter Gabriel

New Blood–Live in London [Blu-ray]
(Eagle Vision, 2011)

You already know how badly Peter Gabriel wants to be your Sledgehammer, and there are probably four humans left who remain unfamiliar with the iconic scene in Say Anything (you know- the one where John Cusack plays a quirky guy who shows how sincere he is by over-talking everything), where Cusack’s Lloyd Dobler holds high a boom box that blasts Gabriel’s pulchritudinous “In Your Eyes” beneath his girlfriend’s window.


When you think about Scotland, what comes to mind?

Haggis? Sheep? Trainspotting?

What about pop music?

If not, it should, because one of Scotland’s greatest exports of the last thirty years has been its exquisite motherlode of sugary ear candy.

The Ballad of Mott the Hoople

(Redeye- November, 2011)

If you’re interested in tales of dope, riots and groupies, there is an impressive number of documentaries featuring Led Zeppelin,The Sex Pistols, The Rolling Stones and The Who. Yet eclipsed by the megastardom and misdeeds of those bands, England’s Mott the Hoople quietly lived out a rich and compelling story that is expertly told in the documentary The Ballad of Mott the Hoople.

The fundamental question for each supergroup is whether it represents a one-off side project or a long-term collaborative commitment.

With their sophomore release, the deceptively-named Chickenfoot III, Chickenfoot have not simply established that they are in it for the long haul- they’ve released a monster of an album.

Chickenfoot is the bizzaro conflagration of the arena rock vocals of Sammy Hagar (Van Halen, Montrose), the jacked-up funk of drummer Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers), the 18-wheel grooves of bassist Michael Anthony (Van Halen), and the jaw-dropping virtuosity of Joe Satriani- arguably the greatest guitarist in the world. Hagar and Anthony galvanized their friendship during their stints in Van Halen and began jamming informally south of the border at Hagar’s Cabo Wabo Cantina. Smith jumped in and the trio decided to formalize their efforts with an album. Realizing the need for a full-time guitarist, they opted to approach the unapproachable- the world’s most acclaimed guitarist, to join their little band. To say that Satriani’s acceptance of their offer was unexpected is an understatement. If anything could attract the attention of intelligent life on other planets, it was this announcement.

This month signaled the release of what I would term the Beastie Boys’ “comeback” album. With the exception of “Ch-Check it Out,” To the Five Boroughs managed to fall flat on the ears of even the most devoted Beastie Boys fans. The album was overly-political in nature and seemed to be more of an album rooted in protest than one dedicated to the celebration of music itself. Furthermore, it was just not “fun.” In a BBC review, Stevie Chick reiterates what every Beastie fan already knows: “Beasties albums, at their best, are immense amounts of fun.” Their lyrics are always clever, and often intoxicating; but, one thing the band can never be accused of is taking themselves too seriously. Yet, in To the Five Boroughs, Mike D, Ad-Rock and MCA all seemed to be lacking in creative energy and exuberance as their main focus was critiquing our former political leader (which I applaud them for), rather than collaborating to create the innovative and experimental beats that we, as their fans, have come to expect from them. With their first release off of Hot Sauce Committee Part Two (“Make Some Noise”), it is clear that the Beastie Boys have returned with full force.

Historically, I have had consistently delayed emotional responses to Radiohead’s albums. I remember Christmastime eleven years ago, when I asked my grandfather to buy me Radiohead’s 1997 album OK Computer along with their most recent album at the time, Kid A. And I remember listening to these albums and just “not getting it.” It was like Thom Yorke’s brilliance was too much for my little 16-year-old head to comprehend. But a few years later, in college, I gave the albums another shot and became addicted; but, it took months for all the subtle nuances and hypnotic lyrics of each song to settle in. When Hail to the Thief was released, I waited two years to buy it and for some reason I didn’t download In Rainbows when it was available online on as a pay-as-you-like basis. I eventually caught up, yet, their most recent album, The King of Limbs, seems to have placed me in the same quandary I was in eleven years ago – I’m just as lost as ever. I say this because the album seems like such a musical departure from more recent releases like the aforementioned In Rainbows (2007) and Hail to the Thief (2003). This album is menacing, eerie and vulnerable in its lyrical admissions.

I can feel your anxiety from here.

Christmas is just over two weeks away and you’ve still got shopping to do.  You opted for the “lots of little presents” route, instead of the “one big enchilada” route, and now you find yourself a few gifts short of a stocking.  Worse, you’ve got one or more rockers on your list, and they’re such ungrateful snobs that you’re afraid to get them anything having to do with music for fear of the inevitable snarky comment ending with the word “lame.”

What’s an elf to do?

Relax- I’ve got you covered.