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Rdio Reviews, Vol. 2

Baroness: “Back Where I Belong”

The transition between “Back Where I Belong” and “Sea Lungs” sounds kind of like a dystopian sci-fi re-imagining of Van Halen’s “1984.”

Michael Jackson: Bad (25th Anniversary)

I hope this means we can look forward to a 25th anniversary edition of Weird Al Yankovic’s Even Worse next year.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor: Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!

Maybe because Yanqui U.X.O. didn’t really do it for me, I never really pined for new GYBE material after they went on hiatus. And that makes the unexpected appearance of this stellar album ten years later all the more pleasant a surprise.

Rush: Fly by Night

On the early Rush albums, Geddy Lee sounds kind of like Janis Joplin.

The Besnard Lakes: Volume I

There are a few good ideas in here, but far too much sprawling, self-indulgent experimentation to recommend this album. However, assuming the band had to get this out of its system in order to later find itself on the excellent The Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse, then I’m glad Volume I exists. But I probably won’t listen to it again.

Winger: “Seventeen”

Is there a more gleeful song about statutory rape? Wait, don’t answer that.

Enforcer: “Satan”

Everything happening musically in the verses is way too similar to Metallica’s “Phantom Lord” to be a coincidence. Plagiarism or homage? (I’ve always had the same questions about the similarities between Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and Angel Witch’s “Angel of Death,” which came first. I suspect homage in both cases.)

Justin Timberlake: The 20/20 Experience

Enjoyable enough, to be sure, but almost every song overstays its welcome. A pop album with an average song length north of seven minutes is overconfident even for a juggernaut like Justin Timberlake.

Billy Bragg: Tooth & Nail

I make no demands of Billy Bragg to return to the fiery protest songs of his youth, but he sounds so world-weary on this album, it’s kind of disheartening. Whether he’s waving off the very notion of progress (“No One Knows Nothing No More”) or confessing that he has nothing left to say (“Goodbye, Goodbye”), his lyrics and their delivery often sound utterly defeated. However, glimpses of his fighting spirit (“There Will Be a Reckoning”) and optimism (“Tomorrow’s Going to Be a Better Day”) still surface, he has as deft a hand as ever with a love song (“Your Name on My Tongue”), and even the least of these songs radiates beauty.

Colin Stetson: New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light

Go away, Justin Vernon. Just… C’mon, just go away. People are trying to make good music here.

Fucking Invincible: Very Negative

This is a decent hardcore record – raw, energetic, and full of bile – but there’s nothing distinctive about it, which is disappointing, given the involvement of Daughters alum Lex Marshall. Still, if you’re in the mood for a quick hit of throat-punching hardcore that sticks to the playbook, you could do a lot worse.

Shudder to Think: Live from Home

I got into Shudder to Think just as they were splitting up, and I couldn’t make it to any of the dates on the short reunion tour they did ten years later. So this live album – culled from those reunion shows – is bittersweet for me, since it demonstrates conclusively what a fantastic live band they were. Also, if you’re new to Shudder to Think, the set list here is a great overview of the band’s best work.