I've been falling down on blogging about the albums' I've been screening this year. Hopefully I can catch up with a few quick reviews here:
Bon Jovi's This Left Feels Right is a re-interpretation of many of Bon Jovi's hits from my teenage years. Usually I love cover songs -- my favorite podcast is Coverville -- but when an artist remakes his own songs in a new style it has to be good. I found this album not very engaging. A couple of the covers are nice reinterpretations, most notably the mellow version of "It's My Life" (which was not really a hit when I listened to Bon Jovi anyway) but other than that, I found the jazzy, off-tempo remakes feel forced and seem to strip the anthems of everything that made them hits to begin with.
The Giraffes self-titled debut is about as far from jazzy, off-tempo as you can get. It's high-powered, in-your-face, screeching punkesque rock. I picked it up after hearing the cut Man U which starts "Leeds are down by 4, the skinheads are angry!" This album fills that same void that Rage Against the Machine does from time-to-time.
The third-album I'll mention here is Architecture in Helsinki's In Case We Die. My buddy Jonathan gave me a copy of this and told me it was one of the best albums of 2005 but I kind of put it into the random mixer on my mp3 player and didn't pay much attention to it. Finally, I spun this one in disc order in one listening and that's when I finally realized what a veritable mix of fun, eclectic, uncharacterizable pop this album really is. I can't really describe it beyond saying it is one of the most creative albums I've heard in a long time and I highly recommend it.
Since I started this review complaining about covers of 80's hair metal songs, I figured I'd end the review with an example of how the Hair Nation should be remembered. Nina Gordon, a founding member of Veruca Salt, has made a collection of MP3s called "Bring the Rock" available for free download from her website. The songs, which were recorded live at Largo in LA, is a collection of cover songs and include fabulous versions of Skid Row's "18 and Life" and Cinderella's "Nobody's Fool" but the best cover there, by far, has to be her re-interpretation of N.W.A.'s "Straight Out of Compton" (I'm sure I don't need to warn you that one is not work safe!)