Noise 101: CD Reviews for Jan. 9
The Great Escape Artist
When Jane’s Addiction first burst out of the L.A. scene in the mid ‘80s, there was nothing else like them. Their first two albums — 1988’s Nothing’s Shocking and 1990s Ritual de lo Habitual — were considered instant classics, watershed discs that helped spawn the ’90s alternative movement. With The Great Escape Artist, Jane’s Addiction seems focused on the present. Lead track “Underground” kicks things off with an invigorating energy that announces the band’s renewed intentions, yet it’s still a song that could certainly hold its own next to the bulk of Nothing’s Shocking. In fact, Underground sounds like the monster jam “Mountain Song” recast a post-punk anthem, with swirling electronic flourishes and studio trickery thrown in for good measure.
The Great Escape Artist finds Jane’s Addiction in a good place — comfortable with their legacy as alt-rock innovators, yet willing to expand their sound and take it to new places.
— Vanessa Gillard
Ashes & Fire
If there’s a touchstone for this newest offering in Ryan Adams’ discography, it’s in the album that put him on the map, at least critically — Heartbreaker, specifically the acoustic parts of that superb record.
The songs here centre on acoustic technique and liberal use of keyboards, exploring the space between them while Adams sings about true and miserable love. In that respect, nothing’s changed, the best songs are those reflecting on messy breakups and the darker places he’s travelled, like the gorgeous tale of addiction “Lucky Now” and opener “Dirty Rain,” where Adams’ tragic nostalgia is in fine form. But ultimately the singer-song writer covers no new ground here and the listener is caught consistently pining for the albums he’s already produced, which are innovative and spry.
Ashes & Fire is worth a listen, but don’t spend your money on an album that this alt-country prince didn’t seem to really put any heart into.
I’d be uninspired too if I was married to Mandy Moore.
— Vanessa Gillard
Talk That Talk
On her sixth studio album, Talk That Talk, Rihanna continues her stronghold on the dance and hip-hop genres. The album’s first single “We Found Love” is still in the top of the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, even after being released back in September. The album’s second single, “You Da One,” is an equally catchy track — albeit it sounds more like her earlier work. After the beginning of the album gets you warmed up, Rihanna tries out some dubstep and Nikki Minaj-esque beats. This fulfills a requirement for artistic growth, but I hope Rihanna tones it down for her next compilation. Talk That Talk also features appearances by Jay-Z and Calvin Harris. I would recommend picking up the deluxe version of Talk That Talk for the track “Do Ya Thing” as well as the stellar artwork.
— Laura Lushington