Tuesday, March 27, 2012

New release Tuesday: Paul Weller, Quiet Riot

Here are my reviews of two releases in stores today...

Paul Weller
Sonik Kicks
[Yep Roc]
Grade: A- 

After Paul Weller hit 50, the revered singer/guitarist went on an experimental music tear. 2008’s 22 Dreams was a sprawling, double-disc affair where various genre excursions worked more often than not.

Now the former Jam/Style Council leader returns with 11th studio album Sonik Kicks. It’s another adventurous collection where the Brit is joined by Noel Gallagher and Blur’s Graham Coxon (both also played on Dreams), The High Llamas’ Sean O’Hagan and longtime collaborator Steve Craddock.

Crazed opener “Green” is the first of two tracks inspired by ‘70s Krautrock act Neu! (a fast, chaotic “Kling, I Klang” contains lyrics about U.K. military involvement in the Middle East). The former uses squelching synths and a split channel sonic technique to attract attention.

Other standouts are the frazzled goth rock of “Behind the Lake” and synth, programming, toy piano-infused  “When Your Garden’s Overgrown,” which intriguingly ponders what Syd Barrett’s non-music life might’ve been like.

Several songs are destined for Weller classic status: “The Attic,” with lovelorn sentiments driven by brisk pizzicato strings; retro ‘60s-leaning “That Dangerous Age,” which revolves around how society views people and the elegant “Be Happy Children,” written for fathers and featuring Weller’s own young kids (but avoids being mawkish).

Keeping it in the family, wife and singer Hannah Andrews is his duet partner on the extended Style Council-esque dub love song, “Study in Blue.” Overall, this is a winner from the Modfather. 

Quiet Riot
Live at the US Festival 1983
[Shout! Factory] 
Grade: C+ 

When Quiet Riot performed in San Bernardino, Calif. (technically Devore) on Memorial Day Weekend during “heavy metal day,” it was having a banner year. The Metal Health LP had just been released that May, was on its way to multi-platinum status and reaching No. 1 on the charts.

Meanwhile, the hit Slade cover “Cum on Feel the Noize” was in regular rotation at MTV and months later would become a top 10 single. The Live at the US Festival 1983 DVD includes the band’s entire 41-minute, nine-song afternoon set – heavy on Metal Health material - before thousands of sweaty fans.

Singer Kevin DuBrow, clad in bright leather (or is that spandex?), hops all over the stage and delivers the sexual innuendo-filled songs with his trademark cartoonish mannerisms.

Guitarist Carlos Cavazo does some lightning speed licks on “Battle Axe” and is hoisted up by DeBrow at one point. Bassist Rudy Sarzo even dazzles with an upside down solo. A CD of the set is also part of the package. Recommended for diehard enthusiasts.

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