CD Reviews

Lollipop, Celebration, Florida and All On the Horizon

POST-PUNK

Meat Puppets Lollipop (Megaforce)

Kurt Cobain introduced grunge fans to the ragged glory that is Meat Puppets by covering three of the band’s songs during Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged performance in ’93. After some drug troubles, brothers Curt and Cris Kirkwood called it quits, reunited, broke up and reunited again—this time clean—in 2006. Lollipop is the Puppets’ most pro-sounding effort yet, with few of the weird, neo-psychedelic guitar jams that once defined the Austin, Texas, band. Each of Lollipop’s 12 songs is a satisfying genre exercise, from reggae-kissed, steel drum-dappled “Shave It” to country two-step truckin’ anthem “Baby Don’t.” Singer/guitarist Curt’s voice, diffused and drawling as ever, remains an acquired taste, while his abstract lyrics (“The Spider and the Spaceship”) will challenge casual listeners. However, once you crank “Damn Thing,” a charging Steve Miller-esque rocker, head-scratching will be replaced by head-nodding. A subtle, modest triumph in loud, immodest times. ★★★☆☆

FREAK FOLK

The Felice Brothers Celebration, Florida (Fat Possum)

Inarguably the best album recorded in a high school theater and gymnasium in Beacon, N.Y., the Felice Brothers’ fourth effort, Celebration, is quirky with a capital Q, channeling Blonde on Blonde-era Bob Dylan and Telepathic Surgery-grade Flaming Lips in a way that’s often jaw-dropping, at times a tad jarring. The aqueous beauty and doomed surreality of “Container Ship” is unlike anything I’ve heard, a ghost-haunted saloon piano submarining through ocean depths while being bombarded by depth charges. Somehow things get eerier with a synth-riddled paean to “Oliver Stone,” which also doubles as sci-fi screenplay pitch to the legendary filmmaker. Even at their sparest—take, for instance, the acoustic guitar-driven ballad “Dallas”—the Felice Brothers conjure brave weird worlds. File under “indescribable, moody fun.” ★★★★☆

ALT-ROCK

Not Tonight Josephine All On the Horizon (Self-released)

Equal parts emo, grunge, metalcore and whatever hell else the kids enjoy listening to these days, Tampa, Fla.’s Not Tonight Josephine enters the fray with a full-length that meets every boneheaded expectation—from teaming up with a top-notch producer (Creed’s Brett Hestla), to covering an old wad of pop bubblegum (Ace of Base’s “All That She Wants”), to hiring an elite album cover artist (Evan Leake). No surprise, then, that this solid album offers no surprises; indeed, there’s undeniable craft at work, especially in single “Carousel, ” about a relationship going “round and round”—so what if Ratt put it more eloquently 25 years ago?—and in which singer David Easlick grabs the hook and doesn’t let go. Minus major label support, Josephine went ahead and released Horizon on its own, a testament to the band’s determination. Some corporate entertainment behemoth will undoubtedly pick up this album. Still I wonder: What’s the point of making a slick rock product if you have to do everything yourself? ★★★☆☆

Suggested Next Read

Deep Dark Robot

Concert Review

Deep Dark Robot

Linda Perry, the former lead singer of 4 Non Blondes, sat down at a keyboard and led her band, Deep Dark Robot, through a cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Angie.” It was midway through their April 22 set at Beauty Bar, and they crushed it, like they did their entire performance. This is a bar band that’s as tight as any I’ve seen recently, and with Perry’s knack for writing pop hits (happy customers include Christina Aguilera, Gwen Stefani and Pink), there’s no reason they can’t break bigger.

DTLV

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