CD Reviews

Lollipop, Celebration, Florida and All On the Horizon


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. ★★★☆☆


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.” ★★★★☆


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

Dick Dale

Concert Review

Dick Dale

By Cindi Reed

It was a potpourri of beach sound as the music started and a crowd appeared out of nowhere. All the chairs emptied, and, like high tide, the crowd pressed toward the Hard Rock Café stage on April 22 to see surf guitar legend Dick Dale. He appeared in a white-on-black Nudie-style Western shirt and a slicked-back ponytail, looking like a quintessential Quentin Tarantino hero-villian. Supported by his son on drums and a bass player, he delved into a surf rock reverie. Because most of his songs are instrumental, there are no word-hooks on which to hang the thoughts about each song.