CD Reviews

The Fatal Feast, Little Broken Hearts, Royal Headache


Municipal Waste The Fatal Feast (Nuclear Blast)

Eighties-style crossover thrash—a blend of speed-metal and ultra-fast hardcore—is back. Richmond, Va.’s Municipal Waste deserves credit for stoking the trend’s fires. The party-hearty quartet’s fifth album finds them reaching for the stars only to encounter killer cosmonauts, chest-bursting aliens and “The Monster with 21 Faces” (a reference to a villain in a Japanese mystery novel). This is comedic, ultimately superficial thrash-punk that’s ideal for a night of pizza, beer and Xbox with the guys. Fans of Suicidal Tendencies will savor the (barely decipherable) spoken word of “Jesus Freaks,” while sci-fi/horror fans will relish the title track’s tale of grisly interstellar cannibalism. Bonus: Zombi’s Steve Moore provides the opening track, a cinematic synth composition called “Waste in Space.” Municipal is a mighty live act. Don’t miss their show with Dwarves at 10 p.m. May 25 at LVCS (425 Fremont St., as part of the Punk Rock Bowling & Music Festival. ★★☆☆☆


Norah Jones Little Broken Hearts (Blue Note)

Breakups result in fiery, instant-classic albums. Just ask Matthew Sweet (Girlfriend) and Marianne Faithfull (Broken English). But what if a jilted artist barely simmered before? The question is answered by Danger Mouse (a.k.a. Brian Burton)-produced Little Broken Hearts, a dark, whip-smart departure from Norah Jones’ bright, soporific piano ballads, which (to my confusion) sold gazillions and won (less bewilderingly) Grammys. This is spooky, guitar-fuzzed, made-for-walkin’-in-boots pop-rock indebted to Nancy Sinatra and Dusty Springfield—an obvious ploy, I think, to push Jones’ appeal deeper into retro-lovin’ indie-rock territory. It all nearly comes together on “Say Goodbye,” a funky strut in which Jones coos: Bring me back the good old days/When you let me misbehave. Yet rather than show she’s vulnerable or wounded, she opts for cool noir delivery. Unlike other “confessional” turns, Jones doesn’t have much of which to make a clean breast—except for maybe diggin’ “Some Velvet Morning.” Still, with Burton co-writing, Hearts is hardly broken. ★★☆☆☆


Royal Headache Royal Headache (What’s Your Rupture?)

Backward-looking blues-rock is the current flavor, if Jack White’s No. 1 Billboard album Blunderbuss is an indication. Admirers of the ex-White Striper should also appreciate Sydney’s Royal Headache, a punky power-pop/roots-rock combo that serves refined hooks on a raucous, bloody-raw production platter. “Surprise” sounds like the Strokes speeding in Hüsker Dü’s tour van on their way to a Righteous Brothers tribute gig. “Girls” goes into mod overdrive with a riff and vocal line (courtesy of frontman Shogun) not heard since The Who’s heyday. “Psychotic Episode” is Carolina Shag-meets-Sonic Youth angst with the spirit of Sam Cooke hovering at the edges. Hell, every song here cops a feel from earlier R&B-infused white-boy rock of the ’60s and ’70s, when un-cynical tunes endured. By no means advancing a musical dialogue, Royal Headache’s debut is a tonic for those longing for carefree songs about love carried by loud guitars and a regal singer. ★★★☆☆

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The Avengers

Short Reviews

The Avengers

By Tribune Media Services

(PG-13) ★★★☆☆ Here it is. The great conjunction. The culmination of it all. The players: Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). Their nemesis: Thor’s evil brother, the god Loki (Tom Hiddleston), hellbent on conquering Earth. An enormously scaled blockbuster, the film is good, yet short of terrific. The banter is witty, the action immense, and there’s sure to be a sequel.