michael gallucci

ALBUM REVIEWS

In Uncategorized on 06/27/2012 at 2:05 pm

Zac Brown Band

Uncaged

(Atlantic)

Ever since his 2008 hit “Chicken Fried,” Atlanta hell-raiser Zac Brown has led his Skynyrd-with-fiddles group down a path paved with country-radio riffs, smokey barroom tones, and a jam-band-style looseness. He’s referred to his third album as a “country-Southern-rock-bluegrass-reggae-jam record,” which is part of Uncaged‘s problem. By not nailing down what kind of band he wants to lead, Brown steers off course at times by mapping out a few too many roads for them to cross. From the faux-island vibe that fuels “Jump Right In” to the heartbreak ballad “Goodbye in Her Eyes” to the horned-up and horn-blasted “Overnight,” Uncaged sounds a little unfocused. But Brown is an engaging singer, and there’s no denying his six-member band’s proficiency. And the shit-hot front-porch jam “The Wind” is made for boozy Saturday-night troublemaking.

Chris Brown

Fortune

(RCA)

Brown has done little over the past year to dispel popular opinion that he’s one of the decade’s biggest douches. No surprise then that his fifth album aims for pure escapism, starting with the LP’s opening track “Turn Up the Music” (which is all about losing yourself on the dance floor) and running through the penultimate cut “Don’t Wake Me Up” (which loses itself in dreamland). In reality, the songs are boring, and he’s still a dick.

Dirty Projectors

Swing Lo Magellan

(Domino)

The revolving-door Brooklyn band’s follow-up to 2010’s breakthrough Ascending Melody sharpens the focus, spearheading their downtown indie rock into more soulful territory. But ringleader David Longstreth still can’t walk a straight line: Songs like “About to Die” and “Gun Has No Trigger” open the door to hazy vocals, rolling percussive fills, and off-course handclaps that can clear a room as easily as they can bring it together.

The English Beat

The Complete Beat

(Shout! Factory)

The English Beat were one of the very few ska bands worth giving a shit about … ever. The key to their success: songs. Instead of just layering horns on top of proto-reggae rhythms, Dave Wakeling and crew incorporated actual melodies into tracks like “Mirror in the Bathroom” and “Save It for Later.” This terrific five-disc box includes their three albums along with a bunch of rarities like dub remixes, live cuts, and radio sessions.

Serj Tankian

Harakiri

(Reprise)

The System of a Down frontman’s third solo album places more emphasis on his band’s fractured metal and less on the artsy-fartsy stuff found on his other two records. The straightforward rock of “Cornucopia” and “Figure It Out” certainly make this the most accessible record Tankian has made since SOAD’s 2005 double play. It’s still pretty political (see “Uneducated Democracy”), but at least you can shake your head to it.

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