michael gallucci

ALBUM REVIEWS

In album review on 07/30/2012 at 9:42 am

Various Artists

We Walk the Line: A Celebration of the Music of Johnny Cash

(Legacy)

Earlier this year, a bunch of Johnny Cash’s friends and famous fans got together in Austin to celebrate what would have been the legendary country singer’s 80th birthday. They ran through many of his best-known songs, mostly in Cash’s signature style. We Walk the Line: A Celebration of the Music of Johnny Cash(part of a new wave of reissues and a DVD of the birthday concert) gathers 20 of those performances. But since Cash was more of an interpreter than songwriter, some of the songs here – like Lucinda Williams’ take on Nine Inch Nail’s “Hurt,” Shelby Lynne and the guy from Train’s cover of Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me Babe,” and Amy Lee singing Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” – seem a little odd. But Carolina Chocolate Drop’s joyous “Jackson” and Willie Nelson’s faithful “I Still Miss Someone” do the Man in Black right.

Antibalas

Antibalas

(Daptone)

Members of this 12-piece Brooklyn ensemble had major parts in the hit Broadway production Fela!, based on the late African-music superstar’s life.So their Afrobeat chops, which may not come naturally, are unquestionably earned. Their first album in five years is more political than past efforts, with songs touching on the economic crisis, but once the horns and polyrhythmic beats get worked up, your feet will get the real message.

Archers of Loaf

All the Nations Airports

White Trash Heroes

(Merge)

These reissues of the last two albums released by the influential North Carolina indie rockers aren’t as essential as the first two. But there’s still plenty of buzz-saw guitars and larynx-shredding vocals to be found on 1996’s All the Nations Airports and 1998’s White Trash Heroes, both expanded with bonus discs featuring outtakes and demos. The quartet’s experiments with tape loops, synths, and vocoder make these quiet little victories.

Redd Kross

Researching the Blues

(Merge)

The first in album in 20 years by these California rockers, whose membership and legacy pretty much run through the history of indie rock over the past quarter century, gets in and out of there in about 30 minutes. So things haven’t changed much during their break. They still work three chords, they still play chewy power pop, and they’re still more loyal to crunchy riffs than to hooky melodies. Business as usual.

Rick Ross

God Forgives, I Don’t

(Def Jam/Maybach)

The Miami rapper’s fifth LP doesn’t stray far from the various solo mixtapes and albums by his Maybach Music Group crew he’s released since 2010’s Teflon Don. So there’s plenty of rhymes about the rich-and-famous lifestyle Ross has immersed himself in since he launched his career. But there’s also a sense of coming-down reflection, a look back on a life that wasn’t always so glamorous. Big, glossy, and just a bit familiar.

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