michael gallucci

ALBUM REVIEWS

In album review on 08/02/2012 at 8:00 am

Various Artists

Just Tell Me That You Want Me: A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac

(Concord)

Tribute albums can work two ways: You stay totally faithful to the source material, or you don’t. The 17 artists gathered on Just Tell Me That You Want Me: A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac try to have it both ways, with forward-thinking artists like Lee Ranaldo and J. Mascis’ stripped cover of the instrumental “Albatross” and the New Pornographers’ stop-and-go, synth-heavy version of “Think About Me” falling into the latter camp. But for the most part, everyone is too in awe of the original songs to muster much of a departure (looking at you, Antony and Karen Elson). Best are Best Coast’s peppy bedroom take on “Rhiannon,” the Kills’ late-night stumble through “Dreams,” and the vintage “Future Games,” which MGMT turn into a sci-fi synth fantasy, complete with emotionless robots and space static. The album could use more of these shake-ups.

Antony and the Johnsons

Cut the World

(Secretly Canadian)

By now, you pretty much know how an Antony and the Johnsons album will play out. Frontman Antony Hegarty will wow you with his soaring falsetto and hyper-delicate approach to classical-spiked baroque pop. And halfway through you’ll zone out. This live album breaks the pattern a bit by employing a full symphonic orchestra onstage. Still, the highlight is a seven-and-a-half-minute spoken-word piece that doubles as a mission statement.

Dead Can Dance

Anastasis

(Pias America)

The pioneering London dream-goth duo Dead Can Dance haven’t made an album since 1996’s Spiritchaser. Shortly after its release, they broke up. Their new album, their eighth, picks up where they left off, with Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry floating around ambient sounds like lost royalty emerging from the woods and returning to their castle. They don’t break a sweat over songs like “Children of the Sun” and “Amnesia,” and neither will you.

Ben Taylor

Listening

(Sun Pedal Recordings/ILG)

Ben Taylor’s parents are Carly Simon and James Taylor, so his singer-songwriter chops come naturally. On his fourth album he channels his father in both style and sound: He borrows James’ easy flow on songs like “Worlds Are Made of Paper” and the title track, while “Oh Brother” lifts a line from Dad’s “You’ve Got a Friend.” There’s nothing as timeless as “Fire and Rain” on Listening, but it’s pleasant, effortless folk-pop.

Yellowcard

Southern Air

(Hopeless)

The band that made the violin cool for pop-punk kids throughout the universe has been on a roll since returning from a four-year hiatus last year. Their eighth album features a stinging blend of chugging guitar riffs and fist-raising choruses made for bedroom moshing. Southern Air doesn’t reinvent, or even tweak, the formula. But songs like “Awakening” and “Always Summer” blast out of the speakers like it’s 2003 all over again.

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