Here is a look at new music out this week.
Garbage. "Not Your Kind of People"
“Not Your Kind of People” is Garbage’s fifth studio release and the band’s first in seven years. That means this album either has the band picking up where they left off or sounding way out of place by today’s standards. Unfortunately, it’s the latter. “Not Your Kind of People” fails to go anywhere as the band mostly spins its wheels on plodding songs. And yes, many Garbage songs in the past, some very good ones, could be described as creeping along as Shirley Manson delivers each word with no real urgency. But even on those songs, there was an element. “Not Your Kind of People” lacks that fun factor save for “Man On A Wire,” by far the most upbeat and best song on the album. Garbage’s previous studio albums were recorded at Smart Studios in band’s home of Madison, Wis. That wasn’t the case this time around since band members Butch Vig and Steve Marker closed their studio located in a battered building on East Washington Ave. in 2010. “Not Your Kind of People” was recorded at Red Razor Sounds in Los Angeles and released on the band’s own label, STUNVOLUME. So it appears they had total control while making this album. But they fail to deliver. The digital beats on songs such as “Blood For Poppies” and “Battle In Me” are as slick as they’ve ever been in a Garbage song. It’s just Manson’s voice sounds too dialed down. She’s shuffling along as the music is taking big, bounding steps. In the end, the new album sounds like a collection of B-sides from Garbage’s forgettable 2005 album, “Bleed Like Me.”
Gossip. "A Joyful Noise"
“A Joyful Noise” has Gossip taking another step away from sounding like a garage band, and more like a well-oiled dance rock machine. A few years ago, when the band was known as The Gossip, they were sounding more along the lines of The White Stripes with strong female vocals courtesy of Beth Ditto. That sound is almost a thing of the past. And while Gossip teeters into Ting Tings territory, Ditto’s voice is as powerful as it’s every been. The girl has some pipes, but she doesn’t over-do it. The self-empowerment song “Move In The Right Direction” has the perfect balance of solid dance music and vocals that aren’t too over-the-top. “It’s not perfect, but it’s getting closer,” Ditto belts out on the song. The lyric really could serve as a one-line review for the album. “A Joyful Noise” isn’t a perfect dance rock album, but Gossip is getting closer to it with every release.
The female voice on that “Somebody I Used To Know” song gets a proper solo album release in the U.S. this week. Kimbra’s “Vows” came out in her native New Zealand last August and now can be heard by a much wider audience. “Vows” is in desperate need of some editing. Twelve of the album’s 16 tracks run in excess of four minutes, but somehow seem even longer. That doesn’t necessarily mean the music is bad. Kimbra is a talented singer with a vocal delivery that comes off as a less snarky Lily Allen. At the same time, a lot of her songs tend to wander. They’re not concise and probably could be trimmed by 30 seconds or more. Not everything is a complete flop here. “Cameo Lover” is a bouncy pop song with some fun musical twists. On “Settle Down,” Kimbra uses the song as a vehicle to show off her voice. “Vows” really would be a great album if some of the songs were pared down. Instead it’s a marathon that’s best completed in short listening sprints.
Also out this week: Kris Allen, “Thank You Camellia”; Joe Bonamassa, “Driving Towards the Daylight”; Cinemascape, “The Falling Impossible”; Cold Specks, “I Predict a Graceful Expulsion”; Gaz Coombes, “Gaz Coombes Presents Here Come the Bombs”; The Cult, “Choice of Weapon”; The Danks, “Are You Afraid of the Danks”; Tom Jones, “Spirit in the Room”; Sonny Landreth, “Elemental Journey”; John Mayer, “Born and Raised”; Jon McLaughlin, “Promising Promises”; Men Without Hats, “Love in the Age of War”; MercyMe, “The Hurt & The Healer”; Neal., “Bang”; ORBO and The Longshots, “Prairie Sun”; Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Covers EP”; Haley Reinhart, “Listen Up!”; Royal Thunder, “CVI”; Slash, “Apocalyptic Love”; Smile Empty Soul, “3’s”; Soulsavers, “The Light the Dead See”; Shannon Stephens, “Pull It Together”; 12 Stones, “Beneath the Scars”; The Trip, “The Trip.”
Out May 29: Joan Armatrading, "Starlight"; David Benoit, "Conversation"; Wade Bowen, "The Given"; Cadence Weapon, "Hope in Dirt City"; Rebecca Ferguson, "Heaven"; Fort Atlantic, "Fort Atlantic"; Melody Gardot, "The Absence"; The Intelligence, "Everybody's Got It Easy But Me"; King Tuff, "King Tuff"; Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles, "Heat"; Marissa Nadler, "The Sister"; Kalen Nash, "Urked"; Public Image Ltd., "This is PiL"; Preteen Zenith, "Rubble Guts and BB Eye"; Gemma Ray, "Island Fire"; Scissor Sisters, "Magic Hour"; Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, "Here"; Sigur Rós, "Valtari"; Regina Spektor, "What We Saw From the Cheap Seats"; Sun Kil Moon, "Among the Leaves"; 2:54, "2:54"; Travis Porter, "From Day 1"; Ian Tyson, "Raven Singer"; Ultravox, "Brilliant"; Jody Wisternoff, "Trails We Blaze".