Here is a look at new music out this week.
The Beach Boys "That's Why God Made the Radio"
It’s difficult to be overly critical of the latest from The Beach Boys.
“That’s Why God Made the Radio” is the slow-moving car you pass on a two-lane road only to feel bad for cursing at its driver when you see it’s probably someone’s grandfather.
It took 16 years to get a new studio album from The Beach Boys. That’s way too long. Too much bickering among members about the band’s name and song credits.
But we can forgive them, right? If you’re not totally sold, maybe “That’s Why God Made the Radio” will win you over. As expected, most of the songs on the album, the band’s 29th, paint pictures of summer love and sunny California skies.
While the stories are classic Beach Boys fare, the music just isn’t there. The music on both the title track and “The Private Life of Bill and Sue” seems a little generic for The Beach Boys. We’ve heard them play better. But maybe that’s the way they play together as a band after a 16-year layoff.
One thing that hasn’t diminished, and is quite impressive, is the members’ ability to harmonize. It’s their strong point, and they knew that when they chose “Think About The Days” as the album’s opener. But the short song serves another purpose. It also helps set up the album’s story, taking the listener back to a sunny ’50s summer.
Most of the lyrics are about warm weather love affairs, but others could be construed as The Beach Boys talking about themselves. “We used to get around,” they sing on “Spring Vacation” before hitting the chorus of “summer weather, we’re back together.” This trip into the past isn’t an endless summer. “Summer’s Gone” is the perfect closer for the album as it helps wrap up the story and send The Beach Boys off into the sunset.
“That’s Why God Made the Radio” serves a purpose. Unfortunately, it’s not to be a great album. Instead, it’s more about making the listener ask, “hey, remember when music sounded like this?”
The Temper Trap "The Temper Trap"
The Temper Trap’s last album, “Conditions,” was solid. The band’s self-titled effort out this week builds off what was established on that 2009 release. The vocals are bigger and the music shows more depth on what turns out to be a more polished and far better album from this Australian indie rock band. Dougy Mandagi’s voice is larger than life, especially on songs such as “Need Your Love” and “Trembling Hands.” But he also knows when to dial it down. The songs “Miracle” and “Heartbreak Hotel” are much more melodic and call for a softer approach in the vocal booth. This self-titled album from The Temper Trap is a perfect mix of powerful vocals and dynamic guitar work that crescendos at all the right times.
Various Artists "Rock of Ages: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack"
I’m not a big fan of reviewing soundtracks, but this one is a little different than most of the releases attached to summer blockbusters. The movie adaptation of the Broadway hit “Rock of Ages” arrives in theaters June 15. The film is loaded with recognizable metal songs from the ’80s and even more recognizable stars including Tom Cruise and Catherine Zeta-Jones. And yes, the actors sing in the movie. So you get Cruise doing his best Axl Rose on “Paradise City.” It comes off about as well as you’d think Cruise singing a Guns N Roses song would (which is not good). He also belts out Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me.” Both songs sound as though they were recorded during a bad night at a karaoke bar. It’s not all Cruise’s fault. The somewhat generic-sounding backing music doesn’t help either. Other members of the “Rock of Ages” cast have a little more experience singing on screen. Zeta-Jones’ performance of Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me with Your Best Shot” is admirable. She is one of the better vocalists on the album. As is Julianne Hough who, unfortunately, is stuck in duets with other cast members who can’t quite match her vocal ability. Cruise’s vocal deficiencies really stick out when he is paired with Hough on Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive.”
Also out this week: Beegie Adair & Jaimee Paul, "After the Ball"; The Bamboos, "Medicine Man"; Regina Belle, "Higher"; Eric Benét, "The One"; Brian Bromberg, "Compared to That"; Bobby Brown, "The Masterpiece"; BT, "Laptop Symphony"; Brandi Carlile, "Bear Creek"; Shawn Colvin, "All Fall Down"; Rodney Crowell, "Kin: The Songs of Mary Karr & Rodney Crowell"; Curren$y, "The Stoned Immaculate"; Dexys, "One Day I'm Going to Soar"; Alejandro Escovedo, "Big Station"; Fear Factory, "The Industralist"; The Features, "Wilderness"; Béla Fleck & The Marcus Roberts Trio, "Across the Imaginary Divide"; David Garrett, "Legacy"; The Hives, "Lex Hives"; Kelly Hogan, "I Like to Keep Myself in Pain"; IAmDynamite, "SuperMegaFantastic"; It Boys!, "Introduction"; Alan Jackson, "Thirty Miles West"; Ramin Karimloo, "Human Heart"; Jana Kramer, "Jana Kramer"; Lettuce, "Fly"; Liars, "WIXIW"; Lil' Ed and The Blues Imperials, "Jump Start"; Marley's Ghost, "Jubilee"; Melvins Lite, "Freak Puke"; Rhett Miller, "The Dreamer"; Moore & Moore, "Show Me Your Country"; The Mynabirds, "Generals"; Oh No, "OhNoMite"; Pujol, "United States of Being"; River City Extension, "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Your Anger"; The Chris Robinson Band, "Big Moon Ritual"; The Rocket Summer, "Life Will Write the Words"; 1776 "1776"; Shonen Knife, "Pop Tune"; Patti Smith, "Banga"; Truckstop Darlin', "Hope and the Heart It Breaks"; Ultravox, "Brilliant"; Joe Walsh, "Analog Man"; Neil Young & Crazy Horse, "Americana".