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  • Petty Rocks, Heartbreakers Roll!

    July 29, 2014 1:30 PM ET
     |  Dave DiMartino

    Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers: Hypnotic Eye (Reprise) There is something that has become disturbingly retro about being a very good rock ‘n’ roll band: It’s almost a veiled insult, a subtle dig at taking a back-to-the-basics approach rather than, say, a more enlightened, exploratory aesthetic push forward. So calling TP & company a very good—one of our best—rock ‘n’ roll bands in some ways seems like a damning them w/faint praise move. And yet...  | More »

  • Morrissey 1, World Peace 0

    July 16, 2014 5:21 PM ET
     |  Dave DiMartino

    Morrissey: World Peace Is None Of Your Business (Harvest) There are very few people in popular music more interesting than Morrissey: He is driven, with the Smiths alone he has left a spectacular legacy—and that was long ago—and, whether via scattered interviews or his own autobiography, his every utterance is persistently fascinating. He is also the best song-titler in the business, and between this album’s title track, “I’m Not A Man,” and “Kick The...  | More »

  • Carry On & On!

    July 8, 2014 4:20 PM ET
     |  Dave DiMartino

    Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young: CSNY 1974 (Rhino) While fewer records than ever need to be sold in 2014 to be included in Billboard’s Top 200 album chart, one of next week’s expected hottest records will be this 4-disc set recorded in 1974 by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. It is indeed a fascinating world. That said, this is actually a pretty hip set: The 3 CDs capture the iconic & hirsute dudes at their mid-‘70s commercial peak, which oddly has so far gone strangel...  | More »

  • Extremely Thicke!

    July 1, 2014 10:30 AM ET
     |  Dave DiMartino

    Robin Thicke: Paula (Star Trak/Interscope) Yes, it’s something of a head-scratcher that the always agreeable, upbeat and friendly falsetto-prone Robin Thicke: 1) Has had more than the usual quick-blip-then-it’s-over career—the dude has methodically milked it and then hit the enormo-bigtime with 2013’s Blurred Lines 2) Could give America cause for concern when onstage with Miley Cyrus during the 2013 VMAs and examining her report card, and 3) Could not only publicly sha...  | More »

  • 'X' Rated And Proud Of It!

    June 24, 2014 10:30 AM ET
     |  Dave DiMartino

    Ed Sheeran: X (Atlantic) There’s a school of thought holding that today’s biggest biggest pop stars should be as visually striking as they are musically memorable. In purely literal terms, that’s completely so here. But is it a compliment? Brit songwriter Sheeran, red-headed and oozing pure guy-next-door friendliness, returns Stateside with an album likely to sell by the boatload—like him, it’s upbeat, friendly, clever almost to the point of pain, and defiantly n...  | More »

  • The Arrival Of Sam Smith

    June 17, 2014 5:04 PM ET
     |  Dave DiMartino

    Sam Smith: In The Lonely Hour (Capitol) Aside from being especially good and conspicuously talented, Brit singer Sam Smith is one of very few artists positioned exactly right to be the very next Big Thing. He’s already caused a stir in the UK charts via appearances with Disclosure and Naughty Boy; Stateside TV buzz via appearances on Fallon and Saturday Night Live (particularly the latter) was major and well-publicized; he’s a Brit Award winner enthralled with the legacy of Amy Wi...  | More »

  • Rhymes With Geppetto!

    June 10, 2014 2:50 PM ET
     |  Dave DiMartino

    Jack White: Lazaretto (Third Man/Columbia) While it’s easy to admire much that Jack White has done in his career—his melding of business and aesthetics that has focused a whole batch of much-needed attention on old record companies, the glory of vinyl, and art for art’s sake—it’s not especially easy to listen to the guy. This new set is fascinating at first listen: deliberately abrasive arrangements, unexpected wordage like “avuncular,” and song after...  | More »

  • Neil Young’s Dream Letter

    May 27, 2014 6:05 PM ET
     |  Dave DiMartino

    Neil Young: A Letter Home (Third Man/Reprise) Between the massive hubbub generated by Young’s celebrated high-fidelity Pono venture and the good/bad vibes associated with the painfully ubiquitous former White Stripe Jack White, it might be difficult to accept this deliberately gimmick-laden missive for what it is: A nostalgic and revealing walk down memory lane. Is it not fascinating that, icon that he is, Young reveals that heis not above being profoundly affected by the works of such ...  | More »

  • Black Keys = Bee’s Knees!

    May 13, 2014 5:01 PM ET
     |  Dave DiMartino

    The Black Keys: Turn Blue (Nonesuch) With its gleefully psychedelic cover and its dreamy, drifting opening track “Weight Of Love” coming in at close to 7 minutes, the eighth album by the Black Keys is really quite good. Part of that may simply be where the band now finds itself in its career arc: Past the point of having to prove much of anything to anybody, young enough to want to do things they or others haven’t simply because they have the opportunity, and as players, pre...  | More »

  • Picturing Lily!

    May 6, 2014 11:10 AM ET
     |  Dave DiMartino

    Lily Allen: Sheezus (Warner Bros.) There is something unexpectedly complete, satisfying and against the grain here on Lily Allen’s third album: For something so intrinsically wrapped up in the notion of fashion—the new and the now—it is every bit as substantial as it is cute and of the moment. There is timely wit, as in its title’s Kanye nod, there is incessantly aggressive name-dropping and social media plugging, and there are a whole lot of words delivered with the s...  | More »

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