For more than 30 years, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have been one of America's greatest live bands, and they capture the magic of their live show on their latest disc Mojo. In his four-star review, David Fricke writes, "The performances are natural knockouts — cocksure grooves, pithy knife-play guitars and little overdub fuss — worked up, then nailed, some on the first full take." Petty wrote the album for his band to play, and that's just how these songs sound, especially on tracks like the Yardbirds-style rave-up "I Should Have Known It." Fricke also notes strong similarities between Mojo and the Stones' recently reissued Exile on Main Street, from the double-LP length to the garage-comrade swing. "Mojo comes with a creeping grip in its rumble, sly, intuitive details that snag you at every pass," Fricke writes.
Drake's Thank Me Later also arrives this week. Since releasing his smash single "Best I Ever Had" and signing with Lil Wayne's Cash Money imprint last year, Drake has become the rap rookie of the decade — and he finally gets to prove his mettle on his hugely anticipated debut, which features guest spots from Jay-Z, Young Jeezy, T.I. and Lil Wayne. Unlike many other rappers, Drake delivers a hip-hop album that's meant to be listened to from start to finish, with cuts that feature downtempo beats and gauzy atmospherics. "[He] is in total command of a style that would have been hard to imagine dominating hip-hop a few years ago," writes Jody Rosen in his three-and-a-half star review. "He's subtle and rueful rather than loud and lively; emotionally transparent rather than thuggy." He also proves he's one of the wittiest rappers in the game, delivering clever images ("I'm 23/With a money tree") and punch lines like "I live for the nights that I can't remember/ With the people I won't forget."
The third record from New Jersey punks Gaslight Anthem also hits stores this week. On American Slang, the band delivers raucous punk anthems with singer Brian Fallon's vivid, working-class tales. Fallon, who grew up in Springsteen country, has crafted his own Jungleland with songs that hit you right in the gut. "The choruses are more sculpted, but the band's tough-as-leather rush is as hard as ever," Christian Hoard writes in his three-and-a-half star review. "Fallon howls so hard, he sounds like he's aiming to get a section of the Jersey Turnpike named after him." (Hear Gaslight Anthem's new disc in full now.)
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