Date Posted: May 31, 2011
Print Edition: May 27, 2011
The Lonely Island – Turtleneck and Chain
The boys from The Lonely Island are back, reppin’ style advice, impressive guest artists, and the finest hip-hop comedy yet with their second album Turtleneck and Chain. Surprisingly, throwaway tracks are at a minimum and production values are high. Listeners will especially enjoy the title track, as well as “The Creep,” featuring Nicki Minaj (!), and “Attracted to Us,” featuring Beck (!!). Other stars on the album include Snoop Dogg, Michael Bolton, Santigold, Akon, JT, and Rihanna. T&C is slicker than their first effort, Incredibad, and even without the accompanying Saturday Night Live digital shorts, many tracks are laugh-out-loud funny and feature catchy hooks and crunchy beats (90s children will especially enjoy the 30 second Falcor vs. Atreyu sex scene skit). Fun for the whole (depraved) family, the only criticism of Samberg, Shaffer and Taccone is that much like some SNL skits, it goes on way too long. Definitely worth a few listens, if you’re not too embarrassed.
Sloan – The Double Cross
Titled after the Halifax power pop quartet’s 20th anniversary rendered in Roman numerals, The Double Cross is Sloan’s tenth LP. Though lesser bands might have long lost the requisite drive and focus by the time they reach such a milestone, Jay Ferguson, Chris Murphy, Patrick Pentland, and Andrew Scott only sound more assured and dedicated than ever. The album kicks off with a blistering trio of hook-laden top down classics that flow seamlessly into the next, a trick perfected on 2006’s Never Hear the End of It. While these three tracks alone would make The Double Cross a worthy addition to Sloan’s impressive catalogue, they are but a sampler of the riches to follow. Whether the vaguely Stonesy stomp of the Pentland-penned first single “Unkind” or Ferguson’s deftly finger-picked side one closer “Green Gardens, Cold Montreal,” the album is peppered with incredible three-minute bursts of pure aural joy. Here’s to XX more.
Danger Mouse – Rome
Norah Jones, Jack White, and Italian composer Daniele Luppi come together with “Danger Mouse” (Brian Burton) to make an album that is cool, hip, smooth, and groovy. Many of the tracks in the album sound like they come from a late sixties heist movie with maybe a hint of modern sound to it, though no more. Rome is slow, moody, and melancholy, with a laid back R&B rhythm, haunting vocals, and powerfully beautiful violin underneath. Especially notable is “Two Against One” with its eerie lyrics and wild west sounding electric guitar licks that bring to mind a seedy bar in a Quentin Tarantino movie. It’s got a unique, good groove that is rare to hear anymore; definitely worth chilling out to in your car.
Sam Roberts Band – Collider
Along with changing the title of his act to Sam Roberts Band for Collider, Sam Roberts called upon renowned saxophonist Stuart Bogie to add a jazzier sound to the album. Songs like “Streets of Heaven” and “Let It Be” would be noticeably bare if it wasn’t for Bogie’s sleek grooves. As much as Roberts’ seeks to evolve his sound on this album, he’s never been one to neglect his roots. The high-pitched and dreamy organs used on “The Graveyard Shift” are reminiscent of those from “No Sleep,” which appeared on his debut album eight years ago. Although terrific songs do exist on this album, it feels like Roberts is caught somewhere in the middle between his old and new sound. The Strokes-like “Sang Froid” clashes with mellower songs such as the rootsy “Twist the Knife” or the effortless “No Arrow.” Sam Roberts again proves his worth with Collider; however, one might wonder whether this album serves as a transition or a deviation in the Canadian singer’s career.