Albums Reviewed

Category:  Music Reviews
Monday, January 16th, 2012 at 10:00 AM
Albums Reviewed  by Bieler-Speggen

The Roots / undun - 4.5/5

?uestlove and The Roots may be sitting comfortably in their current position at “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,” but they prove that they’re still one of the hardest working bands in the business on “undun.” The Roots dive straight into new territory on their 11th studio album. “undun” revolves around the life and death of Redford Stephens as he tried to do his best surrounded by a rough urban neighborhood. The album starts with Redford’s death, moving in reverse up until the point where he was just “trying to tip the scale” his way. Sounding at once bleak yet sonically inviting, ?uestlove and the group manage to tell Redford’s tragic tale of hustling to survive without glorifying or vilifying  his life.  Instead, The Roots give us 40 minutes of excellent hip-hop storytelling.

Amy Winehouse / Lioness: Hidden Treasures - 3/5

Posthumous releases are tricky things. Often, the albums are chockfull of throwaway songs, with a few unreleased tracks to shamelessly woo fans still in mourning. Rarely, one stands on its own as an excellent album, such as Elliott Smith’s “New Moon.” “Lioness: Hidden Treasures” finds itself somewhere in the middle. Ranging from reworkings of older songs to material intended for an unrealized third album, “Lioness” provides 45 minutes of solid tracks. The problem with the album is that most of it doesn’t stand out. It’s always a pleasure to hear Amy Winehouse’s voice, but on “Lioness” she seems tamed, hushed away from the personality that made her a star. Where Winehouse used to command the listener’s attention with her bravado, “Lioness” seems to shy away from who she was at her best – a troubled, but supremely talented artist.

Dia Frampton / Red - 3.5/5

After finishing second on “The Voice,” Dia Frampton found herself with scores of new fans. Now with a more mainstream audience, Frampton released her first solo album away from her sister Meg. While more polished than her previous efforts in Meg & Dia, unsurprising given the various celebrity backing her new album received, “Red” stays true to Frampton’s roots. With enough sugary choruses to back up Frampton’s sweet voice, “Red” is accessible enough for mainstream pop fans, but has enough surprises to keep it interesting. Lyrically, Frampton delves into dark territory, singing about a close friend being molested as a child in “Good Boy” and her younger sister’s tough time around their feuding parents in “Isabella.” The album missteps when it’s too radio-friendly, like on Frampton’s duet with Blake Shelton, her vocal coach on “The Voice,” but “Red” still manages to please.

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross / The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Soundtrack - 3/5

Give Reznor and Ross more time, they’ll give you more content. David Fincher learned this when he welcomed back the duo to compose the score to his latest film. Fincher first paired with them for the Academy-Award winning score for “The Social Network.” Before they produced little over an hour’s worth of material in limited time; now, they had 14 months, leading to a mammoth industrial landscape of over three hours of music. The score—as does the movie—opens with “Immigrant Song,” featuring Karen O searing against thick, chunky guitars. Reznor fans will rejoice over the rest of the album. It isn’t easy listening—just like Fincher’s movie isn’t easy watching. Like “The Splinter,” featuring swells of strings and haunting chimes, the album infects the listener with squirmy tension designed to keep us uncomfortably on the edge of our seats, and there we remain. For three hours.

Erie Reader: Vol. 4, No. 25
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CURRENT

The Republican field begins to take shape for 2016. When will we learn from our mistakes. 

The Senate confirms a surgeon general and lots, lots, of judges. 

The United Way and Home Team of Erie County host a memorial event for homeless in our region. 

Congress passed a spending bill, but at what cost?

Russia's buying gold to help ensure its financial future while the U.S. Senate passes a $1.1 trillion spending bill to get us through the end of the year. This and more, in case you missed it. 

IN THIS ISSUE

The Presque Isle Partnership is hosting Polar Fest on Sunday, Dec. 14, a winter version of Discover Presque Isle, if you will, featuring indoor and outdoor activities related to the winter season.

Music fans were in for a treat this past November when a long list of those loquacious lyricists showed off their musical chops at 814 Grinders: Hip-hop Pt. 1. The event was so good, in fact, that it will be getting a sequel Friday, Dec. 12 at The Beer Mug.

Wayward Tattoo Studio presents Arc Angels Toy Drive

PACA presents Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and then some!)

The Lake Erie Ballet will continue its holiday tradition this year with four productions of The Nutcracker at the Warner Theatre this December, including a pair of special events. 

Pittsburgh indie rockers return to Erie's Basement Transmissions.

The Station Dinner Theatre will celebrate its 25th Anniversary Holiday Musical event with Christmas Memories: A Christmas Carol

Martinis and blues go together just like peas and carrots. Confused? Read on.

Michigan-bred 'mericana badasses return to Erie Saturday, Dec. 19.

ECO showcases both new and old holiday music with its upcoming show.