New Recordings: Maybeck Artists, Avicii, Alan Jackson
Ratings: **** Excellent, *** Good, ** Fair, * Poor
MMG Presents: Self Made, Vol. 3
(Maybach Music Group/Atlantic *** 1/2)
After a brief intro from Mill's pal, Lil Snupe (who died in June), Ross commences the MMG proceedings, roughly discussing the finer things in life - "Gallardo," "Stack on My Belt" - with a voice like a bruise. There's a reason Ross is the boss, beyond shelling out (and taking in) the money. His is a voice of kingly command. Wale and new label signee Stalley get some good shots in, but only Mill comes near Ross in the number of sturdy tracks, deep-voiced, power-centric lyrics ("Kilo"), and just plain truth-telling ("Bout That Life").
- A.D. Amorosi
Sweet, strange EDM artist/producer Tim Bergling - a.k.a. Swedish house music king Avicii - has had as much fun with social media as he's had fashioning freaky remixes (for the likes of Dizzee Rascal and Robyn) and crafting odd solo works such as the driving instrumental "Seek Bromance" and the trance-inducing "Le7els." He's an electro-experimentalist and self-marketer who titled a 2012 single "2 Million" after winning that number of followers on Facebook (the crowd-sourced follow-up: "3 Million") and made the title of #TRUE, his debut album as an artist, a hashtag - surely to encourage his legion of Twitter-ing fans.
In #TRUE, those fans will find a contemporary classic of banging dance-disco with Daft Punk-ish twists - for example, his Nile Rodgers/Adam Lambert collaboration "Lay Me Down." Many are the delicious surprises. There's actually even a country ambience. "Addicted to You" is cowritten with - whaaat?? - country-pop great Mac Davis, and sung with jazzy vocal touches by dust-bowl vocalist Audra Mae. There are acoustic hillbilly guitar flourishes ("Wake Me Up"), and hucklebuck house music, as in "Shame on Me," in which you won't know whether to rage hard or do-si-do.
- A.D. Amorosi
The Bluegrass Album
(ACR/EMI Nashville ***)
Leave it to Alan Jackson to get right to the point with the album title. The Bluegrass Album is just that: It's the unadulterated record the no-nonsense, tradition-minded country superstar has wanted to make for quite some time, as he says during his version of Bill Monroe's "Blue Moon of Kentucky" that closes the set.
Jackson is backed by a group of well-regarded if not big-name pickers. (Fortunately, Alison Krauss is nowhere to be found - the singer-fiddler produced 2006's bluegrass-free Like Red on a Rose, the only mediocre album of Jackson's career.) The singer also wrote eight of the 14 tracks, and it's no surprise he has a solid grasp of the form's bedrock themes. He sings movingly of faith and family and loss. Death is a frequent presence.
It's clear that Jackson finds these kinds of stories ageless, and not just an exercise in nostalgia. He drives that point home on "Blacktop," in which he bluntly declares, "This ain't no song about the good old days." Some might have lamented the paving of the country roads as a unwelcome sign of progress. The singer, however, is happy for the change: "No more dust in my eyes."
- Nick Cristiano
Top Albums in the Region
This Week Last Week
Locally Nationally Locally
1 1 Jack Johnson -
From Here to Now to You
2 4 MMG Presents: Self Made, Vol. 3 -
3 5 AVICII #True -
4 2 Justin Moore Off the Beaten Path -
5 16 Elvis Costello Wise Up Ghost -
6 3 Chris Young A.M. -
7 7 2 Chainz B.O.A.T.S. II: Me Time 6
8 8 Keith Urban Fuse 1
9 11 Tamar Braxton Love & War 3
10 19 Grateful Dead Sunshine Daydream -
SOURCE: SoundScan (based on purchase data from Philadelphia and Montgomery, Delaware, Bucks, Chester, Camden, Burlington and Gloucester Counties). Billboard Magazine 10/5/13 © 2013
In Stores Tuesday
Dr. Dog, B-Room;
Oneohtrix Point Never,
R Plus Seven;
The Wood Brothers,
Sunlight on the Moon