New Recordings:Skrillex, Benmont Tench, Tokyo Police Club
Ratings: **** Excellent, *** Good, ** Fair, * Poor
Skrillex is this generation's rave king, a sultan of sub-bass EDM whose singular look (shaved sides, long locks, thick glasses) and double sound (dub-step's room-shaking wub, techno's deep drops) made him a hero to fans, remix clients, and fellow producer/DJs alike.
He recently released Recess, his first solo album, first as an Android and iPhone app called Alien Ride. Now it's out as a CD. Recess plays with the electro-music form, both reveling in and toying with his personal musical signatures. The hard-line "All Is Fair in Love and Brostep" both plays up and deflates the boot-stomping machismo of dub-step. "Coast Is Clear," with guest Chicago sensation Chance the Rapper, injects a delectable, dance-hop feel into the proceedings, while bringing in buoyant brass and lush vocal harmonies for something fleshly and real. Speaking of fleshly and real, we really get both when Skrillex calls upon Philly's own Diplo, whose grungy "Dirty Vibe" is aptly titled. Even when catchy, some of Recess can sometimes sound samey. Still, as far as samey goes, it's a good samey.
- A.D. Amorosi
You Should Be So Lucky
(Blue Note ***)
A charter member of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, keyboardist Benmont Tench is also an in-demand session player, someone widely respected as a musician's musician. So it's no surprise that the 60-year-old's solo debut features a lot of friends - Petty, Don Was, Ringo Starr, Ryan Adams, the duo of Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, and, behind the board, storied producer Glyn Johns.
Like the sideman extraordinaire himself, these accompanists (and others) don't draw attention to themselves but instead help create a work that is unmistakably Benmont Tench - warm, organic, mostly laid-back, and never flashy. Tench's conversational singing style suits the aching intimacy of such vividly drawn originals as "Today I Took Your Picture Down" and "Why Don't You Quit Leavin' Me Alone," although he can also flash some attitude, as he does on the title song, the album's hardest-rocking track.
Two diverse instrumentals highlight Tench's range: the languidly moody, string-accented "Ecor Rouge" and the Professor Longhair-inspired "Wobbles," and he goes out swinging with a supremely spirited take on Dylan's "Duquesne Whistle."
- Nick Cristiano
Tokyo Police Club
(Mom + Pop **1/2)
Tokyo Police Club's first release, the 2006 EP A Lesson in Crime, consisted of seven Strokes-like songs totaling about 16 minutes. "Argentina (Parts I, II, III)," the first track on Forcefield, the Canadian band's third album, is more than half that length. It opens with a propulsive burst of electric guitars, but it strives to be a big, layered anthem. The rest of the songs, hovering around the three-minute mark, concentrate on high-gloss, overstuffed pop-rock. Forcefield is catchier and more energetic than 2010's Champ - the quartet seems to have taken a cue from Phoenix this time - but producers Doug Boehm (Dr. Dog) and TPC bassist and vocalist David Monks seem as if they could not resist tweaking everything with Auto-Tune, extra keyboard filigrees, digital reverb, and compression. Even on perky power-pop tracks like "Miserable," the result too often becomes airless and exhausting.
- Steve Klinge
Top Albums in the Region
This Week Last Week
Locally Nationally Locally
1 1 Various Artists Frozen 3
2 2 Luke Bryan -
Spring Break 6: Like We Ain't Ever
3 3 Rick Ross Mastermind 1
4 5 Pharrell Williams G I R L 2
5 4 Aloe Blacc Lift Your Spirit -
6 6 311 Stereolithic -
7 7 Young Money Rise of an Empire -
8 11 Beyonce Beyonce 6
9 14 Ledis Truth -
10 8 Lorde Pure Heroine 10
SOURCE: SoundScan (based on purchase data from Philadelphia and Montgomery, Delaware, Bucks, Chester, Camden, Burlington and Gloucester Counties). Billboard Magazine 3/29/14 © 2014
On Sale Tuesday
The Hold Steady,
Kiss Me Once