Summer 2006 Review Roundup

Summer is coming to an end, but a big season of music is just beginning. Jim and Greg take a look at some upcoming new releases, including the latest from Bob Dylan, Kelis and The Roots.

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Modern Times Bob Dylan

Modern Times

As fall approaches, record companies begin to roll out some of the year’s biggest albums in time for the holidays. This week, Jim and Greg review some of the most notable, including the 44th studio release from rock veteran Bob Dylan. Modern Times is actually not a very modern album at all. In fact, Dylan recently dissed all of the music of the past 20 years, including that made by his son. Rather, he opted to record this music in a lo-fi style reminiscent of the music of the ‘30s and ‘40s. Jim appreciated Dylan’s ever-growing sense of humor and irony, but couldn’t take some of the tracks’ Bing Crosby/ Rudy Vallée style of crooning. He gives it a Burn It. Greg doesn’t think that Modern Times is as good as Dylan’s previous two releases, possibly because the band seems to be intimidated by their leader, but this effort still merits a Buy It.

Revelations Audioslave

Revelations

Audioslave, the best-selling rock act of the decade, released its third album this week. The band is composed of remnants of successful ‘90s bands: Lead singer Chris Cornell, formerly of Soundgarden, is joined by Rage Against the Machine’s Tim Commerford, Brad Wilk, and super-guitarist/activist Tom Morello. Jim and Greg are both big fans of Morello as a person and a musician, but they can’t find much redeeming about Audioslave. At least on this album, Revelations, there appears to be an effort to politicize the music’s content. However, it still lacks substance, and the music itself is formulaic. Both hosts give Revelations a Trash It. In fact, Jim says if he had four copies, he’d trash all of them. Greg adds that there’s only one revelation here— that this band is really bad.

Kelis Was Here Kelis

Kelis Was Here

Kelis scored a big hit with her 2003 single Milkshake, and this week she tries to do it again. Kelis Was Here is the R&B singer’s first album since splitting from former collaborators The Neptunes and marrying rapper Nas. Our hosts are split on their opinions. Jim is happy to see Kelis working with a variety of producers, including Scott Storch and Will.I.Am, and is glad that her sexual self-empowerment remains intact. The album earns a Buy It from him. Greg finds this record to be pretty generic, though, contending that all of the producers have buffed her personality out. He describes Kelis Was Here as milkshake leftovers, and only gives it a Burn It.

Happy Hollow Cursive

Happy Hollow

Switching gears, Jim and Greg next discuss Happy Hollow, the latest release from Omaha indie rock group Cursive. At first they were concerned that the band, and frontman Tim Kasher, were merely like the younger brothers of fellow Omaha emo outfit Bright Eyes. But Kasher and co. have proved themselves to be really adventurous songwriters and musicians, more in the New Wave tradition than the Conor Oberst tradition. Both Jim and Greg give Happy Hollow a Buy It, though they hope the band gets better live.

Game Theory The Roots

Game Theory (Bonus Track Version)

Philadelphiahip-hop group The Roots have an album up for review entitled Game Theory. The rappers and musicians largely changed the way hip-hop was perceived by incorporating live instrumentation and rock-style jams into their recordings and performances. Greg has always been a fan, and loves songs like the dark track In the Music, but doesn’t think the record is consistent enough. There’s an entire eight minutes of music dedicated to the recently departed producer J Dilla that he can’t really excuse—so he gives it a Burn It. Jim believes Game Theory is the best record the group has done since 1999’s Things Fall Apart. He loves the dark tone of the record and emotional content of the lyrics, and doles out a Buy It.

Post-War M. Ward

Post-War

The final album under scrutiny this week is by singer/songwriter Matt Ward, aka M. Ward. Ward is a rather beloved member of the indie rock community and has collaborated with everyone from Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard, to Jenny Lewis, to the aforementioned Conor Oberst. Post-War is his fifth album since being discovered by Jason Lytle ( a recent guest on the show. Jim enjoys about half of the album, including a cover of Daniel Johnston’s anti-war song To Go Home, but says the other half sucks. He finds it pretentious and pointlessly eclectic and can only give Post-War a Burn It. Greg, however, loves that Ward knows how to create atmosphere. He finds it a beautiful record that sucks you in from beginning to end, earning a definite Buy It.

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