Confluence of art punk and mainstream pop perfected by Morningwood
By Andi Berlin
Although you're too embarrassed to admit it, you know your feet tapped a little every time "I Didn't Steal Your Boyfriend" came on the radio. I bet you even listened to "Come Clean" by Hilary Duff for 30 seconds before you switched the station.
If you wear flat shoes and/or have a relative who owns an art gallery somewhere, you can finally quench your pop sensibilities without feeling guilty. Morningwood offers the carefree simplicity of the mainstream in a way that channels the edge of New York art punk.
You can't listen to Morningwood without thinking of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The lead singer, Chantal Claret, has the same trademark fluttery voice with the occasional primal guttural screech that Karen O has made so popular.
On "Take Off Your Clothes," Claret plays the temptress by singing the whole song like she's in the middle of an orgasm. "I wanna touch your little hip bones/ your collar bones/and all your other bones," she begs, to the bass line of "Smells like Teen Spirit."
Most of the songs on the album are in the same playful vein but vary slightly on style and tone. The only foreseeable problem is that Morningwood may be a little less sincere than its counterparts.
At times, they seem to struggle between the two worlds of hipster glam rock and spoonfed Top 40 instant play. At their worst, they mock both genres, but at their best, they take the desirable elements of both.
At least they're fun.
Hall & Oates - Rock 'N Soul
By Susan Bonicillo
As the chief purveyors of blue-eyed soul, Hall & Oates topped the charts during their heyday in the '70s and '80s, becoming the most successful recording duo in history.
It comes as no surprise that the pair would want to remind the world of this fact with a re-release of their 1983 greatest-hits album Rock 'N Soul.
This compilation includes the original playlist along with two bonus tracks: "Family Man" and "You've Lost That Loving."
For those who grew up on this music, it's a nostalgic trip back.
For those unfamiliar with Hall & Oates, this collection of hits will make you wonder how they became so popular in the first place.
The imitation of '70s soul à la Marvin Gaye, evident on "Sara Smile," is highly groovable.
The song "She's Gone" fuses a bit of blues with soul, making these two songs some of the best on the record.
However, the rest of these assorted hits fall flat.
Largely, the songs are overproduced and repetitive, and the lyrics are trite and laughable.
If you know someone who likes Hall & Oates, point him toward this re-release. But for those who aren't acquainted with these two, keep looking for another pop duo.
Cat Power - The Greatest
By Cassandra Tomlin
The Greatest is not Cat Power's best-of compilation, but another fluid collection of 12 new songs from Chan Marshall, this time filtered through '60s Southern soul.
Marshall employs Al Green's guitarist Mabon "Teenie" Hodges on the entire album along with other Southern soul legends in a beautifully legitimate resurgence.
Just as sultry, sad and sleepy as anything else she's done, but more instrumental and upbeat than other albums, The Greatest features killer organ riffs, horns and Marshall's notoriously soulful voice.
The best songs are the first and the last, the title track and "Love and Communication," which is versatile, always appropriate, and impossibly cool.