CD Reviews: Didos latest is sad yet hopeful | VailDaily.com
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CD Reviews: Didos latest is sad yet hopeful

Daily staff reportsnewsroom@vaildaily.comEagle County CO, Colorado
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Safe Trip Home Arista3 stars of 5Dido drew a lot of water in 1999 when her first single, Thank You, was released to much critical and consumer acclaim. No Angel, her debut album which featured the massive hit was as cynical as it was beautiful and intriguing. One moment shes singing about a lover lost at sea, the next about how she refuses to be tamed by her relationships. Safe Trip Home is Didos third studio effort and while her deviously angelic voice makes the album easy to listen to, it lacks all of the charm and newness that No Angel brought to the table.Sounding as sincere as ever, Dido keeps the album on an even keel and thats the problem, she never rocks the boat until the very end. Even after eight somber and quiet tunes, when bongo drums introduce the song Lets Do The Things We Normally Do promising a change in atmosphere, its only different enough to disappoint when it doesnt really deliver on the promise.Strangely enough, one of the best songs comes near the albums end when Dido joins voices with Citizen Cope in the depressingly lovely song Burnin Love. Then the albums nine-minute closer, Northern Skies, reveals an odd truth: Dido revels in sadness without getting lost in it, which is why Safe Trip Home sounds hopeful despite the gray-day mood its sure to cast over the listener. Charlie Owen, High Life writer

The Rhumb Line3 stars of 5Sonically, you could lump Ra Ra Riot in with cutesy indie pop bands such as Vampire Weekend or Black Kids or any group, really, that gained blog buzz in summer 2007 with snappy melodies, sometimes diverse rhythms and a catchy name.The difference between Riots full-length debut and releases earlier this year from Vampire Weekend and Black Kids is one of maturity, and maybe also chamber music. Riot isnt interested in being witty or coy, possibly because that was never the bands main focus, and possibly because the quintet has a sense of tragedy beyond its age (coming from the mysterious death of John Pike, Riots drummer, in June 2007).That depth comes out on Rhumb Lines closer, Run My Mouth. The lyrics are straightforward and personal, and the instrumental string work makes the track a lushly arranged end to a well-constructed debut.Most everything leading up to that finish shows the bands potential, with Wesley Miles voice drifting over cello and violin lines on album opener Ghost Under Rocks, then over a laid-back rock track on Each Year, or 1980s-fueled synthesizers on Too Too Too Fast.The Rhumb Line isnt a great debut, but it is a good one, with each song hinting at Ra Ra Riots chance at a longer career than its peers are likely to get. Margaret Hair, Steamboat Pilot & Today

Dark Horse RoadrunnerNickelback is a lot of things, but dark horse is no longer one of them. The Canadian rock quartet said goodbye to that status when 2001s Silver Side Up album took the band into multi-platinum territory. The groups follow-up to its 7-million selling All the Right Reasons from three years ago is every bit as catchy, with more shredding guitar licks planted strategically within hooky rock songs full of bad boys with hearts of gold.The addition of superstar producer Robert John Mutt Lange to the mix ensures that everything here is as radio friendly and mainstream minded as heavy guitar rock gets. If David Cook were an American Idol contestant instead of this years winner, odds are he would ditch the Switchfoot covers for more Nickelback.But not Something in Your Mouth or Shakin Hands, showpieces for more of the bands signature lasciviousness. Something objectifies a hottie in a pink thong the honey with a million-dollar body while Shakin Hands celebrates a starlet who didnt make it this far by just shakin hands. Illuminating it aint. But love those gnarly guitar riffs.Its not that lead singer-shrieker Chad Kroeger and his buds arent sensitive too. Gotta Be Somebody cracks open a window on loneliness as he pines for someone to care for his neglected heart. Theres gotta be somebody for me like that. As long, presumably, as she also looks good in a pink thong.Lange still has the magic touch in the recording studio, knowing exactly when a band like this should crank it to 11, when to drop back or out entirely for some welcome sonic space missing from too many hard-edged bands records.If Today Was Your Last Day brings the requisite party dudes skin-deep philosophizing, but This Afternoon closes the album on a refreshingly loose and bouncy slice of pop-rock revelry where theres not a hottie or hooker in sight.Nickelback ought to spend more time in this part of the day. Randy Lewis, L.A. Times-Washington Post


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