Eagle County CD Reviews: Springsteens latest too much of a good thing?
Working On A Dream Columbia3 stars of 5I dont know what The Boss was thinking when he recorded Working On A Dream, but its obvious he feels he still has something to prove. The album sounds like he tried to cram everything into it that he may never get a chance to do if he died tomorrow. I love Bruce Springsteen as much as the next person, but at times its ridiculous. Lucky for him though, most of the time it works. Maybe Ive just gotten used to the laid-back folk stylings of the man and his guitar, with the occasional stadium rocker thrown in to make sure hes not forgotten about on FM radio. But Working On A Dream has an urgency and energy that many of Springsteens latest works havent had. It feels like he got a second-wind during a marathon and had to sprint to the finish line to let everyone know hes going to win this thing no matter what. Unfortunately, Dream is low on substance and heavy on production.The opening track, Outlaw Pete, is an over-the-top tale of the old West with time changes and unnecessary symphonic strings that sound forced in for the sake of grandiosity. The song takes so many directions it doesnt always feel like the same song. My Lucky Day and Working On A Dream sound like classic rocker Springsteen from his Born in the U.S.A. days. Queen of the Supermarket sounds like his earliest days with the E. Street Band and finds Jerseys native son on comfortable storytelling ground. And What Love Can Do is just a solid, no-frills, straight-ahead jam. Theres swamp rock, country, background choir vocals, overdubs and a finger-picking folk song. Its almost too much when simplicity suits Springsteen so well, which is why the bonus track The Wrestler is a fitting album closer.Working On A Dream sounds more like a journey through Springsteens career than an album of fresh material, but if it helps a new generation get excited about his past, so be it. Charlie Owen, High Life Writer
Blood Bank EP Jagjaguwar3 stars of 5What made Bon Ivers 2008 debut, For Emma, Forever Ago one of the best records of that year was its eerie, down-turned-folk monotone. The writers heartbreak and careful words snuck up on you in that context and by the end of Emmas 10 tracks, you realized you had heard something great.On the follow-up Blood Bank EP, its still possible for Bon Iver (or Justin Vernon) to sound appealingly distant with faded surf slide guitars on Beach Baby, or out-of-nowhere lines like Aint this just like the present, to be showing up like this? on the excellent opening track Blood Bank.Babys is his most successful experiment on the four-song EP, taking the minimalist sound of For Emma to an extreme with a Philip Glass-style repetitive piano intro melting into a layered chorus of Vernons vulnerable singing.The a cappella Woods uses Auto-Tune for no apparent reason, and to no apparent benefit for Vernon he sounds like a depressed, bearded version of T.I. But even where that style flies in the face of For Emmas best qualities, it uses the same kind of build those songs did, and eventually, it breaks you down. Hopefully, the Auto-Tune will be a limited-time-only experiment. Margaret Hair, Steamboat Pilot & Today
Johnny Cash Remixed CompadreThe best music remixes amplify and/or smartly extrapolate on key components of their source material. When that doesnt happen, its just musical name-dropping, which is more often than not the case in this project built around the recordings Johnny Cash made in the 50s at Sun Records.Its understandable that Snoop Dogg, who co-produced the album with Cashs son John Carter Cash and Mathew Knowles, feels some kinship with Cashs persona as a social outlaw. But the ominous minor-key orchestration at the heart of QDT Muzics remix of I Walk the Line, which features Snoop and leads off the album, is out of sync with the bits of Cashs version that seep through the sonic soup.More successful is Count de Moneys bouncy version of Big River, which brings an extra dollop of swampiness thats in keeping with the original spirit. Sonny Js treatment of Country Boy pops playfully alongside Cashs voice. Alabama 3s kitchen-sink reworking of Leave That Junk Alone hones in on a message thats still relevant for the hip-hop crowd, and the church organ thats thrown around Cashs voice midway through is a great touch. Randy Lewis, L.A. Times-Washington Post