Moonlighting actor and the purple prince
Beautiful Door, New Door/UniversalLike many of his fellow actors, Billy Bob Thornton moonlights as a musician. Unlike many of his counterparts, Thorntons music has quality and depth, as shown with his fourth album, Beautiful Door.Thornton co-wrote all 12 of the tracks on the country-rock disc. Beautiful Door opens with the melancholy, guitar-infused Its Just Me, a song about suicide. That darkness that you feel each evening is just my lonely cry, Thornton croons with a twang. This subject is heavy, and the rest of the album is just as deep. On Always Counting, Thornton sings about his obsessive-compulsive disorder. Restin Your Soul is a song about the brokenhearted.Beautiful Door is full of low-key tracks, which after a while start to sound a bit monotonous. But there are a few standout upbeat songs such as the spirited single, I Gotta Grow Up where Thornton sings Her head got small and her rage got big and she challenged me to a duel.One of the weaknesses of the album is Thorntons voice; he has limited vocal range and seems to be stuck on one note. But what he lacks in vocal depth, he makes up for with his songwriting abilities. Each track is like mini story, which is not surprising considering Thornton is an Oscar-winning screenwriter. While the singing is simple, the well-written lyrics will inevitably draw the listener in.Hearts Like Mine is an infectious balled with a catchy hook. Thornton sings about being brokenhearted and lost love, something we can all relate to, right? Alicia Quarles
Planet Earth, ColumbiaIf Princes planet once was a bedroom infused with high-intensity sex, music that bordered the sublime and grooves infectious enough to keep the globe turning, Planet Earth may as well be the flip-side of the moon.The album opens with an eco-friendly title track to preach the virtues of protecting Mother Nature and ends with Revelation, a melodic ode to peace in a time of war. Mixed within is a smattering of forgettable R&B ballads that even when skirting bedroom material as they often do still fall short of being gems.Future Baby Mama and Mr. Goodnight drip with slow and heavy bass, but seem weighted by bland lyrics that teeter on arousal. With a monotone rap Prince moans, All over the world, they call me Prince, but you can call me Mr. Goodnight.Since becoming a Jehovahs Witnesses in 2001, the Purple One has turned his back on Erotic City in favor of a milder approach. That faith in God seeps through to Planet Earth, too.Lion of Judah is a mystic ballad infused with thick religious imagery that drags past the four-minute mark. But with verses that follow a two-note melody, the song seems more like a mantra than a hit. It promises only the musical doldrums for anyone strong enough to hear it through.And Guitar, an upbeat rock ditty with fancy guitar work, seems shaky and tired. I love you, but not like I love my guitar. You can bob your head to it, but the gyrations dont go farther than the waist.Maybe releasing Planet Earth quickly on the heels of 3121 makes it feel more like a notebook of passed-over songs than a 21st-century watermark for a pop icon. Where is the innovation? Or the artful seduction?Whats most frustrating is that the album contains glimpses of greatness.Chelsea Rodgers, a high-paced funk jam about a hip, sexy woman, guarantees from the first bar to the last to get everyone up and moving.On Planet Earth, unfortunately, theres just not enough of that kind of funk. Ryan Lenz
The Con, Vapor/SireCanadian twin sisters Tegan and Sara Quin twisted through the indie rock circuit for years before pushing the proverbial music fame button with 2004s crisp pop-rock album So Jealous.The Con is a worthy follow-up, rich with the duos distinct knack for pop hooks, dueling sugary vocals and confessional words.After touring behind So Jealous, the sisters took time off and time apart to write separately, later moving to Portland, Ore. to record with Chris Walla (Death Cab for Cutie). They used their self-produced home recordings as ground work.The albums title song is a radio-ready jolt in layering, starting with an acoustic melody and building up to a smashing synth and guitar chorus.Encircle me, I need to be taken down, the pair blast in yelpy unison.On the bleak Are You Ten Years Ago?, written by Tegan, dance beats topple over robotic vocals. Oppositely, Saras Back in Your Head sifts on a poppy piano refrain.But the two feed each others strengths. Tegan wrote the bridge for the nostalgic zinger Nineteen, a heart-torn tune made explosive by drum solos. Like O, Like H proves Saras lyrical prowess, and the words point to the groups maturing range.When I was 8, I was sure I was growing nerves, like steel in my palm, she sings. Make a map of what you see, direct pain effectively. Solvej Schou
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