Bite-size album reviews

Easy Tiger
Ryan Adams
(Lost Highway)

The rock’s gotten a little softer and Adams is singing duets with Sheryl Crow these days, but Easy Tiger is still a justification for the fans who stood up for this douche bag while he’s been playing rock star, honky-tonk man, and drunken frat dude. Adams, in his attempt to make an album in nearly every country-rock subgenre, has  released a “Ryan Adams” concept album. Surprisingly, though, he’s still capable of cranking out a decent off-brand Heartbreaker. Though I think the inconsistency of his catalog is exaggerated, Easy Tiger does have the most highlights of any album since his debut.

The Mix-Up
The Beastie Boys
(Brooklyn Dust)

A Beastie Boys instrumental disc should be a soundtrack for car chases and raunchy drive-in movies (e.g., “The In Sound From Way Out”). Instead their latest album is mostly innocuous enough for grocery store ambience. Maybe the real “Mix-Up” is that they forgot to rap over the tracks. Aw, damn.


Pharoahe Monch

This album has Monch feeling everything from the claustrophobic despondency of Liquid Swords (“When the Gun Draws”) to the wet-eyed hopefulness of Marvin Gaye (“Hold On”), imitating everyone from Chuck D to Elvis, but never cracking a grin. Even his wordplay’s kind of a bummer (“Get serious, or die laughing like John Ritter”), and his club tracks (“Let’s Go”, “Bar Trap”) and porn soundtracks (“So Good”) have a nihilistic desperation to them. But why shouldn’t they? Listen to Public Enemy throwback “Welcome to the Terrordome” where Monch loses his shit big-time over the nightly news reports we’ve been shrugging off for the past five years or so, and try not to lose yours.

Of course, no amount of relevance will save a lame album. Fortunately, Desire is so consistent and exciting that by the time Monch gets all R. Kelly with a nine-minute melodramatic “Trilogy” album closer you might even be in a good enough mood to leave the disc in the CD player.

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