Honor roll: Rock albums

Each of these Rock albums has received at least one award nomination. They are ranked by honors received.

Album:American Beauty: Music from the Motion Picture

American Beauty: Music from the Motion Picture

Thomas Newman, Various Artists

What’s the soundtrack for suburbia gone awry? Perhaps it’s American Beauty—the music for the dark Sam Mendes-directed flick starring Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening. With its mix of classic and indie rock, the disc seems to reflect something for everyone (or at least those found in middle America). Bobby Darin’s “Don’t Rain on My Parade” is the epitome of unhip, Free’s “All Right Now” is a classic rock anthem we’ve heard way too many times, and Peggy Lee’s “Bali Ha’i” is vintage exotica at its best. But then there are some surprises: Elliott Smith’s…

Album:How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb

How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb

U2

The album that carries U2 into its 25th year—and likely the mixed blessings of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame—is one of its most frank and focused since the days of October and War. But its gestation was anything but simple, in part salvaged from ‘03 sessions the band deemed subpar. Enter Steve Lillywhite, the band’s original producer and sometime collaborator in the decades since, who helped retool the track “Native Son” (originally an antigun screed) into the aggressive iPod anthem “Vertigo” and leaves his distinctive stamp on the muscular “All…

Album:Come Away with Me

Come Away with Me

Norah Jones

It is not just the timbre of Norah Jones’s voice that is mature beyond her 22 years. Her assured phrasing and precise time are more often found in older singers as well. She is instantly recognizable, blending shades of Billie Holiday and Nina Simone without sounding like anyone but herself. Any way you slice it, she is a singer to be reckoned with. Her readings of the Hank Williams classic “Cold Cold Heart” and Hoagy Carmichael’s “The Nearness of You” alone are worth the price of the CD. Jones’s own material, while not bad, pales a bit next to such masterpieces.…

Album:Two Against Nature

Two Against Nature

Steely Dan

Never so much a band as the slyly crafted specter of one, Steely Dan’s mid-1990s “return” to live performance was as surprising as it was perverse. They’d previously toured only once, round about the era of Watergate, pet rocks, and Shaft. A half-decade after their concert comeback and a mere 19 years after Gaucho seemingly closed out their recording career, the jazz-pop conceit of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen deliberately dropped back into a recording landscape where they weren’t so much seasoned vets as alien ambassadors…

Album:American Idiot

American Idiot

Green Day

For its first new set of music since 2000’s Warning, Green Day tears up the blueprint and comes up with something unexpected: a punk rock concept album built around elaborate melodies, odd tempo changes, and a collection of songs that freely reference classic rock warhorses like the Beatles and Pink Floyd. “She’s a Rebel” and “St. Jimmy” might sound like vintage Green Day, but the rest of the disc finds the Northern California trio trying on a variety of different guises: “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” is a cliché-strewn Foo Fighters-style power ballad;…

Album:Elephant

Elephant

The White Stripes

Jokingly referred to as the White Stripes’ British album, Elephant is scattered with cultural references that give away the fact it was recorded far from home. Just listen to the lyrics on “Seven Nation Army” (“From the Queen of England to the hounds of Hell”) or the album outro, in which someone chips in, “Jolly good, cup of tea?” But while there are new twists here, from Meg White discovering her voice to a tongue-in-cheek threesome with Holly Golightly, Elephant is no great departure for Jack and Meg White. They still push their creativity (and…

Album:Justified

Justified

Justin Timberlake

Common wisdom holds that debut albums have an autobiographical slant, so it’s hard to believe that Justin Timberlake’s first non-’N Sync outing doesn’t purloin much of its subject matter from the singer’s breakup with Britney Spears. Half the songs are about the abrupt severing of a romance and the singer’s rather hard-hearted stance. Sure, he may have been the wronged party, but that doesn’t excuse the inflexible emotional posture revealed in “Cry Me a River,” “Never Again,” and the sniping “Last Night.” But Timberlake apparently thinks it does, since he…

Album:The Rising

The Rising

Bruce Springsteen

Although it seemed the Boss had put writing rock anthems behind him after Born in the U.S.A., his longtime fans knew if any artist could write anthems addressing September 11, 2001, and not make them sound jingoistic, it would be Bruce Springsteen. The numerous anthems on his much-anticipated first full-length album with the E Street Band in 18 years are subtler than those of the Born to Run era. But the elements are all there: the joyous rocking strains of “Countin’ on a Miracle,” “Mary’s Place,” and “Waitin’ on a Sunny Day”; the dark overtones of…

Album:All That You Can't Leave Behind

All That You Can't Leave Behind

U2

The foursome come roaring out of the blocks with their latest collection. The album's first single, "Beautiful Day," raced to the No. 1 slot on the U.K. singles charts and received a similar rapturous reception stateside. From its shimmering preamble to its sweeping, infectious chorus, it perfectly stakes out the middle ground between the anthemic U2 of the '80s and the more grounded group of the '90s. With Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno sharing production chores again after having taken a break with Pop, the U2 team enters the new millennium with their lineup--and mission--intact. --Steven Stolder

Album:Kid A

Kid A

Radiohead

How is it that Kid A’s opening track, laden with an electronic vocal stuttering “bleh, bluh-bleh bleh bluh” is the most fascinating statement made in rock & roll this year? Because somehow, even when Radiohead blathers and blips nonsense, it’s profound. The band’s future-perfect musical grammar may be hard to decipher, and the melody is even more subliminal, but the journey traveled with Radiohead reveals them to be not only rock music’s greatest adventurers in 2000, but teachers as well.

Views: 5,917 • Modified: • Elapsed: 0.060 sec
  • Facebook
  • AboutUs
  • Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike