"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Pam's New Music Downloads

Panic at the Disco opens their second album with an apology. Clearly, this Las Vegas quartet realizes how crucial their follow-up to 2005's platinum A Fever You Can't Sweat Out is. And Pretty. Odd. does well to assure that they won't go down as some emo dudes who got lucky thanks to MTV. "Northern Downpour," is a ballad that is power-pop bliss.

Can you imagine any band on the planet being more fun to hang out with than the B-52s? On their first studio album in 16 years, Funplex, the quirky quartet parties like it's 1989 (the year they released their bestselling album, Cosmic Thing). "Pump" is the pulse-racing, guitar-riffing opener.

After forgetting how to rock following the departure of drummer Bill Berry in 1997, R.E.M. cranks it up on Accelerate, their most amped effort since 1994's Monster. The result is simply the best R.E.M. disc since 1992's classic Automatic for the People. Accelerate hits the ground running with the opening assault, "Living Well Is the Best Revenge," as Michael Stipe tears into his vocal with renewed vigor. I can just imagine him thrashing about to this one onstage. Even better are "Supernatural Superserious," the chugging, instantly catchy first single, and the soul-deep "Hollow Man," both of which stand up to about anything in the band's catalogue. Lean and mean, Accelerate clocks in at less than 35 minutes, its 11 cuts racing by so fast I can't wait to play it again.

Were it not for the success of "Crazy" - the insanely catchy hit that propelled Gnarls Barkley to platinum sales and two Grammys for their 2006 debut, St. Elsewhere - the collaboration between singer Cee-Lo Green and producer Danger Mouse might have been just a one-off project. Thankfully it wasn't: The Odd Couple shows that the pop world would be a lot more boring without this twisted twosome. While there's nothing here as genius as "Crazy," it's another trippy journey into psychedelic soultronica. Highlights include "Run (I'm a Natural Disaster)," the speedy, shimmying first single and "Surprise," a hand-clapping, '60s-grooving euphoria.

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