Album Reviews

Rod Stewart





Rod Stewart has always successfully adapted his music to fit current music trends for more than two decades. Once again, Stewart tries to update his vocal talents with his latest release, a pedestrian album “”Human,”” which blends rock ballads with a mix of R&B, soul and Motown.

With his name fading, Stewart has nothing to lose by changing his music once again. He made the change from rock to pop, but this time his attempt is not as successful. From the first track, it becomes clear that the album is rough.

Rob Dickins, an R&B and pop producer, worked with Stewart on his latest attempt to change his style. Dickins is best remembered for Cher’s “”Believe.”” It may have worked for Cher, but Stewart is not as good at combining his rock ballads and new music.

Unlike Stewart’s previous albums, “”Human”” does not achieve this blend successfully and has a hard time matching his raspy voice to the R&B sound. It’s not an awful album; it’s decent, but there are no memorable songs.

The last track, “”I Can’t Deny It,”” has a pleasant and mellow tone that makes it the most commercial and upbeat song on the album, but it cannot compare to “”Maggie May”” or any of his earlier works.

On the other hand, Stewart’s music is smooth, warm and polished, showing that his style has aged gracefully. As a result, the slower ballads are much better than the other R&B-tinged songs. Stewart has shown that he is a versatile singer who is able to keep up with the current trends, but he is starting to show his age.

— Charlie Tran


“”100 Broken Windows””




Idlewild are the best band you have never heard of. Idlewild are the quiet place in the novel “”Anne of Green Gables,”” but they are anything but quiet.

These lads from Edinburgh made the mistake of putting together a punk rock group at the height of Britpop in 1995. While groups such as Oasis and Suede were making a splash in the British and American music scenes, Idlewild were left on the side.

But now the wail of their Nirvana-esque guitars and their Pavement-like wit have finally made heads turn. Although they say they are influenced most by American indie-rock bands, they are able to retain a distinctively British sound within their songs. This is due in part to the production efforts of Dave Eringa, who has also produced the music of the Manic Street Preachers.

Lead singer Roddy Woomble reaches for beautiful harmonies that edge into an angst-filled scream powerful enough to shake a bottle of Evian off your desk. Woomble’s favorite singer is Morrissey. The two singers’ emotional depth is comparable, but Woomble makes sure you know that he is the front man of a punk band. However, beautiful ballads such as “”The Bronze Medal”” make you wonder if they are edging toward a R.E.M.-esque sound.

Their first single was released in March 1997 on the same label responsible for early Eugenius and Chicane singles. Successful airplay on Steve Lamacq’s BBC Radio 1 Evening Session gave them more exposure, which led to working with the Fierce Panda label, which has released singles from Mansun, Placebo and Embrace.

Idlewild’s most recent effort, “”100 Broken Windows,”” is a powerful album that experiments with emotive drum beats and smooth harmonies. This isn’t just three-chord punk rock, but an intelligent, hard-hitting style of punk that is new and intense.

“”Little Discourage”” is their first single and was an instant hit in the United Kingdom. Other tracks such as “”Actually It’s Darkness”” and “”Idea Track”” round out the solid album.

If you believe Blink 182 is punk rock, then you need to let Idlewild take you on a sonic ride into honest punk rock, recalling the quality sound of punk rock in the late ’70s and ’80s.

“”100 Broken Windows”” will be released March 13. Idlewild will be peforming at the Knitting Factory in Los Angeles on March 14.

— Joseph Lee

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