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click to enlarge Goo Goo Dolls  - Let Love In  -  -  - Warner Bros.  -  - It's not hard to be a Goo Goo Doll hater these days, - considering the blatant commercialism that has watered - down the once punk-inspired act. For some, the jump- - the-shark moment came in 1995, when the acoustic- - driven and exceptionally written "Name" became a - ubiquitous alt-radio hit. However, in reality, the - beginning of the end took place a few years later, when - the Buffalo band contributed mega-hit "Iris" to the - City of Angels soundtrack. As for the group's - new release, Let Love In, there's not much there - for early fans to grasp, with "Stay with You" and the title - track featuring a forlorn Johnny Rzeznik performing - typical Goo schmaltz. Whatever happened to the "We are - the Normal" Goo Goo Dolls? Because as it stands now, - there is no love in the Goo sound.  John - Benson
  • Goo Goo Dolls

    Let Love In

    Warner Bros.

    It's not hard to be a Goo Goo Doll hater these days, considering the blatant commercialism that has watered down the once punk-inspired act. For some, the jump- the-shark moment came in 1995, when the acoustic- driven and exceptionally written "Name" became a ubiquitous alt-radio hit. However, in reality, the beginning of the end took place a few years later, when the Buffalo band contributed mega-hit "Iris" to the City of Angels soundtrack. As for the group's new release, Let Love In, there's not much there for early fans to grasp, with "Stay with You" and the title track featuring a forlorn Johnny Rzeznik performing typical Goo schmaltz. Whatever happened to the "We are the Normal" Goo Goo Dolls? Because as it stands now, there is no love in the Goo sound. John Benson

click to enlarge Pearl Jam  - Pearl Jam  -  -  - J Records  -  - Eddie Vedder is pissed ... again. And that means Pearl - Jam has never sounded better. Granted, there's plenty of - fodder (the war, the hurricane and the election) fueling - the band's creative direction, but really, the four years - between releases  the longest stretch of Pearl Jam's - career  allowed the material to mature and reveal itself - sans any deadlines or haste. "Marker in the Sand" - features a subtle B-3 organ that takes the cathartic - ending to a new height. The mid-tempo "Gone" is a - crowd-pleasing anthem in waiting, while "Come Back" is - pure old-school soul. Vedder's bellowing is not artifice in - what amounts to the band's best ballad since "Black." - Though it seems Pearl Jam is back, truth is, the band - never left. Pearl Jam proves the Seattle act - remains one of the most intriguing performing bands - around today.  John Benson
  • Pearl Jam

    Pearl Jam

    J Records

    Eddie Vedder is pissed ... again. And that means Pearl Jam has never sounded better. Granted, there's plenty of fodder (the war, the hurricane and the election) fueling the band's creative direction, but really, the four years between releases the longest stretch of Pearl Jam's career allowed the material to mature and reveal itself sans any deadlines or haste. "Marker in the Sand" features a subtle B-3 organ that takes the cathartic ending to a new height. The mid-tempo "Gone" is a crowd-pleasing anthem in waiting, while "Come Back" is pure old-school soul. Vedder's bellowing is not artifice in what amounts to the band's best ballad since "Black." Though it seems Pearl Jam is back, truth is, the band never left. Pearl Jam proves the Seattle act remains one of the most intriguing performing bands around today. John Benson

click to enlarge Spank Rock  - Yoyoyoyoyo  -  -  - Big Dada  -  - Spank Rock's first full-length CD, Yoyoyoyoyo, comes just in time to stir up summer party mixes. I - had a difficult time describing the Baltimore-based duo's - eclectic, energetic style, until a co-worker hit it on the - head: Much like the Rolling Stones took American blues - and regurgitated it for British audiences, Spank Rock - takes the British grime scene and spits it back to hip- - hop heads in America. The result is fresh and full of sex - and bravado, old-school sound-offs ("Bump" and "What - It Look Like") and dizzying booty-shaking ("Strip the - angel of its wings / Let's get into some real bad things," - in "Backyard Betty"). Sure, MC Spank Rock's lyrics run - along the lines of bitch-ho misogyny, but on tracks like - the Casio-grinding "Rick Rubin," it's embarrassingly easy - to simply ignore it and dance. Kara Luger
  • Spank Rock

    Yoyoyoyoyo

    Big Dada

    Spank Rock's first full-length CD, Yoyoyoyoyo, comes just in time to stir up summer party mixes. I had a difficult time describing the Baltimore-based duo's eclectic, energetic style, until a co-worker hit it on the head: Much like the Rolling Stones took American blues and regurgitated it for British audiences, Spank Rock takes the British grime scene and spits it back to hip- hop heads in America. The result is fresh and full of sex and bravado, old-school sound-offs ("Bump" and "What It Look Like") and dizzying booty-shaking ("Strip the angel of its wings / Let's get into some real bad things," in "Backyard Betty"). Sure, MC Spank Rock's lyrics run along the lines of bitch-ho misogyny, but on tracks like the Casio-grinding "Rick Rubin," it's embarrassingly easy to simply ignore it and dance. Kara Luger

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