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click to enlarge Tom Petty  - Highway Companion  -  -  -  - American  -  - Bar-band legend Tom Petty says Highway - Companion was in the works for years. Apparently, - the time was well-spent. While lead single and album - track "Saving Grace" kicks the disc off in a rocking - fashion, it's "Square One" that represents the - quintessence of Petty's songwriting and legend with its - textured, mid-tempo feel. Having survived a divorce a - few years back and seeing more wrinkles in his mirror - than he'd prefer, there is daylight at the end of the - tunnel: "Square one, my slate is clear / It took a world of - trouble / It took a world of tears / It took a long time to - get back here." Other standout tracks include the - authoritative "Turn This Car Around" and the infectious - "Jack."  John Benson
  • Tom Petty

    Highway Companion

    American

    Bar-band legend Tom Petty says Highway Companion was in the works for years. Apparently, the time was well-spent. While lead single and album track "Saving Grace" kicks the disc off in a rocking fashion, it's "Square One" that represents the quintessence of Petty's songwriting and legend with its textured, mid-tempo feel. Having survived a divorce a few years back and seeing more wrinkles in his mirror than he'd prefer, there is daylight at the end of the tunnel: "Square one, my slate is clear / It took a world of trouble / It took a world of tears / It took a long time to get back here." Other standout tracks include the authoritative "Turn This Car Around" and the infectious "Jack." John Benson

click to enlarge Seether  - One Cold Night  -  -  - Wind-Up  -  - This brooding and angry band has produced plenty of - cathartic tunes, which makes their decision to release a - new all-acoustic album somewhat confusing. Especially - considering the outfit  led by South African-born - Shaun Morgan  purposely turned the aggro up for - Karma and Effect in reaction to the mellow - "Broken" becoming popular with soccer moms. One - Cold Night plays like a gutted mid-tempo version of - Seether, with the band's ominous vibes sounding like - Alice in Chains while its sensitive side is reminiscent of - Staind. "Remedy" has lost its catharsis, and "Broken" - sounds, well, broken down and schmaltzy. Perhaps it is - too early in their career to expect more, but an acoustic - record at a time when momentum found Seether rocking - again feels like a misstep.  John Benson -
  • Seether

    One Cold Night

    Wind-Up

    This brooding and angry band has produced plenty of cathartic tunes, which makes their decision to release a new all-acoustic album somewhat confusing. Especially considering the outfit led by South African-born Shaun Morgan purposely turned the aggro up for Karma and Effect in reaction to the mellow "Broken" becoming popular with soccer moms. One Cold Night plays like a gutted mid-tempo version of Seether, with the band's ominous vibes sounding like Alice in Chains while its sensitive side is reminiscent of Staind. "Remedy" has lost its catharsis, and "Broken" sounds, well, broken down and schmaltzy. Perhaps it is too early in their career to expect more, but an acoustic record at a time when momentum found Seether rocking again feels like a misstep. John Benson

click to enlarge Frank Black  - Fastman Raiderman  -  -  - Back Porch  -  - Frank Black is living a double life. As frontman for - cherished underground alternative outfit The Pixies, he - created a discordant sound that still resonates with - relevance today. However, the singer/guitarist isn't afraid - of taking chances with his talents, which was evident on - 2005's Americana-tinged Honeycomb, and is - again on Fastman Raiderman, which features a - slew of music legends (Levon Helm, Tom Petersson, Al - Kooper and more). Among the standout tracks are the - Van Morrison-esque "If Your Poison Gets You" and a - cover of Ewan MacColl's British folk classic "Dirty Old - Town." The downside is that 27 songs  Disc 1 is - superior to Disc 2  means Fastman Raiderman - requires quite a commitment. But if you're game, Black - delivers the goods.  John Benson
  • Frank Black

    Fastman Raiderman

    Back Porch

    Frank Black is living a double life. As frontman for cherished underground alternative outfit The Pixies, he created a discordant sound that still resonates with relevance today. However, the singer/guitarist isn't afraid of taking chances with his talents, which was evident on 2005's Americana-tinged Honeycomb, and is again on Fastman Raiderman, which features a slew of music legends (Levon Helm, Tom Petersson, Al Kooper and more). Among the standout tracks are the Van Morrison-esque "If Your Poison Gets You" and a cover of Ewan MacColl's British folk classic "Dirty Old Town." The downside is that 27 songs Disc 1 is superior to Disc 2 means Fastman Raiderman requires quite a commitment. But if you're game, Black delivers the goods. John Benson

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