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click to enlarge Ryan Adams   - Easy Tiger  -  -  - Lost Highway  -  - Sounds like: A tamed Ryan Adams and his - version of '70s rock -  - Short take: Less is more for Adams -  - When angst gives way to maturity, an artist can truly - bare his/her soul without pretension. This appears to be - the case with ex-Whiskeytown rabblerouser Ryan Adams - and Easy Tiger. With an early Neil Young vibe, - "Goodnight Rose" kicks off the album in grand mid- - tempo fashion. The other notable track is "Halloween - Head," easily the best Todd Rundgren-esque song in - more than a quarter-century. For years, Adams has been - heralded as the next big songwriter, with only fate - keeping his fandom in cult-like circles. That's probably - the best-case scenario for both Adams and his following. - There's something about having the North Carolina - native's music plastered all over pop culture that will - take away the intimacy.  John Benson -  -
  • Ryan Adams

    Easy Tiger

    Lost Highway

    Sounds like: A tamed Ryan Adams and his version of '70s rock

    Short take: Less is more for Adams

    When angst gives way to maturity, an artist can truly bare his/her soul without pretension. This appears to be the case with ex-Whiskeytown rabblerouser Ryan Adams and Easy Tiger. With an early Neil Young vibe, "Goodnight Rose" kicks off the album in grand mid- tempo fashion. The other notable track is "Halloween Head," easily the best Todd Rundgren-esque song in more than a quarter-century. For years, Adams has been heralded as the next big songwriter, with only fate keeping his fandom in cult-like circles. That's probably the best-case scenario for both Adams and his following. There's something about having the North Carolina native's music plastered all over pop culture that will take away the intimacy. John Benson

click to enlarge Bon Jovi  - Lost Highway  -  -  - Mercury Nashville  -  - Sounds like: Crossover tunes for pickup trucks -  - Short take: Bon Jovi comes alive -  - It's been nearly two decades since the boys sold out. And - most of Bon Jovi's audience isn't even aware of the - band's hard-rock beginnings. Today, the band's market - research indicates that its appeal lies mostly with soccer - moms, thus explaining its recent foray into the pop - world. Now, Jon, Richie and Co. are entering country - waters with Lost Highway, which is being - positioned as a Nashville (via New Jersey) record for the - masses. Amazingly, the album, which is no more country - than Kenny Chesney is rock, is the group's most solid - release since 1992's Keep the Faith. There are - plenty of turn-it-up-and-roll-the-window-down - anthems ready to go. This includes the breezy title track, - the riff-friendly "Summertime" and the down-n-dirty "We - Got it Going On."  John Benson
  • Bon Jovi

    Lost Highway

    Mercury Nashville

    Sounds like: Crossover tunes for pickup trucks

    Short take: Bon Jovi comes alive

    It's been nearly two decades since the boys sold out. And most of Bon Jovi's audience isn't even aware of the band's hard-rock beginnings. Today, the band's market research indicates that its appeal lies mostly with soccer moms, thus explaining its recent foray into the pop world. Now, Jon, Richie and Co. are entering country waters with Lost Highway, which is being positioned as a Nashville (via New Jersey) record for the masses. Amazingly, the album, which is no more country than Kenny Chesney is rock, is the group's most solid release since 1992's Keep the Faith. There are plenty of turn-it-up-and-roll-the-window-down anthems ready to go. This includes the breezy title track, the riff-friendly "Summertime" and the down-n-dirty "We Got it Going On." John Benson

click to enlarge Rasputina  - Oh Perilous World  -  -  - Filthy Bonnet  -  - Sounds like: Amplified cello that rocks -  - Short take: Incredible, but fans will appreciate - it most -  - For more than a decade, Rasputina has functioned as an - exclusively cellos 'n drums outfit, armed with amps, - distortion, corsets and a fascination with the Victorian - era. Oh Perilous World is meant to be a musical - of sorts, with Melora Creager mining current events for - inspiration. The loosely told tale of lovelorn queens and - war by zeppelins is an exercise in Rodgers and - Hammerstein storytelling, tossing in heavy rock riffs and - Creager's eerily theatric vocals. "Choose Me for - Champion" is a standout, largely taken verbatim from a - speech by Osama bin Laden, but mixed with Creager's - plotline. An odd mix, to be sure, but it's still balls-out. - The album is probably its best for sheer musicianship, - but new listeners may be best served by Frustration - Plantation.  Kara Luger
  • Rasputina

    Oh Perilous World

    Filthy Bonnet

    Sounds like: Amplified cello that rocks

    Short take: Incredible, but fans will appreciate it most

    For more than a decade, Rasputina has functioned as an exclusively cellos 'n drums outfit, armed with amps, distortion, corsets and a fascination with the Victorian era. Oh Perilous World is meant to be a musical of sorts, with Melora Creager mining current events for inspiration. The loosely told tale of lovelorn queens and war by zeppelins is an exercise in Rodgers and Hammerstein storytelling, tossing in heavy rock riffs and Creager's eerily theatric vocals. "Choose Me for Champion" is a standout, largely taken verbatim from a speech by Osama bin Laden, but mixed with Creager's plotline. An odd mix, to be sure, but it's still balls-out. The album is probably its best for sheer musicianship, but new listeners may be best served by Frustration Plantation. Kara Luger

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