What we’re listening to this week

30 10 2009

Warp 11
I Don’t Want to Go to Heaven as Long as They Have Vulcans in Hell (Reboot)warp11
So you saw the new Star Trek and then saw it again in IMAX and will soon be buying it on DVD. What to do in the meantime? Put a Starfleet spin on the latest Warp 11 disc—which, astoundingly, is the fifth album by this arguably one-joke band. (Although tracks like “Yet Another Star Trek Song” show they clearly have a sense of humour about themselves.) But hardcore Trek fans will dig Vulcans in Hell, which offers 13 more Starfleet-themed tracks guaranteed to rock the Horta off the most dedicated of fans. (Really, though, you have to be a serious follower to even appreciate the data behind a song like “Fully Functional.”) And while Warp 11’s Ramones-with-a-smidge-of-B52s-vocals sound is ideal for any sci-fi geek looking to fill their hitchhike across the galaxy with nerve-pinching, high-energy and often hilarious songs, it may not be the ideal thing for the average Herbert. Live loud and prosper, Warp 11.

Rick Wakeman
The Six Wives of Henry VIII: Live at Hampton Court Palace (Eagle Rock)Rick-Wakeman-The-Six-Wives-Of-485490
Good heavens. If you thought prog-rock concept albums had all but had their day—and well they should have, if this disc is any indication—you’re in for a rude awakening with Wakeman’s latest. True, he’s a legend in certain musical circles, but the best thing that can be said about this album is that it probably works much better on the concert DVD, where at least you’d get the visuals of seeing it staged at big Hank’s own castle. Beyond that, unless acrobatic guitar noodling is really, really your thing, this one deserves the big chop.

Air
Love 2 (EMI)air-love-2
In case you thought French duo Air had simply dissolved into the electronica ether after their smash late-’90s releases like Moon Safari and Premiers Symptomes, you’ll be happy to hear they’re back with Love 2, which offers more of the same late-night-chill sound that first brought them to everyone’s attention. But much like St. Germaine’s Tourist, it’s hard to tell if Love 2 is a stronger album than their iconic earlier releases, since so many of us have those discs virtually imprinted on our audio subconscious. That said, the first few of these dozen tracks have a distinctly jazzy ’60s spy sound, while the latter batch fall into the more generically trippy category, making this ideal as a background album (whether pre- or post-consciousness raising) but not as powerful as an individual listening experience . . . beyond the obligatory, big-fatty-and-headphones spin, that is.

Alana Levandoski
Lions & Werewolves (Blue Lily)alanalevandoski
Gotta say, while Alana Levandoski‘s remarkable debut album Unsettled Down was on my 2005 favourites list, it’s taken me a bit longer to warm up to her latest, Lions & Werewolves. Perhaps that’s because she’s amped up the country twang on this strong collection of 12 original tracks, moving her slightly outside of my own crossover roots comfort zone, but there’s no denying the talent of this young singer-songwriter: she’s got an earthy voice that gets into your ear and  quickly becomes unmistakable, and her skill on piano and guitar easily matches her powerful vocal delivery. That said, while the Ken Nelson-produced Lions & Werewolves is an enjoyable package, there aren’t any outstanding tracks that leap to mind, even after repeated listenings over the past month. Still, anyone with a yen for Canadian country would do well to tune into Levandoski’s career; given her win-win track record so far, she’s absolutely a major talent in the making.

—John Threlfall

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