Music

CD Shorts

Reviewed this week: Richard Thompson, Titus Andronicus, and Dropkick Murphys


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

 

Richard Thompson

Electric

(New West)

Richard Thompson’s new album, despite his nearly 50-year career and 40 albums, lives up to its title,Electric. Though there’s little he’s produced that I don’t admire, it hasn’t been since his Rumor and Sigh(1991) that I’ve been so captivated by one of his albums in its entirety. For years, his songs have steadily gotten longer, more complex and almost operatic in scope. Electric returns Thompson to his rock and roll roots. His guitar and vocals are as transporting as ever, but it’s the wise, witty and well-honed songwriting that shines particularly brightly here. Though they’re all new originals, the tracks often feel like classic covers. From the wistful, melodic beauty of “Salford Sunday” to the crusty country charm of “Saving the Good Stuff for You,” Thompson plugs the listener in and keeps him charged long after the album ends. —Mark Roessler

 

*

Titus Andronicus

Local Business

(XL)

The last Titus Andronicus record was a Civil War-themed concept album that clocked in at over 65 minutes, but the new disc from these New Jersey punks is a stripped-down affair, at least in theory. The running time doesn’t even hit 50 minutes this time, but several tracks balloon to six minutes plus. The finale, “Tried To Quit Smoking,” even eclipses “American Pie” for sheer length, yet where the latter song treaded in mostly acoustic sing-along waters, the former opens with a plodding beat that doesn’t pick up until after a countdown leads the transition to a harmonica- and guitar-filled conclusion. Elsewhere, the cuts “Food Fight!” and “Titus Andronicus Vs. The Absurd Universe (3rd Round KO)” show the band is also adept at lyrically-sparse rave-ups. But for a perfect distillation of the group’s sound, listen to the anthem-like “In A Small Body.” It’s gritty music that marches and inspires. —Michael Cimaomo

*

Dropkick Murphys

Signed and Sealed in Blood

(Born and Bred)

Most Irish-Celtic rock is, for better or worse, naturally anthemic. While this quality never fails to fire up legions of Guinness-swilling Irishmen and like-minded wannabes, there really are only so many ways to bellow passionately about tragedy, hardship, whiskey, bitterness and noble savagery. The melodic and harmonic variety of the genre is also pretty limited, especially if it’s to stay relatively traditional, so there’s a fine line to tread between “Wow, this is fucking awesome!” and “Enough already, let’s sweep up the glass, put up the bar stools and get out of here.” That said, the Dropkicks do it at least as well as anybody else, and if you have that gene that allows you to keep drinking for hours after you’ve effectively blacked out, raise your glass with them and cheer our lamentable human condition. —Tom Sturm

 

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