Bryan Adams - Room Service - Mercury
Canadian pop-rocker Bryan Adams used to be a big deal in the early 90s. Heck, hes still a big deal in Europe, much like David Hasselhoff. But although this albums concept is pretty cool - Adams reportedly recorded the 11 tracks of Room Service in various hotel rooms while on tour in Europe, hence the title - it doesnt live up to its own hype. His raspy, urgent voice still sounds pretty decent, given the genre, but the songs themselves are awfully generic, suggesting that Adams might end up playing fairground bills instead of arena rock shows. There are a couple of songs that you might want to snag as singles, if youre a fan of that back-to-basics heartland rock formula (namely This Side of Paradise and East Side Story), but overall, its quite lukewarm - average, even - in both its songs and presentation.
Screaming Trees - Ocean of Confusion - Songs of Screaming Trees 1990-1996 - Sony Music
Screaming Trees, although they did have one radio hit with the uber-hooky Nearly Lost You (which also appeared on the soundtrack for the slice-of-Seattle-life flick Singles), never quite hit the stride that fellow Seattle-ites like Soundgarden and Alice in Chains did. And thats really a shame - which is something youll discover when you take a listen to some of their back catalog as revealed on this disc. More experimental and psychedelic 60s than the bulk of the grunge bands that came out of their hometown, it rocks hard but still manages to showcase some gothic-meets-grunge lyricism and the gutteral, expressive vocals of bandleader Mark Lanegan. Old-school Screaming Trees will find this a must have, while grunge fans in general will want to add this to their collection, even if theyre new to this Seattle band who are still rocking under the radar.
Backstreet Boys - Never Gone - Jive Records
The first BSB album in over five years from the Orlando, Florida boy band, now more men than boys, the group seems a little lost on this effort, and with good reason, since boy bands are finally out of vogue for the most part. Its somewhat admirable that theyre attempting to stage a comeback - well, maybe gutsy is a better word - but they didnt strike out far enough from their original sound to make any kind of real impact. Theyre still not writing much of their own music, which probably contributes to their somewhat superficial sound - the harmonies are there, granted, but there isnt much of a foundation to support the Boys vocals. Its not completely horrible - they do have a good production team behind them, and again, theyre trying and all - its just that the results arent really much of anything.