Cakes latest album - their first since 2004 - sounds pretty much like their last album in 2004. This isnt a bad thing. It just means that Cake still pretty much sounds like Cake, complete with horns, punchy guitars, callback harmonies, and John McCreas oft-acerbic, wry vocal stylings. Theres nothing particularly edgy here, but the songs are definitely catchy, from the Never There-reminiscent Sick of You, Federal Funding, and Got to Move to their left-field cover of Frank Sinatras Whats Now is Now to the country-inflected Bound Away. Groundbreaking, no - entertaining, yes.
Soundgarden - Live on I-5 - A&M
Bringing together a wide range of live Soundgarden tracks from one of the bands 1996 tour jaunts (and named after a well-trodden West Coast highway), this collection adds 2 popular covers (The Beatles Helter Skelter and The Stooges Search and Destroy) to a track listing that already includes plenty of songs SG fans will be happy to hear, from live band versions of Spoonman and Burden in My Hand to a solo Chris Cornell rendition of Black Hole Sun. Recorded in mobile fashion via a 24-track truck onto 2 tape, its a definitive capture of the band at their near best.
Wire - Red Barked Tree - PF
Punky art-rockers Wire rely a lot on their guitars on their latest album, unfortunately to the detriment of some of their songs hooks. While the bands more accessible tunes are just that - far more accessible than the rest of the album - they skew that balance with some otherwise forgettable songs that dont even really sound like the band themselves. Adapt and Please Take and among the standouts, with their relative inventiveness and more energetic rhythms, while Now Was and Smash really arent smashes at all. Production isnt at its best here, either, with abrasive, compressed mastering that overrides the vocals far too often.
The Go! Team - Rolling Blackouts - Memphis
Hip-hop, electro rock, garage pop, rap - its difficult to classify The Go! Team as any one genre, whirling as they do through so many different sounds and influences. Opener T.O.R.N.A.D.O is a bit grating and insistent at first listen, but the album quickly gets over its own shock value and moves on to more listenable numbers such as the wackily indie-commercial Ready to Go Steady, the Spice-Girls-reminiscent Buy Nothing Day, the interestingly-arranged (are those kettle drums? Where did the chorus just disappear to?) Back Like 8-Track, and the 70s-trip that is the title track.