By Andrew McNally Columnist
Kate Nash - Girl Talk Grade: C
Kate Nash’s third album, “Girl Talk,” ends on two deeply inspired and perfectly orchestrated songs. But it takes the first thirteen tracks to get there. Nash has completely abandoned the piano based alt-pop that made her famous, eschewing it for punk-influenced guitar, bass and drums. Nash claims the album came from a rough year she had, and “Girl Talk” feels like an album she made for herself. Her voice matches this on certain songs, like “Sister.” But most of the songs feel like she is experimenting with punk for the first time, and doesn’t really want to be taken seriously.
If You Like: Lily Allen, the Ting Tings
Devendra Banhart - Mala Grade: B
Indie-folk singer Devendra Banhart has always prided himself on recording albums based on whatever is on his mind at the time. The lo-fi deity has been everywhere from sad to freaky, and on his seventh album, he continues the trend of inconsistency. Musically, the album starts rather dark and grainy, and doesn’t stray far from it. But lyrically, he’s everywhere from sad about himself to forceful towards others, to total regret. And he continues his tradition of including songs in Spanish. “Mala” isn’t his best album, but it is traditional Banhart, throwing you relentless sad and folksy curveballs.
If You Like: Cat Power, Elliott Smith
Dave Grohl & Friends - Sound City: Real to Reel Grade: C
Given the casually momentous nature of this album, it should be a lot better. Dave Grohl is making a documentary on the Sound City Studios, and has accompanied it with an album full of collaborations, working on new material. Trent Reznor, Stevie Nicks, Rick Springfield, Corey Taylor, Josh Homme and even Sir Paul McCartney all make appearances. Yet most of the songs end up sounding like little more than boring, traditional radio rock. Grohl is predictably great on drums. But only Reznor’s, McCartney’s, Homme’s and Lee Ving’s tracks are worth the time. The rest just feels uninspired and incomplete.
If You Like: Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam