We've got quite a backlog of CDs we've never gotten around to, so we're going to try to chip away at the pile with this regular feature. The plan: to take a few at a time and play each CD for as long as I can stand it.
Los Lobos (Los Angeles, California)
Los Lobos Goes Disney (Disney Sound)
It's hard to find fault with the legendary Los Lobos -- except when they decide to make an album consisting of tricked out versions of Disney songs, that is. Given that the group played it fairly straight on the interpretations, it's really hard to tell who this album was really made for. Kids aren't going to be into the revved up and grown up sonic anymore than most adults are going to be into hearing much of these songs, once the nostalgia -- if you're into that sort of thing -- wears off. If the intention was to create a tex-mex Kidz Bop record, then, I suppose, someone forget to tell David Hidalgo that his voice might be just a tad rich for such an affair.
I made it: 50 seconds into Track No. 2, "I Wan'na Be Like You."
Young Livers (Gainesville, Florida)
Of Misery & Toil (No Idea Records)
Unlike the recent release from Leatherface last week, Young Livers succeed at proffering a menacing vibe that is convincing and possesses a flustered angst that is conveyed as much in the music as it is in the imaginative and foreboding lyrics. And, on this second album, the foursome isn't too worried about shocking anyone to make their point extremely evident. In "Suffering From," subtlety is tossed aside for confrontation when "In the direction of the blood that runs from a freshly cut throat" is growled out. The percussive "Finger on the Pulse" ably displays the group's ability to branch out and rely on something other than a screeching guitar to properly display the balls that many other punk acts claim to have, but don't; not like the Young Livers, at least.
I made it: Through Track No. 7, "In Rapid Succession."
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Shannon McNally & Hot Sauce (Oxford, Mississippi)
Look, country music now is basically REO Speedwagon from the 1980's. Now that we have that covered, there was a time when the new album from Shannon McNally would've been a country album. Sadly (or not, or whatever), the soulful and smoky touches that are lent to McNally's third studio album, courtesy of some sweet piano, organ and bluesy guitar, put the collection squarely into the folk or even Americana camp, and not the 'roided up, contemporary country circle-jerk we are more familiar with these days. At times, the album favors a sleepy, vibe that lays back a bit too much, but the swampy, sweet cover of Waylon Jennings' "Lonesome, Ornery & Mean" picks the short-length album -- only eight songs long -- with a respectful, but original interpretation that benefits from McNally's subtle touch.
I made it: 2:44 into Track No. 5, "Bohemian Wedding Song."