Stax: Number Ones (Memphis, TN)
A collection of classic tunes that have come to define a generation of soul music? Check.
A collection of tunes that have saturated our everyday lives through commercials and soundtracks, to the point they have been basically rendered toothless? Check.
I made it: all the way through track No. 5, "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay."
Matt Morris (Denver, CO)
When Everything Breaks Open (Interscope)
The noble attempts at avoiding the cheesiness Morris basically bathes in turn out to be just that--cheese. Even the electronic and R&B touches to the songs listeners will endure are the equivalent of putting pseudo-manly tattoos on a Mickey Mouse Club member. (Hint, hint: Morris met his buddy/producer, Justin Timberlake, while starring in the kids show many years ago.)
I made it: to 3:04 of track No. 2, ""Money."
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Margot & The Nuclear So & So's (Indianapolis, IN)
Here's yet another album that effectively scratches the public's insatiable itch for quality chamber-pop. And hard. Opting for a bold, more straight-forward rock sound, much of what you'll hear here resembles a dynamic power-trio, as opposed to say, Broken Social Scene. And that much makes sense, really: The majority of the tunes here were recorded with the band's core-trio as the base, while most songs featured at least one or two guest players in various roles. If anything, such a set-up sheds even more light on the futility that exists when one attempts to label music anything other than "rock," or better yet, "pop."
I made it: all the way through track No. 8, "Freak Flight Speed."