Listen Up

Fast reviews of recent releases

Audioslave, Revelations(Epic/Interscope). Three albums on, Audioslave is a tighter and more cohesive unit, but one that produces only pedestrian power rock. Guitar wizard Tom Morello barely cuts loose, but those moments showcase Audioslave's still-untapped potential. Though a few creative songs are mixed with solid reminders of singer Chris Cornell's Soundgarden past, something fresh is badly needed. -- Glenn BurnSilver

John Coltrane, Fearless Leader (Prestige). Coltrane's recordings for Prestige weren't as epochal as his subsequent offerings for Atlantic and Impulse!, but neither do they seem like the nascent efforts of an unformed artist. While the material on this generous six-CD boxed set is more traditional than what followed, Trane's performances are restless, inquisitive and consistently fascinating. Not essential, but damn close. -- Roberts

John Gorka, Writing in the Margins(Red House). Broads like sensitivity. James Blunt screeched out one restraining order, and suddenly Oprah's couch is cradling his plums. John Gorka's baritone has been getting it done for some twenty years with wisdom and dignified sorrow for that Jerry Jeff Walker feel. Like wife-swapping, the guys are more likely to propose this one. -- Rick Skidmore

Earl Greyhound, Soft Targets (Some Records). With marginal funkiness and even less originality, Matt Whyte, Kamara Thomas and Ricc Sheridan strut their way through a blustery set of riff-heavy classic rock that never quite extends beyond its heritage. The musicianship is first-rate, but it doesn't go much further than reworking Lenny Kravitz's already-derivative take on Zeppelin and T. Rex. -- Eryc Eyl

The Roots, Game Theory (Def Jam Records). The Roots' latest project was written, produced and recorded in the shadows of both Hurricane Katrina and the death of a close friend of the band, producer extraordinaire J. Dilla. The result is the group's darkest album yet; even Black Thought opens up about his heartbreaking childhood, on "Long Time." Hardships always makes for good music. -- Quibian Salazar-Moreno

Jessica Simpson, A Public Affair (Epic). Jess's new platter is currently doing the sales-chart plummet, as well it should. The recording features a Madonna knockoff, a tepid Dead or Alive cover and an over-familiar Cars sample in the first three songs, making it sound like the lamest disc of 1984. Maybe that Nick Lachey album wasn't so bad after all. -- Roberts

Whitey, The Light at the End of the Tunnel Is a Train (Dim Mak). Whitey brings skuzzy feedback and mope-rock rhythms to the dance floor in this sexy record of Sonic Youth noise bent in service to the groove -- give or take an ambient comedown. The vocals make their mumble-thumbed Beck way above the sculpted noise, adding an overlay of easy on a hard-hitting, beautifully crafted disc. -- Sawyer

 
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