Mini Reviews

Grand Magus, Iron Will (Rise Above). Janne "JB" Christoffersson and the rest of these Swedish slayers don't just embrace the rudiments of vintage European metal. They pump them up to gargantuan proportions, wedge them into the sonic equivalent of a bulging codpiece and start thrusting. The compendium of Valkyrie vocals, squealing solos and thudding beats is irresistibly excessive — an Iron-hard, cock-rocking colossus. – Roberts

Dave Douglas & Keystone, Moonshine (Greenleaf Music). Although trumpeter Dave Douglas says these songs were inspired by the unfinished Buster Keaton/Fatty Arbuckle comedy Moonshine, it also sounds like Davis might've been listening to a fair amount of Kneebody (whose keyboardist is featured here) when writing them, especially the groove-based title cut. Jon Solomon

Albert Hammond Jr., ¿Cómo Te Lllama? (Black Seal). While Hammond's solo recordings have always been pleasant and likable, earlier efforts sometimes seemed like time-fillers between Strokes albums. But ¿Cómo Te Lllama? material such as "In My Room" and "The Boss Americana" is so fleshed-out and self-assured that it more than holds its own. Listen and be worried, Mr. Casablancas. – Roberts

John Mellencamp, Life, Death, Love and Freedom (Hear Music). Given that there are no Chevy-touting pop songs included, John Mellencamp's decision to sell his new album through Starbucks may seem odd. The fact is that he's just sly enough to aim this stripped-down, brooding comment on the state of our union at those he thinks need it the most. Brandon Daviet

Mötley Crüe, The Saints of Los Angeles (Motley Records). To stage a comeback, Mötley Crüe brought in outside songwriting help to rekindle its past glory — a tactic that worked godlike wonders for Aerosmith. The Crüe's results, though, while not completely disastrous, sound more like four dirty old men who are afraid of maturing. – Daviet

Various Artists, Assemblage 1998-2008 (Cryptogramophone). This extraordinary ten-year retrospective of the forward thinking L.A.-based jazz label Cryptogramophone features some first-rate performances from Jeff Gauthier, the label's founder, plus Nels Cline, Bennie Maupin and more. In addition to the two CDs, the collection includes a DVD with Cline playing Andrew Hill's music and Maupin performing live in Poland. – Solomon

 
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