A Better Life – Scott Krokoff – A clutch of first rate rock songs, so well crafted, so smart, and so committed it bends without breaking, and rocks but so tightly it never sways. Or, if you prefer, it is what its subject matter is: the difficulties of being gentle in a harsh world. Grade: B+
Wide Awake – Miggs – Guitar oriented, pressure cooker classic rock. Gone begging for an audience. Grade: B+
Born Free – Kid Rock – Like Kid Rock needed any help in taking himself too seriously, Rick Rubin provides the rope. Every thing here is too fucking slow. Every song is waiting for Sheryl Crowe to chime in (she does one) and at its very best, it is a drag. Grade: B
Loud – Rihanna – Her last song was personal statement and it was awful. This is a pure pop product and it works as just that. Grade: A-
Come Around Sundown – Kings Of Leon – Yeah, it is killing me as well. But from “Mary” to “Pyro” the songs kick in eventually and Caleb is a great singer.
Man On The Moon, Vol II – Kid Cudi – There is nothing wrong with recording a pitch black album. Kanye did it his last time out. But if you do, your songs have to be killer. And these aren’t. Grade: B
The Lady Killer – Cee Lo Green – Same problem. With exceptions, the songs aren’t there. Grade: B
London Sessions – LCD Soundsystem – After awhile it feels like nothing but pointless.
National Ranson – Elvis Costello – Maybe we all overreacted. You can hear Costello sweat it out and if effort fails to lead him to grace, it does lead him to the self-realisation that this is the best he can do. Grade: B
The Forest – Johanna And the Dusty Floor – It takes the entire concept of singer songwriter, throws it up in the air, and watches where it lands. Grade: A
Speak Now – Taylor Swift – When it was good it was very very good but… Grade: B+
The Grand Theatre – Old 97′s – I bet they can sell it on stage. Grade: B