David Peisner



  • Sevendust, 'Alpha' (7Bros./ Asylum)

    After stomping through the late '90s with a punishing aggro-metal attack, Sevendust eased off the throttle during the past few years, even putting out a live acoustic record. It was a good move, though it left their more dogmatic fans hoarse from howling, "Sell-outs!" Unfortunately, Alpha answers the hecklers with an uninspiring return to unrelenting brutality. Sevendust's dark, grinding riffage still unloads a serious wallop, but save for the dynamic "Burn," this single-minded assault is so bleak, it's suffocating. Now Watch This: Sevendust - "Driven" WINDOWS MEDIA BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Dustin Kensrue, 'Please Come Home' (Equal Vision)

    Some artists use solo projects to chase wild hairs. But here, Dustin Kensrue exorcises tunes that are far too conservative -- musically and ideologically -- for Thrice, the heady, prog-leaning emo outfit he fronts. The twangy shuffle "I Knew You Before" decries materialism, promiscuity, and the media, but the thorny questions of faith that Kensrue grapples with in Thrice are smoothed out into straightforward, alt-folk Christian devotionals. For fans of both Ryan Adams and John Ashcroft. Now Hear This: Dustin Kensrue - "Pistol" DOWNLOAD MP3 >> Listen to Dustin Kensrue on Napster BUY: iTunesAmazon

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    Music As Torture: War Is Loud

    [Writer's note: When I was researching this story on the U.S. military and intelligence agencies' use of music as an interrogation tool back in 2006, I spoke to A. John Radsan, who had been assistant general counsel at the CIA from 2002 to 2004. I was specifically interested in trying to nail down exactly who had authorized the use of music in this manner. I asked Radsan whether the CIA had authorized the use of music in interrogations. For obvious reasons, he could only discuss information that had been declassified and was in the public record. He pointed me to an obscure footnote in a memo issued by the Office of Legal Counsel in late 2004 that referred obliquely to the idea that there were other memos that were still classified that detailed exactly what interrogation methods could and couldn't be used by the CIA.

  • Badly Drawn Boy, 'Born in the U.K.' (Astralwerks)

    Damon Gough is an engaging songwriter, so why isn't his fifth album as Badly Drawn Boy more, well, engaging? Gough pens poignant pop-rock tunes about marriage, identity, and regret, but he overdresses them, adding bells and whistles (or strings and synths, as the case may be) where they're not needed. Affecting ballads explode into melodramatic epics, multitracked choirs smother pleasant melodies, and the stripped-down moments that suggest what the album could've been are lost in the gloss. Now Watch This:Badly Drawn Boy - "Nothing's Gonna Change Your Mind" WINDOWS MEDIA HIGH | LOW >> Listen to Badly Drawn Boy on Napster BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Lucero, 'Rebels, Rogues & Sworn Brothers' (Liberty & Lament/East West)

    Lucero probably romanticizes alcohol-soaked working-class futility to an unhealthy degree, and Ben Nichols is hardly the first blue-collar bard to look for a way out of a dead-end town at the bottom of a shot glass. But on the Memphis roots rockers' fifth album, Nichols' gritted tales, sung as if he's gargling bourbon and thumbtacks, often achieve a Springsteen-ish grandeur. Meanwhile, the band's restless, energetic twin-guitar assault, mingled with studio vet Rick Steff's piano, sells the drama without overplaying it. Now Hear This: Lucero - "I Can Get You Out of Here Tonight" DOWNLOAD MP3 >> Listen to Lucero on Napster BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • !Mayday!, '!Mayday!' (Southbeat)

    Powered by a frenetic go-go beat, a warm, raspy hook (courtesy of Cee-Lo), and a clever YouTube marketing scheme, Mayday's first single, "Groundhog Day," became a left-field internet hit. The duo's debut album isn't quite as infectious. Their defiantly old-school beats, dark, slinky keyboard melodies, and MC Bernbiz's forceful, if not particularly fluid, rhymes don't always click. But when they do, the results can be memorable enough to make you forget about the lulls. Now Hear This: !Mayday! featuring Cee-Lo - "Groundhog Day" DOWNLOAD MP3 >> Listen to !Mayday! on Napster BUY: iTunes

  • Electric Six, 'Switzerland' (Metropolis)

    Electric Six continue their life's work of turning rock's corniest riffs and dumbest impulses into an irony-heavy dance party. Guitar solos that crawled from a Foghat album mix with prog-rock synth homages and the sort of cheesy funk that Styx peddled on "Mr. Roboto." Stupidity this willful has its limits, but lyrics like "I gave you my heart/I gave you my soul/Now I'm just another number at the Centers for Disease Control" do have a sleazeball allure. Now Hear This:Electric Six - "Infected Girls" DOWNLOAD MP3 >> Listen to Electric Six on Napster Now Watch This:Electric Six - "I Buy the Drugs" BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Richard Buckner, 'Meadow' (Merge)

    Richard Buckner's voice -- a husky, quivering moan equal parts Dwight Yoakam, Nick Cave, and an agitated grizzly bear -- deserves the spotlight it's gotten on his dark country-folk albums. But on Meadow, it's backed by a slicker, more confident band than in the past. The polished guitar lines of ex-Guided by Voices member Doug Gillard dance from nearly every tune, along with shimmering organs and rumbling percussion. The combination works: Buckner's singular pipes and surrealistic lyrics tug the songs toward the esoteric, but the band pulls them back. Now Hear This: Richard Buckner - "Town" DOWNLOAD MP3 BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Sparklehorse, 'Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain' (Astralwerks)

    Sparklehorse's Mark Linkous has spent years subverting his radio-friendly instincts. Although the singer/songwriter's fourth album still buries his twangy hooks and tender voice under distortion-heavy squalls, some eclectic collaborators (Danger Mouse, Tom Waits, a Flaming Lip) help Linkous challenge listeners without scaring them away. Images of death and decay weave amid swirling psychedelic pop, frenetic British Invasion bashers, and languid California country rock. But the sound remains crisp, ensuring that its rough-hewn beauty shines through. Now Hear This:Sparklehorse - "Don't Take My Sunshine Away" WINDOWS MEDIA | REAL PLAYER Sparklehorse - "Shade and Honey" WINDOWS MEDIA | REAL PLAYER >> Listen to Sparklehorse on Napster BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • 2 Fast 2 Ludacris

    By: David PeisnerMove over, Vin Diesel--a hot-rodding sequel to The Fast andthe Furious puts Ludacris in the driver’s seat Now Ludacris is a playa in the Shakespearean sense, too. The foul-moufed hip-hopper, who gets his first starring role in this month's street-racing crashfest 2 Fast 2 Furious, has been a dedicated cineast since he saw the original House Party--so much so that he asked to be credited in 2F2F under his real name, Chris Bridges. "Of course, they told me no," he says with a laugh. "Not this time." From his M.C. Hammer-esque estate in College Park, Georgia, he discussed his long-term career plans--assuming, of course, that they meet with Bill O'Reilly's approval. You were given extensive stunt-driving instruction before filming started. Did you ever crash your car? [Stares incredulously] Nah, nah. It was all open field.

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