David Peisner



  • Ben Lee, 'The Rebirth of Venus' (New West)

    This Aussie singer-songwriter's steadfast refusal to keep churning out wistful, romantic guitar pop may be admirable, but on his seventh full-length, it's painful to endure. The Rebirth is a quasi-concept album about femininity, hence the full-throated defense of a rock pariah ("Yoko Ono"), the roller-rink electro-funk meditation on gender roles ("Boy With a Barbie"), and the goofy, Helen Reddy–quoting ode to global sisterhood ("I'm a Woman, Too"). But amid spoken-word interludes and I'd-like- to-buy-the-world-a-Coke-style choirs, only Lee's innate melodic gift saves him from total embarrassment. Listen: Ben Lee, "What's So Bad (About Feeling Good)" BUY: Amazon

  • The Von Bondies, 'Love, Hate and Then There's You' (Majordomo)

    In the five-plus years since the recording of their second album, Pawn Shoppe Heart, the Von Bondies have replaced two key members, lost their deal with Warner Bros., and seen frontman Jason Stollsteimer beaten to a pulp publicly by scene rival Jack White. By all rights, they should be packing it in, so their third album's vitality is a welcome shock. Over punchy, driving riffs and crackling drum work, Stollsteimer howls like a guy with much to be pissed about, while the sharp production and dark pop hooks offer a vision of garage rock that's more grand than grimy. Listen: The Von Bondies, "This Is Our Perfect Crime" BUY: iTunesAmazon

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    The Brooders: Glasvegas

    James Allan didn't grow up dreaming of being a rock star. The Glasvegas frontman had a more modest goal: becoming a professional soccer player. "At school, anybody who played guitar was just weird," he says. "In the east end of Glasgow, nobody played music. It was all gambling, going to the pub, going to football matches." Unlike most of his schoolmates, Allan, 29, nearly made it as an athlete, knocking around the lower rungs of several pro clubs' systems before it became clear he needed a plan B. After several years of unemployment, that became Glasvegas. "Me and my cousin [Glasvegas guitarist Rab Allan] saw Oasis play on TV, and I thought, 'I'm gonna do that,' " he says.

  • Anthony Hamilton, 'The Point of It All' (So So Def/Zomba)

    With his earthy pipes and native feel for classic soul,Anthony Hamilton rarely indulges in the studio wizardry or big-money cameos that spiff up, say, T-Pain records. The only track on his third album with a de rigueur rap feature is "Cool," but David Banner's drawling verse is tucked in among a jaunty acoustic guitar refrain and spry handclaps. Elsewhere, minor-key piano plaints, warm horn lines, and funky, shuffling beats maintain the spare, organic vibe, ensuring that even when Hamilton plays the gooey-voiced smoothie ("Please Stay"), he still sounds like a country boy singing his blues. BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Glasvegas, 'Glasvegas' (Columbia)

    Lads. Yobs. Scallies. Neds. In Britain, a culture has grown up around urban, working-class white guys that's almost religious in its fervor. Its sacraments are boozing, brawling, and "chasing birds"; its churches are the pub and the football terrace; and its patron saints are the Gallagher brothers. But as distasteful as many find the hard-man bravado that drives the Low Church of Laddism, it's hard to deny its fleshy, beating heart. Glasgow quartet Glasvegas are a product of this world -- frontman James Allan is even a former semipro footballer -- and their remarkable debut gives voice to its fears, frustrations, and heartaches without succumbing to its clichés.

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    Rock Star of the Year: Lil Wayne

    In the wee hours of a warm November morning, a piercing sound fills the cramped control room of Studio C at Miami's Hit Factory. Wreathed in smoke, with a long spliff hanging from his lips, Lil Wayne rocks back and forth, staring intently at the fingers of his left hand as they dance across the neck of a blue Gibson electric guitar. He plucks the strings with his right thumb as he tries to wheedle out licks to go with the thick, thumping beat he laid down earlier. After several minutes of noodling, Wayne removes the blunt from his mouth and exhales plumes of smoke through his nose. "Mwah, mwah, mwah, mwaaaah," he sings, mimicking the sound of the instrument. "That's how I learned to play," he says. "I match the guitar to my mouth." Wayne first picked up the guitar about two years ago and boasts that he's never had a lesson.

  • Waylon Jennings and the .357s, 'Waylon Forever' (Vagrant)

    Seven years before his death in 2002, Waylon Jennings recorded these eight tunes with his then-16-year-old son Shooter, but it wasn't until Junior revisited them recently that there was any real interest in a proper release. A few Waylon standards have been given a rumbling, rock makeover, and the country legend's deep, sonorous voice sounds potent throughout. Unfortunately, the lone new tune is a stinker, and with the exception of "Outlaw Shit," which radically reworks Waylon's 1978 classic "Don't You Think This Outlaw Bit's Got Out of Hand?" as a bracingly mournful ballad, everything feels more solid than essential. BUY: iTunesAmazon

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    Faking the Band

    Anonymous message board postings aren't exactly a reliable barometer of public opinion, but anyone who logged on to iTunes on August 24 to buy the site's sixth-most-popular song couldn't help but be struck by the near unanimity of attitude toward the track in question. "Ahhh this STINKS! Why is it in the top 10??" wrote "coleenybeany. "THIS IS TERRIBLE!!!! PEOPLE ONLY BUY THIS CUZ THEY DESPRETLY WANT THE SONG!" offered "rickie H Lime." A poster going by the deceptively erudite moniker "PoliSciBA" chimed in with "iTunes s-u-x winkies! What a joke." The comment board beneath iTunes' 17th-most-popular song was a similar cavalcade of gratuitously punctuated, caps-lock-crazy vitriol. Surprisingly, neither track was the work of Pussycat Dolls or Nickelback, or any other polarizing figure likely to incur copious dollops of online scorn simply for existing.

  • Rachael Yamagata, 'Elephants...and Teeth Sinking Into Heart' (Warner Bros.)

    Rachael Yamagata's second album, primarily produced by multi-instrumentalist Mike Mogis (best known for his work with Bright Eyes) unwinds like a melancholy film score: Delicate piano and acoustic guitar melodies lay across strings and muffled beats, while her smoky voice mourns lovers who leave at a bad time and return at a worse one. Add some cheap scotch and you've essentially got a John Cassavetes movie. The second half changes gears, with guitars snarling and snapping, and Yamagata ripping into old flames with a sharp tongue and sharper teeth. She's more convincing as a moper, but the album's alternately punchy and slinky conclusion is heartening proof that she's no quitter. BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Rise Against, 'Appeal to Reason' (DGC/Interscope)

    "There is no middle ground, no compromise," Rise Against frontman Tim McIlrath howls on "Collapse (Post-Amerika)," the appropriately doomy opening blast on the band's fifth album. While such fist-pumping stridency might be politically counterproductive, for leftist punk rockers it's a reasonable governing philosophy. Unfortunately, the lack of nuance extends to the music itself. With the exception of the folky, poignant "War Hero," everything just hurtles along at the same breakneck speed. There's very little wrong with these fierce, engagingly tuneful stomps, but piled atop one another, Appeal to Reason feels less like an appeal to reason and more like the beating of a dead horse. BUY: iTunesAmazon

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