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Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

It's not easy to spin alienation, disappointment, and evaporated hope to a crowd that is used to leaving your live show feeling as though the world was a searingly hopeful beacon of justice, rainbows, truth, and fresh-baked oatmeal cookies.

Jeff Vrabel
Music

Eddie Vedder: Into the Wild

The story of Wild is one of alienation and distancing and and the self-discovery that can be found only in wandering and escape and solitude, themes you may remember from Every Other Thing Pearl Jam Has Ever Done.

Music

Common: Finding Forever

As good as Finding Forever is -- and it's very good -- it's hard to imagine it vaulting Common into superstar status. It's the curse of being sly and thoughtful.

Music

Pearl Jam: Live at the Gorge 05/06

Gorge is made both for the setlist hounds and those who would like to catch up with live Pearl Jam, but want someone else to do the deciding.

Music

Ryan Adams: Easy Tiger

This is some of Adams's most professional-sounding, accesssible and brightly rewarding stuff since Gold, the Ryan Adams Album For People Who Don't Have Time For All This Other Stuff.

Music

Warren Zevon: Preludes - Rare and Unreleased Recordings

Paints a fuller portrait of a talent who remains underrated despite it all.

Music

Fountains of Wayne: Traffic and Weather

A messy, dark, and defiantly askew center exists at the core of the candy-coated pop-sweetness of Fountains of Wayne's songs -- which is what makes them such a recognizable take on American culture at its twisted best.

Books

Born To Run by Eric Meola

It's been a very, very nice season for Bruce freaks.

Jeff Vrabel
Music

Michael Jackson: Visionary: The Video Singles

It's impossible to think of anything Jackson could do to stop the bleeding at this point. This ain't it, though.

Music

Tom Waits: Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers and Bastards

If you hear the phrases, 'The female praying mantis devours the male while they are mating. The male sometimes continues copulating even after the female has bitten off his head, and part of his upper torso,' you are listening to a Bastard.

Music

Robert Randolph and the Family Band: Colorblind

Conventional wisdom says the modern world just isn't as friendly to bands who don't have names constructed from artful nonsense.

Music

Oasis: Stop the Clocks

Whatever you think of the Faces/Beatles-chord pilfering and Liam's ability to turn "shine" into a three-syllable insult, when these guys are on, they float right over their own press.

Music

The Game: Doctors Advocate

Dr. Dre appears nowhere on Doctor's Advocate, except in the title, the sonic influence of most of the beats and about 80 times in every track. Rarely, if ever, has a hip-hop record been so dedicated to an absentee who wasn't a corpse.

Music

Bruce Springsteen: We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions

The song "American Land" is what would happen if Bruce and Shane MacGowan ran into each other and - you may want to sit down for this hypothesis - started drinking.

Music

Ludacris: Release Therapy

After four records, hearing the phrase “Ludacris has a new album” is well less a cause for actual anticipation than a autofired obligation, a low-risk low-reward investment, like a Coke, or a sitcom, or a sack of pizza rolls.

Music

Poison: Look What the Cat Dragged In / Open Up and Say... Ahh / Flesh and Blood

Sweet Georgia Brown, just drink in these mug shots on the cover of the '20th anniversary' reissue of the band’s debut, 'Look What the Cat Dragged In'. According to this photo, it dragged in four whores. Lady whores. Chick harlots. Puckered-up girly men. Irrationally Mascara'ed sissy-britches-es.

Music

Various Artists: The Best Mashups In The World Ever Are From San Francisco 2

Call me a mash-up snob, but I just don’t have time to listen to freshmen from Arizona State screwing Tapes n’ Tapes together with … with, whoever. Jim Croce. (Actually, that would be great. Bad example.)

Music

Roots: Game Theory

What in the name of Memphis Bleek were the elegant, politically fiery, underappreciated Roots, who could establish a foundation to begin donating the street cred they’d amassed over the years, doing hanging the hat on the door of the blingiest big-shot in the game, the guy re-touring with R. Friggin’ Kelly by day and spooning with Beyonce by night?

Music

Pharrell: In My Mind

Pharrell has in the past few years endeavored to pitch himself as an average schmoe, a N*E*R*D, a guy just like you n' golly gosh me -- he goes far enough to include in the tray art a pint-size pixilated version of himself reporting: "Wealth is of the heart and mind, not of the pocket."

Music

Tom Petty: Highway Companion

"Ankle Deep" conjures up a pretty lively harmonic resemblance to Steve Goodman's "You Never Even Called Me By My Name", which, in the context of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' biting of "Dani Califonia", turns this sentence quickly into a fun game of Six Degrees of Tom Petty.

Music

Cut Chemist: The Audience's Listening

"The DJ of the future is going to be a respected member of the community," drones what I imagine is Ward Cleaver with a buzz-cut and members of the topmost levels of the post-WWII military-industrial complex staring down at him through a forest of unforgiving floodlights.

Reviews

Bruce Springsteen and the Seeger Sessions Band

To be sure, a tour like this involves a certain degree of trust, particularly when you're dropping 90 bones to hear the Boss sing 'Froggie Went A'Courtin.'

Jeff Vrabel
Music

Paul Simon: Surprise

A bright and rewarding work that will be lauded as His Best Album Since Fill In The Blank Here, Surprise is a low-key, sneaky little gem.

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