One Day as a Lion, One Day as a Lion: Is this really what ex-Rage Against The Machine vocalist Zach De La Rocha has been working on for the past decade? Surprising, considering it sounds like a stripped down, Rage recording. Sonically, Rocha replaces Tom Morello’s heavy guitar assaults with distorted keyboard effects, and a garage backbeat (courtesy of ex-Mars Volta drummer Jon Theodore) that keeps the energy level high and spontaneous. It’s by no means a bad record, just a big disappointment considering Rocha was working with Nine Inch Nails mastermind Trent Reznor at one point. (Anti) ~ 2 ½ Stars
Jimmy Sommers, Sunset Collection: Right from the start, purists of jazz might not dig saxophonist Jimmy Sommers version of smooth contemporary jazz. With over the top, tight production and smart collaborations with popular DJs and neo-soul artists, Sunset Collective makes jazz easily digestible for the public. So sadly, those who are closed-minded are truly missing out on a unique record. Sunset Collective is necessary for any party situation. It has everything from steamy, slow dances (“Besame Mucho” and “Out of Nowhere”), chill back lounge tracks, (“Beginnings” and “If I Knew”), and some heavy dance beats courtesy of Paul Oakenfeld on choice cuts “Vertical” and “House Party.” (Gemini Records) ~ 3 ½ Stars.
Emma Cook, Hit and Run: Cook debuted in 2003 with Manifesto and since then she has toured across the country with her brand of genre jumping tunes that is rooted in country, rock, and jazz. Opening track, “This Boy” is the best example of this experimentation with its jazzy vocal phrasing, blues guitar riffs, and radio-ready pop chorus. The title track continues this trend, but instead brings to mind a mid-summer hayride with its gentle accordion, soaring fiddle and sweet gospel harmonies. What is so enjoyable about Hit & Run is that every track has a different mood and shade but the result is one cohesive story that showcases one of Canada’s blossoming singer-songwriters. (Independent) ~ 3 ½ Stars.
Gloria Loring, A Playlist: Gloria Loring is the co-composer of television theme songs for Diff’rent Strokes, Facts of Life and Days Of Our Lives. Her tenth album, A Playlist, sounds just like those ghastly, '80s theme songs. Every track here is chiming with Casio keyboards, overwrought lyrical choices and effect-laden guitar solos. The thing is, Loring doesn’t have a bad voice; it’s just that she is clinging to a safe formula that has kept her completely unaware of how boring and dated she has become. (Silk Purse Productions) ~ 1 ½ Stars.