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Sunday , November 18 2018

Internet’s return lacks electricity

Stewart sings of regrets as father on new song

The Internet, “Hive Mind” (Columbia Records)

The internet, as we know all too well by now, shrieks and howls and barks. The LA-based soul and R&B band of the same name practically whispers with its fourth studio album.

On the 13-track “Hive Mind,” The Internet is as laid-back and subtle as the global computer network is ugly and brash. How laid-back exactly? Almost to the point that many songs feel unfinished — just a series of chunky grooves, drum loops and handclaps barely stitched together.

Musicians Matt Martians, Christopher Smith, Patrick Paige and Steve Lacy have given lead singer Sydney “Syd” Bennett mellow textures and a series of dreamy canvases to expand her range, but it’s also clear that the album lacks the bite and snap of previous releases.

Standouts include “La Di Da,” “Roll (Burbank Funk)” and “Come Over,” songs that show off the band members’ ability to riff off each other’s hooks. “Look What U Started” is built around a superchunky bass line, as good as anything on “Ego Death,” The Internet’s acclaimed and Grammy-nominated third studio album, which yielded “Under Control” and “Girl.”

But “Beat Goes On” swirls endlessly on until halfway when, inexplicably, a different beat goes on, as if the band was divided about its direction. “Next Time/Humble Pie” does the same thing — it goes fine until it, too, switches gears in the middle and shoots off into another song, ending bloated and messy. (Come to think of it, “Come Over” also has a weird expletive-laced coda that doesn’t belong there.) It leaves the listener confused and lost.

“Stay the Night” is marred by the endless repetition of the song’s title and “Bravo” has an annoying drum effect that overpowers a delicate bass-driven song with its pneumatic, unwelcome mechanical insistence. “Wanna Be” meanders and meanders, getting lost in itself. And “Mood” never comes together.

Pop stalwart Rod Stewart returned Thursday with a wistful song about a child’s struggles with drugs as the singer announced a new album.

The 73-year-old father of eight questions his skills as a father on “Didn’t I,” his famously raspy voice, in the words of the song, “tinged with love and regret.”

“Didn’t I try to tell you that stuff’s gonna kill you / Oh, didn’t I? / But you thought it was cool / And I’m just an old fool,” Stewart sings. The song is addressed to a daughter although the lyrics would seem to reflect the experience of Stewart’s son Sean, who has a history of addiction and legal troubles.

Fight

In 2002, Sean Stewart was arrested for assaulting a man outside a Los Angeles-area restaurant in a fight broken up by Superman actor Dean Cain. More recently, Stewart was arrested for allegedly riding a luggage carousel into the restricted area of the Miami airport.

Rod Stewart sings in “Didn’t I” of warning his child about the dangers of the California lifestyle. His son, whose mother is US model Alana Stewart, grew up in Los Angeles and starred on the reality show “Sons of Hollywood.”

“Didn’t I” is the first single off “Blood Red Roses,” Stewart’s 30th studio album which will come out on Sept 28.

“I always think I make albums for a few friends and this record has that intimacy,” Stewart said in a statement announcing the album. “Sincerity and honesty go a long way in life and the same is true in songwriting,” he said.

The album comes nearly 50 years after the first album by Stewart, whose best-known hits include “Forever Young.”

At 85, Willie Nelson isn’t letting any grass grow under him: The legendary singer and songwriter is releasing his second album of the year in September, a Frank Sinatra tribute outing called “My Way” on Sony’s Legacy label. The 11-track album was produced by Buddy Cannon and Matt Rollings and will be released on Sept 14.

Along with the announcement came the album’s first single and video, “Summer Wind.”

While Nelson is one of the greatest American songwriters of the 20th century, this album finds him swinging through a set of standards and classics made famous by Sinatra, accompanied by the lush string and horn arrangements that the songs deserve, and in the spirit of Nelson’s classic 1978 album “Stardust,” which found him interpreting material from the Great American Songbook.

According to the announcement, Nelson and Sinatra were close friends and mutual admirers of each other’s work. In the 1980s, the pair performed on the same bill at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas and appeared together in a public service announcement for NASA’s Space Foundation.

Linkin Park paid tribute to Chester Bennington Friday on the first anniversary of the singer’s death. “It has been a year since your passing — a surreal rotation of grief, heartbreak, refusal, and recognition,” the band wrote in social media posts. “And yet it still feels like you are close by, surrounding us with your memory and your light. Your one-of-a-kind spirit has authored an indelible imprint on our hearts — our jokes, our joy, and our tenderness.”

Bennington died by suicide on July 20, 2017, only two months after his friend, Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell, took his own life; Bennington had sung Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” at Cornell’s funeral. The Linkin Park singer had battled depression and alcoholism throughout his life and spent time in rehab in 2006. He had been prescribed antidepressents in the past but had not taken them for more than a year; similarly, before his death he’d told friends he had been sober for six months. (Agencies)

On October 28 the surviving members of Linkin Park performed a three-hour tribute concert to Bennington at the Hollywood Bowl with members of No Doubt, System of a Down, Avenged Sevenfold, Sum-41, Bush and Yellowcard. On Dec 15 the band will release “One More Light Live,” a live album recorded during Bennington’s final tour last year.

Last month, the group’s Mike Shinoda dropped his first solo album, “Post Traumatic,” which was deeply influenced by Bennington’s death.

Linkin Park bassist Dave “Phoenix” Farrell also remembered Bennington on Instagram. “Chester, in the past year, there hasn’t been a day that has gone by that I haven’t thought of you. I miss you, and it still hurts to not have you here,” he wrote.

“There is so much that I feel, and that I could say, and that I would want to say, and that I don’t know how to say … but one thing I know for certain, is that you are loved, and you are missed.” (Agencies)

By Mark Kennedy

 

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