AC/DC/ Power Up, Hard Rock, Columbia- Sony Music
Six years after releasing the album Rock Or Bust, rock superstars AC/DC come out with Power Up. With 12 songs packed in a tight 41-minute run, this is a tribute to co-founder Malcolm Young, who passed away in 2017.
Interestingly, the songwriting credits are shared by guitarist brother Angus Young and Malcolm, with Angus saying he’s picked out a lot of unreleased material. The sound is trademark AC/DC, with Angus and vocalist Brian Johnson taking you back to the Back in Black phase.
One may point out that most songs sound similar, with some being influenced by classic Rolling Stones. But then, that’s AC/DC and that’s the way fans have tuned in to them. Don’t expect tearjerkers. Every song oozes the band’s energy, and impresses with their riffs and backing vocals, with producer Brian O’Brien making things sound tight.
Personal favourites are Shot in The Dark, Through the Mists of Time, Wild Reputation, and Systems Down. All through, one must credit rhythm guitarist Stevie Young, who’s come as a perfect replacement for his uncle Malcolm.
Rating: 8/ 10
BTS/ BE, K-Pop, Big Hit-Columbia
South Korean boy band BTS had a smash hit three months ago with the catchy disco-pop tune Dynamite, which has received a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Duo/ Group Performance. The song is used as the finale for the album BE.
This 29-minute collection blends contemporary synth-pop with hip-hop, neo-soul, and dance music, using acoustic guitar, synths, and drum machines prominently. Most songs seamlessly alternate between English and Korean lyrics and the lyrics talk of life in the wake of the pandemic.
Life Goes On is a mid-tempo track reflecting the mood of the times, and Telepathy talks of two people thinking similarly while staying at a distance. From the old-school hip-hop of Dis-ease to the moody balladry of Stay, the group tries to provide variety.
The spoken Korean skit in the middle could have been knocked out for the international releases, as it just acts as a distraction. But the band is a rage among teenyboppers, and this album is just right for them.
Rating: 7/ 10
Chris Stapleton/ Starting Over, Country/ Americana, Mercury Nashville-Universal
Though Chris Stapleton has often been described as the reigning king of country music, his music traverses far beyond. Like his previous work, the new album Starting Over also has doses of Blues, Southern Rock, Swamp music, Gospel, and plain Balladry.
Surely, this is Americana in the truest sense. The title track sets the mood, with its catchy guitar intro and the lines,
“And the hard roads are the ones worth choosing: Someday we’ll look back and smile.”
He gets into Willie Nelson-meets-Bruce Springsteen mode on When I’m With You, singing,
“I’m 40 years old, and it looks like the end of the rainbow, ain’t no pot of gold.”
A version of Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR) frontman John Fogerty’s Joy Of My Life is given a personal touch, but Devil Always Made Me Think Twice has a more CCR flavour. Arkansas is a welcome boost in tempo, Cold impresses with its piano and strings, and Maggie’s Song is a touching tribute to Stapleton’s pet dog.
In a complete tangent, Whiskey Sunrise and Guy Clark’s Worry B Gone get into blues-rock territory, with some intricate riffing, The simplicity of You Should Probably Leave and the pedal steel-driven Nashville, TN is a complete contrast. And that’s the beauty of this album, which never ceases to surprise.
Rating: 8/ 10
Larkin Poe/ Kindred Spirits, Rock adaptations, Tricki-Woo Records
Comprising sisters Rebecca Lovell on vocals and Megan Lovell on guitar, American roots-rock band Larkin Poe had a remarkable show at Mumbai’s Mahindra Blues Festival this February. They also released their original album Self Made Man in June.
For their sixth record, the group has re-created certain rock and roots classics. They give the Moody Blues anthem Nights in White Satin their own twist, adding guitar in place of vocal harmonies, and use a charming slide in Derek & The Dominos’ Bell Bottom Blues.
The 11-track set begins with a very short dedication to blues legend Robert Johnson on Hellhound on My Trail. The song list includes Elvis Presley’s You’re The Devil In Disguise, Phil Collins‘ In The Air Tonight, the Allman Brothers Band’s Ramblin’ Man, and Elton John’s Crocodile Rock.
By selecting songs originally sung by men, Rebecca Lovell makes each tune sound different. Without changing the basic melody, the band improvises through the arrangements and feel. It’s the perfect album for a highway drive.
Rating: 7/ 10
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