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John Mellencamp - Life Death Live Freedom
4 stars

In 2007, John Mellencamp hit the road with a batch of new songs that eventually landed on last year's Life Death Love Freedom. This short live record is a swift kick to the gut. Proof that Mellencamp knows what he is doing by taking the music straight to the people. Don't expect rousing live versions of the hits, this is strictly from the last record, and strictly heavy duty emotion.

Moby - Wait for Me
3 stars

Mr. Moby releases album number 11. It is understated and cohesive, with moments of genuine beauty within the electronic shell. He doesn't sing much, leaving the vocals to a crew of ladies. Good decision. Leela James adds a lotta soul on "Walk With Me."

311 - Uplifter
3 stars

Not too many surprises on the ninth 311 studio release. It's the same rock/funk vibe the band has honed in the last decade. The band employed Bob Rock as producer for Uplifter. If Bob Rock can do anything, it is make guitars sound full. 311 has never sounded as heavy. Several songs will translate well live - the beats and lyrics are primed for jumping and singing at the same time - but the record as a whole is flat. It never hits a peak, but doesn't drag either. Nearly three decades into their career, what can be said? It's 311. They do what they do.

9mm Solution - The Dream is Dead
2 stars

The Dream is Dead by 9mm Solution is a decent metal record, and barely half an hour long. The drums are pounding and the riffs are passable. The overdone growl-voice is only used half the time. I couldn't shake the feeling that I would be better off listening to a Pantera album again, rather than this. The band keeps it short and to the point. But we've heard it all before, and often.

Saving Abel
2 stars

Bland modern rock. Makes the subtle nuances of Nickleback sound classy in comparison.

The Entrance Band
4 stars

A trio unearthed from the loins of Guy Blakeslee and his solo project, Entrance. He added bassist Paz Lenchantin (A Perfect Circle, Zwan) and drummer Derek W. James. The debut is exactly what a debut should be, a rough but really good demo tape. Consider the Entrance Band a psychedelic blues rock band, with some prog rock and jam band leanings. That sounds pretentious, but they bring it back down to reality with a healthy dose of punk energy.

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