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Karen O and the Kids (Where the Wild Things Are Soundtrack), Lita Ford, Everclear, Beatallica, Livan, State Radio, and the Riverwinds

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Karen O and the Kids - Where the Wild Things Are Soundtrack
4 stars

Spike Jonze's much anticipated adaptation of Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, required a soundtrack befitting of the story's protagonist, Max. A "wild thing" child cast into a land of bigger, furrier wild things. To add that special mix of childhood whimsy, despair and hope, Jonze employed Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeah's. The Kids in support include Bradford Cox, Imaad Wasif, Brian Chase, Nick Zinner and some real kids.

The record includes the short interludes cut from scenes in the film, as per usual of a soundtrack these days. In between the interludes are some incredible songs. "All is Love" is a joyful rattling with big whoops and that crazy marching band feel that seems to accompany any kid on an expedition to the unknown. "Capsize" has a menacing edge, but the mixture of joy and danger, along with the disappointment in a song like "Worried Shoes" is a perfect combination of everything that goes into being a kid. The soundtrack is remarkable for being able to suck you right back to that age when you were still innocent enough to believe in the unbelievable, but have started to figure out the truth.

Karen O gets to play with another dimension of herself and delivers a great record. Much better than the cute little indie album it could have been.
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Lita Ford - Wicked Wonderland
2 stars

One look at the cover art of Wicked Wonderland - without even hearing the music - and it is evident that Lita Ford is trying very hard. On her first album since Black in 1995, she sets to reclaim her place in the "hearts" of male metal fans with a heavier sound. The industrial beats are dated and the cliched lyrics are laughable. The whole albums is forced and overcooked. A bonus track, "Push", features a fiery guitar lead and Lita's voice sounds great without the effects used on every other song. Less is more.

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Everclear - In a Different Light
2.5 stars

A few years back Art Alexakis put together a new version of Everclear. One record later he issued a greatest hits set and is following that with an album that includes 2 new songs and 9 re-recordings of Everclear hits. In a Different Light is unnecessary, and the sleepy coffee shop arrangements of songs like "Santa Monica" and "Wonderful" are boring.

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Beatallica - Masterful Mystery Tour
2 stars

Round two from the Beatles/Metallica mash-up tribute comedy band. The joke is wearing thin. Beatallica connects Beatles melodies and Metallica riffs with goofy lyrics and a comical (but spot-on) take on James Hetfield's black album growl. Two records of this is one too many, but Beatallica do conjure a few inspired moments. Most notable - "Hero of the Day Tripper". The signature guitar leads of each song meld together seamlessly. Give Beatallica credit, at least they are not another mop-topped tribute band.

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Livan - Happy Returns
2.5 stars

Euro-bending alt-rock dude puts on a Bowie impression, does a cover of Tears for Fears' "Shout" and starts almost every song with the same incessant beat. All plastic without much soul.

State Radio - Let it Go
2.5 stars

Reggae/ska/punk band rolls on with socially-conscious themes. Nothing about State Radio is going to convert anyone not already interested in dancing to politics. Bring your mind, they are going to make you use it. State Radio gets good when they get loud - the title track is a highlight, building on an insistent riff - but they rarely get too loud.

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The Riverwinds
2.5 stars

It's a feel good pop/rock band we have with The Riverwinds. With a little more country twang they could top the Nashville charts. Right now they are just floating in the middle, which is probably a good place. They can keep their earnest, rootsy music straightforward and honest. The indie-rock teenage girls won't need to feel ashamed to have this in their collection.

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