Slash’s Snakepit “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” - Geffen
Guns N’ Roses axe-slinger Slash makes an impressive solo debut at the helm of a four-piece outfit that shines as much for his guitar playing as for Eric Dover’s gritty lead vocals. The grandiose first single, “Beggars & Hangers-On,” is the most GN’Rinspired track on the album, reminiscent of “November Rain.” Other rockers with lethal potential include the bluesy “Neither Can I,” “Dime Store Rock,” “Monkey Chow” and “What Do You Want to Be.” Also of note is “Back and Forth Again,” a power ballad that showcases Slash’s softer side. A mighty debut that proves - to the possible detriment of GN’R that Slash can cut it on his own.
The Jayhawks “Tomorrow the Green Grass” - American
The Jayhawks’ guitar-driven rock `n’ roll is a shade lighter on the country tinge than on the group’s previous set (1992’s “American Town Hall”), but flush with the same plaintive, high-lonesome harmonies and sharply jangling edge that make this Minneapolis band one of the country-rock brand’s finest. Opening with enough hooks to land a whole, new school of fans, standouts “Blue” and “I’d Run Away” are unabashedly romantic, pop-leaning beauties.
Margaret Becker “Grace” - Sparrow
Becker is the Christian music equivalent of Mary Chapin Carpenter - a strong, independent woman who writes thoughtful, literate songs and breathes life into them with a voice that is both gutsy and vulnerable. “Grace” is an outstanding album filled with wellcrafted melodies that are beautifully sung and artfully produced by Charlie Peacock.
Graham Haynes “The Griots Footsteps” - Antilles
Exciting, genre-crossing label debut for young cornetist and former M-Base player has a contemporary jazz feel with world music impressions. Often evoking Miles Davis at the height of his ‘70s electronic era, Haynes creates a dramatic horn-and-synth overture with “Gothic,” while the sitar and tanpura of “Enlightenment” add a subcontinental ambience awash in wild rhythms. Also of note are the sinuous acid-funk of the title track, the irresistible world-jazz gait of “Flip Stories,” and the funky, eccentric groove of “R.H.,” dedicated to Haynes’ father, topnotch drummer Roy Haynes.