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Brad Paisley shines with music veterans on new ‘Wasted’

From wire reports

Brad Paisley

“Time Well Wasted” (Arista Nashville) “““ 1/2

Country music’s finest young traditionalist keeps the quality banner flying high on this new CD. It’s not for nothing that veterans like Dolly Parton, George Jones, Alan Jackson and Little Jimmy Dickens sing with Paisley here. They recognize him as one of their own.

The only wasted time, really, is the Top 10 single, “Alcohol,” a song that tries too hard to be clever and comes down just this side of preachy on the evils of booze.

Skip it and marvel, instead, at Paisley’s prowess on electric guitar on tracks like the opening “The World” and the high-energy instrumental “Time Warp.” This guy’s one of the best guitarists in Nashville.

If you want something spiritually moving consider “When I Get Where I’m Going,” a duet with Parton. If you just have to find the right words to kiss off your ball and chain, sample the feisty country-rocker “I’ll Take You Back.”

The CD closes with a naughty comic routine, “Cornography,” in which Dickens, Jones, Bill Anderson and Parton make like juvenile delinquents. High-brows will blanch, but a little country-style comic relief never hurt anyone.

Howard Cohen, Miami Herald

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

“Howl” (RCA) “““

There is something endearing about a onetime Los Angeles buzz band finding and embracing its musical roots. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club was once poised to be the dark shadow of garage rock, a beat-poet counterpoint to the Strokes playing high-volume rock ‘n’ roll in black leather jackets, a lo-fi Jesus and Mary Chain. Like most buzz bands, its reputation preceded it and its sales never matched the media frenzy.

The band was dropped by Virgin Records last year, and out of desperation or depression or whatever comes over people when they’ve lost all options, its members dug deep and came up with a record that is not in the least interested in target markets or it-band status.

“Howl” (due in stores Tuesday) is a love song to American blues, gospel, country dirges and classic songwriting, rife with harmonica, soulful harmonies and dark lyrical themes anchored in notions of loss and redemption. And “Gospel Song” is the most sincere and affecting song any recent it-band has recorded.

Mikel Jollett, Los Angeles Times

Michelle Shocked

“Mexican Standoff” (Mighty Sound) ““

“Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” (Mighty Sound) ““ 1/2

“No Strings” (Mighty Sound) “ 1/2

It’s not easy to get a handle on this musical sprawl. Free-spirited singer-songwriter Shocked has issued these three works simultaneously on her own label, apparently because she likes trilogies and possibly as a nose-thumbing gesture at conventional record-business wisdom.

If you’re a fan, it might make more sense to impose your own release schedule and pick them up at set intervals, maybe a month or two apart. Better yet, use a CD burner to boil down “Standoff” and “Don’t Ask,” the two albums of original songs, to the one solid collection Shocked could have made if she hadn’t spread herself so thin (and toss in “No Strings,” a pleasant but slight set of Disney film songs done Western-swing style, as a bonus disc).

The lesson? Independence can be liberating for an artist, but without discipline it can do you in.

Richard Cromelin, Los Angeles Times

Various Artists

“Killer Queen: A Tribute to Queen” (Hollywood) ““ 1/2

If the thought of Paul Rodgers fronting Queen these days seems odd, this collection of pop-rockers tackling the fey operatics of the late Freddie Mercury is for you.

Power-punks Sum 41 and Rooney take the job too literally, while Los Lobos isn’t literal enough. But Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme and Eleven push the sliding “Stone Cold Crazy” toward biker metal heaven, Jon Brion turns the epic “Play the Game” into a Beatles-ish rainbow of harmony, and Jason Mraz is so charmingly Rufus Wainright-like on “Good Old Fashioned Loverboy” that you wish he covered all-Queen on his own lousy new record.

There even are dueling “Bohemian Rhapsodys,” with “American Idol’s” Constantine Maroulis and high plains drifters Flaming Lips each making their nights at the opera dramatically hammy. Freddie would be proud.

A.D. Amorosi, Philadelphia Inquirer

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