Music Reviews: Goo Goo Dolls, Theo & The Skyscrapers, The Trews, Sunlightsquare

Every month(ish), we recommend the most seriously awesome albums and tracks we had on repeat. (Sneak peek: Steve Gadd! Steve Gadd!! Steve-motherfucking-GADD!!!!!!)

Goo Goo Dolls

Let Love In

Music: Rejuvenated after an introspective time-out in their hometown of Buffalo, New York, John Rzeznik and company return with a new album that has all the old hooks—still sharp and shiny and completely irresistible. Don’t even try, though, to dismiss this latest collection of chart toppers as pop pap. Catchy enough for the musically stunted masses, Rzeznik’s pleasant-sounding melodies have an underlying current of irony, melancholy, and desperation. And that makes all the difference. 

Drumming: In addition to the final studio version of the disc, an unmastered copy arrived on our doorstep. The drums are a little more prominent in the raw mix, so it’s easier to hear (and appreciate) just how talented a player Mike Malinin is, one of the few contemporary drummers who can truly complement a tune. 

The Straight Poop: It’s everything you’ve ever loved about the Goos. And the chick on the cover is really cute too.

Theo & the Skyscrapers

Theo & the Skyscrapers

Music: Punk goddess Theo Kogan has been catching the ears and eyes of the underground literati for over a decade now. Former front woman for the influential Lunachicks (and recently a model, actress, and fashion maven), she’s now back behind the mike and beckoning would-be listeners with a stiff middle finger. Her new bunch of tunes is punk, certainly, but complex, nuanced, surprisingly hummable. Check out first the ’50s vibe of “Unravelled” and the clap-along chorus of “Broken Girl.” And if you’re into more modern, techno sounds, don’t worry: There are enough synthesized bleeps and bloops to turn on R2-D2. 

Drumming: He doesn’t have the speediest feet on the planet, but slammer Chris Kling keeps a tasty course of double kicks coming all album long, particularly on the first song, “Doppleganger Death Disco,” which even opens with a drum lick (always a good sign). 

The Straight Poop: Finally. A pumped-up, pissed-off Blondie for you Generation Z’ers. 

The Trews

Den of Thieves

Music: After that whole Bryan Adams fiasco, we were worried about our northerly neighbors’ capacity for rocking out. But now, lo and behold, we have heard Canada’s redemption, seen her salvation. Sure, this latest bunch of Canucks might have listened to a bit too much Black Crows….But, hey, what’s not to love about southern-tinged harmonies, crunchy guitar riffs, and barely disguised debauchery? The quartet’s already-thick sound is bolstered at times with a sexy horn section (particularly on “Cry”), and once you throw in Attila Fias’ Hammond b3 and Colin MacDonald’s edgy vocals, you’ve got tunes hot enough to keep the igloos toasty all night long. 

Drumming: Solid and energetic, Sean Dalton knows exactly how to drive a band hard without taking it over a cliff. Catch his sloshy hi-hat grooves on “Ana & Mia” and “Sweetness.” Cure your fever with the cowbell-hopping “Poor Ol’ Broken Hearted Me.” 

The Straight Poop: Better than beer, hockey, and Pam Anderson? Just aboot.


Urban Sessions

Music: We figured we’d heard everything Steve Gadd had to throw at us. The dean of drumming has played—no, conquered—hit pop, cool progressive music, laid-back jazz, and at least a dozen other styles in his four-decade career. Little did we know he would also show himself to be about the trippiest hip-hop drummer around. The band, also featuring Will Lee on bass and Massimo Cusato on percussion, works with producer/keyboardist Claudio Passsavanti to produce a sugary-bumpin’ jazz that sounds like Sade singing Stereophonic melodies over chill grooves.

Drumming: At times funky and languid, Gadd’s approach is best described as organic. He makes these beats sound like they were born on the drum set. “Bust a Freakin’ Goal” demonstrates Lee and Gadd’s stutter style as DJ MC Vision raps above a simple 4/4. The best tune may be “Ab Three,” a fast burner in which Gadd gives a clinic in funky bass drum independence. 

The Straight Poop: The album concludes with “Lively Kind of Frozen Poem,” a too-short meditative piano piece with Gadd’s brushes highlighting the plaintive melody. Put it on, and you’ll want it to go on forever. 

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