57TH & 9TH [A&M]
Sting’s first rock album in 13 years, 57th & 9th (named for the Manhattan intersection near the recording studio), is a first-rate, ten-song collection that touches on all phases of Mr. Sumner’s broad musical career. The first single, “I Can’t Stop Thinking About You,” has a heavy Police presence—with its chugging-eighths groove, arpeggio guitar parts, and shifting key centers—while “Petrol Head” pivots between the Police and roots rock. “50,000,” dedicated to such departed greats as Prince, Glenn Frey, and Lemmy, rides a muted verse (with Sting tuning the E string on his ’53 Fender Precision down to D) before bursting into a stadium-ready classic rock hook, a formula present on “Down, Down, Down,” as well. Sting’s Celtic persona emerges on the 6/8 “Pretty Young Soldier” and the guitar-and-vocal ballads “Heading South on the Great North Road” and “The Empty Chair” (for journalist and ISIS victim James Foley).
Summoning the jazzy, solo Sting side is the Middle Eastern-tinged, European refugee-focused ballad “Inshallah,” and the exotic “If You Can’t Love Me,” with descending bass notes creating harmonic colors against a repeated four-note pattern, set to Vinnie Colauita’s 7/8 drum figure. Finally, there’s the somber topic of climate change presented via the upbeat, super-catchy rock bossa “One Fine Day,” which, with its Latinlike pushes in the bass line, make it Sting’s best 4-string work on the album.
RUSH: Time Stand Still
It’s no secret that Rush aficionados are more hardcore than most: Many of us have bought every Rush album and seen them live dozens of times, relishing our membership in a geeky, worldwide family of fanatics. So the announcement last year that Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart were getting off the road was more than just the end of an era—it was a devastating setback, and another reminder that even for the gods, time does not stand still. Fortunately, this two-hour documentary tells the story of the trio’s final shows and momentous decision with grace, humor, and sensitivity, perfectly capturing the complex emotions of fans (including sadness, shock, and nostalgia) and the band (reluctant acceptance from Geddy and relief from Alex and Neil, whose bodies were more than ready to retire). Along the way, there’s great live and backstage footage, as well as cool interviews and a handful of bonus goodies. A truly moving, bittersweet picture that captures the essence of what Rush and its fans mean to each other.
Resonate is a bona-fide rock record that Deep Purple fans will utterly salivate over. Songs like “Steady,” “God Of Money” and “How Long” are heavy, well-crafted gems that highlight Glenn Hughes’ left-hand vibrato, one of the greatest contributions to the world of rock bass. With his roaming, upper-register excursions, Hughes wrings every last drop of emotion from the neck of his instrument, elevating this record into the realm of essential listening.
Electronic trip-hop guru Simon Green’s sixth album combines atmospheric currents with entrancing rhythms to create a moving album that is somehow even more cathartic than 2012’s The North Borders. While Green (a.k.a. Bonobo) often creates beautiful walls of synth bass under strings, vocals, and choral samples, his beloved Music Man StingRay provides the foundation on many tracks, including the deep swells on “No Reason” and the constant runs of “Figures.”
THE ROLLING STONES
BLUE & LONESOME[Polydor]
The Stones most successfully return to their inspirational roots with this set of mainly Chicago blues covers, cut in three days in the U.K., with Don Was producing. Down below, Darryl Jones runs the stylistic and sonic gamut, from minimalist, upright-sounding parts on “Just Your Fool” and “Commit a Crime” (even laying off the one on the latter) to a more modern, electric bass tone on “All of Your Love.” Toss in his syncopated pattern on Willie Dixon’s “Just Like I Treat You,” and Jones once again earns his supreme-sideman status.
With a storied history of lighting himself on fire, getting waterboarded, and breaking bones during music-video shoots, Tim Commerford has finally created an album that is an aural representation of the self-inflicted violence he has endured. His latest trio’s debut is a brutal beatdown of vicious tones, blistering bass lines, and Commerford’s aggressive and politically driven vocals. On a relentless album that never lets up, Timmy C proves that he has even more rage now than ever before.
Jonathan Hischke has always taken a bold approach to writing: He never shies away from welcoming the weird and putting the bass at the forefront. On Dot Hacker’s newest album, Hischke takes this mentality to the next level. His usually heavily effected tone is more focused on gain-fueled grittiness, contrasting the brash guitar playing of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Josh Klinghoffer. For a proper Hischke crash course, dive into the bass-centric tracks “C Section,” Forgot to Smile,” and “Apt Mess.”