DISClaimer Single Reviews (2/08/12)

They don’t call it Country Music City, just Music City, and this week we’re celebrating that with everything from rock to rap, classical to jazz.

The Black Keys’ rocking “Lonely Boy” is the Disc of the Day. Jessie Baylin and Madi Diaz are in a dead heat for the DisCovery Award. But there’s plenty more to explore in this stack of Nashville’s musically diverse platters. Plus, our own Jack White is issuing his debut solo single this week.

Read on.

Writer: Madi Diaz/Kyle Ryan; Producer: John Alagia; Publisher: BMG Sapphire/Madi Diaz/BMG Ruby/Happy the Kid/BMG Chrysalis, BMI/ASCAP; Small Horse/Thirty Tigers (track) (www.madidiaz.com)
—The debut single from Diaz’s debut full-length CD is a colorful, child-like spinning-top ditty with multi-layered vocals and spare percussion. Her sound here is an enchanting swirl of sweetness. One taste and you’re hooked. The national music press is beginning to take notice of this Nashvillian, thanks to tracks like this from her Plastic Moon album.

Writer: Douglas Brown/Ryan Tedder; Producer: Ryan Tedder & Noel Zancanella; Publisher: Hamilton and Lynn/Universal/Z Tunes/Write2Live/Kobalt, ASCAP; Universal Republic (track) (www.safetysuitmusic.com)
—This foursome conjures up a wooshing windstorm in this single from its These Times CD. Already big on the college circuit, Safetysuit manages to fuse rock and dance music here in a way that could really make a dent on the Hot 100. The album was created at studio sessions in New York, L.A., Virginia Beach and home in Franklin, TN.

Writer: Jessie Baylin/Thad Cockrell; Producer: Kevin Augunas; Publisher: Lady Blush/Little Hoss/Razor & Tie, ASCAP/SESAC; Blonde Rat/Thirty Tigers (track) (www.jessiebaylin.com)
—A bossa-nova beat, an echo-chamber soprano vocal, real strings, whispery backup singers and an angelic harp (!) are all in the mix of this amazing pop confection. This Music City gal is really, really cool, and not just because she’s married to Nathan Followill of Kings of Leon. Her album is titled Little Spark. Buy it now.

THE NASHVILLE SYMPHONY & CHRISTOPHER LAMB/Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra
Writer: Joseph Schwantner; Producer: none listed; Publisher: Schott Helicon, no performance rights listed; Naxos (track) (www.naxos.com)
—Composer Schwantner is a Pulitzer Prize winner who created this challenging yet highly listenable piece specifically for percussion soloist Lamb. Recorded live in the Schermerhorn, its three movements incorporate bongos, timpani, xylophone, marimba, triangles, cymbals, bass drum, a water gong, vibraphone and other exotic instruments against a sighing orchestral backdrop. This dazzling recording is nominated for a classical Grammy Award this year.

Writer: D. Auerbach/P. Carney/B. Burton; Producer: Danger Mouse & The Black Keys; Publisher: McMoore McLesst/Wixen/Sweet Science/Copyright Control, BMI/ASCAP; Nonesuch (track) (www.theblackkeys.com)
—Nashville’s Black Keys are currently at No. 1 on the national rock chart with this kick-off single from their new CD El Camino. Like most of the rest of the album, it is a slab of straight-ahead, modern rock ‘n’ roll. Guitars riff hypnotically, drums thump relentlessly and backup gals join in on wildly catchy choruses. If you miss real rock music, “Lonely Boy” is your ticket to paradise. Highly recommended.

Writer: LaTisha Spence; Producer: Mark Crawford & Pat Holt; Publisher: none listed; TSU (track) (www.tnstate.edu)
—Tennessee State University is celebrating its 100th anniversary with a CD that features a representative song from each of its 11 decades, all recorded by past and present music students and faculty members. Representing 2012 is a dreamy, jazzy outing by current Commercial Music student Spence backed by a band and chorus of her peers. You can hear everyone’s gospel roots, but this performance holds its own with any jazz combo you’ll hear in this city today. Representing the ‘60s, by the way, is a lively arrangement of The Temptations’ “I Can’t Get Next to You.”

Writer: R. Follese/N. Overstreet/A. Goldstein/D. Book/A.Misoul/E. Kiriakou/E. Kidd Bogart/L. Robbins/E. Benjamin/D. Thomas; Producer: Emmanuel Kiriakou & Andrew Goldstein; Publisher: Midas/Sleep When I’m Rich/Scarlet Moon/Nash O/Fueled By Music/ChrisSamSongs/Warner Chappell/Dan Book/Alexei Misoul/Roditis/Here’s Lookin’ at You Kidd/Beluga Hieghts/Sony-ATV/Hey Kiddo/Kobalt/New Boyz/Primary Wave, BMI/ASCAP; RCA (track) (www.hotchellerae.cm)
—These Nashville popsters seemed poised to duplicate the success of “Tonight Tonight” with this slamming party anthem blasting into the top-30 this week. Besides cluttering up the songwriting credits, New Boyz main contribution is some mid-song rapping. Make no mistake: this is HCR’s show.

Writer: none listed; Producer: Dennis Scott, Bryan Cumming/David Toledo & Nathan Burbank; Publisher: none listed; WannaBeats (track) (www.thewannabeatles.com)
—Nominated for a Grammy in the spoken-word category, this is a collection of reminiscences with musical interludes provided by Nashville’s note-perfect Beatles re-enactors. If you are of a certain age, it’s a bubble bath of nostalgia. Among the “witnesses” are Janis Ian, Billy Swan, Wesley Orbison, Melissa Manchester and Phil Keaggy.

Writer: none listed; Producer: Levi Harris & Chancellor Warhol; Publisher: none listed; CS (track) (www.warholtheworld.com)
—This Nashville rapper’s CD is titled Japanese Lunchbox: A Love Story. This focus track has a burbling, poppy, electronic sound bed overlaid with a tender, broken-hearted rap. In a genre generally noted for aggressive, macho verbal posing, it’s an ear opener. The soft, sweetly sung interjections come courtesy of Mikky Ekko.

TOMMY WOMACK/Play That Cheap Trick Cheap Trick Play
Writer: Tommy Womack/Rick Nielsen; Producer: Tommy Womack & John Deaderick; Publisher: Screen Gems-EMI/Adult/Tommy Womack Tunes/Bug, BMI; Cedar Creek (track) (www.tommywomack.com)
—This beloved Music City rock institution drops his Now What! collection with a release party at Grimey’s on Feb. 21. It is his fifth solo CD, and it captures his wry, tragi-comic personna perfectly, particularly on tunes like this opening bopper. From his days in Government Cheese through his work in Daddy (not to mention his Clash tribute band Tommy Gun), Womack has a catalog to envy. Here’s one more reason to be a fan. For a real guffaw, spin his white-boy, black-humor rap “Ninety Miles an Hour Down a Dead End Street.” “Pot Head Blues” is self explanatory.


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Robert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow. He is a respected music critic, author and historian.

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