CD reviews for Dec. 17

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Lydia Lunch

Widowspeak

Alternative music fans may know Lydia Lunch from her former band, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, and lovers of the strange are sure to know her from her touring performance art pieces.

In the late 1990s, the queen of "try anything once" released an album full of experimental collaborations on a two-record album called "Widowspeak." If the New York art scene ever had a voice in the 1990s, she was it. She performed songs with Sonic Youth, Clint Ruin, Rowland S. Howard, Shockheaded Peters, Die Haut, Joseph Budenholzer and Lucy Hamilton. The album is as much performance art as it is music, but it's not the amateur screaming and minimalist instruments you might expect. With Lydia Lunch leading the way, the other musicians really get a chance to explore their instruments.

The album features a feedback full, distorted version of The Beatles' "Why don't we do it in the road." With Lydia in the foreground whining, "why, why, why," it sounds as if they might have been (doing it in the road) when they made the song.

Widowspeak recently was re-released as a two-CD set.

Velvet Revolver

Contraband

"Oh. They sound like Stone Temple Pilots."

"Is that bad?"

"No. It's just not what I expected. I though they would sound more like Guns N' Roses."

And therein lies the hardest obstacle this band has to face -- expectations.

Velvet Revolver released its first album, "Contraband" with a ready-waiting audience.

With Slash, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum forming the backbone of Velvet Revolver, the band is essentially Guns N' Roses with a different singer -- Stone Temple Pilots' Scott Weiland.

It's a sound you already know with songs you'll think you've heard before.

The album caught my interest in the beginning with the opening track "Sucker Train Blues," but I slowly lost interest toward the end.

It's a good album to sift through for the stronger tracks to burn into a mix or put on your iPod, while ditching the weaker songs such as "Illegal I Song" and "Fall to Pieces."

Rated: Been there. Done that.

In stock at All That Jazz for $17.98

Gwen Stefani

Love.Angel.Music.Baby.

Stefani's first solo album was meant to be a dance record. She wanted to hear it in the clubs. And if that's all she wanted it to be -- it worked. "Love.Angel.Music.Baby." has an international sound. It will be on club disc jockey playlists from Bangkok to Ulan Baatar.

But in Steamboat Springs, it's harder to picture Stefani's album making a splash. It's more likely that she'll get play time in the cars of high school girls singing together at the top of their lungs.

Like many mainstream female artists of her generation Stefani offers more than a tip of the hat to Madonna, adds some hip-hop cameos for extra marketability and takes a big step away from No Doubt.

Rated: Buy it, girls. It's fun.

In stock at All That Jazz for $15.98.

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