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Sound Check

Feb 9, 2012
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By Chad Taylor

Brent Houzenga

‘Quit the Biz’


Sound Clips

The first thing that popped into my head when listening to Brent Houzenga was, “It’s like Jonathan Coulton, minus all the stuff that makes Jonathan Coulton funny.” Now, in fairness, Houzenga — the Des Moines artist, troubadour and Renaissance Man-about-town — isn’t trying to be funny, which leaves you to wonder just what he’s shooting for. The theory behind Houzenga’s sound — one person, sitting on stage with an acoustic guitar, just doin’ his thing — appeals to me. But the caveat with that style is that if your instrumentation is going to be sparse, your lyrics had damn well better cover the spread. Some people do it well — Ani DiFranco, Suzanne Vega and Coulton — but Houzenga misses the mark. The songs on “Quit the Biz” show Houzenga as a mediocre storyteller, a jack of all trades/master of none whose vocals aren’t compelling enough to pick up the slack left by the uninspired lyrics. CV

Paul McCartney

‘Kisses on the Bottom’

Hear Music

Sound Clips

First things first: OH MY GOD THAT’S A TERRIBLE ALBUM TITLE. But — unfortunate double-entendres aside — what to make of the album itself? The album is a collection of bluesy jazz standards, all of which find themselves enhanced simply by having Sir Paul sing them. There’s nothing new or adventurous here, but you know what? He was a Beatle. McCartney need never prove his ability to innovate to anyone, and with very good cause. So no, there’s nothing on “Kisses on the Bottom” to blow your hair back. But every track is beautifully orchestrated and wonderfully realized with a touch that’s just as light as gossamer. McCartney has aged very well and doesn’t try to remain relevant by pandering to a younger audience or trying to cling to his rocker roots. As he’s matured, his work has evolved with him, into something as timeless and classic as the man himself. CV

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