Even though Left Eye died 11 years ago, and the group hasn’t really been relevant since the turn of the century, TLC still sits as the second biggest-selling female group of all time. (Bananarama is fourth on that list, by the way. Who knew?) The album “20,” named for the group’s upcoming 20th anniversary, is a celebration of everything that made that happen. What’s startling about the compilation isn’t how much of the track list you remember but just how well it all holds up. T-Boz, Chili and Left Eye were a remarkably talented group of women, and every re-mastered track on the album is good enough to win converts and make the group new fans. And the group isn’t done yet. It has recently signed a new record deal, and “20” contains the new single “Meant to Be,” which is breezy and beautiful. Welcome back, ladies. CV
“20” is available on iTunes and Amazon.com.
It is always a tad disappointing when Pearl Jam releases a new album. Not because the band isn’t good — the group knows what it’s doing after all — but because the first thought is to see how it compares to “Ten.” “Lightning Bolt” has none of the ferocity of the band’s debut effort, but it also feels like the first genuine point where that doesn’t matter. Eddie Vedder’s vocals have mellowed and deepened with age, which serves the album’s sound well. Where many of Vedder’s past attempts at sounding reflective or soulful have come off as caterwauling (ahem, “Last Kiss”), he manages to pull it off here, with closing track “Future Days” being a particularly beautiful example. The band also shows it’s capable of still flexing its muscle now and then, and the opening of “Getaway” and “Mind Your Manners” are where the band really lets loose and comes closest to its grunge-era glory. CV
“Lightning Bolt” is available on iTunes and at www.pearljam.com