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Sound Check

4/15/2015

Blues TravelerBlues Traveler

“Blow Up the Moon”

Loud & Proud

 

Blues Traveler has always been, in essence, a talented group of guys fronted by a talented singer/mouth harp player who has been capable of churning out genuinely clever songs. But you get the nagging sense that it was never enough for them — or us. So the band has kept trying new things with varying levels of failure, and that has led them here. “Blow Up the Moon” features some of the oddest cameos you’ll find, as everyone from Hanson to Jewel to Bowling for Soup to the guy who went down on Tara Reid in “American Pie” show up to remind you that the ’90s were totally “a thing.” None of it works. The guest artists get in the way of the music, and frontman John Popper seems to just stick his head into the booth every so often and play harmonica. This is easily the most confusing album of the young year. CV

HIV

 

Brian WilsonBrian Wilson

“No Pier Pressure”

Capitol

 

Look, it’s another album full of guest singers. Wilson, at least, seems to get what decade it is and has invited along the likes of Zooey Deschanel, Kacey Musgraves and Nate Ruess, as well as some artists that could more adequately be described as the 72-year-old Wilson’s contemporaries, like Blondie Chaplin and Mark Isham. The result, however, is not as ambitious as Wilson obviously wants it to be, which is something of a leitmotif in Wilson’s career. The problem with “No Pier Pressure” rests mostly in Wilson’s selection of duet partners. Instead of taking Wilson’s music and doing anything with it, we get a series of milquetoast arrangements featuring people doing their level best to be as inoffensive and safe as possible. CV

 

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