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Sound Check

4/22/2015

Dwight YoakamDwight Yoakam
“Second Hand Heart”
Reprise

Dwight Yoakam has sold 21 million copies of his albums. Nine albums have gone platinum, and five of them have hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts. So you know it is saying something when I say that “Second Hand Heart” is one of the three or four best albums of Yoakam’s career. It is a fully electrified, three-guitar affair that sees Yoakam at his howling, angry best, immediately conjuring up images of 1985’s seminal “Guitars Cadillacs Etc Etc.” You can call Yoakam a country artist all you want, but the man’s true genre is sorrow. He does not write songs about despair; he wraps despair in Telecaster strings and hands the emotion to you straight, no chaser. The result is glorious. “Second Hand Heart” is as lean an album as you are going to find, without an ounce of wasted space or effort. CV

 

BlurBlur
“The Magic Whip”
Elektra

Blur has been gone for 12 years, primarily while frontman Damon Albarn went off to win Grammys with a silly side project called Gorillaz. For anyone who has followed Albarn’s career, there was plenty of reason to worry about “The Magic Whip.” The frontman’s thunderous ego is, after all, the stuff of legend. But all worries are put to rest the minute opening track “Lonesome Street” starts to play, and everything people loved about Blur comes rushing back through newly-opened floodgates. More importantly, Blur’s component members have all obviously come back to the project with fresh ideas, gleaned from the ensuing years of solo experience, and Albarn has allowed them all to shine through. Albarn’s voice has grown more nuanced over the years, while his disdain for modern consumer culture remains delightfully untouched. This new-look Blur feels like an improved and more complete version of the band you loved in the ’90s. CV

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