New Music: Keane, the Raconteurs and Red Hot Chili Peppers

This week in new CDs brings us the strong return of Brit rock group Keane, Jack White’s attempt to reconstitute his career with his new band The Raconteurs, and the ninth album by Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Keane, “Is It Any Wonder?”

Brit rock trio Keane seems to have done the best thing possible for a band looking to avoid missing an opportunity following a solid debut: release a single that will make their fans dance. “Is It Any Wonder?” is unlike the sweeping melodies of Keane’s first album, “Hopes and Fears,” as it starts with a nice mixture of synthesizer-modified guitar.

As the song gets into the vocals, it kicks up a bit and leaves their melancholy debut in the dust. It seems that many of the most popular singer-song writers at the top of the charts are pianists and guitarists trying to cater to the teen drama crowd who might here Daniel Powter or James Blunt in commercials or on “American Idol.” Keane has done their best not too fall into a rut early in their career and this one should be seen in the future as a smart move for a band on the rise.

Grade: B+

The Raconteurs, “Broken Boy Soldier”

Former White Stripes front man Jack White has ditched the candy striper outfit for more normal attire and a more traditional rock band in his new project, The Raconteurs. Born out of his friendship with Greenhorne members Jack Lawrence and Pat Keeler, as well as his collaborations with singer-songwriter Brendan Benson, White is anchoring his career on the fact that a change in venue will give him longevity. With songs like “Steady as She Goes” and “Store Bought Bones” show the promise of this collaboration and certainly the three lesser known members of this group are benefitting from their work with White.

But White doesn’t seem to stray too far from his work with Meg White and The Raconteurs may just be an alter ego for work that White would have done in another go with the White Stripes. “Broken Boy Soldier” is a solid debut, but by no means demonstrates the rock skills that Jack White has cultivated since “Fell in Love with a Girl” took the nation by storm.

Grade: B-

Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Stadium Arcadium”
In their ninth full length album, the Chili Peppers decided to go all out with a double disc collection of twenty-eight songs that will be loved by diehard Peppers fans. However, the blessing and the curse of the Red Hot Chili Peppers is that they do not try to reinvent the wheel with every album. While they do attract some new listeners with their music, their success is due to the amazing devotion of their fans to the band through good and bad times.

“Stadium” seems to be a recognition that you can make nearly thirty songs on one album sound independent of one another while making nearly thirty solid songs. An impressive output for a band that is showing the young bucks in the music industry that you can make solid music without selling out too much.

Grade: B

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