(Blackheart Records Group, 2006)
Moving to LA at the age of 12 probably had as a great an affect on the outcome of Joan Jett’s life as anything else. She formed what would become The Runaways and was immersed in the punk scene, which colored what she would do for the next twenty plus years. She had hits, “I Love Rock-n-Roll”, of course, and continued to release music. Sinner, her latest offering with the aging Blackhearts, finds the group touching on various methods of playing hard rock and or punk music. The sounds on here are hardly revolutionary in 2006, but Jett doesn’t generally traffic in new ideas. Even her initial successes were grounded in things of the past. With that being said though, there are good rock songs on here about relationships. However, Jett’s attempt at being edgy on “Fetish”, rhyming “latex” and “rough sex”, feels a bit contrived. Not that I don’t believe Jett is interested in these things, there just isn’t any real reason for her to comment on them especially considering the context. The only other overtly specific and bizarre sexually oriented song on here is a cover. And a pleasant one to hear at that. The Replacements have been adored for the past twenty years or so and apparently Jett is one of their fans. “Androgynous” sticks out as being a bit different than the other fare on this album, but once the listener figures out what he/she is listening to, it’s pretty entertaining.
Closing out the album is a straight clunker that melds eighties balladry and acoustic guitars to Jett’s brand of rock. And clocking in at around five minutes, the track leaves the album sounding weak and infertile. Not a bad release overall, seeing as its re-launched this group back into media consciousness, but it’s nothing all that noteworthy.
(Bubble Core Records, 2006)
HiM is basically a revolving door of musical companionship for drummer Doug Scharin who was formerly a member of June of 44. Partially as a result of the numerous band mates coming and going and partially due to Scharin’s own eclectic musical taste, HiM takes on numerous genres while maintaining their own airy identity. By and large an instrumental band, this release does feature a taste of the band with various vocal accompaniments. Occasionally, the singing that’s on here blends in so well with the music that it almost isn’t noticeable and at others the singing may make listeners feel as if it should have been left out (“Universe Peoples”). This album, which was actually recorded a few years back, bears songs that all break the four minute mark. And while frequently that length is required for the melodic concepts to be followed to an end some tracks may begin to feel too long. Seeing as Scharin is one of the band’s percussionists, the drum production on the album is lush and occasionally recalls hip-hop. “Robber’s Knot” begins with a didgeridoo and vibes, but somehow maintains that hip-hop feel throughout the track. Reggae is mellowed out from even its roots and given a more spacey feel on “How You Buy Fire”. A few attempts at Afro-Beat come around, but aren’t really achieved until the horns from Antibalas join the group on the final track of the album. Some bands create records that are powerful and attention grabbing, and this might be both of those to some listeners, however, most frequently this may only serve as ambient background music or something to listen to while passing on to a sleep state.