Foo Fighters - Wasting Light (4/5). Foo Fighters are another band that have been around a long time that I never really got into. Sure, I'd heard their big hit singles ("Big Me," "Best of You," "The Pretender"), but I've never listened to one of their albums before. So I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Wasting Light, the group's seventh studio album. Dave Grohl and company excel at muscular guitar rock that doesn't need to result to trends and tricks to be enjoyable. Songs like "Bridge Burning" and "A Matter of Time" have a frenetic pace fueled by tight guitar melodies and drum rhythms. "White Limo" rocks even harder with distorted, screeching vocals. "These Days," a relatively softer moment, seems like a sure bet for a future single, as does uplifting "Walk." The album was produced by Bruce Vig, who helmed Nirvana's Nevermind, but hasn't produced a Foo Fighters album before. That makes somber "I Should Have Known" as close as a Nirvana reunion as possible, since it also features Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic and lyrically addresses the death of Kurt Cobain. Best: Bridge Burning, These Days, I Should Have Known, Rope, Walk.
Bill Callahan - Apocalypse (3/5). Apocalypse is a mixed bag of an album with some definite strengths and weaknesses. In the former category, is the singer's voice, which is deep and smooth--very appealing. I also like the rootsy guitar melodies, which I find very compelling on the opening tracks, "Drover" and "Baby's Breath." The album fails, however, when it tries to tackle protest music, such as the plodding "America!," which includes a cringe-worthy listing of notable global conflict zones of the last 40 years. I'm all for popular music tackling politics, but I think it can be done in a more interesting way than lyrics like "Afghanistan, Vietnam, Iran, Native American (spoken to sound like "con")." He slows the tempo down on the next couple of tracks, the second of which, the rather lovely "Riding for the Feeling," restores my faith in the album. Best: Drover, Baby's Breath, Riding for the Feeling.