It's not too late to discover overlooked 2011 gems

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 4 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

Guitarist Steve Morse (previously of Kansas and The Dixie Dregs) brings his own touches and flourishes to songs Blackmore made famous, and deserves kudos for bringing something new to the party.

The concert,  from the closing night of the Montreaux festival on July 16, is sold separately as a CD and a DVD.

— Wayne Parry, Associated Press

(http://www.twitter.com/wayneparryac )


Curren$y, "Weekend at Burnie's" (Jet Life Recordings/Warner Bros.)

Before there was Drake and Nicki Minaj, rapper Curren$y was the flagship rapper of Lil Wayne's Young Money Entertainment. He was impressive on the 2006 song "Where da Cash At" featuring Lil Wayne and Remy Ma.

But Curren$y struggled to find his artistic niche and eventually left Lil Wayne's imprint and Cash Money Records. He went on to release a series of enjoyable mixtapes and dropped four solid albums between 2009 and 2010.

In 2011, Curren$y released his fifth solo album, "Weekend at Burnie's," which is by far his best album to date. With his strong southern drawl, the New Orleans-based rapper has a laid-back demeanor that works well with the melodic tracks, produced mostly by Monsta Beatz.

Curren$y's lyrical content is much easier to understand on this album. On "She Don't Want a Man," he touches on the subject of adultery by a woman who would rather run off on secret excursions with a thug than spend time with her financially secure husband.

Other standout songs are "(hash)JetsGo"; "Still," and "Get Paid" featuring TradeMark Da SkyDiver and Young Roddy on both tracks; and "Televised" with Fiend.

— Jonathan Landrum Jr., Associated Press


Livan "Off The Grid" (Pumpkin Music)

This guy is going to be huge someday.

The Greek-born, London-raised singer Livan defies easy categorization. His voice has the snarl of Johnny Rotten and the exaggerated bass of Iggy Pop. His shaved head evokes Rob Halford, and his over-the-top stage presence evokes Freddie Mercury, clad one night in hot pink spandex and combat boots, the next in a leather fringed kilt.

And he rocks.

All-at-once angry, pensive, wistful and hopeful, Livan's songs run the gamut from post-punk slashing guitars to the dissonant power chords of classic 1970s rock, with just enough melody and harmony thrown in to make it commercially appealing. "Meet Me On The Other Side" is built around a two-chord riff very reminiscent of Black Sabbath's self-titled track "Black Sabbath," and guitarist Will Crewdson's solo has the type of frenzied crescendo that Cheap Trick's Rick Nielsen used early in his career.

"Little White Lies" would have been right at home on a Sex Pistols album, while "Sad" could have been a mix of Blink 182 and Billy Idol. "King Of The World" and "Many Happy Returns" hew more closely to pure punk tradition, while the album's best track, the ferocious "Undead" pairs menacing bass and guitar lines with a seething, barely controlled rage that would have made Livan a perfect villain in a Batman movie. (Hey, Hollywood, there's still time...)

Little known in this country, Livan has been wowing audiences and making a name for himself since the summer as the opening act for Alice Cooper. With those shows, he proved himself to be a breath of fresh air in a hard rock music scene desperately in need of some new excitement and a new Rock God. He's got the pipes, the songwriting ability, and the charisma to pull it off. Of all the albums you might have missed this year, go buy this one first.

— Wayne Parry, Associated Press


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