Music releases


“Global Warming”
RCA Records
Last year this Cuban American MC installed himself as the commander of a worldwide dance-rap scene with “Planet Pit,” which spawned a series of club-ready hits featuring the likes of Marc Anthony (“Rain Over Me”), Chris Brown (“International Love”) and Ne-Yo (the Hot 100-topping “Give Me Everything”). Having evidently found leadership to his liking, Pitbull is now seeking a second term.

“Don't stop the party!” he barks not long into his new album, and the rest of “Global Warming” gives you little opportunity to consider other options. It's an all-night rager as envisioned by the planet's best-dressed autocrat.

What makes Pitbull's rule tolerable is his goofy shamelessness. Though the approach here precisely mirrors that on “Planet Pit” — think big beats and bigger cameos — he's using his increased power to venture even more daringly beyond the limits of good taste. In “Have Some Fun” he and guests the Wanted riff on “All I Wanna Do” by Sheryl Crow, while “Feel This Moment” (with Christina Aguilera) turns A-ha's '80s synth-pop curio “Take on Me” into the stuff of a Las Vegas bachelorette bash. The title track is bolder still: It opens the album with the unmistakable keyboard pulse of Los del Rio's 1996 novelty smash “Macarena.”
— Mikael Wood, Los Angeles Times

Iris DeMent

“Sing the Delta”
Flariella Records
Iris DeMent certainly takes her time making albums. “Sing the Delta” is her first in eight years and her first collection of new original material in 16. When the results are this sublimely good, however, it's hard to complain.

The 51-year-old Arkansas-born singer may have been raised in Southern California, but her voice still possesses an industrial-strength nasal twang, one that radiates both frailty and resolve and is as real and unvarnished as the portrait of her on the cover. The music, likewise, is still rooted in country and gospel, with DeMent's churchy piano underpinning most of the tracks. The vividly drawn songs bring striking depth and nuance to familiar country themes, whether she's singing movingly about Mom and Dad, missing a loved one, or delivering a love song to her native South (the title track, a stately ballad caressed by Stax-like soul horns).

Perhaps nowhere does DeMent cut closer to the bone than on the songs that grapple with faith. It still exerts an ineluctable pull on her: On “If That Ain't Love,” she sings about being overcome when Aretha comes on her car radio singing “Precious Lord, Take My Hand.” But in “The Kingdom Has Already Come,” she confesses: “I stopped in the church to pray/ It was the middle of the day/ And I don't even know if I believe in God.” And that is followed by her devastating story about “The Night I Learned How Not to Pray.”
— Nick Cristiano, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Led Zeppelin

“Celebration Day”
Atlantic Records
Why won't Led Zeppelin commit to a reunion tour and cash the biggest unsigned check in the music business? Partly because Robert Plant has better things to do (and new music to make). And partly because, in their heart of hearts, the band members know that, over the long slog of a world tour, sustaining the thrilling excellence demonstrated throughout this document of a one-night-only get-together would be no easy business.

“Celebration Day” was recorded at London's O2 arena in 2007 in honor of-then recently deceased Atlantic Records executive Ahmet Ertegun. “Ahmet, we did it!” Plant shouts skyward after the band performs “Stairway to Heaven.”

Guitarist Jimmy Page, bass/ keyboard player John Paul Jones, drummer Jason Bonham (son of original member John Bonham, whose death in 1980 led to the band's breakup), and leonine frontman Plant are in commanding form throughout the two-hour set. Crisp, thunderous and relaxed, the defining architects of heavy rock move from strength to strength, from intoxicating jams like “No Quarter” to the controlled fury of “Rock & Roll,” with Plant paying tribute to revered if uncredited blues forebears like Robert Johnson and Blind Willie Johnson along the way. “Celebration Day” comes in a variety of configurations; it's worth getting one that includes the Dick Carruthers-directed performance film for a fully satisfying Led Zep redux experience.
— Dan DeLuca, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Bad Brains

“Into the Future”
Megaforce Records
There's a sample on the new Bad Brains album, “Into the Future,” that perfectly captures the influential D.C. punk band's early contact with audiences: “We figured if they didn't mind us being black, we didn't mind them being white.” The statement, like the band, is an incitement, an acknowledgment of the occasionally uneasy relationship among punk, metal and race in the genre's formative years.

It didn't hurt that Bad Brains was one of the most incendiary of the first-generation hardcore punk bands, and that the group went on to influence a wealth of later acts, including the Beastie Boys, TV on the Radio and the Mars Volta. Formed in 1977, Bad Brains — singer H.R., guitarist Dr. Know, bassist-producer Darryl Jenifer and drummer Earl Hudson — offers a heavy blend of riffage and Rastafarianism on its first studio album in five years.

As on the band's classic self-titled debut and its oft-overlooked '86 metal-punk-reggae album “I Against I,” the four musicians on “Into the Future” present brutal songs that often travel on meandering paths. “Youth of Today” starts hard and ends dubby, and “Come Down” is as ferocious a hardcore wind sprint as anything the band's ever done. As always, singer H.R. is as much a preacher as a singer, and the constant proselytizing about Jah gets a little old, but complaining about it is like knocking Kirk Franklin for singing about Jesus. It's best to sit back and let the power of visionary punk rock wash over you.
— Randall Roberts, Los Angeles Times

Keyshia Cole

Geffen Records
The cover of “Woman to Woman” shows a glamorous Keyshia Cole removing a less glamorous Keyshia Cole mask.

The mask has no makeup; the woman underneath does. You might find this misleading — shouldn't it be vice versa? Isn't the genuine self usually the one without blue lipstick and eyeliner?

You have asked the right question, the one with no solution. Cole is interested in complex and unresolvable emotions, pretty much for their own sake. She's still working off the model of Mary J. Blige as a powerful singer in hip-hop soundscapes and as a proponent of relationship realness. “Woman to Woman,” Cole's fifth album, is an R&B almanac of shaky romance, nearly every song a first-person narrative with gnarled details, endlessly recombining data about suspicion, jealousy, pride, punishment, self-respect, the lead-up, the aftermath.

The thing itself, the happiness, the ecstasy? It shows up in “Wonderland,” a duet with Elijah Blake, and “Hey Sexy,” a sly and generous song written with Terius Nash and Carlos McKinney. But they seem like patch-ins from other records, maybe even her last one, the happier “Calling All Hearts.” “Woman to Woman” is for the anxious stat-crunchers of emotional sport, those marking up their box scores instead of watching the game.

The first half of the record has about half a narrative. It presents different aspects of what a woman thinks during the period between the first suspicion of malfeasance and the end of, say, the first month of living alone.(And it) ends with “Signature,” a song for a man to be trusted, and the anxieties dissolve: “I can't believe I found love, I finally have peace,” she sings.

The softer beats carry the information that this is a song of happiness, but her delivery across the record makes all situations sound the same: peace, war, passive aggression.
— Ben Ratliff, The New York Times