I know it's a little early for Thanksgiving, but here are some turkeys fit for the oven.
U2: How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (Interscope, 2004). Having proven he's the Bob Geldof of the '90s, Bono now sets his sights on another over the top icon - Sting: another entity who hasn't had anything relevant to say in over a decade. I know rock bands can get carried away with themselves, but these guys haven't made any waves since Rattle and Hum and that was a live performance! C+
Neil Young and Crazy Horse: Greendale (Reprise, 2003). I saw Young perform this claptrap at Jones Beach. Dull, long, and insipid are words you usually don't associate with him, until, that is, you have to endure this. C-
Ryan Adams: Gold (Lost Highway, 2001). I was betting that New York, New York was his 9/11 tribute until I learned it was recorded before the event. No matter how many Gram Parsons and Bob Dylan comparisons I keep hearing about this guy, all I keep coming back to is Jackson Browne in the early '70s: boring and full of himself. Play Highway '61 Revisited or Grievous Angel and you tell me. Significance that's mass produced for consumption always spells the same: pretentious. C-
Bruce Springsteen: The Rising (Columbia, 2002). It's hard not to like this guy; his heart is in the right place. And unlike so many of his modern-day contemporaries in their 40s or 50s (Sting, for example) you actually want the guy to succeed. But like so many do-gooders, Springsteen gets lost in his subject. Into the Fire is predictable. The heroes of 9/11 (the cops, the firemen) are suppose to give us faith and hope for a better tomorrow. Truthful? Maybe. Good art? Not really. C
The Mountain Goats: The Sunset Tree (4AD, 2005). After two fairly impressive albums, John Darnielle was due for a let down, but I never suspected a melt down. It's not like he's the first artist to use music as therapy - indeed most great art delves into pain - but Darnielle doesn't go anywhere with it. He's trapped in his pain and no matter how defiant words like "I will make it through this year if it kills me" may sound, you're just not sold. This is one patient who should've sued his therapist. B-
Shelby Lynne: Love, Shelby (Island, 2001). Great looks, great tits and great legs can take you so far, the rest is up to talent. C-
Brian Wilson: Smile (Nonesuch, 2004). This isn't nearly bad enough to merit mention in a turkey shoot, but with all the hoopla surrounding it - not to mention the 37-year wait we've had to endure while Wilson fiddled with it just getting it right - it deserves mention as the single most overdone and under-delivered album of the last few years. None of these songs - most of which have sounded better in earlier renditions - improve with age in spite of Wilson's dickering. His voice, long ago lost into the void, seems overmatched for the material any way. And no matter how many '60s gurus insist that this is the great lost Beach Boys album, I'll pass. B