NORAH Jones is not the type of girl you would pick to star in a Russ Meyer film, but the jazzy songwriter who once crooned Come Away With Me has been hurt one too many times and is in such a broken-hearted, vengeful mood she reimagines herself on the Little Broken Hearts album cover as the star of Meyer’s 1965 revenge fantasy Mudhoney in an homage to the movie’s poster.
Jones is filled with hurt over a man who left her for a 22-year-old woman named Miriam, the outright focus of two songs: the reverbdrenched She’s 22 and the tender ballad Miriam, which would be downright lovely if not for lines like, “Oh Miriam, that’s such a pretty name, and I’ll keep saying it until you die.”
The revenge fantasy is the only time she shows off any kind of murderous thoughts, although there is a touch of noir on the cinematicatic 4 Broken Hearts.hearts Elseelsewhere she’s taking drugs to get over the pain (the poppy Happy Pills is a standout), looking at old pictures and revisiting the past. Producer Brian Burton (Danger Mouse) helps keep things interesting musically even when things get dour lyrically with heavy bass, synthesizers, Wurlitzer and strings.
She might not be a Meyer girl, but she is on the way to transforming herself from adultcontemporary lounge singer into something a little more kick ass. And don’t tick her off. Have you seen any of Meyer’s movies? ½ SOUTHERN Ontario’s anthemic pop combo Rikers goes all in on its ironically titled latest album Islands. What is wonderful about this band is the same thing that makes it irritating: a penchant for making every track sound as extra large and emotional as possible, which borders on the brink of becoming cartoonish. Opening track Island delivers a guitar figure worthy of AC/DC and when singer Ryan Kennedy leans into his vocals there is no doubt this guy craves attention. With his Bono-like urgency and ability to build himself into an emotional lather on every track here, Kennedy will either be loved or hated by anyone hearing this album.
The band churns out some interesting indie power pop that references everything from U2 and The Cult to some of the better New Romantic bands of the ’80s. The taut riffage caroms off Kennedy’s urgent wail making Islands an interesting, if derivative listen. Rikers open for Big Wreck at the Garrick Centre on Tuesday. THE smartest guy in the room — admittedly, a room full of metalheads — but Marilyn Manson always fired his style, dissidence and self-promotion with genuine intelligence. Can you out-think yourself? Born Villain is an attempted rebirth, which is remarkable itself for someone eight albums in; then again, every Manson album is a reinvention, if not an exorcism.
Born Villain is a full-on actingout, both self-lacerating and, of course, vengeful. An industrial/ goth heart with a lubed spring in its stomp. Hey Cruel World opens with a reassertion of his danger. No Reflection is the perfect homage to Bauhaus et al., with a concise hook. The title track is way over thought, while Flowers of Evil finally focuses the portrait of how needy he is. Born Villain is an art-concept of a concept. Give him credit for picking the scabs at the edges of creativity, and hope this grows. Like an infection. ½ is vibrant and joyous. His amicable vocal feels as comfortable as worn-in Birkenstocks. The 10 songs here are enhanced by his lyrical prowess as evidenced by The Waitress (“Her dreams, they fell asleep on the top bunk/ and woke up on the floor”) or You Can’t Turn Around (“Your cups filled up, but baby your thirst is gone”).
Barber is possessed by a consummate wanderlust for life while questioning faith and seeking happiness only to realize maybe even everything is not enough (as he notes on the track, Everything is Not Enough). Headwaters is the finest work yet from one of Canada’s most promising young troubadours. SIMONE Dinnerstein likes theme-based piano programs. This one reflects the vocal elements in Schubert and Bach correlated to a poem by Philip Larkin of, “Trees coming into leaf Like something almost being said.” The result is typically personal, generously imprinted with phrasing liberties and closely recorded, but the project is only partially successful.
On the plus side is an invigorating go of Bach’s Partita No. 2 showing Dinnerstein’s evenness of tone, touch and effortless passage work. But Schubert’s Four Impromptus Op.90 gets a gluey over-inflected reading rather than the more ideal sense of the music playing itself and finding its own way. An inert play of Bach’s Partita No. 1 closes with the outer movements’ tempo deadly slow, though the central Corrente is properly energized. A disappointingly mixed bag from a pianist like this.