Linkin Park (Warner Bros.)
Linkin Park stormed the alternative music world three years ago with its debut disc, “Hybrid Theory.” This fiery new release finds the band mining familiar territory with equal success.
The formula is relatively simple: angst-filled lyrics that explore alienation from every angle, big blasting guitars, a combination of rapping and singing, and a grab-bag of sounds and samples.
At only about 35 minutes long, it's a short disc by today's standards, but each track packs a wallop. Guitar solos are eschewed in exchange for a wall of sound built on metallic chords and a dynamic dual vocal attack by Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda.
“Hit the Floor” has a hip-hop vibe that soars from a spare rap to full roar in seconds. “Easier to Run” is imbued with a Rush-like feel to the vocals and openness of the arrangement. And the breakneck speed of “Faint” is pure alt.metal bliss.
Often lumped in with Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park deserves to stand on its own as an uncompromising young band with a knack for making music people like, while maintaining its own high standards.
— ROD LOCKWOOD
MIXED LIVE: TALL PAUL 2nd SESSION
Tall Paul (Moonshine)
Until recently, it was rare that a CD could recreate the experience of hearing dance music in a club. Moonshine is trying to change that with a series of two-CD sets that combine an audio disc and a 5:1 Dolby digital surround sound DVD of a DJ performing live. Tall Paul kicks off the series with a superb mix of pumping house and trance. Recorded at Miami's Club Space, this CD/DVD package lets at-home listeners enjoy something close to being there.
— RICHARD PATON
Jesper Winge Leisner and Niels “Ivory” Brinck (Epic/Sony Music Soundtrax)
Indonesian singer Anggun Cipta Sasmi's voice bears an incredible likeness to Annie Lennox on this dazzling soundtrack. Her vocals are beautiful on their own; the bonus is that she belts out her lyrics in the no-holds-barred style Lennox displays on her best work. The score opens at a frenetic pace and the energy flows gracefully in step with Anggun. It's a fresh soundtrack, one of the year's sleepers.
— TOM HENRY
HEALER OF HEARTS
Danny Wright (Real Music)
This generous two-disc set offers 25 newly recorded versions of Wright's best original work, along with some popular covers. Unlike so many New Age pianists, Wright's creations offer a bit of passion and some honest-to-goodness melodies. A couple of these new versions seem a bit more enthusiastic than the original recordings, and this package is a good retrospective of his best work.
— KEN ROSENBAUM
THE BEST OF ELLA FITZGERALD: 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection
The 1930s swing style carries none of the pain and passion, and none of the spirit that came to mark Fitzgerald's singing in the post-war period. “Hard Hearted Hannah,” “You'll Have to Swing It ( Mr. Paganini)” and “Let's Do It,” are slow and tedious compared to later recordings by the jazz diva. But this collection is worth having for the honeyed duet with Louis Armstrong on “Dream a Little Dream of Me,” and for her first major crossover hit, “A-Tisket, A-Tasket.”
— LARRY ROBERTS
The D.O.C. (Silverback)
For those who appreciate G-funk, this is a must-have. The mixture of talent is just right, with The D.O.C. using name artists, but primarily as flavoring. Tracks “Judgement Day” and “What Would You Do?” are classic G-funk, where the differences in the flow of 6 Two, who is laid back, and A. Young, who is frenetic, work well together. The music is funky and current enough for today's hip-hop listeners, and this disc shows The D.O.C. can still put out projects that keep G-funk alive.
— STEWART WALKER