After slogging through a breakup, illnesses, and a lead singer's lost voice, Garbage is back with a bracing disc that finds one of the '90s most important bands firing off a convincing return to glory.
Shedding the experimental bent of its most recent releases, "Bleed Like Me" is a thrashing, live-wire rocker, the sound of a group that's just glad to be working again.
Despite Grammy nominations, critical acclaim, and chart success early in its career, Garbage imploded in 2001. Guitarist and creative center Butch Vig left in a huff; lead singer Shirley Manson lost her voice, and, along with band members Steve Marker and Duke Erikson, all went their own ways.
When they got back together last year, they hit their creative stride immediately, which is reflected throughout "Bleed Like Me." Manson is in fine voice - sexy and sassy - and the guitars are turned up extra loud, reflecting a conscious effort to rock out while remaining melodic.
Coupled with the complex lyrics that reflect a level of psychic despair that would be unnerving if exploration of it wasn't so unflinching, the effect is of a high-energy state of purpose.
Given that Pearl Jam is quietly under the rock and roll radar, Metallica seems to be getting better known for its therapy than its music, and Smashing Pumpkins is dissolved, Garbage is the last of the '90s bands still evolving and creating fresh, important work.
- ROD LOCKWOOD
Adam's new CD - already a chart-topper in Europe - features 11 tracks (and a brief running time of 37 minutes) of gravelly vocals, chiming guitars, attractive melodies, and a solid rock beat. It opens to the rock kick of "East Side Story," and Adams soon shows his penchant for ballads with one of his best, "Flying." It's a true lighters-in-the-air song with a great melody. Not all the tracks stand up so well, and the quality slips as the disc progresses, but it's still easy to like Adams' solid and unpretentious brand of rock and roll.
- RICHARD PATON
The self-titled debut that won him wide critical acclaim and multiple awards clearly wasn't a fluke, as this sophomore effort attests. Bentley's voice is a solid, strong, smooth baritone that fits comfortably on both the ballads and kickers. He surrounds himself with extremely talented session musicians, and avoids the pitfall of too much sameness in the type of songs he does, gaining strength from the little-bit-different edge that some of the rhythms give to his selections.
- KEN ROSENBAUM
Fans of easy-listening jazz will be pleased by this second album from Buble (pronounced Boo-blay), whose smooth vocals seem to borrow a little something from a young Frank Sinatra and his idol, Tony Bennett. There's a Buble original on this album; a song on which he's paired with singer Nelly Furtado - the Italian pop standard "Quando, Quando, Quando" - and likeable swing renditions of pop standards such as The Beatles' "Can't Buy Me Love" and Marvin Gaye's "How Sweet It Is."
- TOM HENRY