Mark Lanegan and Dr. Awkward
I'll Take Care of You
Women of the world, Mark Lanegan has only one request: please. Please. Consider me. The gravelly-voiced singer best known for his work with Seattle's Screaming Trees reveals an unexpectedly tender side on his new album, a quirky collection of covers ranging from Bobby "Blue" Bland to country legend Buck Owens. Lanegan as a soulful crooner? You bet—and it's not as surprising as it might seem. On previous albums—like last year's Scraps at Midnight—Lanegan let his unearthly baritone (weathered by God knows what) delve into dark-hued songs that touched on his battle with heroin, personal losses and fleeting love. Yet this time, Lanegan wants all the ladies in the house to know he's their man. From the warm, ghostly vibes on the title track to the undulating reverb on "Creeping Coastline of Lights," Lanegan infuses a gentleness into the tunes that's powerful and often touching. Perhaps his only misstep is "Boogie Boogie," a testament to why singers like Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen and Lanegan should never utter certain words (like "boogie" . . . eeewww). While he never abandons the country-flavored feel long familiar to his tenacious cult following, it's nice to see Lanegan check out the slinky side. He may never reach the sexual frenzy of Barry White, but maybe that's a good thing. (Mark Smith)
It can be so frustrating to watch one-trick gimmick bands make it big while talented, straightforward rock bands like Dr. Awkward linger in obscurity. You won't see this band dressing up as superheroes or jamming tortured, hackneyed reggae chords. Dr. Awkward are best when they cut straight to the music. Their second CD, 42, solidifies the band's rock-driven, soulful sound established in their previous disc, Love Songs. These are talented musicians—two are classically trained, and singer Lance Roberts has one of the most expressive voices of any male singer in OC today. The skill shows in the elaborate tapestry of sound they create. Songs like "Killed Your God" and "Rockstar" are just kick-ass, plain-as-day rock tunes that create an energy at the beginning and sustain it all the way through to a sticky climax. Others, like "Thirsty," are more experimental, diving into African rhythms (probably a byproduct of drummer Axel Clarke's training as a member of the Cal State Long Beach World Percussion Ensemble) and technological vocal alterations that often fail for less accomplished artists. Here, they work to startling effect. If the album has any real fault, it's that it's occasionally too artsy, which has contributed to their double-edged reputation as a musician's band. In a sea of schlock, that's a blessed fault. (Victor D. Infante)
Available at Tower Records in Costa Mesa, and on the band's Web site, home.earthlink.net/ ~dr_awkward. Hot line, (714) 205-8511; Dr. Awkward play the Hub Cafe, 124 E. Commonwealth (in back alley; doesn't face street), Fullerton, (714) 871-2233. Sat., 9 p.m. Free.
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