Toad The Wet Sprocket Welcome Home: Live At The Arlington Theatre (Columbia)
Toad, with the likes of bands such as REM, fall into a category all their own. They really didn't fit into the alternative rock scene that dominated most of the '90s, yet I wouldn't classify them as adult contemporary. Toad possess a certain attractive quality that is hard to explain. Their analytical songs are comfort music for the cynic. However, their newest live effort is somewhat disappointing. They lack the charisma found in their earlier efforts, Fear and Dulcinea in particular. Toad's live performance is effortless in every sense of the word. The tired vocals and lack-luster music make this album one to forget.
The Innocence Mission Now the Day is Over (Badman)
The seductive, siren-like girlish sounds flowing from Karen Peris' lips have the potential to recreate the charm of an old '30s romance flick. However, the magic is lost after about five minutes, and you're left with a record in which classic hits like "Moon River" and "Over the Rainbow" are turned into something that could very well be the soundtrack for a Teletubbies movie. After about the fifth song, the quite diverse cover tunes are monotonous and dull. The whimsical music is something you might hear at a new age or herbal store. All these classic songs should remain just that—classic--locked in the vault safe from nouveau bands that wish to do them harm.
Tift Merritt Tambourine (UMG)
Tift Merritt is one of those talented singer-songwriters praised by critics and ignored by mainstream audiences. Because radio stations are hellbent on playing American Idol crap, we are left with the notion that good, quality music is nonexistent. Au contraire! Tambourine is an enjoyable, relaxing and well-crafted album. Influences of blues, country and '70s southern rock are evident in this record. The songs are about unrequited love, loneliness, depression and, ironically, hope. Merritt's voice is raspy yet soft. The music and lyrics are deep yet playful. Tambourine is a lot of contradictions that fit perfectly together creating an enjoyable and refreshing album.