Album evaluations: Miley Cyrus, AC/DC, Dave Alvin | Characteristics

Miley Cyrus

“Plastic Hearts”

(RCA ** 1/2)

The operate-up to Miley Cyrus’ seventh album built up expectations that the previous teenager star with the powerhouse voice was all set to pull off a satisfying rock-and-roll reinvention.

Cyrus, who has usually shown outstanding style in handles – from her 2014 MTV functionality of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” to Irma Thomas’ “Ruler of My Heart” on the Bangerz tour – has been producing rock moves this 12 months, sharing Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were being Here” and Blondie’s “Heart of Glass.” And “Plastic Hearts” incorporates visitor appearances by Joan Jett and Billy Idol.

She’s acquired spiky hair and wears leather-based gloves on the album protect (shot by famous photographer Mick Rock), and the title “Plastic Hearts” evokes “Plastic Letters,” the 1978 album by Debbie Harry’s band, suggesting Cyrus has created her Blondie album.

If only.

“Plastic Hearts” does confirm what a great, raspy-voiced rock singer Cyrus is, growling with Idol on “Night Crawling.” And “Midnight Sky,” which samples Stevie Nicks’ “Edge of Seventeen” (and options Nicks in a remixed edition), is fabulous.

But the album suffers from everyday, by-committee songwriting, from the snarly opener “WTF Do I Know,” composed by 5 writers, to “Prisoner” a duet with Dua Lipa, which credits eight. And “Plastic Hearts” has production woes. Its hit-earning pop producers build a facsimile of “rock,” fairly than let a live band minimize loose.

The charismatic Cyrus nevertheless manages to arrive across as human, whether teaming up with Jett on “Bad Karma” or currently being frank about previous controversy-courting on “Golden G-String.” “I was hoping to have my possess electrical power,” she sings. “Still, I’m trying to do the job it out/ At least it gives the papers anything to create about.”

There’s authenticity there to make you feel Cyrus has a good rock history in her, but this is not it. – Dan DeLuca


“Energy Up”

(Columbia ***)

You really don’t come to a new AC/DC album expecting innovation, evolution, or wisdom. But you don’t want blatant retreads of earlier glories, either. Fortuitously, “Electricity Up,” the band’s 17th studio album, provides what issues: defiant anthems developed on loud, plain guitar riffs and shout-along choruses.

These males, who are all in their 60s and 70s, continue to audio fueled by teenage testosterone – and guitarist Angus Younger is nevertheless sporting his schoolboy uniform.

AC/DC experienced fallen aside right after their last album, 2016′s “Rock or Bust,” with only Younger and his nephew and fellow guitarist Stevie Youthful remaining. (Guns N’ Roses’ Axl Rose filled in on some tour dates when vocalist Brian Johnson left with hearing-reduction complications).

But Johnson, drummer Phil Rudd and bassist Cliff Williams are back again for “Ability Up,” and the band seems happily energized on tracks these types of as “Shot in the Dark” and “Money Shot.”

It’s no surprise “Electric power Up” seems like vintage AC/DC: Most of the music had been created by Angus and his brother Malcolm in 2008, when the band released the hugely regarded “Black Ice.”

Angus has named “Ability Up” a tribute to Malcolm, who retired in 2014 and died in 2017, nevertheless there is almost nothing sentimental about songs these kinds of as “Demon Fireplace,” “Kick You When You’re Down” or even “Through the Mists of Time.”

“Ability Up” sounds exactly like an AC/DC album should, and which is large praise.

– Steve Klinge

Dave Alvin

“From an Aged Guitar”

(Yep Roc ***)

Dave Alvin founded himself as a brilliantly concise songwriter in the ’80s, when he championed “American music” as the guitar-slinger with the terrific, roots-rocking Blasters. But since 2011′s “Eleven Eleven,” he has not created substantially, focusing in its place on non-originals in collaborations with artists these as his brother and Blasters mate Phil Alvin, together with Jimmie Dale Gilmore.

“From an Previous Guitar” collects 16 stray tracks from Alvin’s solo vocation, and, once more, most are by other writers. But the performances spotlight his abilities as an interpreter and the expressiveness of his smoke-remedied baritone, which has grown significantly considering the fact that he built the go from silent six-stringer to entrance guy.

Backed primarily by associates of his numerous bands more than the yrs, Alvin touches on blues, state, rock-and-roll and jazz as he usually takes on quantities by contemporaries (Chris Smither’s “Link of Chain,” Peter Case’s “On the Way Downtown”) and elders (Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited,” Marty Robbins’ “Many Walks Amongst Us”). He goes way back again with Lil Armstrong’s “Perdido Road Blues” and Bo Carter’s “Who’s Been Below,” a raucous duet with Christy McWilson.

A specific delight is the tempo-shifting instrumental “Variations on Earl Hooker’s Guitar Rhumba.”

“Beautiful Metropolis ‘Cross the River” and “Signal Hill Blues” are hard, blues-drenched originals that remind you how superior a storyteller Alvin is and make you wish he would get back again to creating additional. – Nick Cristiano

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