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Best of the 00s: Johnny Cash, Josh Ritter & Justin Timberlake

Posted by February 29th, 2012 No Comments »

Best of the 00s: Gabe Joins the 21st Century
Part 23: Johnny Cash, Josh Ritter & Justin Timberlake

Nada Co-founders Matt and Gabe are listening to 197 of the music press’s picks for “best albums of the 00s” for a series called Gabe Joins the 21st Century.

Johnny Cash – American IV – The Man Comes Around

#28 on NME’s List

Gabe: The first two tracks on this album showcase the best aspects of Cash’s collaboration with Rick Rubin. “The Man Comes Around” is the only new Cash original on the album, and it’s a killer. “The Man Comes Around”  hits the same spooky judgment day notes of religious conviction as “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” from American V. Next up is Cash’s famous cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt.” Even without the heart-wrenching video, Cash’s performance of this song is a masterpiece of despair. As for the rest of the album, even when the covers get a little silly – (Can anyone over the age of 35 hear “Desperado” without thinking of Elaine’s boyfriend in that one episode of Seinfeld?)  – Cash’s voice saves the day. Grade: LIKE

Matt: In a countdown full of troubling letdowns from pop/rock legends (see Springsteen, Dylan), it’s good to be reminded that Johnny had something special right up to the end of his career, which ended when he passed away in September 2003. Released the yea before, in 2002, The Man Comes Around is a solid collection of covers highlighted a single original, the title track. “The Man Come Around” is actually among Johnny’s best work: a classic tale that could have easily appeared on one of his seminal 1960s releases. Hi cover of the Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt” is still one of the most beautiful, unexpected and intense cover songs I’ve ever heard, though  could have done without Johnny’s take on “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” and “Desperado.” Grade: LIKE

Josh Ritter – The Animal YearsJosh Ritter – The Animal Years   
Paste #13

Matt: Man am I glad we’re doing this countdown. All these albums full of nice, boring music for old people are making me feel young  (see also: the Jayhawks). Josh Ritter’s The Animal Years is the latest, and it sounds tailor made for the adult rock format characterized by 103.7 “The Mountain” here in Seattle. By song three, “Monster Ballads,” this album has literally faded in to nothing for me. It might as well be quiet. Grade: DNL

Gabe: The Animal Years does indeed sound like it was designed by a focus group to receive maximum airplay on adult album alternative radio stations alongside your favorites like Mark Knoffler, Bruce Hornsby, and Coldplay. At times, the sensitive vocals are positively “Fogelberg-like.” Or perhaps “Croce-esque.” Although the album is easy to make fun of, there are a few nice tracks, including the Westerburg-ian “One More Mouth.” But, mainly, blah. Grade: DNL

Justin Timberlake – FutureSex LoveSoundsJustin Timberlake  FutureSex/LoveSounds
Rolling Stone’s #46

Gabe: This is an album of dance music. Eleven of the 12 tracks are about hooking up with girls and/or breaking up with girls. Usually a dance floor is involved. Based on those parameters, I was shocked to find myself repeatedly listening to FutureSex/LoveSounds all the way through (almost). While the Justin Timberlake of ‘N Sync and Justified took most of his cues from Michael Jackson, I hear all sorts of Prince on FutureSex/LoveSounds. (Was it Chris Rock that had the funny line about “remember when we thought Prince was the weird one?”) In any event, I haven’t liked a boy band alumni this much since my embarrassing, short-lived infatuation with Robbie Williams a while back. Grade: LIKE

Matt: I’ve been rooting for JT and his second career for awhile now. There’s the solid acting, the brilliant SNL appearances, and what sounds like some pretty fun popular music. Of course, this is the first time I’m listening to a full album and I must say I had my doubts, but FutureSex/LoveSounds consistently delivers funky soul and R&B jams, with singles like “Sexy Back” and “Love Stoned” serving as exclamation points on just how good this guy really is. He even sounds cool singing about how much pussy he gets on “Sexy Ladies.” Grade: LOVE

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