Three 6 Mafia

“The Last 2 Walk”


This is an appropriately titled album, as the Oscar-winning rap act is now down to its core of Juicy J and DJ Paul.

But this stripped-down nucleus still produces the full-bodied sound for which Three 6 Mafia is known. It remains their “get buck” style of rap, complete with phat beats and nasty chants. Theirs is an infectious sonic blast.

That being said, “The Last 2 Walk” more than earns its “parental advisory” label, as the duo documents life in their hometown of Memphis as they see it. Many won’t find their social commentary, especially on drugs and women, terribly enlightened, but it’s their world and they’re welcome to it.

Also, Juicy J and DJ Paul are surrounded by guest artists, including their proteges Project Pat and Lil Wyte as well as Pimp C, Unk, Akon, Lyfe Jennings and, for a change of pace, Good Charlotte. Everyone brings something different to the party, and, for the most part, it works.

“The Last 2 Walk” proves that despite being in-demand producers, reality TV stars and clothing-line magnates, the veteran pair behind Three 6 Mafia aren’t spread too thin. They still put their music first, and any new release is worth the wait.


Blake Shelton

“Blake Shelton [More] Pure BS” Deluxe Edition

(Warner Bros.)

By now, all country music fans are familiar with 32-year-old Blake Shelton from Oklahoma. The honky-tonk country boy got his start as a teenager and worked his way to the top with hits such as “Austin” and “Some Beach” that grace country stations everywhere.

Now up there with the likes of Keith Urban and Kenny Chesney, Shelton has made a name for himself as a singer and TV personality, and his latest album, “Blake Shelton [More] Pure BS” deluxe edition is top of the line.

Although most of the tracks are a little on the sad side, it’s obvious that Shelton’s a man who isn’t afraid to show some emotion and is someone his fans can relate to. He is divorced from his high school sweetheart, and in listening to his lyrics it sure seems as if love hasn’t been lucky for Shelton.

A personal favorite, “Home” is one that hits everyone at some point in his or her life.

After seeing his live performance on “Nashville Star,” singing along to Shelton should probably be left to prerecorded versions that can be crooned along to in the shower or the car, but the recommendation to purchase “Blake Shelton [More] Pure BS” is that it’s worth the money.


Jakob Dylan

“Seeing Things”


A solo record by someone who leads his own band might seem like the ultimate ego indulgence. Jakob Dylan, the principal songwriter and lead singer for The Wallflowers, hasn’t lacked an outlet for his tunes. But “Seeing Things,” Dylan’s first solo record, travels down a road very different from those his band has explored.

“Seeing Things” is a journey into the heart and soul of song writing, relying on sparse instrumentation – acoustic guitar, bass and the occasional drums played with brushes – and lyrically dense pieces.

On the dark “Evil is Alive and Well,” which might have been included on Bob Dylan’s “Oh Mercy,” he sings: “May be in a palace, it may be in the streets. May be here among us on a crowded beach. May be asleep in a roadside motel. But evil is alive and well.”

But unlike his father, in most of the songs the younger Dylan sings, in a voice reminiscent of Tom Petty, of enduring love, a brighter future and living, happily, in the moment.

And unlike Dad, the younger Dylan has composed some pretty melodies here, and hits the notes as he sings them. Standout tracks, whose titles suggest the hard-won optimism they express, include “Will It Grow,” “Everybody Pays as They Go,” and “Something Good This Way Comes.”

The 10 tunes on “Seeing Things” could not have achieved the same impact had Dylan brought them to his band. They seem best expressed in the simple, uncluttered setting he has chosen.

Dad must be proud.


The Ting Tings

“We Started Nothing”


Being described by Britain’s New Musical Express as the “most exciting new band in the country” doesn’t mean too much. Similar accolades have gone to hundreds of footnotes in music history. Still, The Ting Tings may actually deserve the title. “We Started Nothing” is an album packing more potential hit singles per square inch than anything since Lily Allen’s “Alright Still” stole the summer of 2007. Katie White (vocals and guitar) and Jules De Martino (electronics and drums) are on their second go around at the pop music business together after their last band “Dear Eskiimo” went “completely wrong.” This time however, things are going completely right.

Taking cues from Blondie, New Order and LCD Soundsystem, “We Started Nothing” is one of the most sussed slabs of electro-pop you’re likely to hear this year. Arch mockingbird White struts and fizzes over aggro beats on “Not My Name,” could be auditioning for the role of an angel in the school play on “Traffic Light,” and then channels P.J. Harvey on the title track, over the best two-chord guitar riff never written by The Ramones.

It remains to be seen whether or not they really can be “the Sonny and Cher of Salford Precinct for the Noughties,” but with “We Started Nothing,” the Ting Tings are quite clearly starting something.