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Bestselling CDs

Notable CDs | The five most-played Triple A albums according to CMJ's New Music Report

Issue: "Africa: The new frontier," July 16, 2005

Bestselling CDs

The five most-played Triple A albums according to CMJ's New Music Report

1. GET BEHIND ME SATAN-The White Stripes Weeks on chart: 2 Style: Playfully rowdy garage punk. Objectionable material: PG-level lechery ("Forever for Her [Is Over for Me]"); casual cursing ("The Denial Twist"). Worldview: "Women, listen to your mothers. / Don't just succumb to the wishes of your brothers. / Take a step back. Take a look at one another. / You need to know the difference / between a father and a lover" ("Passive Manipulation"). Overall quality: Unpretentiousness taken to loud and often funny extremes. 2. GIMME FICTION-Spoon Weeks on chart: 10 Style: Melodic, mid-tempo college rock with a few jagged edges. Worldview: The dropping of Ralph Reed's name notwithstanding ("Merchants of Soul"), the album's intent would appear to reside less in its inconsequential lyrics than in its inner and outer cover photos, in which Little Red Riding Hood's hood resembles a burka and the wolf blood on her finger the purple ink of Iraqi voters. Overall quality: Pleasant, fleeting. 3. X&Y-Coldplay Weeks on chart: 2 Style: U2 minus the fire in the belly and the apocalyptic framework. Worldview: Not much worldview in the lyrics (which even in the promisingly titled bonus track "Till Kingdom Come" amount to little more than bittersweet nothings); maybe ersatz U2 for ersatz U2's sake? Overall quality: The numerous stretches of glacial beauty and arena-rock grandeur notwithstanding, little in the way of excitement; more accurate title: X and Y = ZZZZZ. 4. DEMON DAYS-Gorillaz Weeks on chart: 4 Style: Kaleidoscopically eclectic, hip-hop-laced electronica. Objectionable material: Crude slang ("Feel Good Inc.," "November Has Come"); obscenities ("Fire Coming Out of the Monkey's Head"). Worldview: Not much worldview in the lyrics (which amount to little more than non sequiturs); maybe hip-hop-laced electronic pop art for hip-hop-laced electronic pop art's sake? Overall quality: A woofer-rattling triumph of form over content (or the lack thereof). 5. COLD ROSES-Ryan Adams & the Cardinals Weeks on chart: 7 Style: Singer-songwriterly folk- and country-rock. Objectionable material: Obscenities ("Cherry Lane"). Worldview: "I want to go to Magnolia Mountain / and lay my weary head down, / down on the rocks on the mountain my Savior made"; "You plant a rose, / and if the rose comes up, you're thankful to God, / and when it doesn't you cuss him." Overall quality: One of those rare double-disc sets that doesn't cry out for editing. In the spotlight Between Diana Krall and Tori Amos, one could reasonably conclude that appearance-conscious women with breathy voices and an inability to keep their hands off pianos inevitably end up pretentious or overrated or both. And at first Judith Owen seems to be Exhibit C in the case against such performers. A careful listening to her newest album, Lost and Found (Century of Progress), however, reveals small but important differences. Ms. Owen, for instance, has a dry sense of humor that allows her to deflate both heavy metal (Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water") and Sting ("Walking on the Moon") without suggesting parody, and she has a similarly taut approach to jazz ("These Foolish Things," "Night and Day"). The overall effect is a weightlessness lacking in neither gravity nor substance. In the end, though, her cover songs open one's ears to her own bracingly unsentimental songs, which not only predominate but deserve to.

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