Reviews of recent CD releases:
SHWAYZE — "Shwayze"
When Malibu MC Adam Smith — known to MTV viewers as Shwayze — hooked up with "producer" Cisco Adler, it was a hazy, lazy match made in beach bum heaven.
Adler's been kicking around fantastic L.A. as his father's son (producer Lou Adler) a grunge-glam rocker and a boy-
toy to Paris/Mischa/etc. Somebody had to give Cisco something solid to do.
That'd be Shwayze, the self-described "only black kid in Malibu." The rapper has a sleepier, more laconic flow than a narcoleptic G. Love in a hammock and lyrics that concern themselves with weed, women, more weed, Hollywood, cars and once again, weed.
So Adler's crooning woozily alongside the chilled-out MC and producing sunshine strummed beat-boxed songs like "Roamin' " that come off like a third-rate Sugar Ray. Yet, despite their limited vocabulary their debut album is contagious as all-get-out in a languidly wonky fashion.
As long as you don't lose too many brain cells, you'll be OK.
MATTHEW SWEET — "Sunshine Lies"
"I need a room to rock in," Matthew Sweet proclaims repeatedly on the second track of his 10th solo album.
"Room to Rock" sounds desperate, which is apt, and forced, which isn't.
On 1991's "Girlfriend," his career-making masterpiece, Sweet effortlessly mixed crunchy power pop, bitter ballads and brilliant lead guitar work from Television's Richard Lloyd and Lou Reed sideman Robert Quine. "Sunshine Lies" seems a self-conscious attempt to recapture that golden era, with the return for two tracks each of Lloyd and of Ivan Julian, who worked with Sweet in the mid-'90s. It's a mixed bag: for each rocker that takes flight ("Flying"), two are leaden ("Sunrise Eyes," "Burn Through Love"), and a similar ratio hold s for the Byrds-y psychedelia and the folk pop ballads that recall Sweet's work with the Thorns.
SUGARLAND — "Love on the Inside — Deluxe Fan Edition"
Jennifer Nettles' in-your-face performing style is akin to the sensation of diving into a chilly swimming pool. Even if you know what to expect, her nasal twang still feels like a full-body slap.
Thing is, she's got a terrific voice once you get used to it.
On "Love on the Inside," with Sugarland partner Kristian Bush, Nettles sings with palpable ache on ballads "Love" and "What I'd Give" and power on rocker "Take Me As I Am." Taken in doses, Sugarland seems poised to break even wider.