Music reviews for Dec. 12, 2013

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Gazette wire services
Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Various artists, “The Music of Nashville: Original Soundtrack Season 2, Volume 1”

Like the rare, maybe mythical man who only reads Playboy for the articles, some must surely claim to watch “Nashville” solely for the music.

That's no crime—those who aren't much for sudsy nighttime soaps would do well to check out the ABC show's songs on “The Music of Nashville: Original Soundtrack Season 2, Volume 1.” While the storylines strain credulity, these sonic underpinnings hold the show together—as should be the case with a series set and filmed in Music City.

The actors sing their own parts, and the leads, Hayden Panettiere and Connie Britton, do fine jobs at the mic. Yet the true revelations are found in the musical chops of others, such as Clare Bowen and Sam Palladio.

“The Music of Nashville” runs the gamut from the slick and sassy (“Can't Say No to You,” “Trouble Is”) to tender, deeper cuts (“Why Can't I Say Goodnight,” “This Town”). Still, less can be more: The acoustic, demo-like take of “Ball and Chain” sung by Palladio and Bowen on the show is preferable to the Stetson and rhinestone-laden version on the soundtrack by Britton and Will Chase.

Overall, this collection has many hooks worth a listen, and it could hook a few more viewers who typically might forgo froth on TV.

—Jeff Karoub, Associated Press

One Direction, “Midnight Memories”

On its third album, the globe's biggest boy band ramps up its ambition, and the results are impressive. For the most part.

The British cute-tet has added crunch to its usual laddies-in-unison anthems. “Best Song Ever” carries a hefty Who-sian bluster. The similarly cranked “Little Black Dress” might in fact be 1D's best song ever. The band carries its rock fantasies a little too far on the silly title track, a Def Leppard knockoff. But even the sugariest pop songs here, such as “Diana,” have more kick than they did in the past.

There's a disastrous experiment with Mumfordy folk, on songs such as “Story of My Life” and “Through the Dark.” That is one direction the boys definitely should not be taking.

—David Hiltbrand, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Parmalee, “Feels Like Carolina”

Parmalee's debut album, “Feels Like Carolina,” is so good that the band is perched on the edge of an overnight success story. Hey, it's only taken the quartet a decade or so of touring to get there.

Thanks to the well-crafted, pop-leaning smash “Carolina,” interest in the group—and its combination of likable, Luke Bryan, lighthearted country and arena rock—is running high. Matt Thomas' distinctive vocals have that tender-but-tough quality that works in a variety of settings, from the catchy country of “Close Your Eyes” to the laid-back, summer-soaked sweetness of “Day Drinkin'” and even out to the Southern-fried Def Leppard-like anthem “I'll Bring the Music.”

—Glenn Gamboa, Newsday

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