Slash, "Slash" (Dik Hayd)
On his first solo album, the Guns N' Roses/Velvet Revolver guitar god co-writes and jams with big names, including Fergie and Kid Rock. What kind of frontman is he? The answer is not as cool as you'd hope unless you're a 16-year-old 7-Eleven clerk stuck in 1986. Most of "Slash" is vaguely Dokkenesque overly slick production, ripe lyrics, rote power chords.
Opening cut "Ghost," featuring the Cult's Ian Astbury, is a midtempo clunker. Ozzy Osbourne shows up on "Crucify the Dead," a direct shot at Axl Rose that ultimately plays like a lame "Bark at the Moon" B side. The missed opportunities are myriad. Old pal Duff McKagan and Foo Fighter Dave Grohl jam on "Watch This Dave," which never reaches the expected transcendent highs. Wolfmother's Andrew Stockdale shows up on the pseudo-mythic "By the Sword" but only skirts greatness. Slash's playing on "Doctor Alibi" is ferocious, but Motorhead's Lemmy sounds as if he's singing it from a busted wheelchair.
There are a few highlights. Fergie and Slash are sexy as all get-out, so it makes sense that the gentlemen's-club grind of "Beautiful Dangerous" works. "I Hold On" is more Kid Rock than Slash, but it has the gospel-tinged makings of a hit. And the strange-bedfellows inclusion of Maroon 5's Adam Levine on the black-and-bluesy "Gotten" features Slash's best solo, slowly exploding like a broken heart.
SEAN DALY, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES
Christian Scott, "Yesterday You Said Tomorrow" (Concord Jazz)
Frequently pinching his trumpet to a low, muted whisper, the genre-blind 26-year-old incorporates elements of funk, rock and hip-hop into jazz, making him the collaborator of choice for a wide variety of musicians, including Mos Def, Prince and even Glen Ballard. Yet he's never made an album quite like this.
The police-brutality-inspired "K.K.P.D.," built around a skittering, restless rhythm, sets the record's tone with Scott's murmuring trumpet gathering around the song's edges like a cold wind before rising to an outraged peak. The album's contemplative sound can feel a bit monochromatic, and a few ballads drift too far into the background. But with many arresting moments of collaboration and expression, "Yesterday You Said Tomorrow" feels like a broad-reaching statement of purpose, one that clearly marks Scott as an artist taking his music to the next level.
CHRIS BARTON, LOS ANGELES TIMES