ELOFans of Michael McDonald and the Doobie Brothers can pick up a new greatest hits collection of both, released under McDonald's name through Rhino Records. Michael McDonald: The Ultimate Collection offers McDonald's solo recordings "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "Sweet Freedom," "Ya Mo B There" (with James Ingram) and "On My Own" (with Patti LaBelle), among others. There also are Doobie classics such as "What a Fool Believes," "Takin' It to the Streets," "Minute By Minute," "You Belong to Me" and "It Keeps You Runnin.' "

This week's featured reviews are examples of extremes in sound.Dark New Day forges new riffs in hard rock, while Cranes maintain its place as one of the most delicate, ethereal bands ever to record.

 

Dark New Day Dark New Day
Twelve Year Silence
(Warner Bros.)
½


Formed by former members of Sevendust, Creed, Stereomud, Tommy Lee's band and more, Dark New Day resuscitates the grunge rock genre with a punch in the gut from three intense, furiously in-sync guitarists and a powerful vocalist (Brett Hestla, former bassist of Creed).

Melody is what separates Dark New Day from many hard rock outfits that simply scream lyrics over a pounding bed of distortion. It's not that Hestla doesn't growl out some fury on these tracks, but he and the band work up 11 pounding rhythm beds of throbbing bass, pounding drums and buzz-saw guitars, and then actually sing, not scream over the top of it.

The fiery harmonies of "Free" are a testament to the band's ability to meld "catchy" with "metal." After a pounding hard verse, the members of the band all join in on the chorus to make the words "free/now are you?" rise above the din to take it to hard rock nirvana.

Sometimes the metallic sheen of the rippling bass heat and the crunch-rock guitars is reminiscent of the incandescent stomp rock of King's X, but mostly, the calculated fury of the band echoes the reptilian grandeur of Saliva, especially on the standout opener "Taking Me Alive" where Hestla belts:

"Take what you want and leave a hole inside
Take everything you need to keep you satisfied
Break everything you see then try to hide
Take it all but you're never taking me alive."

If you want some solid summer riffage to blast and headbang to, this is the CD you've been waiting for.

Sound samples and videos are at www.darknewday.com.

 

Cranes Cranes
Particles & Waves
(Dadaphonic/Manifesto)


Ali Shaw, the focal point of Cranes, has the smallest, most fragile voice ever, the perfect pipes to evoke the endless depths of space, and the impossible beauty of snowflakes.

Nestled in a bed of reverb, atop deceptively slow sheets of guitar and keyboards, she sounds angelically childlike on almost every meandering track of Particle & Waves. Her peculiar "little girl" delivery is a perfect complement for a band founded to make ethereal, challenging dream music.

Now in its 16th year as a recording act, Cranes has been through a couple record labels (these days the band is releasing CDs on its own label, with the help of Manifesto Records).

Along the way, Cranes has established a solid cult following for its ghostly brand of alternative music, which can be most easily compared to the disquietingly soft, but tensely evocative music of some of David Lynch's film projects ("Twin Peaks" comes to mind).

While Cranes' songs are all quiet exercises in mood, the band doesn't craft elevator music. Cranes would have been a logical band to have been part of the avant pop movement of British label 4AD in the 1980s. Instead, it was on Dedicated/BMG.

Particles & Waves often has a lingering, spooky quality to its guitar and rhythm beds, as on the haunting, lightly percussive opener "Vanishing Point." It is frequently hypnotic, as on the oscillating instrumental bells of "Astronauts."

The new CD comes packaged with a bonus four-song performance DVD, Live in London. The strange, hypnotic beauty of Cranes can be experienced at dadaphonic.com.