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Jan. '05

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Gwen Stefani
Love.Angel.Music.Baby Interscope

The back cover photo of the petite Ms. Stefani's first solo album appropriately shows her sitting on a throne, casually holding a shiny crown and scepter. Free of her original punk-ska band "No Doubt (whom have now officially become rather doubtful...), this uber-hyped Ms. 'Thang has simply not be in the media's limelight enough, and yes that was highly sarcastic. Between numerous award and talk show appearances and that lame DeCaprio film, this just-a-girl is more out there than Elton John.

Still, these twelve tracks of bubble-gum pop (with help from producers Dr. Dre, Andre 3000, The Neptunes, Dallas Austin, Johnny Vulture, Nellee Hooper, Jimmy Jam, Tony...well, with a lot of help) are simple and safe material for her first "solo" with plenty of infectious and silly tracks like "Rich Girl", which is about being a...rich girl, or the jazzy "Bubble Pop Electric", which is as sugary as it sounds.

Contrived as the whole thing looks, Interscope has obviously backed the money truck up to our pretty little Gwen here, looking for Love.Angle.Music.Baby to make a "Big.Pay.Off" and this easy-on-the-palate sound will probably do the trick. —Brandon Whitehead (Posted 1/15/05)

Jerry Dowell
NakedThunder Horse Productions


The standard folk-singing acoustic troubadour has become a bit maligned as of late, mostly for good reason. One can only sit through so many open mike performances of "local singer-songwriters" who seem to have a list of about five songs that sound exactly the same and are played over and over and over...

Well, KC local Jerry Dowell's newest CD Naked is the good version of all that bad stuff, with thirteen simple acoustic songs about vagabonds, moonlight and cowboys that satisfies from the first track to the last. While aging longhaired hippies are more often annoying than talented, Dowell's sincere lyrics and gravel-filled voice blend perfectly into sounds meant for bluesy late-night bars and dusty country porches.

From the anti-war sentiments of "Condition of the Highway" to a spoken-word version of "Stardust Cowboys" that would make Willie and Waylan smile, this is fun toe-tapping stuff, clothes or not. —Brandon Whitehead (Posted 1/15/05)

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