No guns at this shootout

Buy Car Alarm, but theres no rush

Buy ‘Car Alarm,’ but there’s no rush

It takes seven minutes and forty-three seconds to get to John Popper’s first harmonica solo, and after suffering through “Forever Owed” and its nursery rhyme overtones, it’s a welcome, but brief, respite.

Still, the solo isn’t that great and it’s generally downhill from there for Blues Traveler’s newest effort, North Hollywood Shootout.

Those looking for vintage Blues Traveler should look elsewhere: it’s definitely not on this album. “You, Me And Everything” sounds as if it has been picked at random from a sucky heap of generic, adult alternative songs. The cheesy synthesizer doesn’t help its case. “Borrowed Time” uses a lame piano intro to set up unnecessary and overly dramatic wailing from Popper. On “The Beacons” he sings, “Sooner or later we’re all beacons of yesteryear. You gotta love us or hate us, we’ll see you soon baby don’t you fear.” Well John Popper, I hate this album and you won’t be seeing me anytime soon.

In March 2007 Popper was arrested when his SUV was pulled over and officers discovered marijuana and hidden compartments containing four rifles, nine handguns, a Taser and night-vision goggles. With an album name like North Hollywood Shootout, I fully expected a raucous, rowdy album pitting Popper and company against “the man.” Instead they delivered this release in a flaming brown bag outside all of our front doors. With the amount of firepower he’s packing, I wonder if this might be the last Blues Traveler album before Popper heads into the hills to await the apocalypse.

There are a few songs on this album that aren’t completely awful. “Orange In The Sun” is soulful, while “The Beacons” might have the best harmonica solo. “How You Remember It” has a funky, cool guitar and harmonica breakdown while “Free Willis (Ruminations From Behind Uncle Bob’s Machine Shop)” is an interesting track.

North Hollywood Shootout as a whole is a sappy, disappointing release.

THE VERDICT: “How You Remember It” is the best song on the album. Download it, but do it illegally, and in secret. It might be time to fish out your Four cassette tape and start listening to “Run-Around” again.