Disc Reviews: The Jonas Brothers and Ray Lamontagne

The Jonas Brothers' hook-filled song craft can't be denied, with bubbly power pop spilling over on virtually every upbeat song.

Jonas Brothers 88 248 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Jonas Brothers 88 248
(photo credit: Courtesy)
THE JONAS BROTHERS Music from The 3D Concert Experience (Helicon) When I was briefly in San Diego last year, I experienced an exchange between my hosts and their 14-year-old daughter who was about to attend a concert by The Jonas Brothers. She was attempting to convince them to give her money to buy one of the concert T-shirts, but already maxed out by the price of the tickets, they were resisting. "But you don't understand! They're like The Beatles of my generation," she pleaded. I can't remember if they eventually caved in and sprang for the shirt, but I made a mental note that it was time to pay some attention to the pin-up group of teen brothers from New Jersey. Music from the 3D Concert Experience, a feature-length film of the band in concert, provides a good overview for the Jonas Brothers novice and suggests that while they may not be in the league of The Beatles, they're a few light years ahead of my generation's family-themed teen idols like The Defranco Family or the prefab Partridge Family. Their hook-filled song craft can't be denied, with bubbly power pop spilling over on virtually every upbeat song. It's no wonder that Fountains of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger deigned to write songs for their 2006 debut - the Jonases share a love with bands like FOW for spunky, guitar anthems. They write their own songs now, and some of them, like "S.O.S." and "Tonight," stand on their own as top-notch ear candy, reminiscent of the classic pop of '70s bands like the Raspberries. Despite their ability to rock, there's an obvious "safe" element to the band's sound, as exemplified on most of the material like "Live to Party," which resembles a teen TV show theme songs. Still, if I were a 14-year-old girl, these guys would be my Beatles… at least until I discovered Fall Out Boy. RAY LAMONTAGNE Gossip in the Grain (NMC) Singer-songwriter Ray LaMontagne is a throwback to the mellow yet soulful stance taken by husky crooners like Van Morrison and Bruce Hornsby. On his third album since his highly acclaimed 2004 debut, the former shoe factory worker from Maine puts aside most of his folkie tendencies for a stab at various styles of pop - from the Memphis horns soul of the opening "You Are the Best Thing" to the lilting Spanish-style ballad "Sarah." LaMontagne seems to be on a misson - a successful one - to prove that traditional music forms like R&B and blues can evolve in utterly modern ways. Together with his collaborator, multi-instrumentalist and producer Ethan Johns, LaMontagne experiments with a wide palette of instrumentation and arrangements to accompany his earthy, magnetic vocals. The most fun is "Meg White," a spunky, clomping ode to the White Stripes' drummer, replete with a trademark White drum pattern. Close behind is "I Still Care For You," which suggests what Radiohead might sound like with a pedal steel guitar. There's some inconsistency on Gossip in the Grain - like the '70s hippie-on-the-porch throwaway "Hey Me, Hey Mama" and the wispy "Winter Birds" - but LaMontagne's endearing delivery and intense performances point to an artist who will be around for a while.