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Album review: Chris Cornell's 'Scream'

Cornell_240_ Baseball fans might remember the downfall of Rick Ankiel. The phenom pitcher led the St. Louis Cardinals to the National League division series in 2000, only to throw five wild pitches in one inning. He had mysteriously lost his ability to throw strikes, eventually ending his pitching career.

Timbaland is having a Rick Ankiel moment. Throughout the '90s and into the 2000s, the producer had the most revolutionary ideas of anyone in hip-hop and pop music. But since producing Justin Timberlake's fantastic "FutureSex/LoveSounds," he's proffered a lukewarm solo album, a treacly OneRepublic remix and the most unremarkable M.I.A. song to date.

His shepherding of former Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman Chris Cornell's new solo album, "Scream," is a fascinating but heartbreaking document of how many wrong decisions one can make in writing and performing a record.

The idea of Cornell's sex-god wail over Timbaland's mechanized funk is appealing. But "Scream" draws out the worst tendencies in both of them. The icy remove of Timbaland's third-string beats here makes Cornell's lyrics like "Pain and suffering. Will come to those. When I get even." feel cartoonish, while Timbaland's vocal processing sucks the elastic virility from Cornell's voice. "Never Far Away" somehow indulges the grievous ballad excesses of both Akon and Daughtry simultaneously. Only the slinky "Ground Zero" arrives at incendiary friction.

After a recovery in the minor leagues, Ankiel made a successful return as an outfielder. Fans of inventive pop and rock music can only hope that both Timbaland and Cornell have similar comebacks in them.

--August Brown

Chris Cornell

"Scream"
(Interscope)
One star

 
Comments () | Archives (47)

Unfortunately, this review is ridiculously critical and I would hate to pigeon hole either of the artists. You need to expand your minds as they have done and appreciate it for what it is. They took a risk for something new and different and the more you listen the better it gets. Yes there are many layers to the songs musically, but that is what makes it special. I think it is a wonderful collaboration and can't wait to hear what comes next for both artists.

This is a great album. At first it seemed a bit strange but it's quite catchy. I've been a Chris Cornell fan since the old days. Give it a chance, let's see some new singles. :)

Been a big fan of Cornells for decades. I can appreciate the unique direction of this album, but after listining to it a couple of times, this is a skipper. I will look forward to his next offering. Why is it so hard to make a singer/songwriter rock album? Chris should put together an acoustic original album. I am waiting......

Kevin

I think a lot of people have said what I would like to say, but I'll reiterate just on the principle that every voice that comes forward against this review is a loud one.

I don't see how anyone who truly loves music can dislike this album. I know plenty of hard rock fans who despise anything that isn't comprised of loud guitars, screaming vocals, and a heavy drum beat, and they all hate this cd, and they're all missing out on great music from other genres.

Chris Cornell's done the rock thing, and he wanted to do something new. I don't blame him! I hate nearly every new song on the radio right now. Good music died in the 90s, and it's a rare band on the radio today that can make me feel like I'm not listening to overproduced, superficial CRAP. Scream is made up of Chris's fantastic lyrical and musical genius, and he's taken it a step in a completely new direction by bringing in a producer from another genre.

I believe the result is, simply put, a work of art. The transitions between the songs are so subtle that you don't even notice the change in key and tempo between songs. I haven't stopped listening to this cd since Chris Cornell began sampling it on his Myspace a week prior to the release.

A word of advice to the LA Times: find a new music critic. This one hasn't said anything I haven't already heard from my hard-rock friends. They don't get paid to spout their uneducated opinions, and neither should this one.

I truly feel it's a shame that the majority of critics have taken it upon themselves to dislike this record. Rock and Roll, at it's roots, is about experimentation. On Scream, Cornell does just that - he experiments and the results are fascinating. Yes I loved Soundgarden, but that was back in the early 1990's, it's time to move on - Cornell certainly has.

I think this record should have been given to critics who actually listen to the music and who are fans of the (electronic / dance) genre who could appreciate the concept and give it a fair review instead of a longtime fan of Cornell's other work. Scream may not be for everyone, but it's worth a listen and deserves better reviews than the one posted above.
http://dancetechnomusic.suite101.com/article.cfm/chris_cornell_scream_review

Well said! It's really disappointing the hype building up to this album was more than what was served! Someone must have developed selective hearing for a song like "Lost Cause" to be left of the main body of work. The album is a living cartoon for good reason. http://chriscornelldreams.blogspot.com/

i was excited when i heard about this album, but it definitely doesn't live up to expectations. i don't think i hate it as much as this critic does, but it's pretty bad when the hidden track is easily the best song on the album.

before you pigeon hole me as a meat-headed rocker who can't cross genre lines, let me say that the reason i was anticipating this album with such excitement is that i know how well rockers can do with pop/dance/electronica crossovers. i was skeptical when i heard maynard james keenan of tool was doing a side project that was decidedly non-metal and would feel more at home in a rave or dance club than on rock radio. but that project, called puscifer, turned out to be one of my favorite albums of 2008. i expected similar results from chris cornell, but while puscifer was oddly appealing, scream was just odd and akward.

Remember, reviewers listen to a record once, maybe twice, and they can't get the idea of an artists previous work out of their minds. Many great works have been panned by critics. Led Zeppelin comes to mind. They did alright. I applaud Chris for taking a risk and after several listens to the record, I really like it. It showcases Chris' voice and puts the focus on songs and not instruments. Remember Neil Young and Trans?? That record gave Neil a greater reputation as a chameleon who wasn't afraid to take on anything. This record, if I was going to compare it to anything, reminds me of early Simple Minds, where the use of electronics gave their works a freshness.

I'm personally a huge grunge fan, or better, fan of good music. I do listen various kind of genres to broaden my ability to produce better music as a musician/producer.

I have to compliment Chris Cornell for his versatility with his voice.

The best song on the album "Scream" according to me has to be "Climbing up the walls" produced by Ryan Tedder(another man I appreciate for his sense of music creativity).

Its brilliant!

Have a hear to it, then some of you might not be so critical about him.

Its Timbaland direction for Chris Cornell, which should be criticized.

The man's voice is, so pure and what he is able to retain after so many years is what is amazing.

Thumbs up (to tracks, "Climbing up the walls" & "Enemy"; rest is junk thanks to Timbaland for his "creativity".)!

PS: Timbaland, don't think whatever you produce is
gold nor is it like what you puke people are gonna shallow.

The truth is, all his songs are kinda rip offs of Indian(India) beats, at different tempos or with any other variations.
Observe it, if you havnt!

There are so many people who are deprived of any opportunities (which these people waste)who just bury it within them 'cause they know that never will be possible, whereas people like Timbaland, and other "Timbalands" in the music industry get slots to produce which turn out to be a serious waste to the music consumers.
Majority of the kids nowadays, go behind the brand name, rather than listen to the creativity of someone else which might be umpteen times better.

If I had chance to produce works of a person like Chris Cornell, I would give make sure that his voice is exposed to the pinnacle of his potential as well as at the same time appeal to the larger crowd, without having a sense of being a sell-out.

Karan
18
Producer/Musician

It's a Cher record with weak Chris Cornell vocals and nearly made me cry. So bad.

I totally disagree with this review. It's a great album. Unexpected record that crosses the line and moves boundaries. Cool tunes, great voice... what else? Guitar riffs like in the 90's? C'mon! Soundgarden was great, but it was. So please don't talk like daddies!

Most people expect from an artist to do the same stuff over and over.
Well, it's different from what you expected, but it doesn't mean it's a bad album!

And do you guys think Cornell sings like Akon too?

Whomever said that they did not like this album obviously didn't listen to it, or they only like hard rock (one genre). This CD rocks and should be played on the radio, I am not sure what the holdup is? Almost every song on this album I enjoy thoroughly. There is a song or two towards the back that is just ok, but the rest of the songs are awesome.

What needs to be done with the first song on the album to make it BIG on the radio is remove the beginning "movie" intro and replace the word "bitch" with "girl". This is the best song on the album, it is too bad there wasn't a radio edit version yet.

I'm a fan of both Cornell and Tmbaland, but together they are mismatched in form and style. Together the sound is a bit awkward. I downloaded Scream and burned a CD that I've been listening to off and on for two days and I have to say that some songs are okay, but none of them are great ~ there are even a few that are questionable on CC's and Timbaland's level. CC's voice is phenomenal and is good on this album, but personally, I think he should stick to more Rock and even the more heavy stuff and stay away from the pop should I hear on Scream. Likewise, Timbaland should stick to hip-hop and R&B where is he is extremely talented.

It's funny what the latest advances in the real world do to some people - they really just can*t keep up, they get confused and criticize everything that doesn*t feet in their old neural templates. Unfortunately those people missed their train to the future and got left behind on the platform of musical echoes of clearly definable styles. For the rest of us who is still in the present, this is a great and successfull blend of a true art, that never stays constant and defies attempts of the mediocrity to limit it. Chris was really yearning for this kind of blend - the true fans remember his genious interpretation of Billie Jean.

i guesse its ok but its not loud enough i preffer audioslave but i guesse its good

but seriously its sooooo not loud enough!!!!!!! ugh!!!

This review is right on, I've been a fan of Cornell's since the beginning of the 90's and have absolutely loved every release of his up until this stinker (including his ingenius solo record Euphoria Morning and to some degree Carry On). I have nothing against Cornell expanding his sound and doing some soul, but this isn't soulful its sad. It sounds like Cornell phoned in his performance over crappy Timbaland outtakes, collected a huge advance, and moved on. I caught him at the Wiltern recently and was thrilled to see that he's "still got it" and played the hell out of his back catalog. There was a noticeable beer-break feeling in the venue when he played the Scream stuff.

Your review sucks. I like lots of genres but rock more than R&B and when I heard this album first I wasn't impressed. Still, Chris Cornell, gotta give him a chance, after a few more listens it really grew on me. Some albums wear off with repeated listens, this one just gets better and better, it's brilliant. 10/10.

Chris Cornell has been a musical god to me ever since his vocals in Soundgarden carried me through the ups and downs of my existence during the Grunge years. I always look forward to his new releases. SCREAM is absolutely painful to listen to though and a total waste of money. I took it right back to the store to trade in for something else. Sorry Chris, but you missed the mark on this one...By a long shot!

I just listened to Scream. I like Chris Cornell and enjoyed Audioslave so I was looking forward to this album. I had no preconceptions of what it was as I'd never heard of it until my husband gave it to me. I wanted to like it but I found the songs boring at times, too R&B pop-ey in a way that was out of sync with Chris Cornell's voice. I had no idea who produced the album until I read this review but I found the production terribly gimmicky and distracting at times. At one point I actually found myself wondering whether I would have rather heard Chris Cornell sing show tunes. I think I might which is why this album didn't work for me.

The album Scream is amazing.I have followed Chris since Soundgarden days and can't believe all of his so called followers are canning him and this album. The album is made up of his deep and insighful lyrics, the sound evokes a feeling and it's different. What's wrong with him wanting to experiment, take a risk, change direction and be one of the forces behind the current direction in music. I think people are only tooi happy to type cast an artist and not listen to the product with preconceived ideas. If this album was released by Justin Timberlake it would be seen as a truly magnificent peice and would have sold millions all around the world

Temple of the Dog? no Soundgarden? no Audioslave? no What this is one the most creative, hip, edgey, amazing music I have heard in ages. Listen to the whole CD over and over, but start with tunes like Never Far Away, Long Gone, Take Me Alive, Scream, Sweet Revenge. You will love this album!! I will give you the $9.99 if you don't find this album amazing.

I'm all for "branching out" of one's genre. After all, I'm a huge Mike Patton fan, so I get the point of an artist experimenting with different sounds and genres. However, this doesn't feel so much of a MUSICAL experiment, as it seems an experiment to see how much money Cornell can take from hip-hop fans. The lyrics are absolutely awful, the beats are half-assed, and I wasn't even impressed with Cornell's vocals.

In short, I agree with the reviewer...this album is nothing short of terrible--any more of these clunkers, and it might seriously undo Cornell's brilliance in Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog and, to a lesser extent, Audioslave.

 
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