3 1/2 Stars
& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & B & lt;/span & ecause they're more scruff than scraggle and completely unselfconscious, watching the Hands stomp through their So Sweet EP during the release party was the most fun I'd had in a long time. Obnoxiously loud and infectiously melodic, they deliver blistering, sloppy pop-rock with no trace of "Isn't it fun to be dumb?" irony.
"This is really cool," I said to myself as I bought the CD. "I wonder if the disc rocks as hard as the show? And if it does, I wonder how long it will take before these guys get popular?" That was last month.
Since then, the Hands have done two KEXP in-studios, played several high-profile shows, and seen serious press. Why are they getting famous-ish? Because the moment you hear the Hands, you will remember that rock 'n' roll, through fun and unprofessionalism, has always been there to help listeners escape from hard times.
-- ANDREW MATSON
4 1/2 Stars
& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & I & lt;/span & n China, 20 million kids play the piano. They all want to be Lang Lang. His fifth Deutsche Grammophon release (a combination CD/DVD) has China's rock star of classical piano touring Shanghai and Beijing, playing in enormous concert halls, joking with students during master classes and giving animated interviews. Following the inspiring but sometimes bombastic Yellow River Piano Concerto, Lang performs several sonatas based on traditional Chinese tunes. With titles like "Spring Flowers in the Moonlit Night on the River," they are triumphs of impressionistic tone coloring. (Accompanists on the final three tracks add even more color by playing Chinese versions of the lute, piccolo and zither.) Lang succeeds in his goal of blending Chinese melodies with European forms; perhaps the most Western-sounding track is Sun Yiqiang's "Dance of Spring," with its repeated bass line and Rachmaninoff-style ascending runs. More and more, piano-playing kids around the world will want to be Lang Lang too.
-- MICHAEL BOWEN
DOWNLOAD: "The Cowherd's Flute"