Perhaps you heard about the excitement enveloping Los Angeles last weekend!
Due to much-needed roadwork, the 405 freeway--surely one ofthe most-used thoroughfares in the country--was temporarily shut down, and cityresidents were asked to stay home and avoid what might otherwise be a trafficnightmare!
But less publicized was the city's request--admittedlykept to hush-hush levels to avoid embarrassment--that residents also stay athome, wear blindfolds, and ignore what might have sounded like strangersbursting through their front doors, rushing to their bedrooms, and openingtheir dresser drawers to peruse their underthings!
One might think such an event would be so scandalous thatthe entire world would hear of it--yet incredibly, due to a farsighted pactbetween the city and Republic Records, as recompense said intruders dutifullyleft the brand new album by rockers 3 Doors Down for all residents to enjoy attheir leisure!
And now--one has to marvel at both parties' foresight--absolutelyno one will say anything at all!
3 Doors Down: Time Of My Life (UniversalRepublic) The fifth album by Mississippi's 3 DoorsDown is indeed all you might think it is! Wholly devoted to the marvelous Dirty Dancing film--and its memorable featuredhit song by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes--the album, a sort of mini-rockopera, focuses on a local band of some repute that has arbitrarily chosen thename "3 Doors Down" and now lives in mortal fear of the inevitable occasionwhen two-thirds of the famous rock trio consisting of Ray Manzarek, RobbieKrieger and John Densmore finally...how to say this politely?...kick the bucket! As a result, theirchosen name will then take on a meaning that, truly, none of them ever intended--and yet...and yet! With a bounty of compellingmaterial including "Every Time You Go," "What's Left," and "On The Run," thedaring quartet's album is one of July 2011's finest--and sure to be looked backupon fondly in both August andSeptember!
311: Universal Pulse (ATO) Amazingly still together after 45 years and10 albums, Nebraska's 311 return with one of the most astute summations of thecurrent state of the record industry any rock 'n' roll band has ever released!In the tradition of 3 Doors Down, the former Omaha gang has released their very own rock opera--and in this instance, theband focuses on the current state of the record industry! Is it in fact dying as some would maintain? Is ithealthier than ever and just awaiting a creative rebirth? Are a bunch of people actually lying half-dead in corridors waiting to be discovered by underpaid andlikely illegal janitors? Focusing on one of the world's most deeply loved andhighly respected record labels, the 311 gang concoct a suite of pulse-poundingsongs depicting a fictional world in which they visit a typical label, get theheebie-jeebies scared out of them by apparent zombies in the accountingdepartment, and then, upon rushing out of the building, end their visit byenjoying marvelous fish tacos at a nearby La Salsa Mexican restaurant! Thefinal irony? Hey, it could happen!
They Might Be Giants:Join Us (Idlewild) To be very candid, my good friend and fellowblog writer John Kordosh has long been an admirer of the creative buttragically wacky They Might Be Giants duo, so there's little negative I can sayabout them for fear of disrupting a friendship that has endured for 18 or 19months now! Let's just say that by merely listing the songs here--"When Will YouDie," "Judy Is Your Viet Nam," "You Don't Like Me"--I've now provided you withas much joy as you're likely to experience were you to actually buy thisrecord! How about you turn off the computer, meet me at Starbucks, and we alldrive over to Kordosh's house and take that wireout of his head? I mean, c'mon--there isno Gummo!
Tim Robbins And TheRogues Gallery Band: Tim Robbins AndThe Rogues Gallery Band (429) Therecent pact between the actors' and musicians' unions--not to mention Satan anda few record labels--has resulted in some admittedly odd projects, and thislatest, an album by actor Tim Robbins, now seems the expected result: It's notbad at all! In fact, it's just about as good as anything else! You could tellme it was by Leroy Burgoyne, a Kentucky-based sheet metal welder who decidedto give up his day job to pursue a career in music, and I'd probably tell you,"Hey, this guy's pretty good!" But shortly thereafter--and this is the importantpart--I'd probably change the subject, ask you if you want to watch sometelevision, and then confide that I was thinking of giving up this wholemusic criticism business and starting a career as a carpenter! You'd smile,encourage me a little, then tell me you had to go home and do your laundry! Meanwhile,my cat would just sit there on the other side of the room and stare at me! I hate that!
Theophilus London:Timez Are Weird These Days (WarnerBros.) In the tradition of jazz great Thelonious Sphere Monk, here'srapper/songwriter Theophilus London, who's, um, also black and has a slightlysimilar name! Unlike Monk, though, newcomer London has the added advantage of being ableto feature singer Sara Quin--of labelmates Tegan And Sara--on one of his tracks,and as its title of "Why Even Try" illustrates, it's inherently better purelybecause it's hip, modern, and probably recorded in a more sophisticated studiosetting! I'm also taken with his inclusion of the letter "Z" in the spelling of"Timez"--while it's phonetically similar, the letter "S" is in fact what'scalled for, so he's clearly a chance-takin' dude! I think I'd probably wear ahat on my album cover, too!
Imelda May: Mayhem (Decca) Perhaps the only performer to release an albumcalled Mayhem that wasn't playingmoronic heavy metal--hey, that's got to count for something!--evocative Irishlass Imelda May has already built up an American audience via her conspicuousappearances with guitarist Jeff Beck, and here, on her second American album,returns with a credible, colorful and cohesive effort that with any luck will break her bigtime! Big of voice, charismatic and rather attractive,the young woman offers up a blend of rockabilly, blues, and a compelling authenticity that these days is ratherhard to come by! And to seal the deal? Word is that Imelda May!
Andrew Wood: Malfunkshun: The Andrew Wood Story(Hip-O Select) In the same vein, so to speak, Andrew Wood! The one-time leadvocalist of Mother Love Bone, the Seattle band that was poised to break big before the singer's unfortunate demise, Wood is lovingly documentedhere via a DVD containing the film Malfunkshun-TheAndrew Wood Story, as well as two "bonus" CDs, including the out-of-print,pre-MLB Malfunkshun album and several Wood solo recordings, including onefeaturing former Soundgarden contemporary Chris Cornell. It's good stuff, andWood's story is less known that it should be. An excellent package,highly recommended.
Deep Purple: Shades Of Deep Purple, Book Of Taliesyn,Deep Purple (all Eagle) If I told you that I've spent the last twoweeks driving around Los Angeles listening to every single one of Deep Purple'salbums in chronological order, you'd probably be expecting a punch line! Butthere isn't one! In fact, I am one of those people who has been around longenough to have purchased Shades, thefirst Deep Purple album, the one with "Hush" on it, when it came out in 1968,and to have enjoyed it immensely: similarly, I picked up its follow-up Book Of Taliesyn, though I never managedto get the third until years later, well after I'd dismissed them for theirchange of direction from art-rock dudes to hard-rockin' metal mofos. Inretrospect, it was a bad call: In 2011, MachineHead sounds like a frickin' masterpiece. I have to say I find all three ofthese albums fascinating, in their sort of late '60s, Brit-Vanilla Fudge way, andsuspect you will too! That said, I probably shouldn't mention I spent theprevious two months captivated by Blood,Sweat & Tears 3!
Cold: Superfiction (Eleven Seven Music) I think most of us have been waiting for abrand new Cold album! It's been six years since their last, and what with thiswhole "global warming" thing, this Floridaquartet may be exactly what the world needs! But can I be frank? Speakingpurely as a consumer, I make all of my buying decisions based purely on whateveryone else thinks--and according to Amazon, customers who are buying thisalbum are also buying the latest stuff by 3 Doors Down, Theory Of A Deadman,Crossfade and Limp Bizkit! And they're all great! Cold are "cool," and you can quote me!
Kidz Bop Kidz: Kidz Bop Kidz 20 (Razor & Tie) Wordis the recent change of direction for the famous Kidz Bop Kidz series--apparently the label's new owners havedecided that "bop" now means "randomly hit each other over the head"--hasbrought a fresh and unexpected level of success seriously impacting the BlackEyed Peas' marketshare! Also, Transformers3 is supposed to be pretty neat!