Forgive me if I'm not bursting with enthusiasm as I write this, for I'm about to take a week's vacation and, as is my nature, I've been spending hours thinking about what clothes I should pack!
But thanks to modern technology, I've absolutely no doubt whatsoever about what music I should take with me!
I've spent a good three hours this afternoon packing my iPod!
And on this trek: Albums with orange on their covers, bands that start with "D" and "S," and any British blues band that made a record between 1967-1972!
I find that when I show people my iPod, stuff like that really impresses them!
The Rosebuds: Loud Planes Fly Low (Merge) Since everything's just about as good as everything else, why not start this week's post with my favorite album of the past few months--by North Carolina's fabulous Rosebuds? The latest in a series of deeply appealing, minor-key & quirky song collections by a couple who've had their personal ups and downs, they can be heard here tastefully baring their souls in a manner with few precedents, sometimes strikingly so: This is a record about having a professional relationship with your former spouse. As always, melodies are not a problem, and the lyrics, especially, are captivating. I don't think I've heard a better record this year.
Tedeschi Trucks Band: Revelator (Sony Masterworks) Speaking of couples married or otherwise, one of this year's most charming surprises is this collaboration between Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks--two superior guitarists well-versed in the blues and technically better than nearly anybody! I mean, realistically, each of these dudes were nominated for Grammys for their solo albums last year! And while everything to be heard here is top-notch, I'm a tad disappointed if only because of the possibilities yet unexplored: "It's Your Turn To Take The Garbage Out Blues," "I Don't Like The Way She Was Looking At You Blues," "I'm Not Sure This 401(k) Plan Is Necessarily the Best Blues," and the inevitable, "Look, I Love You And All That, But I'm Not 100 Percent Convinced Sitting Around Every Night Drinking Beer and Listening To Augie Meyers Records Is The Best Way To Go Suite," etc.! Dig the Masterworks label!
All Time Low: Dirty Work (Interscope) I'd have to agree with this band's bio, which categorically states that "All Time Low has emerged as one of the most popular bands in recent memory," especially since I've forgotten everything that ever happened since last week! In fact, what the heck did I just review in that last paragraph? In many ways like the Rolling Stones--who, according to the Internet once recorded an album with this very same title--the band consists of male humans who have no qualms about opening bottles of champagne on album covers, despite the obvious handicaps that will offer in the three remaining American counties in which drinking alcohol is still wisely forbidden! Frankly, I'm drawn to any band that records songs with titles like "Get On Your Knees and Tell Me You Love Me" and "Merry Xmas, Kiss My Ass," and I can't wait to actually hear them! And once Game Of Thrones is over, I will!
Cults: Cults (Columbia) I'm quite enthralled by the lusciously retro, girl-group sound of this hipster duo--they have a knack with pop hooks but aren't entirely slaves to the past--but I'm more interested in their name, which apparently is either derived from their past membership in the fabled Rosicrucians or, even more enticing, their being among the select few who literally worship the output of the hallowed 3M company--creators not only of Scotch Tape, but also Scotchgard, Scotch-Brite and, perhaps most impressively, Post-It notes! Of course, were none of that to be the case, I'd still think they were pretty good! But the disappointment would linger!
Def Leppard: Mirrorball: Live & More (Bludgeon Riffola /Mailboat) I've been following Def Leppard since the early days, back when labels used to fly writers overseas to cover bands they thought were on the verge of breaking big Stateside--which is exactly what happened after they recorded Pyromania, way back in '83. Much has happened since then, but I remain impressed that they've stayed at it, managed to get even better with time, have surprisingly sharp taste for any group once associated with the so-called New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, and still rock profoundly. This new set--a 2-CD live set combined with a DVD--is more than welcome and likely to please anyone who's ever been a fan of the band. See for yourself!
Givers: In Light (Glass Note) One of the benefits of working at Yahoo is that occasionally artists drop by and informally play a live set of music; last week's appearance by Louisana's the Givers was one of the more memorable I've seen. Playing an organic mixture of who-knows-what--sort of like a jam band that realizes the value of reeling in the excess--the group's got good songs, good players, good arrangements, and an air of playing no song exactly the same way twice. They seem to be purely in it for the music--which, all things considered, is nuts! Dopes!
Frank Sinatra: Ring-A-Ding Ding (Concord) Frank Sinatra's earlier career with Capitol Records has been extraordinarily well-documented, and his later years with Reprise--circa "Stranger In the Night"--have likewise. But this set, which marks his official debut on Reprise, his very own label, hasn't had similar exposure. An impressive collection, recorded in a pre-Beatles '61, the album features superb arrangements by Johnny Mandel, a fine array of Sinatra-esque tuneage, two bonus tracks, and a cover picture that begs for the eventual popularization of LSD! Thankfully that never happened!
The Wooden Birds: Two Matchsticks (Barsuk) I was a big fan of Austin's American Analog Set--whose Andrew Kenny eventually left and formed this band--and, without knowing who was in the band, bought a copy of their first album at the merchandise table of some show they opened without realizing I already owned it! Which either means I really liked them or drink to the point of excess when I go out to see bands! You decide! That said, I like this new album loads and will probably buy it again the next time I see them! I hope it rains again tomorrow!
Nick 13: Nick 13 (Sugar Hill) A surprisingly strong album from the founder of Tiger Army--produced by ace LA musicians Greg Leisz and James Intveld and perhaps working in a genre few would expect of him--Nick 12 maybe, but not Nick 13--this set documents the heartbreaking decline of a once-successful children's television network upon reaching the age of adolescence! First the voice starts to deepen, then stubble begins to grow, then the chicks on the Oxygen and Lifetime Networks start looking kind of hot and then, finally, inevitably, you're forced to move up to the Jersey Shore, take off your shirt, and drool a lot! Music is getting so weird!
Adelitas Way: Home School Valedictorian (Virgin) If there's any irony to be had in the title of this great new Adelitas Way album, it's that each of the Las Vegas band's members in fact were home-schooled--and even more unlikely, each had between 250-400 siblings! Thus they're, like, really smart! Is birth control still legal in Nevada?