Just returned from my first-ever trip to the Coachella Music Festival, I'm embarrassed to admit! Embarrassed because I've been living in Los Angeles for almost 25 years and never before saw fit to go there!
Let's just say it was hell!
Still, what is life but a learning experience? And in my case, what did I learn? I learned while driving back and listening to nearly everything ever recorded by the Steve Miller Band that the non-hit songs on Abracadabra virtually laid the groundwork for Weezer's entire career!
Of course I could've learned that driving to the dry cleaners, but then I wouldn't have experienced the joy of hearing music I liked being drowned out by the moronic hip-hop beats blaring from the tent next door!
Plus, sweating is cool!
Cypress Hill: Rise Up (Priority) It's been a long time since Cypress Hill released an album, and of course since then, both the cotton gin and steam engine have been invented! Luckily, the lovable rapping trio invited a host of guest stars to perform on their album--including Tom Morello, Mike Shinoda, Everlast, Pitbull and Marc Anthony--all of whom make such an unholy noise, it's difficult to actually pay attention to anything except for the repetitive beat and preposterous lyrics! In short? Perhaps their best album ever! Not exactly the album you'd want to play after listening to Camel's The Snow Goose, though! Sevendust: Cold Day Memory (7Bros) Word is that this is the Sevendust album most longtime fans have been waiting for--mainly because it marks the return of guitarist Clint Lowery to the fold, who last appeared on their 2003 classic Seasons! Proving that point is the fact that this album's first single "Unraveling" was the No. 1 most added on radio's Active Rock format! Not to get too inside, but "Active Rock" is sort of like Passive Rock, but louder, more aggressive and with more tattoos! It's my kind of music! Greatly adding to this album's appeal is the logo on the album cover as well as the illustration, which some have maintained is the group's special tribute to the Wizard Of Oz's Tin Man, long on the wrong side of history purely due to his too-gentlemanly voice! Kind of like Sevendust, except they're much louder and are named after a household cleansing solution! I want to be them! Willie Nelson: Country Music (Rounder) As legendary performer Willie Nelson gets older, making album after album, of course he needs to shake things up once in a while! So while his 4,956th album has all the markings of a classic--production by T Bone Burnett, award-winning musicians, and his cover of the enviably named "Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down"--the big news is that this album's title is not bland but deceptively subtle! Wilson and company have in fact devoted this entire album to the little-heard indigenous music of Belgium, a fascinating country by all means, but not one with a surplus of cowboy hats! Perhaps predictably, it sounds like a typical Willie Nelson album--but I'm betting proposed sequel Space Music may knock us all for a loop! God bless Willie! Ratt: Infestation (Roadrunner) The first Ratt studio album in 11 years? I don't know what to say! According to their bio, the group has "shifted over 18 million units worldwide," but of course 1) It never really defines "unit" and 2) Once when I worked at a record store we had to move over to the next block and I shifted almost as many for close to minimum wage! But the big question remains: Do they rock? Do they rock like a mutha? Well, with tracks like "Eat Me Up Alive" and "Take A Big Bite," they could well do exactly that! And sure, while they're getting so old now that those lyrics might be embarrassing, at least they're not still writing reviews about Ratt! Could you even imagine? Shelby Lynne: Tears, Lies, And Alibis (Everso) A new album by Shelby Lynne--the first for her own label--is cause for rejoicing among her fans both old and new! As a follow-up to her tastefully done homage to Dusty Springfield--2008's Just A Little Lovin'--Tears, Lies, And Alibis is solid, sincere, sassy and significant! And only an inordinately bored writer would point out that the album's title is an anagram for "A brilliant diseases"! Later, he would get coffee, wonder how many albums this babe made before getting a Grammy for Best New Artist, then wander over to El Pollo Loco to soothe the ache in the pit of his stomach! Moby Grape: Moby Grape Live (Sundazed) Count me among those who consider San Francisco's Moby Grape to be one of the finest bands in rock 'n' roll history--so you can imagine my delight in seeing this first official live album by the band, recorded during their late-'60s peak! Though much of this has been bootlegged elsewhere, the collection--featuring the hallowed quintet playing at the Avalon Ballroom in 1967 and at the Monterey Pop Festival--is a fully concentrated dose of the Grape's greatness and an excellent sampler of the group's finest material. Additionally, the 17-minute, full-blown closer, 1966's "Dark Magic," showcases an aspect of the band's music that their other albums never got around to revealing. Buy this while you can! John McLaughlin & the 4th Dimension: To The One (Abstract Logix) Anyone who followed British jazz guitarist McLaughin from his earliest days through the Mahavishnu Orchestra and his later Shakti might've stopped paying attention a few years back--but if so, give a listen to To the One, which features McLaughlin with his current band (Gary Husband, Etienne M'Bappe, and Mark Mondesir) and sounds surprisingly fresh and as interesting as his early best! Plus, as a former altar boy, I get a kick out of the cover! Buy it today! Roky Erickson and Okkervil River: True Love Cast Out All Evil (Anti-) There are a handful of albums in rock history where an old legendary-type dude has been hauled front-and-center by a group of young and reverent fans who also double as musicians; most often the results are less than impressive. Not so this, in which the former leader of Texas's 13th Floor Elevators is given a wonderfully complementary context to sing his original material to--some of which was written long ago, when his life was considerably more troubled. However erratic his live performances may still be, Erickson's work on this album is no trifling matter. Plus, he kind of looks like Justin Timberlake! The Kissaway Trail: Sleep Mountain (Bella Union) Though you might hear echoes of the Flaming Lips' vocal approach here, for the most part this new album by Denmark's Kissaway Trail is substantial, original, and worthy of your purchase! I have listened to it every Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and noon for the past month or so--mostly because it's a great record to open your email to! I mean, why write about music if you can't be honest? Merle Haggard: I Am What I Am (Vanguard) Country legend Haggard's preoccupation with spinach--once a laughable affectation--is becoming increasingly unsettling, say those in his inner circle!
- Coachella Music Festival