Wow! Don't take this the wrong way, but you're lucky you have me this week!
I've just spent the past day repeatedly listening to my brand new, 99-cent copy of the new Lady Gaga album, and I've been trying to get my money's worth!
Between that and my making sure my television is all lubed up and ready go for this weeks' coming American Idol finale--who the heck will win?--I can barely stay focused on this blog's major premise: That the best music ever is being released week after week!
To prove my point? This week I'll ignore Glee: The Music, Volume 6--suffice to say it's the best album ever made--and other hot chart contenders, purely to cover the "little people" I'm afraid might got overlooked during this very special time!
Plus, I think I left my pants in my car!
Lady Gaga: Born This Way (Streamline/Kon Live) I have been and remain a big fan of Lady Gaga, and I doff my cap to her for the size and scope of her ambition, her still valuable ability to create a million-selling album featuring her babbling nonsense in German, and her admirable urge to "shake things up" just for the heck of it! That said, three or four of the songs here have hooks that borrow significantly from her masterpiece, "Bad Romance," and as wild and crazy as much of this intends to be, I'm hearing less and less Madonna and a lot more 21st century Bonnie Tyler here--and whether the world is sorely lacking a female Meatloaf at this very moment is debatable indeed! I have no doubt that the Germanotta household of years past must've spun the Fiddler On the Roof soundtrack more than once, I admire any album that so brazenly features prime lyrics like "Doo Doo Doo," and I am more than glad that people like Ms. Gaga feel the need to push the boundaries as far as she apparently feels she must! Were she only to show complete contempt for her audience--rather than patronize them as her "Little Monsters"--I would think her nearly perfect! In all: She's quite a bit like Juice Newton!
Brad Paisley: This Is Country Music (Arista Nashville) You can't knock the success quotient of country's Brad Paisley, who's been showing his innate hipness ever since he changed his name from the much less marketable (and fashionable!) Brad Madras, and he returns here triumphantly with a strong album certain to win the hearts of indecisive buyers who know they like country music but no artist in particular! With a gaggle of guest stars including Alabama, Carrie Underwood, Don Henley, Clint Eastwood, Blake Shelton, Marty Stuart, Sheryl Crow, Carl Jackson, and the Entire State Of Idaho, Paisley runs through future hits-to-be like "Working On A Tan," "Toothbrush," and "Can Machines Think?"--well, not really, but that would be cool!--and clearly retains the same air of class and talent that has earned him his nomination for the Academy of Country Music's Entertainer Of The Year nomination! Not to be confused with his earlier, aberrational This Is Polka!
New Kids On The Block & Backstreet Boys: NKOTBSB (Sony Legacy) I don't think I'll be the first to compare this joyous union of best-selling boy bands New Kids On The Block and the Backstreet Boys to that wonderful moment many years ago when children the world over were treated to a television screen featuring both Huckleberry Hound and Yogi Bear at the very same instant! Or when Iron Man, the Hulk, Ant Man and Thor joined forces to create the Avengers! Be that as it may, those were all fictional, two-dimensional characters, and these guys are...are...no, wait a minute! Did you ever see that 1976 special edition where Superman fought Spider-Man? I'm only asking! Special bonus: This album features songs!
Foster The People: Torches (Star Time/Columbia) An uplifting, great new album from a Los Angeles band garnering significant buzz, Torches is being promoted as "the soundtrack for an eternal summer"--which, let's face it, sounds completely great until the pressing issue of global warming enters the picture! What exactly is the hidden agenda here? Are we supposed to dance and groove along with the joyous, beat-heavy songs and pay no attention to the fact that cans of baked beans are methodically exploding on grocery store shelves? And how can we go see them play when "temporary" brown-outs have rendered most air-conditioning a mere memory for most of us? I don't think anyone ever foresaw James Taylor as being mankind's ultimate savior, but right around now, his classic "Shower The People" has taken on an entirely new meaning!
Thurston Moore: Demolished Thoughts (Matador) Though I must confess to being less than a total fan of Sonic Youth--I think we all listened to the same albums when we were adolescents--I have nothing but very positive things to say about this, the third solo album from that band's Moore, which is hook-filled, intricate, melodic, and actually ambitious and non-noisy and...hey, pretty good! With significant production contributions from Beck--another guy with a fab record collection--Demolished Thoughts features quiet and well-played instrumental accompaniment including a harp, violin, and probably lots of other stuff I could tell you more about if I weren't reviewing a batch of wave files and a cover picture! "Orchard Street" is a particularly sexy squiggle!
The Prodigy: World's On Fire (Cooking Vinyl UK) Probably the best band ever to sing "Smack My Bitch Up," England's exciting Prodigy return here with a great CD/DVD set featuring the band live at the Warriors Dance Festival--hey, were you there, too?--running though all their hits and so very much more! Loud, intense, pulsating, disturbingly sexual, and not exactly the sort of band you'd expect to cover the opening track from the Strawberry Alarm Clock's Incense And Peppermints album, the Prodigy are back with a vengeance! And they're aiming to take your mom to the Salvation Army store to check out some toasters! Between them and Foster The People, I'd say it's time to head to the North Pole!
Jadakiss: I Love You: The Mixtape - A Dedication To My Fans (Ruff Ryders) Word is that legendary rapper Jadakiss has returned with a "bangin' new club track" entitled "Hold You Down," and I for one could not be more excited! Among the producers who've made this one of the most exciting mixtapes of the past week or so is the legendary Bink!--clearly the most boldly-named musical figure of the era--and a bunch of the usual suspects, and their contributions are incalculable! Literally! Perhaps most pioneering here is Jadakiss's assertive dedication to his many fans, most of which apparently are heavily used during the summer, when temperatures--as both Prodigy and Foster The People have now made abundantly clear--soar to record-setting heights! If I had another kid, I'd probably name him Jadakiss because, as names go, it's pretty cool!
Mercury Rev: Deserter's Songs (Deluxe Edition) (PID import) Having been away awhile from this album--which I completely loved upon its 1998 release--I returned via this spectacular deluxe edition and was again enormously impressed! More so than ever! I think the music of Mercury Rev has been, from the very beginning, pioneering--and I do believe this set is where they took the leap and put together one of the very best albums of the last two decades! This deluxe edition features 13 additional tracks, extraordinary sonic textures, and a sense of subtlety and timelessness than too many of this band's contemporaries have never managed! They could be the next Jadakiss!
Ray Manzarek / Roy Rogers: Translucent Blues (Blind Pig) A nifty showing from two respected musicians with admirable pedigrees: Manzarek, keyboardist with the Doors, and Rogers, guitarist and producer of considerable repute. A well-played, musically sophisticated romp that borrows lyrics from Jim Carroll and Warren Zevon, Translucent Blues depicts two artists whose commitment to music has long since passed the fickle world of pop and, via a fine blues label like Blind Pig, will likely continue into the ether. And Doors fans will like what they hear. Good show!
Friendly Fires: Pala (XL) Word is that the Bee Gees' Spirits Having Flown was an influence when this much-admired Brit outfit came around to record this new album--which combines dance, punk, and aspirin in new and creative ways! Similarly, I was listening to the first three Les Dudek albums while I was writing this! Once again: We all win!