Longtime readers may not realize that last week's post was an historic first for New This Week!
Not to share too much, but as a rule I write this blog every Monday night--after coming home from a hard day at work, enjoying a few TV shows, having a drink or two, and marching out to the garage, where I refuse to call it a night until I've outlined each week's best 10 new releases!
What made last week special? Namely that after writing about two albums...I completely fell asleep in my chair! And the next night, when I aimed to finish the blog, admittedly a day late, I found that I had no memory whatsoever of writing the first two entries!
And like the countless thousands who notified me via private email, I feel it represented my all-time peak as a writer!
Tonight, while I write, perhaps hoping to duplicate that feat, I am listening to the two albums by Paris--the group formed by guitarist Bob Welch upon his leaving Fleetwood Mac in the mid-'70s--and aiming to do even better!
And just wait until I trim my fingernails!
Bon Iver: Bon Iver (Jahjaguwar) I don't think anybody expected one of the week's biggest albums to be by Bon Iver, but lo and behold--after the previous For Emma, Forever Ago, and a staggering amount of drugs, most of America has suffered significant memory loss and will likely consider this to be a new album either by charismatic rockers Bon Jovi or an unexpected reissue by late and lamented AC/DC vocalist Bon Scott! Additionally, they'll probably leave their mailboxes unattended for most of their workday, allowing unscrupulous neighborhood prowlers full access to various bills and bank statements that will allow them to steal their identities! And as the final irony, with their newly forged credit cards, said thugs will march directly to their neighborhood record store--or worse yet, Amazon.com--and purchase this new Bon Iver album! It's kind of the deal you have to make with Satan these days! Cool as heck? You bet!
"Weird Al" Yankovic: Alpocalypse (Volcano/RCA) If you're like me--inclined to significant facial hair growth, into Dungeons & Dragons, doing that weird "soaking the whipped cream cans in warm water and then inhaling the gas" thing, watching Star Wars repeatedly, and once, just once, trying on one of those double-billed Sherlock Holmes hats and smoking a pipe while looking at yourself in the mirror just to see what it looks like, you're absolutely going to love this new "Weird Al" Yankovic album! On the other hand, if you've ever talked to a person, gone to school, or led a normal life, you may want to ask a member of the opposite sex out for a date once in a while! Just a thought!
Dave Alvin: Eleven Eleven (Yep Roc) It has been a long and admittedly strange trek for much-admired California rocker Dave Alvin, who rose to fame in Los Angeles' hallowed Blasters and continues to soldier on, admirably constructing super "roots rock"-oriented material and playing it like he means it! Why strange? Because, as his new album cover makes amply evident, an unfortunate encounter with a Venice street magician in 2007 transformed his entire head into a hat! Additionally, ill-advised consultations with East L.A. folk medicine experts now have Alvin--who of course has been seeking a remedy to this whole hat thing--fixating on the digital clock in his bedroom for the purported "El Clockio" cure! I think he should just buy that rooster and get it over with!
Michael Bolton: Gems: The Duets Collection (Sony Legacy) Michael Bolton's astounding sales track record--he's sold over 53 million albums--is certainly something to be reckoned with, and though those sales admittedly took place a few years ago, there's no reason to assume the innate talent that drives him has evaporated! And sure enough, this new set--which features the powerful singer duetting with a fascinating cast of characters including Rascal Flatts, Seal, Delta Goodrem, and the late Eva Cassidy--should enthrall the many who've been faithful since the early days! Highlight here may be the singer's powerhouse duet with Seal on "When A Man Loves A Woman / It's A Man's Man's Man's World," but take it from me--it's all great! Kind of a cool cover, too!
Pitbull: Planet Pit (J Records) Though I am not one who tends to look kindly upon music videos--to be polite, they suck!--I would be less than candid if I did not admit that I probably watched Cuban-American Hip-Hop star Pitbull's tremendous "I Know You Want Me [Calle Ocho]" clip more than any other during the last five years! That said, I should probably add that my favorite television commercials are those that advertise a line of clothing popularized by Victoria's Secret! Hint to marketing experts: I tend not to buy stuff!
Crossfade: We All Bleed (Eleven Seven Music) There's a part of me that's fascinated by this, the third album by the relatively faceless Crossfade, not because it's staggeringly good--I mean, it's fine and all--but how they seem the 21st century equivalent of the host of seemingly run-of-the-mill bands that populated record racks in the early '70s (Head Over Heels, Landslide, etc.) and have now become collector's items among hard rock aficionados! I'm also into Patio Diet Cola, Spring menthol cigarettes, and Deluxe Reading Toy Company's fantastic Jimmy Jet! And today some girl at Dunkin' Donuts kept staring at me!
Seun Anikulapo Kuti & Egypt 80: From Africa With Fury: Rise (Knitting Factory) Fans of Afrobeat and the pioneering work of the legendary Fela Kuti are likely to be thrilled by this masterful album, the second from his youngest son, Seun. Recorded in Buenos Aires and mixed in London with the enlightened assistance of Brian Eno, the lengthy tracks here are sophisticated, energetic, and about the best one could hope for from a performer bearing the Kuti moniker. Superb.
Gomez: Whatever's On Your Mind (ATO) The first new album from much-admired UK Band Gomez since 2006--and it should be said they've faded from the spotlight significantly since then--is an excellently played, substantial set that is musicianly, versatile, and as fresh as, say, taking a shower with Irish Spring soap! It doesn't sound like this!
Peter Tosh: Legalize It: Legacy Edition, Equal Rights: Legacy Edition (both Sony Legacy) This set of reggae icon Tosh's post-Wailers albums sounds stronger than ever in 2011; the recordings, originally issued in 1975 and 1977 respectively, are bolstered by demo versions of many of the same tracks which likewise sound fine. Though he'll be forever overshadowed by the work of his former bandmate Bob Marley, Tosh--who was murdered in 1987--was a talented, fascinating performer whose work deserves this kind of showcasing and much more. Prime stuff: give these a listen.
Night Ranger: Somewhere In California (Frontiers) I have long found it is possible to successfully interact with every person you meet by merely uttering one of the three titles of Night Ranger's most famous songs: "Sister Christian," "(You Can Still) Rock In America," and "Don't Tell Me You Love Me"! But on a practical note, my mom kind of thinks it's a bummer!