New albums from the Rolling Stones, Van Morrison, R.E.M., Willie Nelson and George Michael highlight this week's new releases--further proving that a celestial accident has hurled our planet backward in time 20 full years!
Luckily, additional new releases by people with ties to American Idol and brand new songs like "Killing You Hoes" may indicate that the backward time-travel theory is completely false and that all's right with the world!
Sometimes just staying home and watching TV is the way to go, people!
R.E.M.: Accelerate (Warner Brothers) It's hard not to admire what this legendary alternative rock band stands for, politically, musically, and as an acronym for "rapid eye movement"--and I'd be the last guy to want to poke holes in an entire generation's heroes. So instead, let's just say that this record is an "upbeat rock album." It has a nice cover. "I'm Gonna DJ," the album's closer, certainly is memorable. And I find that combining one-third part vegetable oil with two-thirds part white vinegar makes an enticing salad dressing when combined with peas, chopped scallions and chicken chunks! The deluxe version comes with a DVD!
Van Morrison: Keep It Simple (Exile/Lost Highway) Van Morrison may be my all-time hero, not only because I enjoy his music--and he's certainly recorded lots of it!--but because whatever agenda the dude has, it's not of earthly origin! When I got this CD I picked it up to see who Van's band was--it's a good one--and my eyes were instantly drawn to the man's lyrics, which luckily for us are printed within! Though I usually find critical analyses that dwell too heavily on an artist's lyrics somewhat suspect, I must, as a favor to you, quote one of Morrison's best yet. From the masterful "Behind The Ritual": "Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah / Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah / Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah / Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah / Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah / Behind the ritual, making time in the days gone by." Who on earth could argue with that? He's the best!
Trina: Still Da Baddest (Slip N Slide) Probably the finest album ever to feature a cover picture of a fetching woman holding a bullet between her teeth, this baby's got it all! Standout tracks include the wonderful title track, "Killing You Hoes," "I Got A Bottle," Stop Traffic," "Single Again," "Phone Sexx," and the deeply personal "Hot Commodity," featuring hitmaker Rick Ross! In some ways reminiscent of the works of Joni Mitchell, Beverly Sills and Celine Dion--Trina too is female!--Still Da Baddest would have been called Still The Worst if there were no such thing as slang! But there is!
Willie Nelson: One Hell Of A Ride (Columbia Legacy) A fabulous collection of country pioneer Nelson's recorded works for a variety of labels--generously spread out over four lengthy CDs--this may be all the Willie most people ever need, in a manner of speaking. Compiled and issued to celebrate Nelson's 75th birthday, and bolstered by a fine essay by writer Joe Nick Patoski, One Hell Of A Ride is top notch because it manages to be both comprehensive and relatively brief (the man's recorded a jillion albums!) at the same time. As my own mother might say: Put that in your pipe and smoke it!
Moby: Last Night (Mute) Ah, Moby! Not a whale, not a San Franciscan rock band with the word "Grape" attached, not a former hardcore punk artist or onetime DJ who made his name doing remixes, but a guy who reached his artistic zenith through commercially licensing all of the songs on his 1999 Play album simply because he could! One can recognize him for the strength of his political convictions, for his fierce veganism, and for his advocacy of network neutrality, but here's the darnedest thing: One can't recognize him whenever they hear a Moby song! He's got no recognizable sound at all and he still gets to make records! Let's all do it and make him mad!
The Rolling Stones: Shine A Light (Interscope) Arguably the first live Rolling Stones album ever--I say this because some guy in a bar earlier tonight was arguing that it was--this welcome addition to the Rolling Stones catalog is drawn from Martin Scorsese's spiffy new documentary, and it's not bad at all. Like every record by any name artist these days, it comes in multiple configurations (single CD, deluxe package, USB stick), features guest artists (Christina Aguilera, Buddy Guy, Jack White), and must be bought by any consumer who hopes to keep all the major record labels in business, as we all do! Listening to it earlier today, it struck me that I actually do enjoy hearing a few Stones songs performed live--at least the ones that haven't been played into the ground for the past 25 years' worth of tours. Most astoundingly, Keith Richards' voice seems to be improving with age, here especially on the classic "Connection" from Between The Buttons. Perhaps they'll tour again one day!
The Black Keys: Attack And Release (Nonesuch) Back for their fifth album, this Ohio-based pair are produced here by no less than Danger Mouse--or, to be fair, no more than Danger Mouse--and, as always, they're sonically appealing and worthy of description via colorful adjective! A tad more instrumentally embellished than usual, the dudes combine primitivism with intelligence, rawness with a precise aesthetic, and occasionally can be seen sporting eyeglasses. Not at all like Hoobastank!
Ferras: Aliens And Rainbows (Capitol) The new guy whose track "Hollywood's Not America" recently served as the "exit song" on American Idol--being only vaguely familiar with the show, I assume it's the segment where each show's loser is pelted with rocks and tomatoes as they're escorted off the stage, sobbing--this dude's one of those modern-day Elton John/Billy Joel piano-singer dudes, with a Berklee degree and a sincere desire to change the world through song in his back pocket. Hopefully his wallet didn't fall out, if you catch my drift!
George Michael: TwentyFive (Epic) As time goes by, one's initial perception of a given recording artist may naturally change as their ultimate worth becomes more and more evident. And so it is that George Michael--who at one point seemed little more than a dancing pretty boy as a member of Wham!--now resembles a surprisingly substantial artist, whose major output--collected here in this superb 2-CD set--sounds better and better with time. Released domestically to coincide with his long-awaited American tour, this disc is a welcome reminder that 1)absolutely nothing is ever as it seems, 2) what is black today will be white tomorrow, and 3) olives are an acquired taste!
Joe Satriani: Professor Satchafunkilus And The Musterion Of Rock (Epic) "For the first time ever," guitar whiz Joe Satriani recently told Billboard.com, "we've got a 15-minute, four-part, really intense song that involves some ensemble playing and some out-and-out jams." Longtime fans of Satriani's 11 previous studio albums will undoubtedly be thrilled to hear the news, as each of his previous albums' 15-minute, four part, really intense songs that involved some ensemble playing had no jams whatsoever and suffered as a result! I can't wait!