Sad to report that I'm not in the best of spirits at themoment!
Though with the anonymity of my computer keyboard I canadmittedly write whatever I like in this blog without retribution, I am vulnerable! And on occasion, if I saysomething that some of my more irrational, perhaps physically dangerous, readersdon't agree with--because of the picture at the top of this blog, they can feelfree to leave such comments as "I didn't realize Stephen King was reviewingalbums now" or, even more scarring, call me a"Stephen King-lookin' muthahfu**ah!"
Imagine my chagrin, therefore, when I visited theinteresting internet site I Write Like this afternoon, andread the following: "Check which famouswriter you write like with this statistical analysis tool, which analyzes yourword choice and writing style and compares them with those of the famouswriters."
Happy to follow the site's instructions, I pasted in a sampleof my sterling prose, clicked the "Analyze" button, and was told I write like...Stephen King!
Happily, however, I thenlearned that there were dozens of gorgeous Russian women who'd love nothingmore than to meet a man like me!
Still, sitting here at my keyboard--with my books and mypoetry to protect me--somebody has towrite about the new Rick Ross album!
Sheryl Crow: 100 Miles From Memphis(A&M/Interscope) The secret truthabout Sheryl Crow is that she's actually verygood at what she does, she makes fine records that really aren'tsignificantly tied to any fashionable trends, and--as a result--they all continueto sound really good! That she's actually physicallyattractive has fooled everybody, conned them into thinking her career istied into some sort of MTV/music video/flavor of the month scenario, when infact her obvious focus upon musicianship and songwriting is precisely itsantithesis! This new album, which evokes DustyIn Memphis and the whole Southern Stax/Muscle Shoals, '60s arty sound, issimply better than it has any right to be! Especiallywith milk and sugar!
Jonas Brothers: Jonas L.A. (Walt Disney) Often comparedto the Beatles by brilliant writers telling it like it is purely to elicit noreaction whatsoever,the Jonas Brothers are back with a fab new album certain to draw comparisons tosuch classic works as the Beach Boys' SurferGirl--and undoubtedly garner the same strong reaction as their predecessorsfrom the young, female teen audience! Speaking of which, ever notice thatcalling these handsome lads "the JBs" is easy on the tongue? And that JamesBrown's quintessential backing band was called the JB's? I wouldn't want to betoo bold, but with comparisons flying to the Beatles, Beach Boys and JamesBrown here, I'd hesitate to call the Jonas Brothers anything but immortal musical legends who will live onthroughout the annals of pop music history! Plus, I hear they're related!
Rick Ross: Teflon Don (Maybach Music Group) RickRoss grew up in the Miami suburb of Carol City, which is awfully close to whereI grew up, admittedly a few years earlier, but I'd be willing to bet that even he knew about the importance of bothTeflon and the Mafia to our city's exotic culture! Thus this greattribute, a tremendous collection of upbeat tracks such as "I'm Not A Star,""Super High," "Aston Martin Music," and the thoughtful and evocative "All TheMoney In The World"! In many ways, growing up in a city where the sun beatsdown so intensely that you can fry an egg on the hood of your Ford Falcon can'thelp but make you think of Teflon--or,perhaps even more relevantly, Pam vegetable spray! Subtle nods to blaxploitation stars aside, Ross speaks directly to his audience, with littlepretense, and his razor-sharp jokes about money--and a culture preoccupied withobtaining it at the expense of all human dignity--are singularly hilarious! Ibet his house has air conditioning!
Various Artists: Jersey Shore(Universal Republic) Way back in 1980 or so, I interviewed Bruce Springsteen for a magazine, and inthe course of making small talk before the "meaty" part of the interview, ifyou will, I shared with him that I spent several summers visiting NJ relatives insuch areas as Point Pleasant and Seaside Heights! It's sort ofwhat you do when you interview these people! I told him I remembered theboardwalks there being a "good place to pick up girls"! Of course, when Iwrote the final piece I left that part out, but down the line, somehow, someSpringsteen uberfan got a hold of the transcript and made every moronic passageof our dialog public! And now the original piece is long gone, but the uneditedtranscript lives on via the Internet! It's great! Why is this relevant? Because I was secretlytalking about the girls on this cover of this album--and, I gather, the babesthat populate this show! And just as all of us can have a great time listeningto Enrique Iglesias & Pitbull, Taio Cruz, Girlicious and LMFAO, it's a surething that we would never want to bringthese songs home to play for our mothers, just like a significant number ofthe humans on this album cover! Besides, they'll probably all end up moving to Miami! Ask Rick Ross!
Klaus Schulze: La Vie Electronique 3 & 4 (SPV) Every once in a while, due to fascinating quirks in the record industry, greatalbums by even greater artists pop up from totally unexpected places. And so itis that this label--German, I believe, with an American distributor--is now releasing great live recordings by Paul Butterfield and Spiritand, even juicier, these recordings by German synthesizer minimalist dudeSchulze, onetime drummer with Tangerine Dream and later complete-embracer ofAll Things Space Music! These, the latter two of four recordings taken fromearly-to-mid-'70s performances by Schulze and fascinating documents of floatingmusic--startlingly, all of which still sound contemporary--are absolutely fab,lengthy 3-CD experiences both, and very much worth your hearing! Coming up nextfrom the label? Hawkwind! Don't forget--when we all wake up, buy lots ofMicrosoft and Apple stock and watch out for the Internet bubble! Where did Iput that headband?
Adam Franklin &Bolts Of Melody: I Could Sleep For AThousand Years (Second Motion) I've been listening to this album for a fewweeks now, and I have to admit it gets better with every listen! Franklin, onceof Britain's fabulous Swervedriver, has from Day One been offering up clever,catchy, aggressive tunes that are never less than fashionable--you could make acase that his old band sounded comfortable somewhere between the axis ofshoegaze & grunge if you were a moron!--and yet, to his credit, has never oncesounded dated! And despite this album's Velvet Underground title-swipe, Franklin really neversounds less than a driven, original songwriter who, given proper exposure,could connect with a larger audience on a significant level! Just as long as henever dates! The poor guy!
Various Artists: The Ikon Records Story - America's #1 UnsungGarage Label 1964-1966 (Frantic) Whyspend countless hours and dollars tracking down ultra-rare '60s garage singleswhen you can have a normal life, perhaps pursuing a career in chemical engineering,earn a bundle, then buy great 2-CD compilations like this? With 60 or sorarities from the Sacramento-based Ikon label here, from the likes of suchbands as the Cautions, the Styx, the Shondells, Madd, Inc. and the Knightmen--and weirdly, ifyou ask me, Dirk Hamilton--you can sit back, have the time of your life, andknowingly glare at all your so-called friends who really care about Rihannaand that whole 30-year stretch between 1970 and 2000! Later, you can tell yourkids' obnoxious buddies this is the latest indie rock from Brazil! Becauseyou're rich and sophisticated!
Jimmy Gnecco: The Heart (Bright Antenna) I don't know--there has to be a happy middle ground between calling your first band thecompletely un-searchable "Ours" and using your real name, which--not to get all Jersey Shore again--is not that farremoved from a certain potato-stuffed pasta shell! That said, I continue toadmire this dude's gleeful embracing of all things heavy, deep and emotional,which is exactly what he's done over the course of four or so albums--all withan appealing sense of melody and drama that, were it to connect just once with the masses, maybe via a filmsoundtrack or something, would set him up for life aesthetically andfinancially! I wish him well, find his work admirable, and now--to be brutallycandid--wouldn't mind some eggplant parmesan!
Various Artists: This Is the Blues Vols. 3 & 4(Eagle) Back in the '60s, when bandslike Cream and the Yardbirds were all the rage, you'd see these compilationalbums featuring odd tracks by John Mayall, Eric Clapton, Fleetwood Mac, SavoyBrown, Top Topham, Steve Anglo, Powerhouse, and--if you were a nerd--you'd wantto buy them all simply to have everything!Well, not much has changed! These discs--the last pair of a 4-CD series--offeryou fascinating single tracks by a crew that individually includes RoryGallagher, Jeff Beck, Jack Bruce, Andy Fairweather-Low, Savoy Brown, PeterGreen, the Pretty Things, Georgie Fame and Miller Anderson, among others, andthey're not bad listening at all! Of course, neither was your mother when she said you should get outof the house more often!
David Garrett: Rock Symphonies (Decca Music Group) I was going to write "Kurt Cobain's back, and he's got a violin!" until Iheard this album's opening track! Heck, now I'll just catch some stuff I missedon Hulu!