Whew! After spending the past week in Austin, Texas at the annual South By Southwest music convention--where 3 million artists played one note simultaneously for four consecutive days--I'm sure glad to be back home!
Not just because I'm tired of being jostled around every minute by sweaty youths who smell of smoke and alcohol.
Not just because of the fact that of the 3 million artists who played, only 17 of them were any good.
And not just because I saw nearly every person I've ever met in less than 24 hours.
Nope. I'm just glad I found my house. I went down the street to Rite-Aid a few minutes ago and got lost!
Danity Kane: Welcome To The Dollhouse (Bad Boy) In a world where connections often overshadow musical performance skills, where appearance and appearance alone is the single biggest factor in an artist getting any sort of major label record deal, I'm just glad that oldtimers like Danity Kane are still around cranking out major new albums while they can! Following up their release of August 2006--almost 550 days ago, for gosh sakes!--here's hoping this comeback claims the Number 1 chart spot just like their last! I'm especially tickled by their ambition. "Most of the stuff we're working on right now is our own stuff we're writing and producing ourselves, within the group," the band told the press last year, "and hopefully will get some placement." I plan to place this album by my new patio chairs and play it while drinking some brisk lemonade!
Flo Rida: Mail On Sunday (Poe Boy/Atlantic) Containing the massive smash "Low" featuring T Pain--who by law must now appear on every seventh record ever released--there's no denying that this superstar-filled rapfest will sell like hotcakes, and deservedly so! Buy this album and you'll not only get Lil Wayne, Timbaland, Sean Kingston, Birdman, will.i.am, Yung Joc, Trey Songz and both Rick Ross and Brisco--you'll get an artist who was hip enough to take the name of my former state of residence and create a logo that makes it look like a great big gun! I certainly hope when he tells people the name of his new album he won't be asked how he spells the first word!
The Bravery: The Sun And The Moon Complete (Island) In the tradition of other great artists whose classic albums are reissued in bonus form, this deluxe new package features the Bravery's now-classic 2007 epic The Sun And The Moon plus a second disc of the same album remixed and "re-imagined" by the band's Sam Endicott. I'm guessing he's reimagining it as "really good" or, I dunno, as a boomerang or some other common household object. It's kind of an interesting idea!
She & Him: Volume One (Merge) By now everyone knows that musicians want to be in the movies and actors want to be musicians, and often the results are less than stellar. But in the case of new duo She & Him--who are in fact actress Zooey Deschanel and musician M. Ward--a pleasant surprise awaits! I played this and liked it before even knowing who was singing and playing! Of course I later decided it was no good when I found out who it was, but that's just me! I think you'll like it--in fact, I know you'll like it (points outward from monitor)--and isn't that's what's most important? Buy it and keep Tin Man 2 at bay for another year!
Daniel Lanois: Here Is What Is (Red Floor) A distinguished artist in his own right, and a producer and friend to such famous humans as U2, Brian Eno, Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Sinead O'Connor and the entire country of Canada, Lanois has assembled a tasty disc that's atmospheric and in some ways reminiscent of the works of Martin Heidegger--particularly of the "dasein" concept the philosopher pioneered in his existentialist classic Being And Time. At least the title sort of is. I guess. Oh well.
Black Tide: Light From Above (Interscope) Perhaps I was harsh in my assessment above of Flo Rida's wonderful logo, so what say we give the Sunshine State another chance to shine? In this case we're talking about Miami's exciting Black Tide--certainly a fine name given their city of origin!--and their rambunctious hard rockin' style, which shows the influence of Metal, Death Metal, Black Metal, Black Death and those words' remaining permutations. An enthusiastic joyfest? You bet! It's all great fun, though I was puzzled by guitarist Lexx's self-penned bio comment "i listen to bands like municipal waste" until I realized he was forgoing the use of capital letters! We're all poets on the inside!
The Kills: Midnight Boom (Domino) A colorful duo in the tradition of Sonny & Cher (they're male & female) the White Stripes (they're two people and they're a band) and Peaches & Herb (they're human beings), the fabulous Kills have returned with a fabber record that will make them new friends in every corner of the world and with luck put an end to world hunger! Initial fave tracks include "U.R.A. Fever" and "M.E.X.I.C.O.C.U.," but even those without initials are good too! I'm sure residents of Benton Harbor, Michigan--where the band recorded the new album--will be thrilled to learn that "the pair quickly realized that they needed to be in the middle of nowhere to make their music" according to Billboard.com! Luckily, they had electricity there!
Chris McGregor's Brotherhood Of Breath: Eclipse At Dawn (Cuneiform) Out now for a few weeks but very much worth spotlighting is this superb live recording of South African pianist Chris McGregor's legendary large jazz group the Brotherhood Of Breath. Taped for a German radio broadcast in 1971, the concert features the band in peak form and includes highly acclaimed players such as Harry Beckett, Dudu Pukwana, Alan Skidmore, Mike Osborne and Harry Miller among others. Introduced onstage by Brit jazz figure Ronnie Scott, the band runs through much of their best-known material and plays inspirationally throughout. Highly recommended stuff from an unsung jazz hero whose stature seems lately to be growing by leaps and bounds.
Various Artists: Body Of War: Songs That Inspired An Iraq War Veteran (Sire) This 2-CD soundtrack has been in the news lately, both for the subject matter of the film it accompanies--about an American soldier paralyzed in Iraq--and the musicians contributing material. Among them: Eddie Vedder, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Public Enemy, Tori Amos, Pearl Jam, the Nightwatchman, Serj Tankian, Roger Waters and Tom Waits. Additional inspiration: That these artists have no qualms making political statements that might alienate segments of the record-buying public. Sales proceeds will benefit Iraq Veterans Against The War.
Dame Shirley Bassey: Get The Party Started (Universal Classics) The first album in over a decade from this renowned Brit singer whose music has livened up tailgate parties at college football games for decades! Featuring a new recording of Pink's "Get The Party Started" and such jock faves as "Slave To The Rhythm" and "I Will Survive," this fine collection will be perfect accompaniment to this fall's chips, coleslaw and Heineken when the season starts! Plus: Gals, you can dance to it!