Because Lil Wayne is currently incarcerated, Darius Rucker, onetime vocalist of Hootie & the Blowfish, is enjoying tremendous success in the field of country music, and the Orb--perhaps most incredibly--can be defined as "a sphere or spherical object; a celestial body, such as the sun or moon; archaic; the earth," thus rendering the act of its making an album stunning beyond belief!
Significantly, all three albums employ music's "twelve-tone system"--in other words, the actual chromatic scale!
Finally, when purchased as CDs, the discs are audible both when inserted into a standard CD or DVD player and when accidentally dropped on the ground or hurled against a wall spitefully if one were so inclined!
Additionally: All come with covers that are visually appealing!
Darius Rucker: Charleston, SC 1966 (Capitol Nashville) As mentioned, Darius Rucker, former lead vocalist of Hootie & the Blowfish, is enjoying one of the most successful commercial rebirths in music history, singing country music in a compelling and agreeable manner and proving to many, such as myself--who witnessed him years ago singing a Barry Manilow track acapella and doing it so convincingly my eyes watered--that talent, no matter what shape or size, will out! That said, after years of the poor lad being mistakenly called "Hootie," what say we all focus on the notion of his real name "Darius" being slightly impractical as well?
Belle And Sebastian: Write About Love (Matador) Disturbingly going against the grain by making one of the year's best and most listenable albums when, at least in my case, I've got about six more seasons of 24 left to watch stacked next to my TV, affable Scots Belle & Sebastian continue to make solid and substantial albums that improve with each listening and actually prove good music is still being capable of being made--often willfully! Always attuned to today's standard for creating a massive hit, the group here casually toss-off "Calculating Bimbo," which seems likely to be a massive hit purely because most of today's troubled disc jockeys would probably enjoy saying the track's name on-air! Follow-up "I'm Quite Large Where It Counts" remains, sadly, still unrecorded!
Lil Wayne: I Am Not A Human Being (Young Money) To be candid, my opinion of rapper Lil Wayne has not been extraordinarily high--I tend to like these guys when they grow up and drop the "Lil," a holdover from my Archie Comics days--but I'm happy to report that I am stunned by this amazing new album! The rapper, presently in a less than ideal living situation, has made a vast intellectual leap and put forth a concept album that positions him, stunningly, not only as not a human being but, incredibly, an actual bronze statue of Eleanor Roosevelt currently standing proudly at the FDR Memorial in Washington! With songs such as the cheerful "Gonorrhea," "What's Wrong With Them," "That Ain't Me" and "I Don't Like the Look Of It," Wayne takes on the subject of overweight, camera-bearing tourists and pigeon waste with considerable aplomb--though, true to his roots, never uses that precise word in the telling! I love him!
The Orb featuring Dave Gilmour: Metallic Spheres (Columbia) I think most of us would agree that if there's one thing lacking in today's music scene, it's a suitable soundtrack for bunches of teenagers who are driving around in cars to listen to shortly before getting pulled over by the police! Fortunately, this great album--which pairs fabulous Pink Floyd guitarist Gilmour with members of the British "ambient/house collective" (not my words!) the Orb--sounds like someone took the spacy parts of Dark Side Of The Moon, pressed "perpetually loop," and now proudly waits to be blared, ideally through the dashboard, as teens gleefully roll joints, discuss precisely what percentage of the body is composed of water, and start reading billboards and street signs out loud and backwards purely to amuse their friends! Eventually, there will be a reckoning! Great album, though!
Sufjan Stevens: The Age Of Adz (Asthmatic Kitty) You've got to love a guy who proudly announces he's going to record an album for each of the 50 states in the union, then releases a few about Michigan and Illinois before losing interest and simply pretending he never said it! Maybe he should write the List Of The Day blog! Regardless, the subtleties at work here--a blanket condemnation of the American educational system for never properly teaching him how to spell AIDS, filling the spaces between each and every track with paid advertisements purely because he's dying to get sued for it but knows he'll win because hey, check out the album title, and besides, "Aquarius" was already taken--are purely imaginary! I would pay money if his real name was Larry!
The Rolling Stones: Ladies & Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones (Eagle Rock Blu-Ray DVD) It's gratifying to see this re-release of one of the best documents ever made about the Rolling Stones, and on Blu-Ray no less! Restored, remastered, and featuring a full-powered Rolling Stones barreling through their Exile On Main Street period onstage in Texas, it's a fairly non-sensationalistic, music-heavy document and may in fact capture the band during their live peak. With bonus rehearsal footage shot in Switzerland and interviews with Mick Jagger then and now, it's one of the year's best musical packages and worthy of being snatched up by you at this very second!
Joshua Radin: Rock & The Tide (Mom + Pop) If you're like me, you're probably wondering who the heck Joshua Radin is and why so many people care about him! For that matter, you're also wondering why the heck so many parents decided to name their kids Jason and Joshua 20 years ago! So you've probably already checked out his bio and found out that the dude's music has been a fixture on TV shows like Scrubs, Grey's Anatomy and Brothers And Sisters and a billion movies and advertisements! And you're probably saying, heck, why should I buy this dude's album since all of his music will probably end up on TV someday anyway? Then maybe you'll drive over to 7/11 to see if they still have those chocolate peanut butter Pure Protein bars! As you start your car up, your neighbor will turn on her sprinklers! Don't forget to look in your rear-view mirror!
Kenny Wheeler & The John Dankworth Orchestra: Windmill Tilter (BGO import) An unexpected CD issue of one of the all-time classics of British jazz, released in 1968 and until this time never reissued, this is fabulous. Featuring Canadian trumpeter Wheeler, John McLaughlin, Dave Holland, Michael Gibbs and the John Dankworth Orchestra, the set is lushly produced, engagingly written, filled with top-notch playing and certainly the equal of any American jazz classic recorded during the same period. Its relative rarity--they never pressed up many of these things--has made this a long sought-after collector's item, and the full-bodied treatment here is a jazz fan's dream come true. Indispensible.
The Secret Sisters: The Secret Sisters (Beladroit) Do pay attention to one of the year's best albums here--it's the debut set by Alabama-bred sisters Laura and Lydia Rogers, whose harmonies are impeccable and whose sound, skillfully produced by T Bone Burnett, literally sounds timeless and plucked out of the ether! Well, maybe not literally! What is ether? Anyway, to my ears, there is absolutely nothing as exciting as siblings--male or female--harmonizing together, and the Secret Sisters do it exceptionally well! It's as if they were yanked out of time, hurled forward into the 21st Century and given to us by the grace of God! Yeah, exactly like that!
All That Remains: For We Are Many (Prosthetic) Named after the scattered crumbs left in a tin once housing a key lime pie, All That Remains boast significant amounts of both sugar and carbohydrates! Perhaps they should be avoided!