It's been an eventful week!
Here in California's San Fernando Valley, where the thermometer often cracks 110 in the summer, it snowed!
Trent Reznor won an Oscar!
I just read John Kordosh's Framed blog, and it suddenly struck me he's getting paid for writing it!
Also: Apparent problems in Libya!
Aaron Lewis: Town Line (Stroudavarious) I think we all knew the lead singer of Staind had a great country album in him! Admittedly, most of us thought it had been shoved in his mouth due to personal differences with an angry tattooist, but what the heck! There's a lot resonating here: Lewis is a convincing singer, and seeing this album released the same week it's announced that Styx's Tommy Shaw is about to release his first bluegreass album surely signifies that long-awaited "End Of Days" thing we've all been waiting for for at least two years! I'd be inclined to proclaim this album of the year were it not for next month's upcoming Linkin Park/Dolly Parton collaboration! Next thing you know, Snoop will be a TV star!
Lucinda Williams: Blessed (Lost Highway) It's hard not to respect Lucinda Williams, if only because she's a skilled singer and songwriter, she writes compelling material clearly from the heart, and if you had the choice of being called "Lucy" or "Lucinda" all your life, which would you choose? Collectors note: This album has been released with no less than eight different covers! Though I personally favor Sgt. Peppers--call me a romantic--I'm not averse to the reappearance of Loverboy's Get Lucky as well as that old standard, the South Pacific soundtrack! Good thing no one's paying attention!
Dropkick Murphys: Going Out In Style (Hellcat/Epitath) I think that any 14-year-old, so-called Irish-punk band can pretty much do anything they want at this point, so long as it means they're staying off the streets and earning a living! And so too must the lovable Dropkick Murphys, who with this new album completely disregard any pretense of making actual music and instead devote considerable time discussing the editorial worth of magazines like Elle and Mademoiselle, the longterm appeal of the bowler hat, and the appropriateness of the monocle in the 21st century! Closing track "The Irish Rover," a surrealistic version of "The Unicorn" peppered with inter-band squabbling about who among them dresses the most fashionably, is an uplifting call to action--and if that action involves a charge account at Bloomingdales, God love 'em!
Beady Eye: Different Gear, Still Speeding (Dangerbird) One thing's for sure: Put together Oasis's Liam Gallagher, Gem Archer and Andy Bell in a brand new band, give 'em a brand new name, play their first single in a desk next to mine, and I'll innocently ask, "Is that the father or the son?" Why? Because like anyone who's spent any time listening to music in the past century, when I hear this stuff I can't help but think about people who've devoted their entire lives trying to sound like John Lennon and still don't get it right! Hypothetically speaking, had they instead dubbed themselves Extraordinarily Long Nose or Offsetting Body Odor, I'd be willing to give them the benefit of the doubt! Of course, that just may be me!
James Brown: The Singles, Volume Ten: 1975-1979 (Hip-O Select) It's appropriate that scant weeks after the Grammy Awards hubbub about who should or should not have won--the whole Eminem and Justin Bieber thing--comes this reissue by one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century, who is caught here in the mid-to-late part of his career, offering up what for him was standard fare--great tracks like "It's Too Funky In Here" and "For Goodness Sakes, Look At Those Cakes"--that dwarves 95 percent of the 2011 competition! Need it be said that it doesn't sound dated in the slightest? Plus, doesn't he just look cooler? What say we all just admit our mistakes, go back in time, offer him the honors he so clearly deserved, and dance "The Spank" until our feet turn blue?
Ron Sexsmith: Long Player, Late Bloomer (Thirty Tigers) Far be it from me to credit something so simple as a new producer--after all, they don't do anything!--for making this the best-sounding Ron Sexsmith album I've heard in years, especially if the producer in question is rockin' Bob Rock of Metallica and Motley Crue fame, and the singer in question is someone I've always respected but thought sounded too much like Tim Hardin for comfort! I just chalk up liking it to the fact that I just spent two weeks listening to everything ever recorded by Keith Emerson and this guy doesn't sound a thing like Greg Lake! Hey, why not be honest?
Various Artists: Troubadours: The Rise Of The Singer Songwriter CD/DVD (Hear Music) It's hard to believe that the simple earnestness of just a guy with a guitar--or a girl at the piano--would sound so distinctively rebellious and different from the status quo, but as this film and accompanying CD illustrates, that was indeed the case back in the early '70s, when James Taylor and Carole King ruled, and young people would look deeply in each other's eyes and inquire about the location of the nearest bathroom! A welcome look back, a nice talk-ish documentary, and an eye-opening contrast to today's, shall we say, less-introspective pop music scene! Frankly, I'd buy this, read this, ponder the failings of today's crassly commercial culture, and then check out that The Bachelor TV show! I hear it's hot!
Papercuts: Fading Parade (Sub Pop) Any mass theorizing about the overall quality of today's pop music--whether it's better than ever or the worst yet--is always rent asunder--hey, quote me!--when albums as good as this emerge! It's like...it's never going to get any airplay, but it's so intrinsically good and well-written and well-sung and oblivious to all commercial trends, it will last longer, sound better, and were it human, be a happier person for years longer than most of today's more popular crud purely for that reason! I credit bandleader Jason Robert Quever, his parents, his upbringing, his reluctance to go outside and play baseball when the piano sat waiting in the living room, and the lack of anything else any good as major contributing factors! Plus the cover reminds me of the day they spiked the punch on American Bandstand!
Charles Gerhardt: Spellbound: The Classic Scores Of Miklos Roza (RCA) Anyone who's spent any time in record retail--that outlandish concept involving actual shops filled with record albums that people could pick up, look at, and perhaps actually buy--knows that there is a particular customer who goes bonkers over film soundtracks, and this--one of several new reissues of the Classic Film Score series Charles Gerhardt produced for RCA in the '70s--is the sort of thing that made those customers salivate! Superbly recorded, sweeping, dramatic--it's lush, wondrous stuff, and the sort of thing Trent Reznor might be creating today if they hadn't kept showing Mechanized Death in his Driver's Ed class!
Dum Dum Girls: He Gets Me High (Sub Pop) Today's best rock 'n' roll clearly involves girls, dumbness, and Smiths covers! Sadly, grinding your boyfriend up and smoking him in a hashpipe falls outside the realms of good taste!