It was the best of times, it was the worst of times!
It was the best batch of new releases ever, it was the worst batch of new releases ever!
It was the week in which both Green Day and Ethel Merman could be mentioned in the same breath!
It was an opportunity for a writer to construct an entire record review on the basis of a CD sticker!
And then, suddenly...it wasn't!
Green Day: 21st Century Breakdown (Reprise) As most of their fans know very well, this Friday will see the release of the first new Green Day album since 2004's American Idiot! Will it be the best album of all time or a horrifying reminder that all that was once held sacred can be unbearably banal, verging on the profane? Will the same band that once held the Kinks' "Picture Book" conspicuously sacred return again to pay tribute to Bobby Vinton's "Mr. Lonely" via their new track "Before The Lobotomy"? Will their eyeliner run, should they boldly choose to wear it? Now that being "green" has been adopted by the dreariest of the overstuffed and tepid middle class, will the trio again defy all expectations and perhaps suggest littering might be appropriate social behavior? And will they sell any of these things? Luckily, since it's Tuesday, we don't know yet!
Know Your Enemy - Green Day
Cam'Ron: Crime Pays (Asylum) Like you, I first discovered rapper Cam'Ron while randomly trolling the internet and deciding to try URLs I knew had to be great! Naturally www.myjiggie.com was first on my list, and sure enough, that's how I discovered the man's latest album! A study in psychological turmoil, the charismatic rapper's new disc is titled Crime Pays--but whether he actually means that or is merely being ironic is the big question! Still in search of the "E" missing from his moniker, the man shows his prowess via four memorable skits entitled "F**K Cam #1-4" and the anthropological puzzler "Silky (No Homo)," destined to be covered by many! Most intriguing of all for an album entitled Crime Pays is the conspicuous CD cover sticker imploring "DON'T STEAL THIS ALBUM!" If you peel it off, will it say ...To An Extent underneath? Let's find out!
F**k Cam #1 (Amended Album Version) - Cam'Ron
The Church: Untitled #23 (Unorthodox) It would be a cop-out to simply say that the Church's 23rd album has no title and seems somewhat unorthodox, so let's just say that this always interesting Australian band continues to make fascinating music that scampers in and out of commercial territory by no design whatsoever! They just do what they do! While some might declare the band's career would have evolved significantly differently had they never been hampered by the 1988 hit "Under The Milky Way" and all that concocting a "follow-up" entailed, others would say that once they realized that wouldn't happen, the Church simply threw their hands up in the air and said, "Ah, what the heck! Hey, is that a kangaroo over there?" Others, of course, watch on dispassionately, and their judgments are thereby suspect! Buy this and hope that the resulting sales bump will cause the band to give a title to its successor!
Cobalt Blue - The Church
Paul Wall: Fast Life (Asylum) I don't think I'm alone in buying albums I don't particularly like; sometimes getting something just because you like the cover art and leaving it around where people can see it just seems like the right thing to do! In this case, once I took a gander at all the money Mr. Wall has in his right hand, I knew he must be good! Additionally, checking out the many guests that populate his new album--including Webbie, Mouse, Baby Bash, Gorilla Zoe and Pitbull--I was sold, hook, line and sinker, because I've always been into superheroes and Scooby Doo! Finally, when I read that "Fast Life is not only a celebration of his many successes, but a moving testament of the endless hours he dedicated to becoming the chart-topping MC he is today," I knew it had to be great! I am an aggressive shopper and I only like the best!
The Crystal Method: Divided By Night (Ingrooves) Likely to be a favorite of distinguished Framed blogger John Kordosh, who at this point in his career makes musical judgements based purely on geometric shapes--and hey, who doesn't?--Divided By Night is everything you've ever wanted in a Crystal Method album and more! Featuring a bunch of guests cool people must now like by law--including New Order's Peter Hook, Matisyahu, Justin Warfield, Emily Haines, Jason Lytle, LMFAO, and Why Bother Including Anyone Else's Name Since They're All A Blur After Justin Warfield?--the record shows that electronic music honchos Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland both know what side their bread is buttered on, and you're bound to love every minute of it! Seriously, read the fine print!
Divided By Night - The Crystal Method
The Wooden Birds: Magnolia (Barsuk) Perhaps you've heard of the great Texan band the American Analog Set, whose dreamy records were among the very best released by youngish American types who favored indie and "alternative" rock in the last decade or so but sold next to nothing! Perhaps not! Either way, you'll probably very much like what you hear here--the latest work by the former band's frontman Andrew Kenny, which sounds a little bit like his old band but a lot more like something different entirely! It's like the man is following his muse! Perfectly pleasant and charming music, filled with quirks and intricacies, that were it to be placed in the background of a contemporary television show--preferably one featuring nubile women, whether college students, doctors or nurses--would probably sell considerably more than were it not to be! Sometimes it's all really that simple!
Duncan Browne: Give Me Take You (101 Distribution) You know what? If they're going to start randomly reissuing really great albums for no apparent reason, I think I'll start mentioning them randomly too! This disc, originally released in 1968 on Andrew Loog Oldham's Immediate Records label, is the debut album by a very talented singer-songwriter and instrumentalist and, though it sold next to nothing, was very fine indeed! The edition here features 22 tracks--many of them previously unissued, including some rehearsal takes--and has that whole Brit/baroque pop thing down to a science. It's great! He'd later put out other albums, form a group called Metro, go solo and eventually die--but heck, we're all going to do that someday! But not many of us will make a record this good! Given a choice, I'd opt to buy this rather than Paul Wall! So would you!
Ninepence Worth Of Walking - Original - Duncan Browne
Hill Country Revue: Make A Move (Razor & Tie) Fans of the North Mississippi Allstars will probably find this album ultrafab, as it features that band's Cody Dickinson and Chris Chew, as well some other guys! Featuring contemporary and gritty modernized blues--much of it penned in tandem with Garry Burnside, son of bluesman R.L. Burnside--the album rocks and rolls with the sort of authenticity that often sounds odd to contemporary ears! And perhaps that was the intent! As always, any album cover featuring a suggestively posed woman and a sticker reading "Make A Move" catches the eye--and the heart--of music lovers worldwide! They're always good!
Alice Mae - Hill Country Revue
The Meat Puppets: Sewn Together (Megaforce) One of America's very best and disturbingly undersung rock 'n' roll bands, the Meat Puppets continue! This new release boasts the presence of both Kirkwood brothers--Curt and Cris--along with drummer Ted Marcus and lots of finely played, delightfully idiosyncratic music that in 2009 sounds very good indeed! Especially when you hear it!
Sewn Together - The Meat Puppets
Ethel Merman: Memories (Sepia) In many ways the sonic predecessor of Axl Rose--and certainly a better dresser--singer Merman is heard here in a '50s recording session singing the songs she loved as a child! My, doesn't she look happy!
I Got Rhythm - Ethel Merman
Follow me on Twitter.