Sometimes when I get out of bed I wonder if the world has passed me by!
First, I look at the Billboard charts and realize that it's very likely I've never even heard the No. 1 song in the nation!
Then I open up my mail and get advanced copies of albums with the words "Kiki Kaiku" on them! And when I put them in my computer I soon learn--thanks to the magic of today's technology--that "Kiki" is the name of the artist, and "Kaiku" is the name of the album! Heck, that explains everything!
Is it any wonder I feel completely out of it?
Luckily, however, I can get back on track for the simplest of reasons!
And as I sit here holding the latest album by Styx's Dennis DeYoung, I feel all warm and tingly inside!
Silversun Pickups: Swoon (Dangerbird) I'm always happy when a talented new band seems on an upward career path, and that's exactly how I felt in 1984, when Prefab Sprout released their first album, Swoon! Coincidentally, this great LA band named their new album the same thing! It's therefore excellent and likely to sell in greater number than many expect! Recently saw them open up for Metallica in Austin, Texas, and thought their combination of loud squealing guitar, melodic hooks, and girl bass-playerness made them just the right band for this very moment! Did you notice that last sentence actually lacked a subject? Buy this album for a quick pick-me-up!
Day26: Forever In A Day (Bad Boy/Atlantic) With a debut album that entered the charts at No. 1, and an association with Sean Puffy/Diddy/Daddy Combs and the acclaimed televised classic Making The Band 4, Day26 would appear to have it made! But appearances aren't everything! For despite their musical talent, their apparent disdain for proper spelling and punctuation have resulted in this album's debut single "Imma Put It On Her"! And rather than "going with the flow," as some would have it, I find myself puzzled every time I hear it! Like, do they all know a girl named Emma and are they ordering her to do something? Are they conveniently forgetting that "I'm going to" has never been acceptably contracted to "Imma"? And what exactly is this "it" they want to put on that poor woman? A mink stole? A glass slipper? A decal? Dudes--Imma throw this in the trash and listen to Kiki Kaiku!
Dennis DeYoung: One Hundred Years From Now (Rounder) In the same manner that Day26 courteously warned potential listeners via their album title that listening to their album would be a painful task bordering on the infinite--like, if hearing it for one day would last forever, multiply that 26 times!--former Styx singer Dennis DeYoung also favors truth in labeling! But you know what? If you liked Styx--I mean, if you really, really liked Styx--you'll probably think this album is great, because it sounds more like Styx than anything I've heard since "Mr. Roboto"! I'm going to buy three of them!
Ida Maria: Fortress Round My Heart (Mercury) If there's one thing this world needs, it's a 24-year-old female Norwegian singing songs like "I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked"! Making waves internationally--and about to do the same here in the States--young Ida (pronounced "eeda") has a powerful voice and, it would appear, handwriting on her right hand! Will she be the next Bjork? Only a generation of weary rock critics fearful of their very livelihood disappearing out from under them knows for sure!
Jill Sobule: California Years (Pinko) We all like Jill Sobule around here, mostly because she wrote one of our earliest music blogs and she's, like, got opinions and stuff! Her new album was funded entirely by donations by her loyal fans--sort of like my own blog, come to think of it--and produced by heroic Detroit persona Don Was! It features 14 excellent songs, including the much-needed and highly topical "Where Is Bobbie Gentry?," and oozes controversy, color, and the sort of stuff they talk about on public radio when they're not asking for money! Hey...wait a minute!
Boy In Static: Candy Cigarette (Fake Four) If there's one thing that catches my eye, it's a picture of someone smoking! Man, do they look cool! Fortunately for the duo that made this album--San Franciscans Alexander Chen and Kenji Ross--the music's just as good as the cover art! Some may call this intimate and acoustic-sounding electronica, others may point out the band's past association with such artists as the Notwist and the appearances here of Ulrich Schnauss and members of Her Space Holiday and Freezepop, and still others may inadvertently leave the bathroom light on--but none of it matters! This is a good record despite what you think!
Willie Nile: House Of A Thousand Guitars (River House/GB Music) It's been quite a few years since Willie Nile released his first--very good--album, and it's nice to know that after all this time he's still going at it, and going at it well indeed. From Upstate New York, Nile moved to Greenwich Village in the '70s and managed to merge the best aspects of roots rock, folk music, and even punk rock into a cohesive whole that has never for a moment sounded overly derivative. I recommend you check out this album and catch the man performing live if you ever have the chance! If you don't, just buy a house and stay inside and watch TV! That's cool, too!
Papercuts: You Can Have What You Want (Gnomonsong) The latest album from Jason Robert Quever--an indie dude who's worked with people like Cass McCombs, Vetiver, Beach House, Casiotone For The Painfully Alone and, oh, I dunno, Aunt Jemima--is great stuff indeed, especially if you like drifting, spacey keyboards, free-floating, high-pitched vocals, and music that sounds like a modern-day version of J.K. & Co.'s classic Suddenly One Summer. I like it better than nearly everything I've heard from a major label this week! Oh, wait, is Rounder officially a major?
Metric: Fantasies (Last Gang) OK, maybe I am a little kinky here and there, but, like, what pops into your mind when you see the words "metric fantasies" on an album cover? A Canadian with a slide rule? Well, shame on you and shame on me! In fact, this new album by well-traveled combo Metric--their fourth--is excellent, forward-looking, and representative of a one-time cutting edge "alternative" rock band making superb music that the masses would clearly love, were they to properly hear it! Did you know that bandmember Emily Haines is the daughter of poet Paul Haines, who co-wrote Escalator Over The Hill with Carla Bley? Yeah, me neither! It's in Wikipedia!
Grand Duchy: Petit Fours (Cooking Vinyl) A collaboration between Frank Black and his wife Violet Clark, this is pretty good! Too bad that I--along with society as a whole--can't properly pronounce either the band name or the album title, so we'll never mention either ever again!