If you're a regular reader of this blog, you may have noticed: Typically, when I run down the week's most relevant album releases, I tend to start with the "big guns," give lip service to the mid-level artists, then peter out endlessly, seemingly by whim!
It's almost as if I simply stopped caring--and imply, however subtly, that you should too!
If only it were that simple!
Frankly, like most good things, this blog ends each week when I can't stand it anymore, decide to put a lid on it, and run to the bathroom!
This week I've decided to change tactics, somewhat! I'll start with new albums that mean the most to me personally, move on to the "big guns," then--just for kicks--see if I can actually stay awake!
Radio Dept.: Passive Aggressive Singles (2002-2010) (Labrador Sweden) Imagine a world where the very best music out there is being created by artists you very rarely hear about! It could happen! Now imagine that a fabulous band's singles--both A-sides and B-sides--have been thoughtfully collected and sequenced for a brand new double-CD set that could be one of the most impressive audio documents you'll ever hear! So it is with Sweden's Radio Dept., whose remarkable works will likely seduce all those fortunate enough to hear them! With impeccable taste, a mixture of muffled vocals, melodic hooks, the odd Go-Betweens cover, and enough depth to shame all who've yet to hear them, this band is simply better than everyone else this week, and your failure to purchase this album will reflect poorly both on your taste and your upbringing! Just a thought!
Tim Buckley: Tim Buckley (Rhino Handmade) There is indeed a God in the heavens if albums like this are currently allowed to exist! Lovingly assembled by the crew over at Rhino Handmade, this limited edition set offers up the 1966 Elektra Records album debut of Tim Buckley--in both stereo and mono--and a second disc of previously unreleased demos and more, all of which is historically relevant beyond belief, long in coming, and, it should be said, quite good! Available here, the album signifies just the beginning of one of popular music's best and most underrated artists, and--considering how far he'd traverse by the time he arrived at his 1971 masterpiece Starsailor--you can hear him here at his most accessible! In the words of one of his '60s contemporaries, get it while you can!
Iron And Wine: Kiss Each Other Clean (Warner Brothers) OK, now we've arrived at the stuff that will probably sell fairly well, is comparatively good, and can't help but make me think of Wooly Willy, who, let's be honest, in terms of raw filings will probably have more cultural impact in the long run than Iron Butterfly, Iron Maiden, Iron And Wine, and heck--maybe even Iron Man put together! It's tough not to be enticed by main dude Sam Beam's admirable grasp of songcraft, his ability to be subtle and melodic on command, and his manly facial hair, but at the end of the day, women who are repeatedly told that all they ever do is iron and whine won't like this at all! Shouldn't that count for something?
Wanda Jackson: The Party Ain't Over (Third Man/Nonesuch) Lord knows I have long respected Wanda Jackson ever since writer Nick Tosches raved about her when I was a mere child--and in fact found her, uh, quite attractive, all things considered--but I am mildly puzzled that a hubbub suddenly ensues when a young and, shall we say, seemingly opportunistic dude such as Jack White selectively shines the spotlight on her--as Elvis Costello did some years ago-and helps put together an album that aesthetically duplicates a time long ago, however inauthentically, and suddenly she's a big deal all over again! At least for a week! While it would be hard to knock her on any level at all--not to mention not be grateful that people would still like to hear her--I do not believe that what she has always been, and continues to be, has changed one iota! Still, a part of me wishes Jack would have embraced Anita Bryant instead!
Gang Of Four: Content (Yep Roc) It's hard not to have a soft spot for the good ol' Gang Of Four, whose legacy has been heavily borrowed from in the course of the past few decades, and whose past albums--nearly all of them from 1979's Entertainment! onward--sound even better today than they did back then! In the tradition of Entertainment!, which was entertaining, their new album is called Content--and, strictly speaking, one might think that's exactly what it is! But no! Instead, this cutting-edge band merely is opining here that they are "content" with man's inhumanity to man, the tragic unfairness of life, the price of milk and butter products, and their hapless inability to get a good phone signal while they're off enjoying the good life in their respective yachts and five-star hotels! After all--why should they care? They can always buy you--and probably will!
Corinne Bailey Rae: The Love EP (Capitol) I'm a big fan of Corinne Bailey Rae--some have noted that I'm nearly six-feet four inches tall!--and if she wants to put out an EP of cover songs purely to show what kind of music she likes, who am I to argue? So the five songs here include remakes of Prince's "I Wanna Be Your Lover," Belly's "Low Red Moon," Bob Marley's "Is This Love," Paul McCartney's "My Love," and a live version of "Que Sera Sera," most recently made famous by Kanye West and Lil' Wayne! Catch it on YouTube! Considering the emotional depths plumbed by Rae on her most recent album--an excellent work--we should perhaps view this outing as therapeutic, be glad for her and her willingness to share, then take the next left, drive about half a mile, and stop at the Union 76 station for a Diet Coke and some Bonomo's Turkish Taffy! Later we'll remember nothing and like it!
Cold War Kids: Mine Is Yours (Downtown) The biggest mistake in appreciating the Cold War Kids may simply be a matter of semantics: the Long Beach dudes know nothing about any political struggles between the USA and the Soviet Bloc--they're way too young!--and in fact named themselves to spite their famous fathers, members of '70s R&B band War, who spent so much time on the road playing "The World Is A Ghetto" they forgot to pay their electric bills back home and the poor kids had to bundle up in blankets as a result! Believe it or don't, Long Beach is a mutha! Thus "mine is yours" is merely an ironic put-down of their fathers' peace & love shtick--and in fact, the band quite firmly believes that what's ours is theirs! And they won't rest until they own it all! Why can't we be friends? Because we said so, growl the guys!
Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr: The Very Best Of The Rat Pack (Rhino) It's a tough world out there! Here we've got three of the most famous humans in American show business, theoretically at their Vegas best, singing classics like "Come Fly With Me," "Volare," and "Witchcraft," and when I want to find out more at Amazon, I see the album has only been awarded one star by a reviewer whose "real name" is M. Clough "Granny," and who tersely notes: "I did not like this CD collection. I've had other CDs of the Rat Pack Song collections and this one disappointed me." OK, fair's fair, but answer me this--what exactly did this reviewer do with his other Rat Pack collections? Use them for sandwich meat? Hurl them at bill collectors? Pretend they were people and make them talk to each other? Until these facts and more are revealed, what say we only give credence to published "professional" pop music critics, such as myself? Frankly, this album has a fantastic cover!
Pendulum: Immersion (Ear Storm) An extremely impressive, all-over-the-place psychedelic dance romp put together by an Australian combo with justifiable worldwide ambitions, Immersion is a sonic delight that's surprisingly subtle and worth repeated listening. The band has apparently broken through in a "big" way on the world festival circuit--at least that's what it says here--and I for one am always inclined to believe what I read! Featuring well know arty humans Liam Howlett and Steven Wilson in guest spots, the entire album is a continuous party that I find especially enjoyable playing in my car when I am stuck in a traffic jam and looking to temporarily leave my body! Significantly better than the Lee DeWyze album!
Destroyer: Kaputt (Merge) "You could study this music at academy; you can also pump a fist to it," says respected Internet publication Pitchfork, which, since it does not actually exist--like on paper, like a piece of matter that can and will ultimately decay--can theoretically say anything it wants and it won't mean anything! I opt to study Destroyer's music at academy--though without a helpful "an" or "the," I'm not exactly sure what academy they're referring to! Stupid Internet publications! Great album though, dude!