I'd like to start this week's blog off with a heartfelt apology to fans of Megadeth, whose new album I inadvertently forgot to mention last week! Oops!
I understand it's very good--and that there's no truth to the rumor that it's a stunning departure into faux bluegrass, R&B and the early works of the Undertones! At least, that's what I gather from speaking with one of my friends who lives with a member of the band!
If I only had it in my hands, and could look at the cover and read the credits, then I could tell you the whole story and you could read it here first!
But it would be unthinkable to offer an opinion otherwise!
That said, word is that one side of the CD is silver-colored and shiny!
Pearl Jam: Backspacer (Monkeywrench) One of the more impressive aspects of Pearl Jam in retrospect is that nobody has really burned out on them! The group's general aversion to music videos, press interviews, and most of the star-making machinery that has chewed up and spit out nearly all of their contemporaries, has been much to their benefit! In fact, with the exception of Eddie Vedder, who as lead vocalist is of course the most prominent band member, I'd be hard-pressed to recognize any of Pearl Jam's musicians even if they were standing right next to me at the record store buying a Lady Gaga single! This new album--their ninth studio set--is being distributed outside of the usual major label distribution channels, streamed all over the Internet, and doing everything to get "The Man" out of the picture! Cool! It's produced by Brendan O'Brien, has a nifty cover by hipster artist Tom Tomorrow--not the DC comics hero, sadly--and sounds pretty good for a bunch of dudes who've been making records now for nearly two decades! Care to buy a copy and join me for some coffee?
Monsters Of Folk: Monsters Of Folk (Shangri-La Music) Perhaps even more impressive than the new Pearl Jam set is this new recording by the Monsters Of Folk--not so much because of the music as for the process entailed in making the record happen! Word is that snaring the Yeti from the Himalayas was a logistical nightmare, much tougher than nabbing the Sasquatch in the Pacific Northwest, and while a few Puerto Ricans were happy to buy the Chupacabra an airplane ticket to LA, nobody in India was willing to spend a dime on the Monkey-Man Of New Delhi! C'mon, folks! That said, I wish the engineer would've lightened up on the low end here!
Three Days Grace: Life Starts Now (Jive) When it comes to Canadian rockers from Canada who rock, Three Days Grace are most assuredly not to be confused with 3 Doors Down! Many Canadians can't even spell Mississippi! Nope, these guys mean business on an international level, as this great new album's cover illustration--featuring guys hitting TVs with sticks so that the bats ("war") and doves ("peace") typically trapped within can escape--attests! It's very hard to tell one song from the other here, as they're all so great, but I must say that "Bully"--an unexpected tribute to former US president Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt--comes as something of a shocker! Guess that's where the big sticks on the cover come in!
KSM: Read Between the Lines (Disney Sound) Like many, I first discovered this fun-loving group while randomly entering phrases into one of my favorite search engines! How could I not click when the first phrase suggested after I typed "HOTTEST GIRL" was "BAND"? And yep, these are the same five teen gals who many of us recently enjoyed watch cover Cheap Trick's "I Want You To Want Me" in the convenient "on-demand" video format! "Being all girl, all teen, we're usually pre-judged," notes KSM singer Shelby! "People don't expect that much, but we usually convince the audience that we're a legit rock band, not just a 'chick band'"! Hey, chicks are baby birds, people! Take it from me: With rockin' tunes like "Permission To Party" and "Distracted," KSM are pretty good for girls!
Various Artists: Where the Action Is! Los Angeles Nuggets 1965-1968 (Rhino) This fabulous 4-CD collection of classic mid-'60s LA-based rock 'n' roll was automatically going to my favorite album of the week even if I couldn't get the package open! But I could! So, where to start? As a package--a marvelously information-packed, well-illustrated book, into which 4 CDs are tucked--it may be one of Rhino's finest ever! Each of the 101 songs contained within is impressively annotated (most appreciated: actual track personnel), and as for the artists and songs within, the selection is remarkably thorough (in the case of artists) and inspired (in the case of the featured songs)! Meaning: In order to make a case for thoroughly documenting a thriving local scene, the Rhino dudes opted out of selecting hits by hitmakers--so Iron Butterfly is here but "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" isn't--and as a result listeners can hear, say, Spirit's "Girl In Your Eye" sitting alongside equally fascinating tracks by the Moon, Things To Come, and the London Phogg! In short, this box is like one of those Boulders compilation series things put together by a company not afraid of getting sued by the big guys! Though I didn't grow up in LA, "Roses And Rainbows" by Three Dog Night singer Danny Hutton was a hit in Miami back in the '60s, and hearing it here, for the first time in years, was an absolute thrill; I can only imagine how I'd feel about this whole shebang if I was a lifelong LA resident! With previously unissued tracks by Tim Buckley, Stephen Stills & Richie Furay and Boyce & Hart, this set is simply the greatest thing ever released this week!
Brand New: Daisy (Procrastinate Music Traitors) In many ways the arch-enemies of the Used, Brand New did the usual good stuff and built up a loyal following by playing with all the right bands in all the right places, getting extended visibility via the fascinating Warped Tour, and being from Long Island! Plus, they were once on Jimmy Kimmel! Their latest album, apparently named after their favorite brand of air rifle or flower (it's unclear) and not the duck, as some have suggested, is being marketed as "defiant," but I had absolutely no problem pulling it out of its jewelbox!
The Big Pink: A Brief History Of Love (4AD) Dealing with bands that are supposed to be the next big thing is always a blast--mainly because I can just sit back and pretend I know what I'm talking about while listening to Sandie Shaw singing in French and Italian! But I like these London dudes, who kind of evoke '80s rock and '90s shoegazing and sing such great songs as "Dominos," which features the always joyous chorus of "These girls fall like dominos" and make me want to grab a quick drink and listen to old Psychedelic Furs records! Of course, so does Toby Keith! It's great!
Richard Hawley: Truelove's Gutter (Mute) On occasion I like to listen to moody, arty guys who make music for no particular reason other than they like it! Jerks! Here's one of the better people doing it, a singer/guitarist who used to be in Pulp--hey, strictly speaking, we all were!--but whose "side projects" are considerably less busy! He's got a deep voice, he quietly plays guitar, he's kind of atmospheric, and if you play this at home with a member of the opposite sex you're trying to impress, it may even work better than KSM!
Mika: The Boy Who Knew Too Much (Casablanca) He's been called a cross between George Michael and Freddie Mercury, and people are either for him or against him! Good thing it's pronounced "meeka"! Working with co-producer Greg Wells, who's worked with Katy Perry and Pink, Mika now stands ready for massive American success--he has, after all, sold 5 million copies of his previous album worldwide--or abject failure! It's that simple! I wish I knew how I felt about it!