Qualitatively speaking, I'd say that this is the strongest week of new album releases of the entire year!
And why not? Here we've got the complete works of Pink Floyd, the classic Verve recordings of legendary jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery, and a deluxe reissue of Nirvana's Nevermind!
Yet ironically--and perhaps serving as a statement regarding the state of today's music--most of these fabulous albums were recorded 20 or more years ago!
But no matter! Television is better than ever, there's a fabulous 3D remake of The Lion King out there, gas costs nearly 4 dollars a gallon, and if I really want to know what new albums are worth buying, I can just check out what my friends are listening to on Facebook!
The only bummer? Now I have to start making friends!
: The Whole Love
(dBpm) That this week's hottest new album release may belong to none other than indie faves Wilco says a lot about the state of the music business! For starters, it implies that a tuneless batch of mildly interesting songs put together by a tepid group of musicians whose hearts are in the "right place" is qualitatively better
than more professionally produced, major-label hokum issued by cynical major labels interested only in ripping you off with tuneless garbage formulated purely to ensure they satisfy the short-term demand of their idiotic stockholders! So yeah
, this stuff rocks! Plus, any band with a guy named "Tweedy" in it is, you know, kind of cute!
That said, devoting an entire album to one's preference for a complete
Subway tuna melt rather than the more healthful half-sandwich does display an inherent zest for living that only today's best rock can provide! Count me in!
: Cole World: The Sideline Story
(Roc Nation) I think most of us have been waiting for a great rap record featuring guest appearances by Trey Songz, Jay-Z, Drake and Missy Elliott! Why? Because that sort of thing never happens!
For that matter, neither do world-famous characters from nursery rhymes--such as, in this instance, Old King Cole--literally come to life
, record actual albums
, and just for a second, give us all hope that people like Little Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel may come over to our house for a cup of tea or something! And as remarkable as this album may be, the fact that its creator--a certain Mr. "J. Cole"--deigned to actually record it, rather than rest on his laurels as the historic creator of luscious luncheon treat cole slaw,
makes all the difference in the world! Still, looking at this album cover, I suspect that if we meet him by the bike racks after school, we'll be dead meat!
: The Dark Side Of The Moon
(Immersion Box Set) (Capitol) You know what? If I could only buy one of this week's new releases, it would be this mega-version of Pink Floyd's classic Dark Side Of The Moon
set--blown out and supersized here as a 6-disc combination of CDs and DVDs and essentially offering up a glorious excess of some of the most psychedelic, wondrously creative pop music ever laid down by actual humans! Available in its original form in a number of permutations--as part of a 2-disc "Experience" set, as a slab of vinyl, as part of a 14-CD complete works set--this album is probably best heard and fully enjoyed via this megalithic excess, as it has proven to be one of the sole recordings in pop history that can withstand repeated critical listenings and still, you know, sound fresh!
Sort of like Katy Perry, but without all that make-up!
Buy it today!
: Chickenfoot III
(eOne Music) Those who feel lost in today's ever-changing retail environment, who see albums like Jay-Z & Kanye West's Throne
album in stores and perhaps ponder, what the
heck does this gaudy mess have to to do with the kind of music I like
, will be pleased as punch by the latest album by rock's sexily named Chickenfoot--who, via famous band members Sammy Hagar, Joe Satriani, Michael Anthony and Chad Smith--return here with the sort of hard-rockin', drum-poundin' sound certain to send reassuring surges of adrenaline throughout the bodies of those of us who enjoy driving faster than 55 mph as we race down deserted roads running over possums, tossing empty 40-ouncers out the car window, and scanning the freeway shoulder for distressed maidens with red convertibles and flat tires! Word is that Joe Satriani told vocalist Hagar, "I want to hear you sing differently" on this album--and that Hagar would alternately sound like Brit rocker Marc Almond and Luciano Pavarotti on each and every track here--well, depending on how much you've had to drink--certainly tells the tale! It may be sharing too much, but I'd like to point out that I particularly enjoy putting hot sauce
on the chicken I eat! And a word to the wise? So do they!
(Interscope) A stunning sci-fi concept album about a teenage rock band that was once enormously popular--more popular by far
than they deserved on the basis of their music--who eventually split up and released an unlikely series of solo projects that ultimately met a dismal commercial fate, until finally realizing the grim truth--that it was only together as a trio that anyone really cared about them, and then, only a little--this album is a shocking reminder that talent will out! For indeed, as the album's narrative itself has it, a cruising space vehicle looking for "guys no one on earth would really miss" lucks out, spots the guys, brings them to their home planet, puts them in a so-called "human zoo," feeds them carrots, and makes them listen to their earlier recordings repeatedly
until, appropriately pacified, they eagerly volunteer the phone number of "that hot chick with the rubber glove" on an earlier album cover but find, sadly, that on this planet, no one really cares! Drama? Let's see the Chili Peppers top this!
(Deluxe Edition) (Geffen) It's hard to believe in retrospect that may people gave much of a hoot about these guys, let alone anointed this thing the "album of a generation," as, frankly--via 2011 ears--the dudes continue to sound like mildly impressive, Replacements-inspired hard-rockers with a tendency for singing somewhat dopey lyrics and aspiring to emulate older bands who rather profoundly were their betters! As a pathetic baby boomer with a long-term perspective, I tend to view it thusly: the Beatles had 100X fans, Nirvana had 10X fans, Lady Gaga has 1X fans, and Best Buy, perhaps predictably, has lots more--especially during those pesky hot summer months! And I still find immersing a completely naked
dollar bill in chlorinated water scandalous!
: Grace For Drowning
(Kscope) I continue to be impressed by the artistic evolution of Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson, who returns here with a double album filled with excellent songs and exquisite musical textures--some of which recall the glory days of King Crimson during their Lizard
era, less than coincidental since Wilson has been heavily involved in the production of that band's quite remarkable recent series of reissues. A highly skilled instrumentalist and, maybe more importantly, a captivating songwriter and arranger, Wilson is one of very few artists out there who could be said to be working in the "prog rock" genre who, almost defiantly, never really looks backward. Highly recommended!
: Movin': The Complete Verve Recordings
(Verve Select) A bountiful collection of some of jazz legend Montgomery's best and most commercially popular work, this superb 5-CD compilation houses all of the guitarist's mid-'60s work for the Verve label. What made this music resonate with the general public were the lush arrangements--provided by people like Oliver Nelson, Johnny Pate, Don Sebesky and Claus Ogerman--and the popular song selection ("Goin' Out Of My Head," "California Dreaming," "Sunny," "King Of The Road"), which at the time, particularly to those who favored more avant-garde forms, made this music seem overtly commercial--but now, years later, it seems almost pristine in its perfection. In short: A concise set of some absolutely sublime music.
: The Devil's Walk
(Mute) Have to make note of one of the week's best new albums by Berlin's Sascha Ring, who's previously released three albums under the Apparat name and now comes via Mute Records with an enthralling, subtle work that is coolly electronic, minimalist, melodic, understated, and freakishly listenable. What I find most appealing is the overall sense that even now, after every musical style under the sun has been done to death, musicians like Ring are capable of exploring avenues that are rewardingly new and fresh sounding--and, most surprisingly of all, eminently commercial. Superb stuff!
Dum Dum Girls
: Only In Dreams
(Sub Pop) A nagging reminder that girls can actually be considered "dum" only in dreams
--now that newly unveiled research has indicated that they are, all of them, smarter than boys
and, as a final irony, have greater cooking and cleaning skills as well! I tend to like the tall ones!
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- Pink Floyd
- Pink Floyd
- Wes Montgomery