For every week that brings exciting new releases--albums you know you'd just like to rush out and buy, if in fact you had any money--there are weeks like this one!
Indeed, while many of this week's newest recordings are excellent, and in some cases quite fine, still--there is nothing here that reaches out, grabs your nose and commands: BUY ME!
Well, except for maybe one!
Can you guess which one I mean?
White Lies: How To Lose My Life (Geffen) While I have my qualms about starting this week's blog with the debut album by a British band you may have never heard of, I'm heeding the words of the distinguished ARTROCKER magazine--surely you've heard of it--which has ominously warned "Bypass this band at your peril"! Heck, sounds like they know what they're talking about! Since this album debuted at #1 in the UK, you can bet your boots it'll do the same here, since as a rule America is just like England! And just like those British kooks, we're all enraptured by bands whose sound oddly evokes the Icicle Works and the Teardrop Explodes yet still somehow seems strikingly contemporary! Plus, most of us are attracted to album covers that look like this! All told, this may be the band that changes the music industry as we know it! Buy it today!
The Script: The Script (Epic) Speaking of new bands you've never heard of, let's bring up the Script, a batch of Irish dudes making a big noise overseas--apparently they dropped a bowling ball--and sure to be to your liking if they and their record company have their way! Some have called the Script a "whole new brand of Celtic Soul," while others have called them a charismatic lot not above releasing songs with titles like "If You See Kay"--plainly a tribute to Amy, with whom Kay has presumably run off in a fit of pique! In short I'm inclined to agree with this album's product description as listed on Amazon: Epic. Lucky they aren't on Geffen!
Shirley Lee: Shirley Lee (Missing Page UK import) One of my favorite bands of the last decade or so has been British band Spearmint, whose work easily and consistently eclipses nearly all of their pop-inspired contemporaries by miles, but I'd be willing to bet you've never heard of them! It's great! So check out this cute video from 1999, and after that make a point of finding this debut solo album by the band's lead singer and songwriter, the mannishly named Mr. Shirley Lee. Sonically not unlike a Spearmint album, this new disc bears hooks, melodies, warmth, individuality, cleverness, sincerity, a touching tribute to Lee's father, and in "The Last Song" a track I'd advise Lee not play in front of Coldplay or Joe Satriani! A superb work, which you can find out more about here, this album is further proof that many of today's best artists make music--fine, commercial, accessible music--that too few people ever get a chance to hear. Easily one of the year's best albums.
Gorilla Zoe: Don't Feed Da Animals (Bad Boy) In the same manner that I pity less-than-attractive women named Betty when commercials for Ugly Betty show up on TV, I'm concerned that this artist's very existence may disconcert plain-looking gals named Zoe--but luckily, there aren't any! And even if there were, they'd be thrilled by such exciting tracks as this album's "What It Is," which features guest stars Rick Ross and my new favorite-named rapper Kollosus! Kollosus! He's gotta be good! Adding to the excitement are compelling, candid tracks such as "Lost," "I'm Dumb," "S**t On Em," "So Sick" and the soul-searing, profound, strikingly subtle "Hood Clap"! In short, were it not for Gorilla Zoe's callous album title--actually, one should feed da animals, or dey will die--I would call this the album of the paragraph!
Jim Nabors: Shazam!/Everything Is Beautiful (Wounded Bird) In my former life as a college DJ, I often enjoyed spicing up my show with this album's irrepressible "Gomer Says Hey," which is not only life-affirming but in retrospect now seems the aesthetic template for Chinese Democracy. As always, I tend to gravitate toward artists who veer perilously close to the darkness but suddenly--abruptly--pull out of their emotional tailspin and emerge invigorated, enlightened, and actually eager to release albums with titles like Everybody Is Fantastic. And lo and behold, here we have actor Jim Nabors, way back in the '60s--who with his first two albums, now assembled in one package as Shazam!/Everything Is Beautiful--was crafting a pioneering , pre-Janovian expression of intent that in many ways blows the likes of Kurt Cobain out of the water! Plus, isn't that a great cover?
Gabriella Cilmi: Lessons To Be Learned (Universal Republic) If I were Amy Winehouse--oddly, I'm not--I'd be a little leery of an extremely attractive 17-year-old female singer/songwriter who was quite capable of sounding like me on command and was, shall we say, "less trouble"! Following the Rule Of The Veronicas--that is, all female Australians of Italian decent must be good-looking, it's God's Law!--Cilmi is quite talented, diverse in her influences, and the sort of girl any guy would like to bring home to his mother in a couple more years! That her name is pronounced "chill-me" doesn't help! Added bonus: No tattoos visible on album cover!
Rory Gallagher: Live in Cork DVD (Eagle Vision) Count me first in line to sing the praises of Rory Gallagher, Ireland's pioneering guitarist/singer, who after his emergence in '60s band Taste released a non-stop slew of high-class, energetic albums that, great as they were, could never top his unforgettable live performances. Gallagher died in 1995, and this live concert--shot for Irish TV in 1987--shows many flashes of fire, but all things considered, shows the man at less than his zenith. That being said, it's head and shoulders above most every one of his instrumental contemporaries--those being English & Irish guitarists enthralled by American blues players--and I'd have to say that Gallagher's version of Junior Wells' "Messin' With The Kid," yet again played here, remains my very favorite by any musician. If you never saw him--or have never heard him--do check this out.
BoA: BoA (SM Entertainment) Last week, loyal reader bigostar09 sadly commented, "What, no BoA?," leading me and other, well-informed friends to look at each other quizzically and make credit card jokes! It's great! But guess what? Bigostar09 was off by a week! BoA is in fact an ultrahot Korean superstar artist--real name Boa Kwon--who this week releases her American debut album and with any luck will become equally huge here! According to Wikipedia--always a reliable source!--Boa is "one of only two non-Japanese Asians who have had million-selling albums in Japan"! She's into R&B and hip-hop, digs Michael Jackson, Nelly, Britney Spears and Janet Jackson, and is most certainly worthy of your entertainment-dollar consideration! As is this!
Willie Nelson: Naked Willie (Sony Legacy) An interesting concept here: Country legend Nelson along with harmonica player Mickey Raphael tackle much of Wilson's classic '60s catalog and give it the "raw" treatment--that is, without the syrupy strings and back-up singers featured on the original tracks, which he always found unsatisfactory. Special bonus: Fans of British slang may find this album's title even more enjoyable than Free Willy!
Bonnie "Prince" Billy: Beware (Drag City) The stuff of legend, the man of deliberate understatement, whose slowish, unpolished manner continues its development into the ether of deliberately-off-kilter country longing, just stopped me on the street and told me to check out this new Bonnie "Prince" Billy album!