I'm pleased to announce that this week's New This Week post comes to you courtesy of a Starbucks in North Miami, Florida, is being written Monday night at roughly 9 pm Eastern Daylight Time, and--unlike every post you've ever seen by me--is being composed under the influence of two very large black coffees!
The result? You'll never read anything by me that's more clearly reasoned!
Sadly, neither will I!
Rise Against: Endgame(DGC/Interscope): "It's about a dangerous time in civilization, the end of life," says vocalist/guitarist Tim McIlrath in this album's product description. "What if the life that we're living right now is this unsustainable bubble that cannot go on and perhaps does not deserve to go on? What if the world we created is a place that is so unnatural and ugly that it is a world that needs to come to an end, so that we could have a world that is better for everybody? It sounds very utopian, but it's not about a perfect place, but maybe some of these things we're doing, they need to come to an end." Bold and dramatic words indeed, Tim! Still, I'm a bit puzzled how devoting an entire album to an emotionally intense game of checkers might be the best means of expressing such harrowing concepts--especially when the 23:00-minute concluding track, "King Me, For God's Sake--I Said KING ME," seems...I dunno...sort of filler-laden! Next album: Bring on the backgammon!
Miranda Cosgrove: High Maintenance (SBME/Columbia) Like most of us, I'm a major fan of the TV show iCarly, and got into it despite it not being wholly devoted to 30-minute segments of Carly Simon staring at herself in a mirror, as promised! That's why I'm so happy to see this great new EP by the show's considerably younger star, Miranda Cosgrove, which features a title track written by Weezer's Rivers Cuomo and hit single "Dancing Crazy," co-written by Avril Lavigne! I'm also particularly taken by the album cover illustration,which features the attractive young actress unexpectedly handcuffed and forced to sit on the couch watching the hired help clean up the house after one wild party too many! And the brutal candor of the album title makes me like her all the more!
Steve Martin And The Steep Canyon Rangers: Rare Bird Alert (Rounder) Already a Grammy winner for his previous set The Crow, Steve Martin--actor, comedian, playwright, funny guy--returns with another excellent bluegrass set, this time featuring impressive guests the likes of Paul McCartney and the Dixie Chicks! With fine musicianship, humor, an encore of "King Tut" and--via this set's deluxe edition--collectible "Rare Bird" trading cards, this album could potentially save your life, were it a human lifeguard and you were drowning!
Travis Barker: Give The Drummer Some (Interscope) Few would have imagined the one-dimensional contributions of the entire Blink-182 crew would in any way result in this peculiar hiphop extravaganza, featuring the former Blink drummer alongside The Game, Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, Swizz Beats, RZA, Raekwon, Kid Cudi, Bouncing Boy, Aqualad and the legendary Speedy Alka-Seltzer! Even fewer would have imagined being forced to sit in a Starbucks and actually write about it while drinking black, tasteless coffee! That said, I wouldn't be surprised if the stunningly commercial "Raw Sh**" goes all the way to the top of the charts! You just can't tell anymore!
Oh Land: Oh Land (Epic) Would it be caddish of me to mention that when record companies bring artists over to visit the Yahoo offices and they happen to be enormously attractive Danish women just launching their music careers here in the States that I--and many others like me--want to do all that we can to help them? Luckily, Ms. Oh Land is fully talented, has the musical goods and more, and is worthy of every bit of attention she's likely to gather if Every Male Music Writer In The World has his way! Speaking of Danish, did I mention I was writing this at a Starbucks?
Nick Lowe: Labour Of Lust (Yep Roc) Happy to take yet another look at classy Brit-rocker Nick Lowe's just-reissued second solo album Labour Of Lust, which still retains the charm it displayed back in 1979, and unlike its more favored predecessor, Jesus Of Cool/Pure Pop For Now People, seems less like a deliberate smorgasbord of pop music styles and more an actual singular statement. "Cruel To be Kind" is the best known track here, and hook-filled it is--but the remainder of the goods are no less agreeable and worthy of your purchase. Buy it for kicks!
J Mascis: Several Shades Of Why (Sub Pop) While I am not among those who have ever thought J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. to be much more than not bad, albeit depressingly derivative, I am thrilled to report that this latest solo effort--an apparent long-awaited sequel to the Bill Cosby classic Why Is There Air?--is more substantial than anyone--even Cosby himself--might have hoped! Featuring guests from Broken Social Scene, Band Of Horses, and other three-word bands, Several Shades Of Why has enough sonic traction to take my mind off the fact that the PA at this Starbucks just played a four-minute song entirely consisting of the intro to the Jaynetts' "Sally Go Round The Roses" looped repeatedly! Get a real job, DJ dude!
Various Artists: American Idol: 10th Anniversary--The Hits Volume 1 (RCA) Have to admit that I'm not any sort of fan of American Idol and think the only good track on this pile o' slop is Adam Lambert's "Whataya Want From Me"--which I probably like despite myself--and that as albums as "pieces of art" go, sticking a batch of clowns as artistically unrelated as Clay Aiken, Daughtry, Fantasia and Ruben Studdard together on the same disc--only because they were contestants on the same dopey show--does absolutely no one any favors! That said, I love this disc!
Noah & The Whale: Last Night On Earth (Island Def Jam) I'm told this is a good album, but truth be told--I've yet to hear it! So I'll just have to imagine what it's like! I'm thinking it's either that really old biblical dude Noah--he must be thousands of years old by now!--or else, unexpectedly, a batch of samples from that old Bob Seger album that's been out of print for years! Speaking of old albums, I also wouldn't be surprised if there were a few samples from that great Songs Of The Humpback Whale collection! All those things seem pretty interesting, so I wouldn't be surprised if this is a good album! I'll just have to make a point of getting a copy somewhere down the line! Next week: War And Peace: any good?
Naked And Famous: Passive Me, Aggressive You (Universal Republic) A great record by a talented batch of New Zealanders, this album comes highly recommended--and without a single contextual mention of Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton purely for the sake of tired but dependable bad humor! Buy this so that others might live!