It isn't easy spotlighting the best records of the week!
For starters, I have to pay attention to all the new releases--which takes valuable time away from to all the older, better albums I don't have to force myself to like!
Furthermore, when I do my research--I scour Amazon daily for hints of great new stuff--I find myself captivated by things like Foghat's new album's title, Not Live At The BBC, or that Amazon's metadata includes startling new artists such as James, Blood & Ulmer, whose new album In And Out is probably yet another David Crosby rip-off!
Finally, the chance to mention groups whose music probably stinks but hey, check out their names--We Were Exploding Anyway, I Am Abomination, and the lovable Holy F*ck, surely just one hit single away from the top of the charts--is often simply too overwhelming!
But then I remember that the youthful populations of South Carolina, Nebraska and New Hampshire are awaiting my critical verdict on the week's new music and will literally pay top dollar for what's deemed the best--and, in many ways, I rise to the occasion!
The National: High Violet (4AD) Though they've been around for awhile and attracted an enviable critical following, I've never really openly embraced the National until hearing this record--which is filled with melodic, wistful, intelligently written tunes that I personally find captivating! And I believe you will too! Kudos to whoever penned this album's product description and mentioned that the band's singer "evokes a feeling of being haunted, by love, by paranoia, by something just out of reach" without adding the tempting addendum "like middle C"! Bound to be snapped up by speed-reading National Velvet fans!
The Dead Weather: Sea Of Cowards (Third Man) Give him enough new bands to create, and eventually head White Stripe Jack White will finally end up in a good-looking one! Check out the hot babes on this cover! The second album by the Dead Weather--featuring White, Alison Mosshart, Jack Lawrence and Dean Fertita--is everything you might expect from a second Dead Weather album: It's shiny, comes in a jewelbox, is easy to remove and stick into your CD player, and it's yet another reminder that people who are even mildly interesting are now allowed to make as many records as they want merely because there's a chance someone somewhere may buy it! Excellent, yes--but is it merely a harbinger of classic Jack White albums to come such as Frankly, I Think I Peaked With My 34th Album But You're Entitled To Your Own Opinion?
Judas Priest: British Steel: 30th Anniversary Edition (Columbia/Legacy) Anyone who once felt that heavy metal was a temporary musical aberration most enjoyed by the young will find the deluxe reissue of this classic Judas Priest stunning proof of the exact opposite! In fact, sentimental fans who remember the good old days and pick up this memorable set--which generously includes a DVD featuring a live 2009 performance--are now likely to be old enough to have voted in several presidential elections, could well be respectable doctors and lawyers in your community, and might be driving an expensive car in your neighborhood right now! In short, they made their choice, embraced metal, and are now reaping the benefits of their wise decision! How did you end up?
We Are The Fallen: Tear The World Down (Universal Republic) Known to some as Evanescence with a new lead singer--that would be Carly Smithson, American Idol finalist and former MCA recording artist--We Are The Fallen are about what you'd expect: Snazzy, ominous sounding, rocking, with a wailing, dramatic lead vocal soaring in and out, and surprisingly tuneful. Frankly, I'm a sucker for anything that sounds like it could be background music for an '80s Italian horror movie, and that's what this reminds me of! We Are the Fallen, We Were Exploding Anyway, We Are Going To Eat You, We Are Scientists, We Are Standard: It's a We We world, so let's stand in a puddle of it!
Keane: Night Train (Cherrytree) After a heady batch of compelling piano-rock pop songs and worldwide sales up the kazoo, what say we break things up with a few guest appearances by Somalian rapper K'Naan and Japanese MC Tigarah? Now that's a strategy! So just add one part vodka to one part of Frangelico, and then add enough coffee to fill your cup all the way to the top! It's just the right touch to make listening to the new Keane album a joyous experience--and not a depressing reminder that once a successful career starts to sag, a future duet with Reba McEntire may not entirely be out of the question!
Kaskade: Dynasty (Ultra) Have to admit that I'm not especially up on my house music DJs, mostly because I spend a lot of time at home alone in the dark quivering! And word is that this guy is big news--and not just because he gets to say "Hello, my name is Kaskade" when he walks into a bar! Most of this record is agreeable, upbeat dance-pop, featuring a raft of fascinatingly anonymous singers with names like Polina, Haley, Dragonette, Mindy and Becky Jean! And here comes Uncle Joe, he's moving kind of slow, at the junction! I not only recommend this album, I plan to stick it on my iPod, put all the tracks on shuffle/repeat, wear headphones, and simply nod in agreement when anybody talks to me! Frankly, that defines good music in 2010!
Hoodoo Gurus: Purity Of Essence (Virtual) A fine Australian band who made a name for themselves here during the '80s, the Gurus went on to great things Down Under, vanished a bit, then re-emerged in 2003 to record a promotional theme for the National Rugby League--surely you're familiar?--and have been together-again ever since! Are they still good? Sure, why not! Their ninth album overall, Purity Of Essence is highlighted by a cover picture featuring an attractive girl, apparently in her underwear, and a picture of a dinosaur! It doesn't get more real than that! Buy it today!
CocoRosie: Grey Oceans (Sub Pop) Speaking of attractive cover art, your eyes will surely be drawn to Grey Oceans, the Sub Pop debut of enchanting sister act Sierra and Bianca--known to the world as CocoRosie, the only artists now recording who have drawn their entire creative inspiration from the cover art of early Tyrannosaurus Rex albums! With meaty, beefy tracks such as "The Moon Asked The Crow," "Hopscotch" and "Fairy Paradise," these dazzling dames will entrance anyone willing to put in the effort to actually listen to them! That said, it is a beautiful day outside!
Everest: On Approach (Vapor) "On Approach is indeed reminiscent of a bygone era," it says in this album's product description, "a time before the Internet, when albums were still an art form and stories were told on vinyl." Huh? One of very few artists signed to Neil Young's Vapor Records label, they're actually quite good! Yeah! And this is a highly listenable album that despite sometimes moving at a glacial pace, in many ways scales rock's highest peaks!
As I Lay Dying: The Powerless Rise (Metal Blade) This pioneering San Diego metal band's unexpected tribute to the Energizer Bunny may come a surprise to longtime fans, but then again, it may not! You can never predict this stuff!