How much do you like U2?
I mean, come on, everybody likes U2! They're famous! So you'll probably be buying their brand new album!
But again, how much do you like U2? Do you like them enough to get their new album on CD? It's cheap! $8.99 at Amazon! Or do you like them so much you want to get the limited edition box set of their album? It includes a CD, a poster, a book and a DVD! Wow! All for $64.99 at Amazon! Of course, you may be a vinyl purist, so you might be looking to buy it in the 2LP 180-gram vinyl version! It's really big, you can hold it in your hands, and it's just $19.99! Still, you may be a forward-looking consumer, so the new limited edition digi-pak version--which features a CD, poster and "film download," all for $22.99--may be just the ticket! Finally, left-handed people--that often overlooked, tragic minority--may want to purchase the new limited edition "magazine" version of the album--which features a CD, a magazine, and that weird "film download" thing! All for $35.99! Yikes!
Well, like you, I plan to buy them all! Why? Because U2 is a great band, the record industry is in trouble, and the album cover is especially attractive!
Unfortunately, all these great collectibles lose their value once you break open the shrinkwrap! But at least I'll have it!
U2: No Line On The Horizon (Interscope) You know what? After all the hubbub, I'd have to say that this a pretty strong U2 album: It rocks, it's concise, the songs are catchy, and the band--who've been around now for over 30 years--have never failed to be less than adventurous with their sound! As for its lead-off single "Get On Your Boots"--which people of a certain age have compared to Elvis Costello's "Pump It Up," and an even older certain age to Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues"--heck, I liked it! Those puzzling over the album's theme--lead singer Bono has called this "a more meditative album on the theme of pilgrimage"--need only give such tracks as "Unknown Caller" and "Stand Up Comedy" a thorough listening to fully grasp the album's surprisingly strident political orientation: Apparently the guys are miffed that the City of Los Angeles has refused to extend its subway from downtown to the Santa Monica beach, and they're ready to fight for its creation! And they're from Ireland and everything! I'd say God bless U2...but He has already!
Neko Case: Middle Cyclone (Anti) A woman at the peak of her powers would probably love this new Neko Case album, as she seems to be getting better than ever! Plus her last album was the best-selling record of her career! Featuring a batch of indie-friendly types like her buds the New Pornographers, Calexico, Los Lobos, and Giant Sand, covers of songs by Nilsson and Sparks, and an album photo in which Case bravely poses as a fearsome hood ornament, Middle Cyclone could finally be the album that breaks this indie superstar out of that tired tradition in which mildly unimpressed rock critics make jokes about wafers, the Velvet Underground &, and anything else that will keep them from saying, "Sheesh, it's like that Aimee Mann chick--I listen and listen but simply don't hear anything substantial here at all!" Take a look at the album cover, jaded dudes, Neko's coming for you!
Barenaked Ladies: New Year's Eve At The Fox Theatre, Detroit, MI 12.31.08 (Desperation) The recent departure of Steven Page from the ranks of his much-loved Canadian band is certainly big news among longtime fans, so they may take some degree of comfort that their most recent New Year's Eve show--at Detroit's wonderful Fox Theatre --is now fully available to consumers as an MP3 download! Others, habitually frustrated that the band contains absolutely no ladies, let alone any not wearing clothes, may simply not care at all, and secretly be glad Page left! That said, perhaps the vast majority among us reckon that if indeed they were all ladies, there's certainly no guarantee we might want to see them in the nude in the first place! It's all relative! Anyway, this set features such hits as "Brian Wilson" and "If I Had $1,000,000" and is commercially available! Are you?
Nashville Pussy: From Hell To Texas (Spitfire) From the very get-go I have been a massive fan of Nashville Pussy: They embody all that is good about no-holds-barred, dynamic rock 'n' roll! They're loud! They throb! They sing about sex, drugs, German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, and getting drunk! Sort of! Just look at these song titles: "Speed Machine," "Drunk Driving Man," "I'm So High," "Dead Men Can't Get Drunk," and the heart-wrenching "Give Me A Hit Before I Go"! Still powered by that dynamic husband/wife team of Blaine Cartwright and Ruyter Suys, they have a devotion to their craft that is admirable, and a charisma that is undeniable! Say what you will about everything having already been said in the world of rock 'n' roll--as long as there's a Nashville Pussy, and songs called "Lazy Jesus," all will be right with our wonderful world!
Revolting Cocks: Sex-O Olympic-O (13th Planet/Megaforce) If, like me, you stood in line to see the premiere of Saw V and waited to see the final credits to check out who supplied the soundtrack's cool "Wizard Of SexTown," then you're in trouble! Sucker! I only rented the DVD! But it's always a pleasure to see what Ministry's Al Jourgensen's been up to, he'd be the first to point out, and this unexpected return of his "other" band, RevCo, is apparently it! Crammed to the gills with loud, repetitive industrial robo-noise and aesthetically much-needed tracks like "I'm Not Gay" and "HookerBot3000 (Disco A Go Go Mix)," this could be the record of a lifetime! Specifically the lifetime of Charmaine Penniston, a resident of South Carolina during the 30's and '40s, who tragically perished in a boating accident shortly after World War II! Sadly, she's not around to buy this, but if she were, it would--as I said--be the record of her lifetime! Strange how that stuff works out!
Bell X1: Blue Lights On The Runway (Yep Roc) As many know, the Bell X-1 was the first aircraft to travel faster than the speed of sound in a "controlled, level flight." Ironically, few of the people who know that will be interested in this album, by the group Paste magazine has called "one of Irleand's greatest bands," because people who know about that historic airplane stuff aren't really into downloads! But rest assured that this is a substantial , powerful band, making a remarkably swift "ascent" into the American public eye thanks to strategic television bookings, and this album convincingly bolsters Paste magazine's sentiments! Two questions: First, did you know that popular singer Damien Rice came from the ranks of this band when they were known as Juniper in the '90s? Secondly, did you know that in reality Blue Lights is their fourth album? Wow! If they got into a fight with U2 about who was really "one of Ireland's greatest bands," who do you think would win? Yep, they're that great!
Chris Darrow: Chris Darrow/Under My Own Disguise (Everloving) Coming out this week or next--a bonus preview!--is this excellent pairing of two great early '70s albums by LA music fixture Darrow. Issued in a deluxe limited edition package of two 180-gram vinyl albums as well as corresponding CDs and accompanying 48-page book, it'll be welcome indeed for collectors, who perhaps first heard multi-instrumentalist Darrow when he played with spectacular '60s band Kaleidoscope but may have missed these discs following that band's demise. Also a former member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Darrow is one of those "musician's musician" kind of guys--which means that while these records are fascinating listening, they aren't exactly hit-filled. Oh well. You think anything else here is?
The Prodigy: Invaders Must Die (Cooking Vinyl) Greeted with massive success in the UK, the new album by techno/rave/dance dudes the Prodigy may sound like the return of an old friend to some! To others, it will sound like fingernails screeching on a blackboard. To still others, it will sound like the return of old fingernails screeching on a friend! That's what's really great about the Prodigy: They are diverse talents, plus they look good! Featuring fabulous tracks such as "Take Me To The Hospital" and the opening title track--and frankly, don't we all feel invaders must die?--this album brings back memories of rock writers declaring that this band would be the very next big thing and then slowly, with each new album, retreating from that viewpoint until finally denying ever having heard of them! That was when the cock crowed!
Angus And Julia Stone: A Book Like This (Nettwerk) Already out overseas, this excellent album should catch your fancy--not literally--if you get the chance to hear it via this American release. Produced by Travis's Fran Healy, who heard the brother & sister act and liked them, the album--officially the pair's first--is a surprisingly mature statement by the relatively young duo. You should buy it, listen to it intently, then perhaps take in a movie!
Rush: Retrospective 3 (1989-2008) (Atlantic) With 27 tracks and a bonus DVD in its special edition format, this may be the greatest third Rush retrospective ever! "Malignant Narcissism" is my favorite!