Well, vacation's over, the warm holiday buzz has receded, and as we look at this week's new album releases, there's a definite trend to be seen.
Some can be found in record stores! Others in large department stores! And still others via Internet retail services!
In short, now more than ever, everything is commercially available! So if any of these records don't make it to the top of the charts, there are no excuses to be had: They simply must not be any good!
Next week: Socialism explained!
Vampire Weekend: Contra (XL) Well, I don't actually have a copy of the new Vampire Weekend CD--like many of you I simply went to their website and streamed it repeatedly, glanced at the cover artwork and wondered about it, heard my fill of it, then went to a record store to buy something I never heard before! What a deal! From what I heard of it, though, it sounded pretty groovy--less like Graceland and more like Here Comes Rhymin' Simon! It's light on the afro-pop; guess they realized they were American after all! Due to the success of the Twilight movies and all those new supernatural TV shows, this should pick up some additional sales on the subliminal level, so good for them! In short: One of the best things I streamed this week! Great guitar work by, um, the guy playing guitar!
Ringo Starr: Y Not (Hip-O) Took me a while to realize that this album cover wasn't a Yahoo ad, but if you saw all the posters around this place, you'd understand! The latest album from famous former Beatle drummer Ringo has all the hallmarks of his better work: catchy songs, excellent playing from a few top-notch guests, and a marked step away from the aggressively "random greatest hits" sets his recent All-Star Band performances have offered! On hand: Paul McCartney, Joe Walsh, Dave Stewart, Ben Harper, Joss Stone, and good ol' Richard Marx, who's back in the game and proud! Ringo even co-authored a track here with Van Dyke Parks, but don't worry: every chorus of "columnated ruins domino" is backed by the simple but steady 4/4 beat for which the ex-Beatle is renowned! I like Ringo!
Omarion: Ollusion (EMI) It's hard not to admire an artist who took his stage name from a Happy Days script, but "triple threat" Omarion makes it easy any way you look at it! His third studio album offers a variety of grooves, guests like Gucci Mane, Marques Houston and Jay Rock, and a bunch of moving, apparently autobiographical tracks including "I Get It In," "Wet," "I Think My Girl is Bi," and the inevitable album closer, "Code Red"! Is the bonus track called "TMI"? We'll never know! "They call me the King of Dance because there's no choreography that I can't do and no genre that I can't dance," boasts Omarion! In their respective sewing kits, several heads of pins chortle in anticipation!
OK Go: Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky (Capitol) It's no wonder record companies are always trying to "monetize" their music videos--if OK Go got a dollar every time someone watched their "Here It Goes Again" video, they'd rake in a reported $60 million and finally be able to travel to countries that spell "colour" that way! As it is, though, they're a dandy band that doesn't deserve to have their entire career hinge on a music video and thus be completely haunted by it! Hey, by the way, there are six "O"s on their new album cover! What a coincidence!
Freedy Johnston: Rain On The City (Bar/None) The behatted singer songwriter that some people really like a lot hasn't made a new record in eight years and now, suddenly...here it is! It's not only good, it's a reminder that sometimes it's very wise for artists to take a break now and again rather than continuously bombard us with half-hearted product! If you like fairly deep, melodic music that sometimes subtly touches profound topics, you're certain to like this! Kind of like Omarion, but deeper and more melodic!
BJ Thomas: Raindrops Keep Fallin on My Head/Everybody's Out Of Town; I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry/Tomorrow Never Comes; Most of All/Billy Joe Thomas; On My Way/Young And In Love (all on Collector's Choice) Speaking purely as a record collector, the kind of geek who's been buying music nearly all my life, I find reissues like this almost unbearably pleasing! Thomas, who had a big batch of pop hits in the '60s and '70s--"Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head," "Hooked On A Feeling," "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" and "Everybody's Out Of Town" among them--was essentially a singles artist whose career ran in parallel to other "album" artists, meaning that I and many others tended to ignore his albums at the time of their release so we could buy ones by Vanilla Fudge and Iron Butterfly! Our loss, sort of, as these albums are pretty substantial, really, and sound better than you might expect in 2010. If you have any expectations at all, that is!
Jason Boesel: Hustler's Son (Team Love) An altogether agreeable, debut solo album here from Jason Boesel, the drummer from Rilo Kiley, member of Conor Oberst's Mystic Valley Band (who sang on a pair of tracks from their second album) and otherwise well-connected dude! Released just one week after porn icon Larry Flynt's sued his nephews for inappropriately using the family name, the smartly titled Hustler's Son further proves Boesel's impeccable sense of timing! Buy it for the kids!
Various Artists: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum Live DVD (Time Life) This came out a few weeks ago but is worth mentioning: A star-filled 3-DVD set showcasing the highlights of the induction ceremonies that have taken place since the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame was established 25 years ago to create a numbing flow of rock critic drivel about who should and who shouldn't be in it! It's crammed with fascinating performances and stage appearances by various inductees including Paul McCartney, U2, Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen, George Harrison, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, and a bunch of other artists who should or shouldn't have been featured as well! That place simply can't win! Am personally pleased to again see two memorable performances (Cream and the Doors with Eddie Vedder) that took place at the only ceremony I attended, largely because I'm not drinking now and almost remember it! A great package, filled with hours of bonus footage and absolutely no pictures of Kiss! Everybody wins!
Laura Veirs: July Flame (Raven Marching Band/Bella Union) Must put in a good word for former "feminist punk rocker" Ms. Veirs, who has been making exceptionally good solo albums for 10 years now, of which this seventh one is the latest and perhaps the greatest! A Portland singer/songwriter who has guested with the Decemberists, among others, Veirs enjoys the benefit of being both hip and substantial, which is no small thing! Intelligent, artistic music released just for the heck of it! Inexplicably absent: Fergie!
T-Model Ford: The Ladies Man (Alive) Liked this album from the moment I heard it--a traditional blues album filled with homespun tales, blah blah blah--and was puzzled when I saw its low-to-middling review grade on Amazon! Then I read the reviews and saw they were all talking about a Flamin' Groovies bootleg! Another career killed by the Internet!