Wow! I don't ordinarily write two of these blogs in one week--it's hard work!--but I just heard from reputable sources that this blog, originally planned for next week, has leaked!
That's right--apparently people all over the world have somehow found a copy and are trading it over the Internet! Even now!
So as a special service to my regular readers--the ones who have stood by me through thick and thin--and to curtail what may well be abbreviated blog sales were I to post this when I originally desired, I'm posting it right now instead!
Apologies if it covers this week's new releases instead of next week's--but yesterday's Beatles blog took a lot out of me, and I was planning on being a week late!
Jay-Z: The Blueprint 3 (Roc Nation) I knew this was going to be a big album when I saw an ad for it on Comedy Central, saw that it was going to safely carry the Blueprint name yet again, and saw that rappin' dude Jay was getting less than the total attention he probably expected due to that Beatle thing! Released early due to a "leak"? A special benefit concert in Madison Square Garden? To commemorate the 9/11 terrorist attack? Yikes! Good thing I'm a Citi cardholder! Well, if the man's recent "Death Of Auto Tune" track was his way of suggesting that rappers shouldn't try to sing and singers shouldn't try to rap, I'm with him 100 percent! Despite rumors that the actual blueprint spelled out on this hot new album involves the construction of one of those little skinny bird toys that bob up and down drinking water from a test tube, I wouldn't be surprised if this was everything you expected it to be and more! Buy me one, too!
A Fine Frenzy: Bomb In A Birdcage (Virgin) Like most people, lately I've been in the mood to listen to artists like Kate Bush, Tori Amos, Regina Spektor and other high-pitched female vocalists that sing about ultrapersonal stuff and just seem sort of--well you know--kind of nutty! Maybe it's just me! And in the case of young Alison Sudol, who's returned with a fine second album and hairstyle, her arty, ultrapersonal stuff is sometimes so captivating I find myself daydreaming about her wandering alone into a party where she meets a group of young people who introduce themselves as The Lovely Feathers, upon which she then tells them her real name is A Fine Frenzy! At that point, they all laugh out loud, remarking that they'd really prefer being called Gertrude, Myra or Ottalee, but they chose their professional names during the heat of the moment and now--well, they'll just have to live with it! Later, they head out to a strip bar and listen to John Lee Hooker records! Yeah, this isn't bad at all!
The Stone Roses: The Stone Roses 20th Anniversary Edition (Silvertone/Legacy) It's hard to believe that 20 years have passed since the delightful debut album by the Stone Roses hit the shops, captivating fans far and wide with their appealing blend of rhythm, melody, nonsense verse, fine guitar-playing, and a bunch of backward song segments! Now it's available again--in about three zillion formats (CD, MP3, double CD, double CD-plus-DVD, vinyl, special ultra-ultra-deluxe edition pictured above) and sounding just as good as it always did! As influential as the album may be, it's also a reminder that fame can be fleeting! Because the band's second album was deemed less than successful--and as its various band members sulked off to solo careers of varying success, the Stone Roses knew that at one moment in time they simply had it all! Unfortunately, fate--as well as extraterrestrial talent suckers coincidentally vacationing in England in the early '90s--might have other plans!
The Clean: Mister Pop (Merge) Here's another great band who've been at it for years, on again and off again, and this time--after over 30 years--they may have released the most cohesive album of their career! But platinum probably won't be flying at these lovably earnest New Zealanders, because nobody cares if music is good anymore! It's great! While I've generally been more interested in the other band by Clean member Robert Scott--the Bats--than that of major Clean dude David Kilgour, everyone's back together, everything is rhythmic and minimal, and the understated pulse driving my fave song here--"Are You Really On Drugs?"--signifies that good music can come from any place at any time! Take this and buy this so that others might live!
John Abercrombie Quartet: Wait Till You See Her (ECM) Every once in a while, I like to drive around with the windows down, wear sunglasses, and play my music so loudly that people on the sidewalk glare at my car to figure out what kind of moron would play his stereo so loudly! You too? But I find that listening to this stuff--hyper-adept "chamber jazz" from jazz guitarist Abercrombie and his bandmates--including a violinist, mind you--only draws glances of respect and admiration, especially when I cruise by the Guitar Center on Ventura Boulevard! So I guess that means it's good! Tomorrow I plan to play The Best Of Gilbert O'Sullivan and hang out in a deli parking lot!
Sondre Lerche: Heartbeat Radio (Rounder) Eminently hip and now--after supplying the music for Dan In Real Life--a very viable commercial proposition in the States, Norwegian-born Lerche returns with his fifth studio album and it's very good indeed! To stereotype in an incredibly offensive manner, what I like about all these Scandanavian types who grew up listening to bands like Prefab Sprout and later, say, Brazilian music, is that when they write their own stuff it really doesn't sound imitative at all; what you'll hear here is intelligent, melodic, soothing, ice cold and prone to depression! Oops, no, I mean it's skillfully crafted, catchy and never overly ornate! Yeah, that!
The Cribs: Ignore The Ignorant (Warner Bros.) A great, noisy UK band who aside from generally sounding nifty have proven their inherent hipness via association, first with former Orange Juice cult fave Edwyn Collins, who produced their second album, and now with guitarist Johnny Marr--of Smiths fame--who's officially been named a member of the band with this fourth album. Incidentally, if Johnny Marr would like to officially be named my official Substitute Blog Writer whenever I'm sick, that'd be cool, too! Anyway, this rocks nicely, especially on radio-friendly album opener "We Were Aborted," and I'm willing to bet that this will be the album that will crack them wide open in the American marketplace! Hopefully they've got medical insurance!
Wild Beasts: Two Dancers (Domino) Speaking of the Smiths, the only artist anyone felt comfortable comparing this great new UK band to on their previous debut album was Morrissey in his full falsetto mode--not because the Beasts' lead singer necessarily sounded like Morrissey, but who the heck else used to make a living singing like that? On this excellent new album, the comparisons aren't so readymade, and the music--and songs--have a depth that makes further comparisons to any other artist much more difficult. Atmospheric and moody, there's an intelligence on display here that's fascinating, and one most music fans should find quite appealing. Or be brutally penalized!
Os Mutantes: Haih...Or Amortecedor (Anti-) Famous and truly legendary on a worldwide level, this Brazilian group reunited a few years back and now offers their first new studio album since--believe it or not--1974! Their unique and influential musical vision--a mixture of Tropicália, psychedelia, progressive and dance--predates what we now call world music and would probably sound good on any world you might imagine! This new disc features writing collaborations with Tom Ze and Jorge Ben, and sports a bird on its cover! What a great verb!
BLK JKS: After Robots (Secretly Canadian) There are many things one might expect of a great rock band from Johannesburg, South Africa, but having a lead singer who sounds like Justin Hayward isn't one of them!