Wow! What an occasion! Please join me in celebrating this special 100th edition of New This Week--the much-loved blog that can only be written after repeated viewings of Yo-Yo Sexy Girl Cop and a vast influx of carbonated cola product!
What have I learned after supplying you, the reader, with all this fabulous content?
3) As always, I should continue to aspire to winning over readers who make such comments as "You like Teena Marie? You're either gay or have no taste in music."
Luckily, thanks to your continued encouragement, I'll simply keep at it--telling it like it is, in no uncertain terms, and making or breaking artists' entire careers with one well-placed keystroke!
Hey, do you have my lighter?
Dream Theater: Black Clouds & Silver Linings (Roadrunner) Like many who write product descriptions for a living, I'd be inclined to say that Dream Theater is "a uniquely compelling creative force"--especially when it comes to great logos and long, extended musical pieces that showcase musical virtuosity in exchange for any single living female fan! Still making records after 25 years, this lovable gang of rapscallions knows how to construct massive slabs of arty "progressive metal" that last long enough for non-fans to drive to a nearby Starbucks or 7/11, pick up a newspaper and read it, then drive home and pretend they're grooving to the tuneage just as the second song starts! Sometimes kids get lost in the tunnels that run underneath their colleges and universities! In short: their best yet!
Al B. Sure!: Honey I'm Home (Hidden Beach) There's something that's, I don't know, kind of feel-goodish about a brand new album by Al B Sure!, but it's difficult to pinpoint! Is it because, like many who lived through the '90s, I've always been uncertain that the singer actually existed or I was just making him up? Is it because he has boldly decided to punctuate his professional stage name with an exclamation mark? Is it because defining "New Jack Swing" to anyone under 15 is about as easy as describing "Beach Music"? Nope, it's simply because of the album title! Certain to bring back special memories to old school fans and romantics alike, this new album--his first studio release in 15 years--comes with artwork and everything!
Cheap Trick: The Latest (Cheap Trick) Used to be I'd tell everybody who'd listen that I was only really impressed with the first two Cheap Trick albums and then found them repeating themselves less and less successfully--but then I found myself repeating myself less and less successfully! It may just be because the best part of the fab new album by drummer Bun E. Carlos's "side project" Tinted Windows sounds like prime Cheap Trick, it may simply be that this is the best Cheap Trick album I've heard in years, or it may be that as a Teena Marie fan, I have no taste on music, but here's the scoop: The songs here are great, the band plays well, and you should buy this when you have a minute!
Regina Spektor: Far (Sire) With a gold album to her credit, a list of critical plaudits, and a rabid potential fan base just waiting for an album featuring a blue piano on its cover, Regina Spektor is no longer the next big thing--she is a big thing! Not physically, though! Boosted by a batch of hot producers--including Jeff Lynne, David Kahne, and two other guys--and America's compulsive need to arbitrarily focus on random entertainers for 18 months or so before declaring them obsolete--Far is loaded with memorable tunes and primed to take her to the superstardom that she, her label and her management probably all think she deserves! It's great! Let's just let it happen!
Tortoise: Beacons Of Ancestorship (Thrill Jockey) A deft, intelligent outfit not nearly as prolific as they once were--this is their first new album in five years--Chicago's Tortoise are fascinating, ultramusical, and not the sort that aim to make hit records! Thus why on earth they opted for such a sexist album cover is beyond me! That being said, their logical goal--of having a full album side played between the works of Can, Kraftwerk, Terry Riley and Cluster and no one actually noticing they were listening to a new album--is now easily within their reach, and for it, they merit much praise! Old school pop fans will find them like the Turtles, but dryer! Recommended!
Ginuwine: A Man's Thoughts (Notifi/Asylum) The sixth album from the man least likely to be able to prove his identity via his driver's licence in a bar 25 years from now, Ginuwine's latest effort is solid, well-stocked with guest appearances by Brandy, Bun B, and Timbaland & Missy Elliott, and sure to be available in ringtone format via virtually any US carrier! Despite the deceptive album title, not a single song here features him wondering where he left his car and shoes or which super power he would like to have if he could only have one! You'll definitely like this!
Belle & Sebastian should go gaga over this superb album, which features B&S's Stuart Murdoch's songs and Murdoch fronting--with his band--a batch of singers, mostly female, who apparently "passed the audition"! There are a couple of familiar songs from past B&S albums, but the overall effect is catchy, very pleasant female pop that more than anything else evokes Belle & Sebastian's earliest work. If you like Belle & Sebastian, the Bird & The Bee, and Paddy McAloon's solo stuff, congratulations! You've got great taste! And it all sort of sounds like this!
Pete Yorn: Back And Fourth (Columbia) Interestingly, Pete Yorn is back with his fourth album! And you know what? He's pretty good! Yep, entirely acceptable! Recorded in Omaha, Nebraska with producer Mike Mogis--the man who catapulted Bright Eyes and Rilo Kiley to international superstardom!--you'll find more than a few songs to hum along with here! Perhaps while listening you'll discover that anagrams for his name include "Repent Yo," "Retype No," and "Teeny Pro"! And after a couple of listenings, you'll think "Paradise Cove" is pretty good and wonder how he'd sound singing "Horse With No Name"! This job is so easy!
Isaac Hayes: Hot Buttered Soul (2009 remastered version) (Stax) What better way to celebrate the 100th New This Week posting than writing about the first album I ever reviewed back when it first came out? Who says life is nothing but a dreary repetition of the familiar resembling nothing so much as a snake eating its own tail and consuming itself into the dreary blackness awaiting all of us in the beyond? Not me, and not Isaac Hayes! Featuring the album's four original songs plus two bonus "single versions," this set remains classic any way you look at it--for Hayes' 18-minute take on Jimmy Webb's "By The Time I Get To Phoenix" and, for me at least, the staggering opening track, "Walk On By," which via its new remastering concludes with the most powerful five-minute ending life has ever provided us! Buy this and then shave your head in tribute!
Alexisonfire: Old Crows/Young Cardinals (Vagrant) A scathing indictment of the seamy underside of Vatican nightlife, this disc is largely marred by the screaming of poor Alexis--who must have been in incredible pain before the ambulance arrived!