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New This Week

If you're like me, you may have watched the Grammys last night and asked yourself a few very serious questions!

First of all, who the heck is Esperanza Spalding? And how can she be "best new artist" over Justin Bieber, for gosh sakes?

Secondly, who the heck is Arcade Fire--and how can he be better that Eminem?

Thirdly, Lady Gaga doesn't really expect us to believe to she was just hatched from an egg, does she? She's been around for a couple of years now!

Fourthly, why did I just spend $862 fixing my Cadillac's right-rear electric window this afternoon when I never asked for electric windows?

Finally--and most importantly--where the heck are my pants? I know I was wearing them a few minutes ago!

Outside, clouds gathered in the sky, the night grew still, and a man drinking coffee and eating a donut sat outside the 7/11, watching the exit door patiently!


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Drive-By Truckers: Go-Go Boots (ATO)  The eleventh album by fab rockers the Drive-By Truckers looks likely to be a commercial triumph, especially after the success met by its predecessor, The Big To-Do, and the sad fact that nothing else is good anymore anyway! According to band co-founder Patterson Hood, this new album "is what I sometimes (semi-jokingly) refer to as our country, soul and murder ballad album," a statement I find extremely interesting not least because of Hood's ability to actually speak in parentheticals! It's one of the most interesting (as if anything regarding this album could be even mildly interesting) facts (yeah, right!) I've encountered (in the course of trying to find anything even slightly unique about this fair-to-middling band with only a glimmer of originality) yet, and it makes me think the best is yet to come! Plus, having a hyphen in your name is a sign of class!

Go-Go Boots - Drive-By Truckers

Bright Eyes: The People's Key (Saddle Creek)  A superb return by the highly-lauded Conor Oberst and company, this sparkling allegorical tale speaks of a horrifying future overrun by big business and deluded, self-obsessed politicians and their insane desire to keep every bathroom door in the world locked just to show they can! As the album cover brilliantly depicts, once the entire world is set afire by unexpected nuclear destruction, few people care about using a "room" anymore, and keys have no value whatsoever! I think 1) it's a great idea, and 2) keys are old-fashioned, anyway! I prefer using my ATM card!

Shell Games - Bright Eyes

PJ Harvey: Let England Shake (Vagrant)  Something of a daring departure of Britain's critically respected Harvey, this new album takes personal politics to an entirely new level by blatantly taking the "global warming" hypothesis as fact and projecting a future in which melting arctic ice caps and unceasing rising tides wreak havoc upon the environment and cause a worldwide epidemic of floods, earthquakes and deadly rainbows! No, wait--it's a concept album based entirely on a parallel world in which '60s Scottish rockers Lulu and the Luvvers have a massive hit called "Shake" rather than "Shout" and become the biggest superstars in the world! To be candid: a part of me thinks it can be just about anything you want it to be! And right now I want it to be a great big peppermint ice cream soda!

Justin Bieber: Never Say Never: The Remixes (RBMG/Island)  Billed as a "music counterpart" to his just-released 3D film, rising teen star Justin Bieber would appear to have taken a vast artistic leap here with an album surprisingly devoted to nearly a dozen remixed versions of his cover of Romeo Void's 1982 underground hit "Never Say Never"--and frankly, hearing lyrics like "I might like you better if we slept together" are a little jarring, even for these jaded ears! Heck, it's jarring for those ears over there, too! With a guest crew including Rascal Flatts, Usher, Miley Cyrus, Raekwon and Chris Brown, this could be the single most important recording of the year--or, for that matter, a piddling trifle produced purely to amuse the masses who'll be fiddling while Rome burns! Either way, it's Bieber at his best! And what's with that hair?

Never Say Never - Justin Bieber Feat. Jaden Smith

Mogwai: Hardcore Will Never Die But You Will (Sub Pop)  The number of times I've actually thought this may actually be the best band out there at the moment have come with less and less frequency over the years, but I will say that one of the last bands I ever felt that way about was Mogwai--a Scottish group whose uncompromising style and live performance abilities have rarely been matched in the last decade! Plus, I like their album titles! This latest set is more of the same good stuff, bolstered by an additional disc featuring the 23-minute "The Singing Mountain," apparently the soundtrack to some art installation that absolutely no one in the world but Mogwai and their buddies will ever see! Cool! Only thing making it less than perfect is the absence of Rihanna and Jay-Z--but you can say that about almost anything!

George Square Thatcher Death Party - Mogwai

Deicide: To Hell With God (Century Media)  Like you, I often hanker to listen to something a little different when I'm driving down a country road gritting my teeth and doing energy drinks! That's when I turn to old buddies like Deicide, who've returned with a great new album featuring tracks like "Empowered By Blasphemy," "Hang In Agony Until You're Dead," and the quaintly philosophical "How Can You Call Yourself a God"! Like most Death Metal, it's upbeat, cheerful, completely resigned to a life of misery and agony, and the sort of thing that goes great with a Dr. Pepper and an apple turnover! That said, I understand the title kind of irks God a little, but what the heck?

Death: Sound Of Perseverance (Relapse)  I'd be remiss if I didn't mention this great reissue after the Deicide record, so here goes: Bolstered now with an additional hour of unreleased music, this 1998 classic by the charismatic Death--has there ever been a better band name for a kid to tell his parents about?--has never sounded better! Especially when you play it! In some ways reminiscent of the more intimate works of James Taylor, Celine Dion and Creed, the lovable Death rapscallions tell an evocative story with such great tracks as "Spirit Crusher" and "To Forgive Is To Suffer"--and it often involves an unsettling feeling that the guy at the hardware store just gave you change back for a ten instead of a twenty and tonight it's your turn to buy! Goes great with Freddie Hubbard!

Spirit Crusher - Death

All India Radio: The Silent Surf (Inevitable)  Back with a tasteful blast of ambient, trance-inducing, spacey soundtrack-kind-of music, this zesty Australian outfit produces music with, according to Wired, "resulting narcotic musical textures [that] are capable of floating listeners to galaxies far, far away." Translation? It's great! Intricately arranged, carefully produced, and entirely capable of being looped repeatedly and listened to on your iPod and earphones for all your waking hours, it's more fun than having a conversation with anyone else, infinitely more satisfying, and in the long run, cheaper! Plus: great acronym!

The Bomb - All India Radio

The Twilight Singers: Dynamite Steps (Sub Pop)  The first album in five years from Greg Dulli's Twilight Singers, this album is thoughtful, intelligent, quite listenable, and when purchased in the CD configuration, not above leaping out of the player, walking over to you, asking you to lie down on your couch, and asking you, in oddly comforting tones, "So tell me--is it true that one of the very first times you felt detached from the critical establishment was when you listened repeatedly to Mr. Dulli's former band the Afghan Whigs and wondered what all the hubbub was about?" Whenever that happens, I turn on the History Channel!

Dynamite Steps - The Twilight Sisters

Yuck: Yuck (Fat Possum) Their battles with Death over who has the best band name? The stuff of legends!


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