As I write this, it's mere hours before what may be the most important election in American history!
Tensions are fierce among many, as all of us--each and every one--perhaps engage our friends in heated discussion, study the evidence, and, finally, consider the ramifications of our vote!
And I for one am ready!
Though I usually find it distasteful to use this forum to further my own political opinions, so be it:
After prolonged and serious study, and carefully considering their respective merits, I have decided that yes--between the two of them, Britney Spears is hotter than Christina Aguilera!
Hopefully the world will agree!
Hinder: Take It To The Limit (Universal Republic) Recently a local music critic here in L.A. has taken to referring to the sort of music Hinder plays--you know, that whole mish-mash of testosterone-inspired Nickelback, 3 Doors Down, Daughtrey kind of stuff--as "Flyover Rock." I mean, you've got to love her actually coming up with a term to describe it, true, and I suppose if the entire world did start using the expression, she might start to feel just the tiniest burst of pride about being the person responsible for its creation! I, however, am the old-fashioned sort, and prefer to describe this sort of music as "Glorp Rock"! As do most people! But I do give Hinder some credit: Between them and the Eagles Of Death Metal, Don Henley sleeps easier tonight! And isn't that what it's all about?
Brad Paisley: Play (Arista Nashville) Wow! Brad Paisley wins a Grammy for Best Country Instrumental Performance and look what happens next! An entire new album devoted to the craft of guitar-playing--featuring guests such as B.B. King, Buck Owens, and Keith Urban! And if the cover is any indication, Paisley himself has been turned into an old, beat-up guitar! Let's hope the Grammy people don't have a mean streak and give him another Grammy for Best Rap Collaboration just to experiment!
Q-Tip: The Renaissance (Universal Motown) One of hip-hop's all time greats, Q-Tip made his name via his pioneering group A Tribe Called Quest, and he's finally back with a brand new album--loaded to the gills with rhythms, beats and other hip synonyms for that stuff, as well as guest artists like D'Angelo, Norah Jones and Raphael Saadiq! He's pretty good! Though everything here sounds fresh and contemporary, there's a respect for tradition that permeates nearly every one of these masterful tracks! My only question: What the hell happened to his head?
Shiny Toy Guns: Season Of Poison (Universal) Far be it from me to imply that nervous record executives at Universal are now making their artists release albums with titles that evoke artists and eras long past, when records sold in the trillions and everyone was having a great time making money, but all I know is the day I got this, I played it for a few minutes and then decided to go watch Bret Michaels on his VH1 show! My attention span is so short now nearly anything will set it off! Say, have you seen my new car?
Sarah Brightman: Winter Symphony (Manhattan) Like many people, I tend to view Sarah Brightman as the sort of person who might draw a large crowd on international levels were she to be pitted against, say, Celine Dion in a televised mudwrestling match! But there's more to her than that! And on this fine Christmas release, between well-sung versions of "Silent Night" and "Ave Maria," there's a fab cover of my all-time favorite seasonal single--Roy Wood's "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day"--that will surely bring you joy if you're fortunate enough to hear it! What say you do just that, then spring for a cup of hot cocoa and meet me for a seasonal romp?
Mavis Staples: Live: Hope At The Hideout (Anti) A sheer and utter joy, this stripped-down live performance by Staples--a member of the distinguished Staple Singers--could just as easily have been recorded 40 years ago on the basis of the warmth and authenticity present throughout. Filled with classics of the civil rights era, capped with an encore of "I'll Take You There," and wrapped with a cover that would look at home in an Atlantic Records catalog circa 1968, it's a fairly stunning release by any standard. Except that of a major label in 2008!
Johann Johannsson: Fordlandia (4AD) Admittedly I was distracted when I picked this up and put it in my CD player, so can I be blamed for my disappointment when I discovered my favorite song of all time--you know, the one about a guy named John Johnson who lives in Wisconsin and works in a lumberyard?--was nowhere to be found? But no worries! This guy's a heavy hitter--an Icelandic composer who puts together groovily hypnotic orchestrations and melodies that tear into your very heart and soul, baby! Top track is the pulsing, nine-minute "Melodia (Guidelines For A Space Propulsion Device Based On Heim's Quantum Theory)," but with that title, how could it not be? Here's hoping Britney covers it!
Honeyhoney: First Rodeo (Ironworks/Universal Republic) This charismatic pair popped up into the Yahoo Music offices a few weeks ago and gave us a low-key but charming performance, and we were hooked! Accessible pop, folk, indie rock, jazz--pick a genre and they fit right into it. Good songs, good playing, and lots of opportunity awaiting them. Plus a song named "David"! Had they only named this debut album Sugar, superstardom would be theirs for the asking!
Hushpuppies: Silence Is Golden (Minty Fresh) Chicago label Minty Fresh continues to introduce some of the world's most interesting artists to a Stateside audience, and the arrival here of France's Hushpuppies continues that classy tradition: Loud and catchy rock with lots of character, none of it hampered by those bothersome French accents that French people often have! Word is that their track "You're Gonna Say Yeah" is featured on the upcoming Guitar Hero World Tour vidgame franchise, but like you, I'd be much more interested in learning if they could introduce me to Alizee!
Travis: Ode To J. Smith (Red Telephone Box) While it's true this band was once poised for a massive international breakthrough that would sadly never take place, their current strategy--titling their albums with very common names in hopes that owners of those names would actually buy one--may prove to be problematic! Eventually!