An array of solid new releases from dependable names such as Interpol, Sara Bareilles, Helmet, Megadeth and even an Overdrive-less Bachman-Turner indicates that talent never dies and that all great artists will triumph for the duration of their very lives!
That said, it should be pointed out that "triumph" in this era of diminished expectations now means "continue to breathe oxygen"!
And not to spend too much time on details, but the latter sentence only applies to Earth-based talent!
Still, the longstanding universal goal of finally surpassing Rick James & Teena Marie's masterful "Fire And Desire" now seems firmly within reach!
Interpol: Interpol (Matador) After a seeming decades-long hiatus devoted to policing those of us prone to copying video discs and tapes illegally, Interpol has returned with a new album, ironically titled Interpol--ironic, that is, because that's actually their name, thus their actual commercial draw, thus by mentioning the word twice on the album cover potential sales might be theoretically doubled--and it's their best newest album yet! Back with that sort of deliberately repetitive droning sound while their lead singer tries his hardest to sound like absolutely anyone but Joy Division's Ian Curtis, the guys offer up a handful of great tracks, a couple of dull ones, and in a surprising marketing move, a few flyers promoting the current roster of CDs available at the Cracker Barrel retail chain! Word is the guys favor Italian restaurants and late-night Billy Joel! Can there be any doubt that they not only rock, they rock hard?
Sara Bareilles: Kaleidoscope Heart (Epic) When it comes to the stunning array of artists named Sara Bareilles, there's no denying that this one--the one with the long hair that records for Epic--may be among the very best! As a female, she sounds like a girl when she sings, and as a music aficionado, her offering up the best tracks ever by hard-rockers Heart in a manner befitting that of David Lindley's long-ago cult group Kaleidoscope was absolutely unexpected! And while Sara has freely admitted that writing her own material has been like "pulling teeth," blind taste tests have confirmed that her new material sounds just as good as any of her other stuff! Further details are available via the online term paper "Why Most Of Today's Music Chicks Are Named Sara And Why It Doesn't Really Make Much Of A Difference," purportedly penned by Joey "Adenoids" Tempchin! His dad was almost in the Eagles!
Anberlin: Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place (Universal Republic) Devoting an entire album to a few passages from the Doors' "Horse Latitudes" would be commercial suicide by any measure--which is one reason why highly regarded hard-rockers Anberlin have opted not to do precisely that! Instead, the dudes' fifth studio album is filled with a variety of groovy material, all of which is produced by Brendan O'Brien, rocks hard, long, and eloquently, and is likely to make few of us ultimately question why this onetime "Christian punk band" counts among its members such names as Stephen Christian and Christian McAlhaney! Its major failing--no cover of Musique's "In The Bush"--will likely go unnoticed by the masses and commercial success, such as it is, is clearly theirs for the asking! Let's all name our new bands after pharmaceuticals!
Megadeth: Rust in Peace Live (Shout! Factory) A fabulous live album by legendary thrash-rockers Megadeth--bolstered by the stellar guitar-playing of Chris Broderick--is probably the next best thing to a full national economic recovery, experts agree! As always, 'deth leader Dave Mustaine rocks plentifully, and this gig--showcasing the band performing at the Hollywood Palladium and also available in simultaneous DVD format--proves that nothing sounds better than contemporary metal masters performing live and unbound onstage! Rumors that the band is considering changing their name to "Minideth" to further assert that life is even more worthless than ever are mentioned here only to provide an additional sentence!
Bachman & Turner: Bachman & Turner (RBE Music) It may seem odd to those too young to have experienced '70s radio to hear that Bachman-Turner Overdrive--the lovable Canadian dudes who gave the world "Takin' Care Of Business" among other hits--were once massive godlike figures, but it is entirely true! Plus, bandleader Randy Bachman had an earlier distinguished history as a member of the lovable Guess Who! He was, like, so cool--plus he had a few hip records with his band-in-the-middle Brave Belt and later had an album featuring Neil Young guesting on guitar! Impressed? Well hey, this record is pretty good, too! So let's spell it out: He's got a great pedigree, he writes great songs that are proven radio hits, he's been around for years, and he's Canadian! And where I come from, .750 is a great batting average!
The Clientele: Minotaur (Merge) These guys may be one of my favorite bands of the last decade or so, but let's get a few things straight: In America, we call them Cly-un-TEL, not Clee-un-TEL, and back when we were kids watching sword 'n' sandal movies, Jason fought the Minn-a-tar, not the Myne-o-tar! For that matter, if these dudes are cool enough to cover the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band's "As The World Rises And Falls," let's remember that the original song's lyric was "forty seashells away," not "meters," you limey dorks! But that they would cover such a cool song--and in fact covered the WCPAEB's "Tracy Had A Hard Day Sunday" in concert long ago--indicates their impeccable taste, as does the remainder of this charming extended EP, which is quite good and features a closing track that perhaps too closely veers toward "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)," but is further proof that today's very best bands plod along unnoticed by the masses but are certain to be hallowed in the years to come! Plus, they rock!
Bridget St. John: BBC Radio 1968-1976 (Hux Records UK import) While we're talking about fabulous artists who go about their business pursuing their art while the commercial world passes them by, consider the case of Britain's wonderful Bridget St. John, who nearly 40 years after the fact--and that fact being a number of unheralded, extraordinary UK folkish albums during the late '60s/early '70s--is being lovingly documented here via this superb two CD set, which captures the superb folksinger in her prime during various UK radio performances that could not sound more thoughtful, more contemporary and more invigorating! Sonically somewhere between Joni Mitchell singing The Marble Index and Nico singing Blue, Bridget St. John is a marvelous performer and, to be blunt, the sort of person you should really get to know before thaht great big blue bus comes unannounced and hurls you skyward!
Stone Sour: Audio Secrecy (Roadrunner) A fine album by hard-rockers Stone Sour, Audio Secrecy is a play on the word "idiosyncracy," according to those in the know--and admittedly, even indirectly referring to the painful imagery of a bunch of morons synchronizing their wristwatches is a bold step! Recorded at Nashville's Blackbird Studios, the album is expertly played, enthusiastically sung, and, in the words of lead vocalist Cory Taylor, "It's everything I've ever wanted to do on one album. It's heavy, it's melodic, it's dark, it's slow, it's light and it's beautiful. You'll hear something different with each listen." I played it a minute ago, and I heard the sound of chirping crickets, a babbling brook, and a horseless carriage bustling by while some coal miners were telling each other dirty jokes!
The Acorn: No Ghost (Bella Union) An excellent, subtle album that rewards with every listen--I played it earlier today and $1.45 fell out of the CD case--No Ghost is the third album by Canadian quintet the Acorn and it is quite good! Dandy, in fact! Part of a new movement of "rock bands" playing "good music" with no thought of "commercial appeal" or "radio play," the band takes the traditional rock music of, say, Bobby Fuller's "I Fought The Law," updates it to "I Made The Law," then inspires writers to overuse quotation marks purely to make "random" points and to bring "no soap radio" into the new millennium! That said, I'm sure both Casper and Spooky have personal reservations we all might want to consider!
Helmet: Seeing Eye Dog (Work Song) "I just felt completely free to do whatever I wanted to do," says Helmet's Page Hamilton about his band's new album! "It was really fun to make this record because I just felt this...freedom." A double disc featuring clips from the band's 2006 Warped Tour performances as a bonus, Seeing Eye Dog otherwise features audio clips of the band washing dishes, clipping their toenails, and arguing about the relative merits of American Idol's last two seasons! As always, so frickin' alternative it hurts!
- Sara Bareilles