It isn't every week that we're gifted with new albums by Neil Diamond, Johnny Mathis and Clay Aiken!
Throw in that new live album by Josh Groban, put 'em all in the CD changer, get the Jacuzzi warmed up, and guys--if you play your cards right--a night of hot romance is guaranteed to be yours!
Oh, excuse me--I've confused this blog with my other, better-trafficked one about personal relationships!
In that case, let me assure this blog's worthy readership that next week's release of Iron Maiden's Best Of 1980-1989 kicks royal butt! And that Limp Bizkt DVD will blow everybody's mind!
Home Before Dark (Columbia) The quintessential rockin' dude, Mr. Diamond has had his career significantly revved up by producer and label honcho Rick Rubin--who in the course of two records has given the distinguished songwriter a fluff-free setting that displays him in the finest light possible. I don't want to over-emphasize the man's impact on American culture, but get this: Mere seconds ago, a search conducted on a rival search engine for the phrase "not even the chair"--Diamond's all-time lyrical peak--yielded about 53,600 entries! Meanwhile, rival Harry Chapin's masterwork "Harry, keep the change" offered a measly 1,360! This proves the man is godlike!
Clay Aiken: On My Way Here (19 Entertainment/RCA) Speaking of gods, some of them are apparently angry that this former American Idol bigwig now has a "new look," and I can't blame them! As always, physical appearance is directly linked with one's ability as a musician, and who knows? Maybe like Samson in biblical times, the shorter these Idol people's hair gets, the worse they sound! It could be the case! That said, rest assured this is the best album ever!
Craig David: Trust Me (Warner Bros.) Don't get me wrong, I think Craig David is very talented--but a part of me--my ankle, actually--is dismayed when I hear an opening track like "Hot Stuff," which very openly samples from David Bowie's "Let's Dance" to such an extent that I want to take it off and listen to the real thing! I ask you, world: Have we really sunk this low? Next thing you know Kanye West will overdub a couple of words onto a Steely Dan song and demand we call it genius! All this album needs is a title quoting a used car salesman!
Gavin DeGraw (J Records) Forgive me for sounding like Negative Man--hey, ever read The Doom Patrol?--but there's something about this dude that reeks of a guy you'd see playing piano and singing in the background of a really cheesy showbar when a couple are about to have an argument in a B-movie where they couldn't afford to get Billy Joel but figured nobody would really notice because he was in the background and everybody would really be watching the hot actress they laid out all the big bucks for anyway! To be diplomatic, the same effect might be had by listening to Elton John's "Honky Cat" while someone was pressing on your abdomen. It would be cheaper as well, doctors add!
Awake Live (CD/DVD) (143/Reprise) It's difficult to say anything but nice things about this fellow, who has enjoyed enormous success the world over for singing material that is often incomprehensible to anyone who doesn't speak Italian or isn't 80 years old. Many refer to him as "the most popular young Adult Contemporary star of our era," and that sounds just about right to me! A combo CD/DVD that features the dude performing live in Salt Lake City last year, it's graced by a cover shot that perhaps depicts the singer waving to his Uncle Louie up in the cheap seats! Wouldn't that be awkward?
The Last Shadow Puppets: Age Of The Understatement (Domino) Here's an unexpected delight from Alex Turner and Miles Kane, a pair of Brits slumming from their "real" gigs in the Arctic Monkeys and the Rascals respectively. Lots of great tunes, excellent playing, superb arrangements, impressive musical influences--these guys really don't sound like either of their other bands, who aren't too shabby in the first place. Incidentally, if Beck ever plays a gig with Rascals, elderly people will be momentarily puzzled but eventually lose interest!
Scream (Cherry Tree) A surprisingly strong showing by an ultrahot German quartet making waves on the continent and elsewhere. Though most of their material has been sung in German--I'm sort of partial to "Ubers Ende Der Welt" myself--this stuff is all in English and thus easy to understand if you're the sort who actually listens to lyrics in the first place. Their song "By Your Side" appears in the new remake of Prom Night, thereby rendering it classic in accordance with the rules of the Geneva Convention!
A Night To Remember (Columbia) Have to admit that I've always kind of liked this dude, and the song selection here is so smooth and dreamy--it's an oldies showcase including "Just The Two Of Us," "Closer I Get To You," "Where Is The Love"--it's hard not to just throw in the towel and say, aw heck, all along I knew I'd end up listening to Johnny Mathis and staring into the fireplace imagining the world that could have been! I wonder if The Most Interesting Man In The World has an opinion?
The Republic Tigers: Keep Color (Chop Shop/Atlantic) A great new band from Kansas City featuring a former member of the Golden Republic--who were pretty good themselves--this is a substantial set of well played, original material with just the right proportion of musical hooks and subtlety to keep you coming back for more. Guess they must've been signed by accident!
From First To Last: From First To Last (Suretone/Interscope) Guess where this will end up on the label priority list!
- Neil Diamond
- Johnny Mathis
- Josh Groban