The Y! Music Playlist Blog - Archives

Album Review Playlist: Volume 2

The Y! Music Playlist Blog
The Album Review Playlist series takes a random group of CDs, pulls a single track from each into a playlist, and includes a mini-review for each album.
Anything is game, and you'll never know what's coming next.

1. "Bessie Smith"  - Emily Jane White

There is no way to avoid the comparisons to Cat Power when listening to 26-year old Californian Emily Jane White. Her vocal tone and inflection is a dead ringer for Chan Marshall, as is the sparse instrumentation, but Dark Undercoat is a tad more melancholic and tad more mysterious.

Wow. I had no idea this project was in the works, and when I saw the album I knew instantly it was something I had to hear. It was not what I expected, but much, much better. Raising Sand is not just good, it's a classic that deserves a spot in your collection as much as Led Zeppelin IV or New Favorite. Simply stunning.

Robert Wyatt brought together musicians from across the planet for Comicopera. Israel, England, Spain, Norway, Brazil, Columbia, Cuba...Brian Eno appears, and rubs off on this placidly gorgeous recording. The record is laid out in 3 acts and is a standout of 2007.
Stephen Brodsky's new project Pet Genius is powerful pop music scraped from the bottom of an opium den floor. Although the short-lived Octave Museum is now gone, Pet Genius will surely keep Brodsky fans happy until his next album,
which could be Pet Genius II, a solo release, or a brand new band altogether.

The world's greatest Canadian frat party band, Barenaked Ladies returns with a CD / DVD set recorded live this past summer in Michigan. The band's humor and wit translate best in a live setting, and packaging the music with visuals was a good move. Who cares if it's not art, it's fun!

Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets is the absolute best way to get a quick history lesson on the music of San Francisco counterculture in the 1960's. The 77 track, 4 CD set is an historical record of just how important a role the city has played in rock & roll history.
7. "Baba" - Mickey Hart/Zakir Hussain

Mickey Hart and Zakir Hussain provide much more than a hippy drum circle on this new release. Global Drum Project works as both traditional rhythmic world music, and as a deep ambient work. It stands erect on it's own incredibly strong legs, and is on par with the very best of both genres. A bewitching melding of the two.

The Weakerthans remind me (a whole lot) of Clem Snide, which in my book is a very good thing, but they also cross into almost Polyphonic Spree-like territory at times. The familiarity won't win Reunion Tour any awards for originality, but it sure sounds good.

Sigur Ros have built their own beautiful, sun-drenched world. How lucky we are that they continue to make it available to us through their recordings. Hvarf/Heim is no different. It's another fine collection of songs that is like nothing being done by any other band on the planet.

10. "Melter" - Clipd Beaks

The Clipd Beaks full-length debut delivers harsh and jerky psychedelia that leaves you feeling as if you've just jumped naked into an ice cold pool of water. There's a little bit of shock, even pain maybe, but in the end you feel rejuvenated, awake, and alive.

11. "The Tightest Cage" - Old Time Relijun (MP3s - 1, 2,3)

I've tried hard to understand this record after reading the impressive 7.9 rating given to Catharsis in Crisis by Pitchfork. Maybe it's just over my head, maybe I haven't fully comprehended its deconstructionist leaning or the artistic devices used, or maybe I just can't get over the fact that the record sounds like running a cat through an electric cheese grater.

So you thought over-sexed pop metal went out for good in the late 80s / early 90s? Well, not so fast Jimbo. EndeverafteR are making pop metal for a new generation and they make no apologies for it. Although not my cup of tea today, if I was a hormonal 15-year old, I'd be all over this.

13. "Dysfunctional Family Christmas" - Larry The Cable Guy

I'll be the first to admit that Larry The Cable Guy's schtick was truly hilarious the first time I saw it, but it's time for him to evolve or die. Christmastime In Larryland is evidence that he's headed down the wrong path. Mostly unfunny, and with an obvious and embarrassing canned laugh track, the record falls short. I could not recommend it even as a dollar bin selection, which is exactly were you'll find it in a month and a half.


14. "Italia" - Chris Botti

Although many would not categorize Chris Botti as smooth jazz, let's face facts, he certainly is. This is bedroom music that actually sells in significant numbers to people without a single Monk, Coltrane, or Miles album in their collection. Paula Cole offers some vocals on this new tribute to music inspired from or associated with Italy and it's has great value in setting a mood.

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