Tuesday, September 30, 2008
If It's Tuesday, It Must Not Be Monday- New Releases, 9/30/08
Thank you Paul.
And now for something completely different...
Some new music to cheer you up.
BEN FOLDS- WAY TO NORMAL
Most of the time I can't get beyond his smugness and too clever for it's own good songwriting style, but Ben Folds is here to stay. This autobiographical new record continues with the piano-led, Billy Joel-for-hipsters pop that put Folds on the map in the first place.
Folds recently produced the brilliant solo release from Dresden Doll Amanda Palmer, "Who Killed Amanda Palmer?," a record I would not have paid any mind to, if a friend (and Ben Folds fan) hadn't made the suggestion. Props to Mr. Folds for having a hand in this great album which reminds me of some of my favorite records of the 70s--Bowie's "Heroes," Sparks' "Kimono My House," and John Cale's "Fear."
CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL- REMASTERS
This has been done twice before, but never with bonus tracks and at such a low list price. "Cosmo's Factory" gets the popularity award and with good reason. But check out the gritty and greasy debut for some relentless boogie.
ANI DIFRANCO--RED LETTER DAY
President's Day, MLK's Birthday, Christmas Day, Memorial Day and the day a new Ani DiFranco CD comes out. It should be a paid holiday.
One of the great voices in rock and roll covers the songs that he loves. Could have been great because Mr. Dimucci's voice is still one of the best around. But the song list is just too obvious--Summertime Blues, Be Bop A Lula, Blue Suede Shoes--- as are the arrangements. Too bad. Worth a listen because it's Dion!
GRATEFUL DEAD- ROCKING THE CRADLE, EGYPT 1978.
Not being a Dead Head, I can't say if these shows are legendary because of their location, the set lists or both. What I can say is that for a long time, I didn't get it. Then one day, about three years ago, I got it. (Dick's Picks 8, Harpur College, 1970. Damn!) I just couldn't hold onto it. (Most everything else) Any Dead Heads out there wanna share their thoughts on this release, I'd be happy to post it.
THE IGUANAS- IF YOU SHOULD EVER FALL ON HARD TIMES
One of the hardest working bands in New Orleans--isn't that all of them---releases the follow-up to "Plastic Silver 9-Volt Heart," the strongest of their career. This is their post-Katrina record, so it covers love and loss while keeping the spirit that makes New Orleans so special. If you've never heard The Iguanas, think Los Lobos mixing it up with The Mavericks and Dave Bartholomew.
THE JESUS & MARY CHAIN-POWER OF NEGATIVE THINKING
I LOVE the tite of this 4 CD box set which features demos, acoustic versions, covers, b-sides, and more stuff that you will most likely listen to once.
TAJ MAHAL- MAESTRO
The great Taj celebrates 40 years in the biz with some help from Ben Harper, Jack Johnson, Angelique Kidjo and Los Lobos on this wonderful record that touches upon all the musical styles that Mr. Mahal has pulled off so effortlessly throughout his career.
TODD RUNDGREN- ARENA
The new "rock" record from legendary producer, pop icon, blue-eyed soul man, and eccentric, "Arena" is an angry record with big choruses and guitar solos. It's a bombastic display of what's on Todd's mind. It's a solid phalanx of politics in song. What it is NOT is what I had hoped it would be.
I can't give a fair review of this record. Do I like it less than I should because I love the man and expected something more? Do I like it more than I should because I love the man and am just glad he's released something new?
The songs have plenty to say lyrically, and Todd's guitar playing is sizzling. But too many of the songs just give up on the melody. Choruses are screamed and not sung. You listen and you be the judge. I will say this--the guy is a legendary producer. Look at his credits HERE. Why does his own record sound like it was recorded with a condenser mic in my cousin Paulie's basement?
JAMES TAYLOR- COVERS
Another artist going the covers route. I like James Taylor, but unless he's about to surprise us with some Krautrock renditions of these songs, I can't imagine "Hound Dog," "Summertime Blues," and especially "Road Runner" sounding like anything worth listening to.
PICK OF THE WEEK
WILL BERNARD- BLUE PLATE SPECIAL
Bay Area guitarist Will Bernard has played with people as diverse as avant-garde saxophonist Peter Apfelbaum to hip hop band The Coup. Most recently he has been part of Galactic drummer Stanton Moore's trio, whose two releases on the Telarc label, "III," and "Emphasis (on Parenthesis)" contain some of the baddest badass grooves this side of Funky Town.
On "BLUE PLATE SPECIAL," Bernard enlists Moore for the backbeat along with John Medeski and Andy Hess for a record that absolutely sizzles. From the slinky groove of the opener "Baby Goats," to the space age, James Brown funk of "Blister" to the sweet and soulful take on "How Great Thou Art" which closes the album, these 4 musicians show off, but never lose touch of the melody.
Bernard is a player with finesse, never getting carried away with his instrument, always allowing space for the musicians to interact. And that's what you will hear on this very unique collection of songs. Should be clever enough for serious jazz-bos and thanks to Stanton Moore's impossible drumming, "Blue Plate Special" will keep you moving.
Pick of some new music and try to stay happy. Works for me.