This is not the week to go shopping for new releases, with little hitting the streets worth mentioning. But, there are two records I'd like to highlight.
EDWARD ROGERS- SPARKLE LANE
Many of Ed Rogers' musical influences appear on his first two solo releases, "Sunday Fables" and "You Haven't Been Where I've Been." The spirits of The Beatles, The Byrds, and The Kinks all stop by to say hello. But it's on "Sparkle Lane" where Rogers proves himself as an artist who has a lot more to say than just piling on what's been said before. Yes, those influences still make their way in and out of this 14 song collection, but Rogers' new songs are mini-powerhouses on their own.
From the opener, "Symbols 'n Mascots," which sounds like a great lost Be-Bop Deluxe tune to the beautiful baroque pop of "Passing The Sunshine," and "Last Of The Artful Dodgers," sounding like The Left Banke and The Zombies respectively, Ed Rogers has hit his stride. This is the Edward Rogers record we've been waiting for and it's worth your time.
MIDLAKE- THE COURAGE OF OTHERS
Midlake's 2006 release "The Trials Of Van Occupanther" was unlike anything I had heard before. It was too clever for its own good, but at no time did the record feel like novelty or a fluke. Quite frankly, I was blown away by the intricate melodies and harmonies and the far from conventional arrangements that seemed to hit upon everything from folk rock to prog. The track "Young Brides" alone is worth your time. It's one of the most original pieces of music I have ever heard--think Moby producing "The White Album."
So it is with a heavy heart that I say, "The Courage Of Others," Midlake's supremely anticipated follow-up, is a dirge-filled, one-note disappointment. Everything that made "Van Occupanther" so special has somehow found its way onto someone else's record, and what we get is one song after another with no distinguishable qualities. The band's full length debut "Bamnan & Silvercork" also left me cold when I went back to it after loving "Van Occupanther," so maybe that middle record brilliance was indeed a fluke. Really a disappointment.
There is also a new "rock" record from L'il Wayne, "the greatest rapper of all time" and a new side project from Nick the Jonas brother. Sorry.