Tuesday, August 2, 2011

If It's Tuesday, It Must Be Street Date: 8/2/11



JOHN HIATT- DIRTY JEANS & MUDSLIDE HYMNS

Some would argue that John Hiatt has never released an inferior record. (except maybe "Little Head.") For me, nothing after "Bring The Family"...and that's a long time ago...has ever hit that mark of excellence. I've always respected the man, and every release has been worth exploring for a bit, with "Beneath This Gruff Exterior" and "Crossing Muddy Waters" getting more airplay than the others. But mostly, I found myself saying, "This one sounds like the last one" more times than not.

But with the release of "Dirty Jeans & Mudslide Hymns," a perfect record from head to tail, I've spent the last week rediscovering what so many of you already knew. John Hiatt is one of America's finest songwriters. When he offers up heartbreak as he does on "Don't Wanna Leave You Now" and "When New York Had Her Heart Broke," a song written and performed just days after 9/11 but never recorded, few can match Hiatt's emotional delivery. On tunes like "Damn This Town" and "I Love That Girl," Hiatt shows his skill for the hook. If we still had real radio, "I Love That Girl" would be blasting out of every car window for the rest of the summer.

Almost every song on "Dirty Jeans..." is an instant classic. I picked that up after the first run, just as I did when I first heard "Bring The Family." I'm thrilled now, that I can go back and listen with a new head, to so many of those records I casually dismissed as just more John Hiatt records...if I ever stop playing this new one.













FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE- SKY FULL OF HOLES

Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood are clever songwriters. Tossing them off as one-hit wonders is a bit unfair, since only one album has been released since 2003's "Welcome Interstate Managers," the record that gave us the hit "Stacy's Mom." Over 4 records and 15 years, Fountains Of Wayne have been pretty perfect, delivering some of the finest and catchiest rock and roll music has to offer.

Now, we have "Sky Full Of Holes," a new record on a new label, and it too, has some pop gems that will keep you humming for days. "Someone's Gonna Break Your Heart," "A Dip In The Ocean," "A Road Song" and "Hate To See You Like This" are four songs with lyrics that beg for your attention and melodies so mellifluous, your teeth will hurt.

What bothers me though, and what keeps me from calling this a perfect pop record, are the first three songs. The opening punch of "The Summer Place," "Richie & Reuben" and "Acela" almost took me out of the game completely on my first pass through "Sky Full Of Holes." Adam's and Chris's specialties include the occasional pop culure reference, the real-life storytelling about their friends and acquaintances, and the wordless hooks like "whoa-oo -WHOA OH OHS" that seem to find their way into so many tunes. These tricks seem so obviously loaded into the first three songs, it almost feels like they sat down with a deadline to write some Fountains Of Wayne songs.

When I mentioned this to a friend, he replied, "Is that a bad thing?" I guess not.  I guess I'd prefer FOW songs on a FOW album over Queensryche songs on a FOW album, but to my ears, those opening tracks are the weakest on an otherwise wonderful record and they just sound forced, like aces up a sleeve that were pulled out too soon. I've heard these songs before and better.  Minor quibble, sequencing, but I never denied being a bit of a freak when it comes to this shit.


In the meantime, please enjoy a Japanese bonus track of FOW covering the Moody Blues, while buying both of these fabulous releases.

THE STORY IN YOUR EYES



16 comments:

Alan said...

Sal: Great! I've always loved John Hiatt (I find myself humming Riding with the King every once in a while. But how could you dis Queenryche that way. Now you'll just be looking over your shoulder for the hair metal hordes come to exact their revenge.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the Hiatt review. My experience/feelings have been the same as yours. The problem with his post BTF work has been his singing ... mannered, gruff, annoying ... making every song sound the same. (Except for Crossing Muddy Waters. Liked that one) Will check out the new one.

OldRockr1 said...

I have kind of felt the same way about John Hiatt (although I loved Slow Turning and very much enjoyed Stolen Moments). BTF and ST are two of my all time favorites so I look forward to the new one based on your gushing review!

Meanstreets said...

Sal,
Is the new John Hiatt as well done as Dave Alvin's latest release, " Eleven Eleven " ? - which, as of 08/02/11, is in my top 5 CD's of the year........

Noam Sane said...

Nothing on the FOW records hits me over the head like, say, "Bright Future in Sales" or "Valley Winter Song". I don't find myself compelled to listen to it, like the last couple records. Mebbe it'll grow on me.

I appreciate their Moody's cover, always loved that song, but I must say, that is one terrible guitar solo.

Hiatt's a must-buy. So I will. Thanks, Sal.

Sal Nunziato said...

You know Meanstreets, the Dave Alvin has yet to connect with me. Im not giving up. I'm a fan, you know.

Meanstreets said...

I know you are a Dave Alvin fan, how could anyone not be ?
We saw him perform the " Eleven Eleven " songs live before the CD was released, both in Austin & NYC...
They were our favorite R & R shows in the past couple of years....Perhaps, there lies " my connection " with respect to the new CD....

Anything Should Happen said...

Nice stuff Sal.

I've always thought of John Hiatt as the US Nick Lowe and your thoughts are pretty similar to mine, still every album is worth buying though, mediocre is better than a lot of people's best.

I like Fountains Of Wayne and I'm enjoying the new one too. The thought that goes in to the lyrics raises them above their peers.

It's mutual appreciation society this week Sal, because I have exactly the same feeling about Dave Alvin's album as you.

I just don't get the hurrah's over anything he does. I had the album a few weeks before release and I've tried, but it's all so uninspiring.

In fact, I feel like that over everything he does.

Sorry Meanstreets, I may be an exception to your rule, but I doubt it.

Sal Nunziato said...

ASH,

I'm usually quite moved by Dave Alvin. But there is something about his new one that just isn't clicking. It still may. I don't jump ship too quickly with my faves.

Unknown said...

Unlike you, I was ok with the 1st 2 songs. Didn't like Acela. But hey, any new FOW music is cause for celebration.

Jeff in Denton TX said...

Plan to check out the new Hiatt and FOW. Good Moodies covers are hard to come by (although the Moody Bluegrass album a few years back was pretty great), so thanks for the track. I kept up with Hiatt from BTF up through Walk On, but stopped buying his new stuff after that. I tend to listen to/like Slow Turning the most (even more than BTF).

Bill said...

Good to hear about the new Hiatt. His last couple haven't really connected with me--not terrible, but not super-wow either. I think Walk On is one of his best--it's a big record that feels like it's making a big statement. I even have some fondness for Little Head (although that title song...). Crossing Muddy Waters is one of my favorite songs of the past 10 years, and it plays in the jukebox of my mind quite frequently.

And it sure would be nice to hear some Ry Cooder guitar on some of Hiatt's songs again.

Bill

steve simels said...

Sal -- that Moody's cover is genius.

Big Jim Slade said...

I know what you mean about John Hiatt - somethings are so great, and some is more of the usual. I don't have the new one yet, but my favorite post-BTF album is The Tiki Bar Is Open - just played it a couple days ago for the first time in quite a while. Glad to hear the new one is good.

Meanstreets said...

Sal, if you have not addressed this recent new release, you should...it's from an awesome " little " label out of Austin called " Red House Records "....And the CD is " Nod to Bob 2 ", celebrating Dylan on his 70th birthday.....and the 1st " Nod to Bob " is not bad also...celebrating his 60th birthday...

WHT said...

Kind of late observation, but "Story in Your Eyes" opening sounds like the template for REO's Riding the Storm Out .