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