Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Sorry things have been a bit sporadic over here. I have been consumed with some less-than- entertaining stuff that has made my mind mush. (Okay, mushier.) It'd make me happy to not have to post for another day or two, but I'd be remiss not to mention a few of today's new releases, since there are many. Plus, if I don't mention just how horrible I think the new Neil Young record is, my head will indeed explode.
My last count had Neil Young with 10 classic albums and 23 albums that are either mediocre or worse and while he can continue to put out in-jokes like "Americana" and still get enough of the right people to call it "brilliant," I'd like to point out that Paul McCartney still hasn't lived down "Silly Love Songs."
"OH SUSANNA...OH SUSANNA...OH SUSANNA....OH SUSANNA...OH SUSANNA...OH SUSANNA...HEY TOM DULA...HEY TOM DULA...HEY TOM DULA...HEY TOM DULA...HEY TOM DULA...OH SUSANNA....OH SUSANNA."
At least "Living With War" had an agenda. It was sloppy and lacked finesse, but it had guts and you felt Neil Young's emotion seeping through the grooves. "Americana" works on no level. It's unlistenable, and actually makes me angry the way a motorcycle triggering a car alarm makes me angry.
I wasn't expecting much from the Beach Boys and maybe that is why I enjoyed the new record, "That's Why God Made The Radio." A lot of it sounds like "Kokomo," and that isn't a good thing. But there is enough here, especially the 4 songs that close the record out, that is simply gorgeous.
Joe Walsh's new record "Analog Man" has been given the Jeff Lynne "make everything sound like post-prime, 80s ELO" makeover, and while it's not quite an epic fail, it's not very good. It's a shame that Walsh's first record of new, pretty good material in ages, has been coated with the synthetic drum splat sound that one of my musical heroes, Jeff Lynne, somehow thinks is pleasing. This should have been a new Joe record, Jeff, not a new Jeff record, Jeff.
There's so much I haven't gotten to yet like new records from Patti Smith, Shawn Colvin, Alejandro Escovedo and Rodney Crowell & Mary Karr. As I said up top, just haven't had the head to dive into all this music. I am especially excited about these four.
I have listened to the new Kelly Hogan, but only once through. I love her voice, and a new record with Booker T., James Gadson, and my new favorite guitarist Scott Ligon of NRBQ should have been a winner. But the first pass was uneventful. More on that later. I'm not giving up on this one.
The Chris Robinson Brotherhood, a new project by Black Crowes lead singer, drops "Big Moon Ritual." I am a Crowes fan. Have been since day one. I've also mentioned on these pages how the Black Crowes may be my second favorite live act after the E-Street Band. But, "Big Moon Ritual" is a mess. It's a noodle-fest. It wants to be the Grateful Dead, but it's just not that interesting. I blame the songs. There is nothing to see here. Please keep moving.
Another record that only got one pass, but unlike the Kelly Hogan, left a strong impression on me, is the new collaboration from Bela Fleck with the Marcus Roberts Trio. I've always been a bigger fan of the latter and not the former, but together, the sounds they make on "Across The Imaginary Divide" are joyous. Roberts' trio features Jason Marsalis on drums, and he's a big reason this record keeps things interesting, though I want to take nothing away from the brilliance of Roberts or Fleck. (too many commas?)
There is a big, expensive "Graceland" box from Paul Simon, a boxed set from Ann & Nancy Wilson, better known as Heart, and a new record from Rhett Miller also out today.
Finally, I'd like to make mention of the new Tedeschi-Trucks live record "Everybody's Talkin'." This is a record that has been on heavy rotation since its release, and thanks to the brain mush, I have neglected it two weeks running.
"Revelator," the debut from TTB was a fave of mine and finished high on my year-end "best of" list. Now, on "Everybody's Talkin'," the band takes the elements of southern soul, blues and world music that they perfected in the studio, to even greater heights.
Derek's slide playing is otherworldly and yet he rarely overplays, letting his stellar band find their groove. Originals from the debut, like the gorgeous "Midnight In Harlem" and "Bound For Glory" get more of a workout, while choice covers, like Fred Neil's title track and Stevie's "Uptight" find new life as pulsing funk and R&B workouts. The horn section, featuring Maurice Brown on trumpet, is truly special.
I know I've missed a few things. My apologies.
Hope to pick things up soon.