Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Neil Young: "Chrome Dreams II"

Checked the mail today and the package I've been eagerly awaiting was there - yay! Perfect ending to a loooong day at work. Neil Young's 2007 album "Chrome Dreams II" - a rather idiosyncratic album combining older material that had been unreleased, and newer material. For example, "Box Car" dates from the period before "Freedom" - it was originally part of an album called "Times Square" that was never released, although much of the material ended up on "Freedom." The epic "Ordinary People" dates from his time w/ the Bluenotes in the late 80s. Oddly enough the original "Chrome Dreams" is another unreleased album from the 70's... only Neil Young would release a sequel to an album that was never released in the first place.

As I've said many times, Neil marches to the beat of his own drummer. That's what makes him so great.

John Lennon reissues

Some very exciting news! John Lennon's complete solo catalog is being reissued in new deluxe editions, including a very interesting "stripped" version of "Double Fantasy". Really looking forward to this!!

Here's the basic information, with more details on Yoko's site.

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Eight of John Lennon’s classic solo albums and other standout recordings have been digitally remastered from his original mixes for a global catalogue initiative commemorating the music legend’s 70th birthday, which falls on October 9, 2010.

Overseen by Yoko Ono, John Lennon’s GIMME SOME TRUTH campaign will launch on 4 October (5 October in North America) with the worldwide release of eight remastered studio albums and several newly-compiled titles.

Double Fantasy, 1980’s GRAMMY Award winner for Album of the Year, will be presented in a newly remixed ‘Stripped Down’ version remixed and produced by Yoko Ono and Jack Douglas, co-producers of the original mix with John Lennon. The new stripped down version of the album comes in an expanded 2CD and digital edition pairing the new version with Lennon’s original mix, remastered.

The campaign’s other new collections include:

A hits compilation in two editions titled Power To The People: The Hits
A 4CD set of themed discs titled Gimme Some Truth
A deluxe 11CD collectors box with the remastered albums, rarities, and non-album singles, titled The John Lennon Signature Box

Monday, June 28, 2010

Crowded House - Archer´s Arrows

I really dig this track from the new Crowded House album "Intriguer." Solid record, and "Archer's Arrows" is a high point.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

new EMUSIC purchases

Hurrah for emusic.com - a terrific service.   One of the great moments of each month is clicking on emusic and seeing that my downloads are renewed and ready to go. They have so much incredible stuff to choose from that it takes me very little time to use up my allotment.

I spent some quality time browsing last night, and this is what I ended up with.

Corey Dargel: "Someone Will Take Care of Me"

A Facebook friend posted about this album, so I thought I'd check it out.   It's an intriguing mix of contemporary classical and pop, but it just didn't connect with me right away.  Seems a little more form over substance.  It's a little bit too twee for me.   I do think Corey is a supremely talented artist and has come up with some very original ideas, but the songs were not particularly compelling to me.   Perhaps its one of those records that requires repeated listens.  I suspect that Corey will continue to grow and will have many interesting things ahead.   It's all a little bit too clean and clinical and sterile for me, but I am interested to see how this artist continues to develop.    I'm not going to give up on this album...   perhaps part of the problem is that being a double album there is lots to absorb and none of the songs individually jump out.   Ambitious, but perhaps a more focused approach would have left a more powerful impression.

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How To Destroy Angels - self-titled


Trent Reznor's new project allows him to shed the Nine Inch Nails label and the expectations that go along with it - ultimately I think that will be a good thing, but this project isn't the most auspicious first step.   There are some interesting soundscapes - mostly mellow electronica with whispery female vocals.  It's a 6-track EP, and is mostly forgettable.   It's an interesting idea but the songs just aren't there.   There isn't enough power in the vocals to drive home the emotions behind the songs.   "A Drowning" is a perfect example... musically its sublime and builds intensity as it goes, but the limp vocals just fall flat.

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Cyndi Lauper:  "Memphis Blues"

First she did an album of standards - "At Last" - and now Cyndi Lauper tries out Memphis Blues...  meh.   It just sounds like a genre exercise.   She doesn't have the vocal chops to pull this off believably.  Don't get me wrong, Cyndi is an exquisite singer... just not in this particular idiom.  The whole thing has a faintly pointless vibe to it.    Cyndi needs to get back to the quirky pop that made her the iconic artist that she is.

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Danzig:  "Deth Red Sabaoth"

Danzig's return is a solid, murky-dark, wall-of-sound heavy rock album - what one would expect from Danzig.     My initial impressions are positive but not overwhelmed - - need a few more spins of this one.

* * *

Ed Harcourt:  "Lustre"

Ed Harcourt is a brilliant songwriter, vocalist and musician.   Jeff Buckley meets Nick Cave and Tom Waits.   He's capable of moments that are absolutely superb, but he's yet to put together a full albums worth of killer material.  "Lustre" is about what I've come to expect from Harcourt - entertaining and frequently excellent, but still lacking the originality and spark that would lead him to take that next step.    His melodies often tend toward the pedestrian side, and very little here really knocks me in the heart.   This is easily the best album listed on this blog entry (well, at least as far as the new releases are concerned), but Harcourt is so obviously talented and has such moments of sheer brilliance ("God Protect Your Soul", for instance), that I expect more.   I keep expecting the Ed Harcourt album that will finally bowl me over, but it hasn't happened yet.   But again - first impressions can sometimes lead the listener astray, and given how much new music I've been absorbing this weekend, I'll give this a few more spins.   Maybe it'll turn around for me.

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Gleaming Spires:  "Songs of the Spires"

Ahhh I love the fact that you can find these obscure 80s oddities on emusic.   Interesting in that this is a vinyl rip - the faint clicks of the scratches are clearly audible.  But that's okay - it adds to the nostalgia.  "Are You Ready For the Sex Girls" is a forgotten gem.

* * * 

Sia:  "We Are Born"

Meh...  nothing much to get excited about here.  I like the cover of Madonna's "Oh Father" but the original material is mostly forgettable and her vocals are too mannered throughout - she has a lovely, rich voice, and it's most effective when she keeps it simple.    The songs are faintly pleasant pop with an indie vibe, but it's all been done before, and better.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Cure: "Disintegration"

 I have been falling in love all over again with this album ever since the deluxe reissue came out a couple weeks back.   Well, I never fell *out* of love with it, it's always been among my favorite albums of all-time.   But the new reissue, with it's stellar sound quality and bevy of rarities, gives it added depth.   "Disintegration" is glorious, romantic, dark pop - an album that is one of a kind in rock history. 

When it came out, I was just learning to drive.  I remember playing the cassette in the car when I drove around my hometown with my dad.   The day it came out, I walked downtown on my lunch break from high school (in those days MHS had an open campus, not sure if that is still the case) and bought "Disintegration" from Backstreet Records (which, sadly, no longer exists.)   

I had already been hooked on 1st single "Fascination Street."  I had been a Cure fan for a few years, and eagerly recorded the premier of "Fascination Street" from the radio show "Future Hits" - an awesome syndicated show that played the newest music that was about to break onto the charts.   What a brilliant song... psychedelic, intense, building to an incredible climax...  I couldn't wait for the album to come out.

I played "Disintegration" like mad.  It was constantly in my car, on my walkman, on my stereo.  I'd lay in my room in the dark and listen to it from start to finish.   Hearing it now brings me back to that time;  but the thing is, the album has stood the test of time so well that it's beyond simple nostalgia.   It's just a killer record.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers: "Mojo"

Finally starting to get into this album a bit.   Petty was due to record another album w/ the Heartbreakers - it's been a long time since "The Last DJ".   This album is much better - - completely different vibe.  "The Last DJ" was so serious and angry and darkly bitter... still had some good tunes but overall "Mojo" is far superior.  It's a raw, straightforward rock album. 

Musically opening track "Jefferson Jericho Blues" sounds very much inspired by something on Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited" album - "Tombstone Blues" perhaps.   "First Flash of Freedom" is a more downtempo tempo tune with a prominent walking bass line and swirling organ; an almost hypnotic vibe.   Like the album as a whole, it's very retro and rootsy.   It's got a cool duet-guitar solo and the longer it goes, it sounds a bit like The Doors.  Very strong track.

"Running Man's Bible" is a driving blues-rocker with some killer guitar licks and a funky, stripped back sound.   It's a bit overlong.   "The Trip to Pirate's Cover" is a story-song, as the title suggests;  has a classic Petty sound to it, and again some great sounding organ. 

"Candy" is a throwaway blues-rocker that would be pleasant enough as a b-side but kinda throws the album for a loop.   But maybe there needed to be something lightweight here to counterbalance some of the other tunes..

"No Reason to Cry" is about as straight an acoustic country song that you'll hear from Mr. Petty.  He delves into the idiom with quite a bit of authenticity;  his voice suits the genre quite well. 

 "I Should Have Known It" is a riff-heavy rocker in classic Heartbreakers style;  it definitely hearkens back to their younger days.  

"U.S. 41" starts as an exercise in folk storytelling before building to a raucous blues stomper.   Doesn't really have the needed spark.  "Takin' My Time", another bluesy rocker, is better although it takes a while to get off the ground.

The rest of the album is similarly hit and miss.

Overall after a couple of listens, "Mojo" is clearly a solid record but it lacks a couple cornerstone classic songs that would make it really memorable.  There are no unforgettable Petty singles here... no "Mary Jane's Last Dance" or "Free Fallin" or "Just Got Lucky" or "Running Down a Dream" or....  there are many many more.   The sound gelled, but material-wise it sticks pretty close to blues/rock formula for the most part.   Will continue to absorb it, but I suspect my final verdict will be:  good, but not great, and a definite step up from Petty's last album w/ The Heartbreakers (but not as good as Petty's last solo album, the suberb "Highway Companion.")

new release Tuesday, June 22, 2010

picked up the following new releases (so far) today:

Kele, "The Boxer" Lead singer of Bloc Party with solo album.


Also, the new Macy Gray, "The Sell Out". Previously listened to it on Billboard.com, and it sounds like her best effort since her debut.

Picked up the new Laurie Anderson, "Homeland".   Anytime Laurie Anderson releases something new, it's an exciting day.

Monday, June 21, 2010

My Picks: Best Albums of the 00s

1. Radiohead - Kid A
2. The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots
3. Bob Dylan - Modern Times
4. Arcade Fire - Funeral
5. David Bowie - Heathen
6. U2 - All That You Can't Leave Behind
7. Tori Amos - Scarlet's Walk
8. Rufus Wainwright - Poses
9. Radiohead - In Rainbows
10. Bloc Party - Silent Alarm
11. Editors - Back Room
12. Metric - Fantasies
13. Pedro The Lion - Control
14. Radiohead - Amnesiac
15. Kate Bush - Aerial
16. The Dears - No Cities Left
17. Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand
18. Annie Lennox - Songs of Mass Destruction
19. U2 - How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
20. Bob Dylan - Love and Theft

Full list on Last.FM

My Picks: Best Albums of the 80's

1. The Cure - Disintegration (1989)
2. Prince - Sign o' The Times (1987)
3. Eurythmics - Sweet Dreams (are made of this) (1983)
4. Kate Bush - Hounds of Love (1985)
5. The Police - Synchronicity (1983)
6. Peter Gabriel - So (1986)
7. Prince & The Revolution - Purple Rain (1984)
8. Jane's Addiction - Nothing's Shocking (1988)
9. Eurythmics - Savage (1987)
10. Kate Bush - The Dreaming (1982)
11. Bob Dylan - Oh Mercy (1989)
12. U2 - The Joshua Tree (1987)
13. Joy Division - Closer (1980)
14. The Cure - Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me (1987)
15. Madonna - Like a Prayer (1989)
16. Prince - 1999 (1982)
17. Eurythmics - Touch (1983)
18. XTC - Skylarking (1986)
19. David Bowie - Scary Monsters (1980)
20. Michael Jackson - Thriller (1982)

Full List on Last.FM

My Picks: Best Albums of the 90's

1. Radiohead - OK Computer
2. U2 - Achtung Baby
3. Lucinda Williams - Car Wheels on a Gravel Road
4. Tori Amos - Boys for Pele
5. Nirvana - In Utero
6. Annie Lennox - Diva
7. Nirvana - Nevermind
8. Radiohead - The Bends
9. Pet Shop Boys - Very
10. Pearl Jam - Vs.
11. Jane's Addiction - Ritual de lo Habitual
12. Sinead O'Connor - I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got
13. Alice in Chains - Dirt
14. R.E.M. - Automatic For the People
15. Depeche Mode - Violator
16. Edie Brickell & New Bohemians - Ghost of a Dog
17. The Cure - Wish
18. Tori Amos - From The Choirgirl Hotel
19. Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
20. Alanis Morissette - Jagged Little Pill

Full List on Last.FM

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Yoko Ono: "Fly"

Finally picked up a vinyl copy of Yoko's 2-LP "Fly" - got it from eBay for $30.00. Pretty good price considering I've seen it going for much higher.

It's one of the most fascinating albums of the 70s, in my opinion.

Joe's Record Paradise - 6/20/10

Very nice trip to Silver Spring and Joe's Record Paradise today. It's only my 2nd time there and I have a feeling I'll be going back more frequently. Terrific selection and some great rarities.

Picked up the following:

10CC's "The Original Soundtrack" which, of course, features their masterpiece "I'm Not in Love."

Prince's "Kiss" 12" single. Exclusive extended mixes of both "Kiss" and it's stellar b-side, "Love or Money" - one of Prince's best obscure tracks.

The Records self-titled 1979 album featuring their classic single "Starry Eyes"

The Chameleon's amazing "Strange Times" LP

and a sealed copy of The Dead Boys "We Have Come For Your Children"

very happy with my haul today.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thomas Dolby: "Amerikana"

Thomas Dolby has just released a new 3-track EP called "Amerikana", available only at his website. The tracks are a preview of his upcoming album, "A Map of the Floating City." Earlier this year he had released the preview track "Love is a Loaded Pistol."

It's amazing to hear new TD music after so many years, and the new material sounds terrific. Evidently he will release 2 more EPs and then later in 2010 the full album. Looking forward to it.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Kele: "Tenderoni"

Just picked up the new single from Bloc Party vocalist Kele. It's called "Tenderoni" from his upcoming album "The Boxer."

It definitely continues in the more dance/electronic vibe that Bloc Party had been exploring on their last album. Not sure yet if I'm crazy about it, need to give it some more spins.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

new music Tuesday

picked up some new releases today:

Steve Miller Band: "Bingo!"
Drake: "Thank Me Later"
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers: "Mojo"
Morcheeba: "Blood Like Lemonade"

Friday, June 11, 2010

Robin Trower - Bridge of Sighs

ahh... how great it is to hear this album. Robin Trower's "Bridge of Sighs." Definite underrated gem from the 70's.

Here is the amazing title track, with vocals by the great James Dewar, who recorded an incredible song himself: "Stumbledown Romancer"

Bellydancing-ish @ Substix

Stumbled upon a music blog called Substix, which is really cool.

Especially this stellar mix called Bellydancing-ish - I highly recommend checking it out.

1. Siouxsie and the Banshees - "Follow the Sun"
2. Shocking Blue - "Love Buzz"
3. Nine Inch Nails - "14 Ghosts II"
4. Damon Albarn - "Reedz"
5. Danielle Dax - "Timber Tongue"
6. Beastie Boys - "Eugene's Lament"
7. Ratatat - "Mumtaz Khan"
8. David Bowie - "Yassassin"
9. The Who - "Disguises"
10. The Fall - "Theme From Error-Orror!"
11. Koji Kondo - "Marina Research Laboratory"
12. Danielle Dax - "Ostrich"
13. Ananda Shankar - "Dance Indra"
14. Siouxsie and the Banshees - "Silly Thing"
15. Ofra Haza - "Im Nin Alu"
16. Dead Can Dance - "Indus"
17. Nico - "Into the Arena"
18. Siouxsie and the Banshees - "Lunar Camel"
19. Koji Kondo - "Lethal Lava Land"
20. Dead Can Dance - "The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove"

Record and Tape Exchange - June 10, 2010

Hit my local music shop in Fairfax last night, Record and Tape Exchange. They have done some rearranging of the vinyl and I found it very confusing... hopefully it's just the start of an ongoing reorganization process.

The gem I picked up was an excellent copy of The Dream Syndicate's 1982 album "The Days of Wine and Roses." I noticed when I got it home and looked it up on Wikipedia that the cover was different, so I did some research and realized that I got the French pressing issued on Closer Records. I paid $20.00 for it, and the only listing I found online for the French version was on Gemm.Com for $119.00. Seems like I got a pretty good deal.

I listened to the album last night and thought it was terrific.

Also picked up a number of other vinyl goodies:

Roberta Flack: "First Take"
Roberta Flack: "Feel Like Making Love"
The Cult: "Love"
The Cult: "Dreamtime"
Pet Shop Boys: "Actually"
Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band: "Nine Tonight"
Robin Trower: "Bridge of Sighs"

a Washington-DC Area Go-Go compilation called "Go Go Crankin' - Paint The White House Black"