Wednesday, September 15, 2010

New Music : September 14, 2010 - September 20, 2010

Robert Plant "Band of Joy"
After making a masterpiece like 2007 "Raising Sand," Robert Plant needed to concoct a mighty impressive follow-up. After all, his collaboration with Alison Krauss and T Bone Burnett entered the charts at No. 1 and won Album of the Year honors at the 51st Grammy Awards. Percy meets the challenge admirably on "Band of Joy," wrapping his pipes around meticulously chosen country, folk, blues and indie rock offerings. Nashville vet Buddy Miller, the man dubbed Artist of the Decade in the final issue of "No Depression" magazine, serves as producer, while Patty Griffin plays Plant's vocal foil. The disc is a knockout from top to bottom, but highlights include an eerie interpretation of "Monkey" (one of two selections by Minnesota trio Low), a lively romp through Barbara Lynn's "You Can't Buy My Love," and "Cindy, I'll Marry You Someday," a variation on the traditional "Cindy, Cindy."

Sasha Dobson "Burn"
 The highly anticipated new release from this American jazz singer-songwriter from Santa Cruz, California, who is now based in New York City, is finally here and really delivers. Right on time to be supported by her current tour. Dobson is participating in Norah Jones' "The Fall" tour, providing guitar and percussion accompaniment as well as vocal harmonies. She is the opening act on the tour. The album is a 6-song EP that showcases her singer-songwriter talents, balancing between acoustic material and slightly more muscular electric workouts. Fiddle accents season the country-ish opener “Family,” while the simmering title track benefits from some ethereal pedal steel guitar. Dobson’s previous full-lengths The Darkling Thrush and Modern Romance earned her characterization as a jazz crooner, but there is scant evidence of that here apart from “The Day We Met,” a soft number that embellishes Dobson’s breathy delivery in a lush cushion of plucked strings and ukulele. It’s pleasant enough, but in the crowded field of female singer-songwriters, it will take more than an EP of unobtrusive songs to stand out.

Grinderman "Grinderman 2"
 This band is the latest in a long line of musical ensembles led by Nick Cave They certainly don't waste too much time on album titles. This is their follow-up to their eponymous 2007 debut simply titled "Grinderman." The 2nd album builds on the musical character of its predecessor from singer-guitarist and cohorts Warren Ellis, Martyn Casey, and Jim Sclavunos. The band delivers an angst and guitar-driven squall of post-punk that Cave is known for shelling out with his previous groups. It's co-produced by the band and Nick Launay (Public Image Ltd., Birthday Party). The sound exhibits ferocity, yet also experiments more with the songwriting form, yielding explosive results like the trippy, tribal "Heathen Child" and the climatic, elastic freak-out, "Bellringer Blues."

Weezer "Hurley"
 Not much to really distinguish this new album from Weezer and the large chunks of Rivers Cuomo's back catalog. Although they're bolstered by the crunchy, power-pop guitar riffs and sunny vocal harmonies that longtime fans of these alt-rock favorites expect, selections like "Trainwrecks," "Memories" and "Smart Girls" seem fun while they last. The albums similar sound structure doesn't give much for fans awaiting for such a new sound from an old fave. But, why mess with what has worked over and over and over again, right. Maybe. Most of the songs on this album may prove largely forgettable especially you already own their back catalogs.

Of Montreal "False Priest" 
 This indie group is known to be so freaky-deaky you'll be hard pressed to shake off its impression after taking a listen. Front man Kevin Barnes puts a very weird spin on funk, soul and R&B, complete with flights of falsetto and hypersexual lyrics. Like Prince, OutKast and Parliament/Funkadelic, Barnes and Of Montreal create their own bizarre, colorful universe—no wonder the cameos by Janelle MonĂ¡e and Solange Knowles seem right at home. This latest release gets help from producer, Jon Brion, making it possibly the slickest Of Montreal effort on record. One of Barnes’ most charming musical qualities is how sonically messy his LPs have been, almost as if there were too many ideas stewing in the pot that some of the ingredients boiled over.  It made for fascinating listening, like finding a razor blade in a blueberry pie; it could cut you, but it still tasted sweet. The rough edges are sandpapered down by the heavy, nay hamfisted hand of Brion, turning the compositions into something most fans have heard before... Could be a good thing or a bad thing...but we'll let you decide.

Jamey Johnson "The Guitar Song"
   Co-writer "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk," which is the crossover smash that put Trace Adkins over the top. It was good enough to give this country music maverick a golden ticket in Nashville. The sussess has possibly enabled the moderately successful, albeit critically lauded, recording artist to stretch his fourth album across two CDs. Divided into discs labeled "black" and "white," the 25-song set starts off grim and menacing, yet gradually turns more uplifting and redemptive. Along with a spate of the polished originals that have won Johnson multiple songwriting awards, it also includes his distinctive interpretations of tunes popularized by Vern Gosdin, Kris Kristofferson, and Mel Tillis.

Linkin Park "A Thousand Suns"

 Yet another long awaited album from LP. This one promises to bring the west coast band to new levels. That may necessarily not be a good thing as evident from a very mixed, more negative than positive reaction to their first single, "Catalyst." The last three studio albums by this rap-rock sextet—"Meteora" (2003), "Collision Course" with Jay-Z (2004), and "Minutes to Midnight" (2007)—all shot to No. 1. This new album features the current hit and reunites the band with Rick Rubin, who co-produced the disc with vocalist Mike Shinoda. This may turn out to be an experimental album for the group with the strange collaborations and arrangements that fans aren't accustomed to. Their angst ridden,message driven lyrics and delivery are still there, but seem shrouded. You almost feel it wanting and struggling to burst out, but can't seem to climax in each song.  For the most part, the album is nothing more or less than a return to form for the California six-piece. ‘Burning of the Skies’ sees lead singer Chester Bennington wallow in the territory that best suits him - self-pity. They retain the same formula for their dual front men with different styles - Chester, the sensitive, persecuted soul and Mike, the abrasive front for the same feelings.

Other New Releases Worth Checking Out:
(Have not listened to, but please feel free to post a review)

  • The Black Angels "Phosphene Dream"
  • The Chapin Sisters: "Two"
  • The Charlatans "We Who Touch"

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