Archive for February, 2009

Entry for February 26, 2009

February 26, 2009

Watch Her Asterisk!

Posted Wed Feb 11, 2009 1:32am PST by Dave DiMartino in New This Week

Sorry I’m a little late with this week’s exciting blog, but–if I may share a little personal information–I forgot to pay my Internet bill last month and couldn’t write it!
But wait, you say–how could access to the Internet affect this guy writing his blog? Couldn’t he just write it at home and then bring it in to work and post it there?
Hah! How can I write intelligently about music without finding out what everybody else thinks?

Lily Allen: It’s Not You, It’s Me (Capitol) Everyone’s favorite Popular Female British Singer of a few months back returns with her second album in her dutiful quest to become everyone’s favorite Popular British Singer for the next few months, and the big question is: Can she pull it off? I say yes! This is an upbeat, personality-filled album greatly aided by American producer Greg Kurstin–the onetime Geggy Tah member who’s also doing marvelous work with his duo the Bird & The Bee–and Ms. Allen seems so charming, sassy and colorful, who can resist her enticing personality? I’m especially taken with her upbeat track “F**k You”–a song that’s been long in coming, I’m sure you’ll agree–and am particularly curious how it will sound on the “CLEAN” version of this album, also available in fine stores and thus absolutely OK to buy for minors of all shapes and sizes! Once it tops the charts, everyone will be singing it!

Beastie Boys: Paul’s Boutique–20th Anniversary Edition (Capitol) Yes, it’s hard to believe 20 years have passed since this groundbreaking album was released! So much has happened since then! We got older! But the record that set the stage for a million careers is back, it’s digitally remastered, it’s available in regular, deluxe, Fine Fine Supafine Collectors’ Editions, and generally all over the place on the Internet at the moment. I suggest you go here to get the whole story, including a free track-by-track audio commentary, user photos, blogs, factoids, and everything else that makes the Internet (and music itself) fantastic when you pay your bills on time! Check it out today. As a special bonus: It’s pretty good!

India.Arie: Testimony: Vol. 2, Love & Politics (Motown) A very welcome return from Ms. Arie, who with a select few others–most conspicuously Erykah Badu, who’s also into this whole Volume 1/Volume 2 business–is taking contemporary R&B into warm and sophisticated 21st Century places and sounding better with each new album. Guests include Musiq Soulchild, veteran MC Lyte, and the intriguingly named Gramps Morgan–and the overall lyrical content, as is this artist’s norm, is uplifting, captivating and enlightening. Sort of like those commercials she’s been in, but with better music!

Buddy Holly: Memorial Collection (Geffen) The only upside of Buddy Holly’s premature demise 50 years ago–and admittedly, there are few upsides–is that the bulk of his extraordinary recording career can be manageably contained within a limited number of CD sides. This three-disc set contains his best-known material–and so well known is that material, it’s likely almost any contemporary teenager will recognize at least a few of these tracks: “Peggy Sue,” “That’ll Be The Day,” “Rave On,” “Not Fade Away, and “It’s So Easy” are just a fraction of the 60 tracks to be had here. Still, though it’s tempting, I wouldn’t recommend buying this for the easily influenced kids in your household, telling them, “Weezer have really gone all out with this one,” and then looking through their drawers and private papers while they’re obliviously listening to their new present! Too bad about that glasses thing!

Jon Hassell: Last Night The Moon Came Dropping Its Clothes In The Street (ECM) Yet another album bearing this ubiquitous title, avant-trumpter Hassell’s latest continues in the tradition of his previously non-traditional recordings with–in the world o’ avant-rock–people like Brian Eno and Peter Gabriel–and is thus a smooth, otherworldly listen throughout all of its 10 tracks. Word is the man’s about to tour the US for the first time in 20 years, so make it a point to see him if you have the inclination. Perhaps you’ll meet the person who noted on this album’s Amazon page, “I wish the title realized the Moon is feminine”! Don’t we all, babe!

Joni Mitchell: Joni Mitchell’s The Fiddle And The Drum (DVD) (Koch Vision) It may be hard to believe, but in my distinguished career as a music journalist and documenter of all things of great cultural import, I have rarely attended the ballet! Imagine the shame I would feel if some of my closest friends walked into my living room last week and saw me watching this DVD–which features the music of Joni Mitchell and a bunch of people dancing in leotards! But I admire Ms. Mitchell’s music greatly, not to mention her considerable skill as a painter, and if she calls what’s contained here “the best project of her career,” who am I to do anything but sit reverently on my couch and watch it? And yeah, OK, so maybe I did knit a little while it was on, but if I hadn’t, I would’ve knocked back a half-dozen wine coolers!

Trouble Andrew: Trouble Andrew (Capitol) If you’re a fan of snowboarding and you like music, you apparently already know who Trouble Andrew is and will be grateful that his LP of two years ago has now been remixed, remastered and rekindled! If you’re a fan of Santogold, you may also know that Trouble Andrew is her boyfriend! And if you like a mixture of punk, electronica, and scuzz-rock, you’ve probably heard this album already and don’t even know it! However, if you’re not familiar with any of the things I’ve just mentioned, I’ve got this great ballet DVD you can borrow while I drive to the store!

Ryan Leslie: Ryan Leslie (Next Selection/Bad Boy) The maker of “Diamond Girl” who apparently scored 1600 on his SATs but somehow forgot that Seals and Crofts had a hit of the same name, who has pointed out “They try to put me in a box–it’s impossible!” without specifically pointing out who “they” are–are they the people who casually note that both his first and last names are gender-neutral?–and the man who, after a reputable career as a producer, is now emerging with his very first solo album is, uh, the guy who made this album! I think it’s pretty good–but then any album with a last track actually called “Gibberish” has already won half the battle!

Bobby Valentino: The Rebirth (Blue Kolla/EMI) A skilled R&B singer likely to appeal to that lovable “older demographic” who remember when Bobby Womack was a member of the Valentinos but now desperately need bifocals, Bobby V is featured here with Lil Wayne, Timbaland, Raphael Saadiq, Yung Joc and several musicians not nearly so famous! His fans love him, those who haven’t heard him would like him if they did hear him, and he’s back and better than ever! Celebrate him home!

Glen Campbell: Greatest Hits (Capitol) Though his recent “career revitalization” album didn’t take off as strongly as some anticipated, this new collection of 16 hits–remixed for a contemporary feel–theoretically might even serve him better. For songwriting alone, such standards as “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” and “Gentle On My Mind” sit very nicely alongside lesser-known hits such as “Dreams Of The Everyday Housewife”–hey, I just saw a housewife yesterday!–and in total present a welcome summation of Campbell’s distinguished and colorful career. From the high of Jimmy Webb’s “Wichita Lineman” to the low of the Foo Fighters’ “Times Like These,” it’s all here! Skip certain tracks at your leisure!

Entry for February 03, 2009

February 3, 2009

Enter The Fray!

Posted Tue Feb 3, 2009 2:32am PST by Dave DiMartino in New This Week

After that fabulous Superbowl show–just imagine, Bruce Springsteen, Jennifer Hudson and Faith Hill all in one place–and next week’s Grammy Awards, I, like you, think this may be the most exciting week in music history!

And indeed, it’s this week–when music’s movers and shakers congregate in Los Angeles for their beloved awards ceremony–that they’ll be anticipating the sales figures of this week’s new releases, arguing whether it’s likely Melinda Doolittle will outsell Cannibal Corpse, and discussing what exactly that whole “digital download” thing is in the first place!

True, there may be a few fistfights, and yes, some record label folks won’t feel comfortable having to hitchhike home due to ongoing budget cuts, but one thing’s for sure: When it comes to this week’s new releases–just like next week’s Grammys–everyone’s a winner, baby!

The Fray: The Fray (Epic) From seemingly out of nowhere comes the Fray, the Denver-based band whose rise to international stardom came with their smash single “How To Save A Life,” which most people who stayed home and watched TV heard on Grey’s Anatomy–while other more popular people went out and enjoyed living! Well, their new album’s here and it’s at least as good as that last one–in fact, I’d suggest it’s even better–and if you like melodic rock with hooks galore, this is precisely the album you need to pick up this very minute! In fact, if you’re so inclined, please go here this Wednesday (Feb. 4th) to watch a video stream of the band performing live at Webster Hall! It’s all coming together marvelously!

Dierks Bentley: Feel That Fire (Capitol Nashville) You know what? When I think of the grand tradition of Country Music, I think of names like Hank, Waylon, Willie, and Dolly. Sadly, the name “Dierks” doesn’t really roll off the tongue quite so easily! But, of course, what’s in a name? Give up? Letters! And yes, letters have been written left and right about Mr. Bentley’s growing fanbase! Many have suggested that the already enormously popular, rising country star–who was nominated for a Grammy for his prior Long Trip Alone–may at this very moment be reaching his artistic zenith! With its catchy title track and the interestingly titled “I Wanna Make You Close Your Eyes” I wouldn’t be at all surprised! Get in on the action!

Melinda Doolittle: Coming Back To You (Hi-Fi) I think the entire world would be stunned if American Idol “reject” Doolittle decided to make her very first album a tribute to Bob Dylan’s 1963 classic The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan–and title it after her favorite songs by Leonard Cohen, Maxine Brown and Mungo Jerry respectively! Luckily, that’s not the case at all! But sure enough, in the grand Idol tradition, she’s singing two Robert Johnson covers here! All in all, that’s quite a last name!

Wynonna: Sing: Chapter 1 (Curb) Referred to by some as the album that “has become known as Wynonna’s musical DNA”–hopefully they weren’t biochemists!–Sing: Chapter 1 is country star Judd’s seventh solo album and an ambitious one at that! Drawing from all the music that’s ever inspired her, including multi-genre classics like “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “Anyone Who Had A Heart,” “I Hear You Knocking” and “Ain’t No Sunshine,” the disc is well-sung, well-intentioned, and, well, out now! Rumors that a miniature stuffed poodle was repeatedly hurled in the air during the cover photo session are simply not well intended! Wynonna is tops in my book!

Leona Lewis: Spirit: The Deluxe Edition (J) Certainly one of 2008’s major success stories was that of charming Leona Lewis, who’s likely to win an award or two this Sunday, and who in turn now awards us with this “deluxe” edition of her solo album–newly bedecked with a bunch of music videos and four previously-unreleased-in-the-U.S. tracks, including her UK #1 smash version of Snow Patrol’s “Run.” As an additional bonus, the album comes with a cover featuring a great new picture of the singer! Hey, she’s quite attractive!

Willie Nelson And Asleep At The Wheel: Willie And The Wheel (Bismeaux) Country legend Nelson’s pairing with Western Swing champs Asleep At The Wheel was long in coming; apparently the team-up had been suggested by distinguished record producer Jerry Wexler way back in the early ’70s, but it never came to be. If you’re a fan of either artist–or Western Swing–you’ll likely love this collection of classics; if, on the other hand, you dislike all three, you should check out some of the latest DVDs at Blockbuster! I love this thing!

Original Motion Picture Soundtrack: He’s Just Not That Into You (New Line) I’m completely into any movie that includes italics in its title–heck, I just listened to Lisa Loeb’s Cake And Pie last week–and I suspect this album will greatly appeal to fans of this movie! Just look at the line-up of artists: The Human League, R.E.M., the Replacements, the Cure, Corinne Bailey Rae, Lily Allen–it’s a chick-flick attendee’s dream come true! So I guess those rumors about this film being based on a sex therapist’s diagnosis were simply nasty and nothing more! Let’s go see it!

Graham Nash: Reflections (Rhino) A 3-CD collection by any solo artist might seem excessive, but in the case of Graham Nash–whose career began with the Hollies in the ’60s and then fully bloomed in Crosby, Stills & Nash and their various permutations–it really just scratches the surface. The man who supplied the high harmonies and pop hooks to CSN&Y–he was writing “Marrakesh Express,” “Our House,” and “Teach Your Children” while his good pal David Crosby was singing about almost cutting his hair–Nash is a sturdy and economical writer, and his work in this collected context sounds surprisingly impressive. You should buy it!

Asa: Asa (Downtown) Very appealing American debut by a young French/Nigerian singer (pronounced Ah-Shah), this disc skirts the boundaries between pop and R&B and shows a worldly collection of influences–American R&B, Jamaican and African among them–displaying a serious artist at work. Classic rock fans with poor vision: there is no “I” in this name. Palindromically spectacular!

Cannibal Corpse: Evisceration Plague (Metal Blade) A long-awaited CD/DVD set by everyone’s favorite Brutal Death Metal band, this features great tracks like “To Decompose” and the surprisingly thoughtful “Skewered From Ear To Eye” and–ultimately–is a joy through and through! “I think it’s the tightest and most musically competent record we’ve ever done,” notes Corpse member Alex Webster. “Not that the other ones weren’t competent…” Oops! Out of room!