This is my first try at writing a consistent monthly article. I am going to write up a list of what I downloaded from emusic this past month and a brief review of each. This was the take from August. Enjoy.
St. Vincent – Actor: This one is a victim of my own high expectations. I loved 2007’s “Marry Me” and I really really want to like “Actor,” but it seems too much art and not enough melody. The odd quirkiness of her first release “Marry Me” has been replaced by a kind of Kate Bush artiness that seems a bit forced in places. It is technically intriguing, and wonderfully layered, but it’s a little too much for me. It may grow on me later but for now it is taking up space on the iPod.
Chuck Prophet – Age Of Miracles: Emusic and iTunes classify this as Country? Really? Okay maybe if Beck did a country album. From the opening guitar lick of “Automatic Blues” this album simply rocks. Prophets voice carries an almost Dylan-esk quality and his ability to wander around the melody without getting lost is truly marvelous. This was one of those albums I listened to for all of 20 seconds before downloading. This is my find of the month. Brilliant!
Foo Fighters – The Colour And The Shape: It’s the Foo Fighters. You should probably know by now if you like them or not. It was missing from my collections and so it gets the add this month. Not much to say beyond that. I blame Pandora for putting “Monkey Wrench” into heavy rotation.
Grace Slick and The Great Society – Somebody To Love (a single track from Grace Slick and The Great Society): I have a vinyl copy of Grace Slick and The Great Society and I was hoping this would be the same version of this classic song. Sadly it is not. This version isn’t bad. It’s quite different from the Jefferson Airplane version, but it sounds more tentative and rehearsed. The vinyl version I have is more low-fi and trippy, but still maintains the urgency of the JA hit song.
Superdrag – Industry Giants: Let me start by saying if you have never listened to any Superdrag, your life is a lesser thing and you should hang your head in shame. Go forth… seek out… buy! HAving said that, “Industry Gients” starts a bit iffy but finishes strong. I am not a big fan of songs that repeat the same phrase over and over again in hopes of making an anthem. The open track “Slow To Speak Slow To Anger” does just that before launching into a really good tune. John Davis and company are perfectly capable of a good anthem without the eternal repeating chorus. The rest of the album is a shining example of just that.
The Sounds – No One Sleeps when I’m Awake (single): This one crossed my ears on Pandora and I really liked it. It would be good to see what they can do over an entire album but they only have the single on emusic. Electro-pop meets Avril Lavigne. It just seems to work somehow… might be my weakness for swedish pop bands… curse you Norbert Taylor.
Reel Big Fish – Take On Me and Kiss Me Deadly (2 tracks off of Our Live Album is better than Yours): Massive points for covering both Ah Ha and Lita Ford on the same album. Given that and the title Our Live Album is better than Yours, it’s easy to see that these guys have the requisite balls for a ska band. The two covers are flawless and this will likely get downloaded en mass very soon. Mad props.
Cliff Hillis – Be Seeing You: This was an extra bonus download from emusic (they gave me an extra 15 tracks for staying on after the price changes). It has turned out to be a very nice bonus indeed. Hillis makes some of the most enjoyable power pop music I have heard. He is careful to borrow from genres without letting them define the entire album. This is actually the former member of Starbelly’s debut album from 2001 but it still sound amazingly fresh. Great hooks and a great album.