Brendon Benson – My Old Familiar Friend: Why is it that this man is not worshiped as a god? Seriously, give him whatever he wants as long as he continues to make music. This release has some wonderfully genre bending synth work on it. The first track “A Whole Lot Better” made me go back and double check the iPod to make sure one of my Camel tracks hadn’t somehow slipped into the mix. Benson quickly pulls the tune back into familiar pop territory and delivers a marvelous tune. He continues to tip toe through genres with such extraordinary ease; from the cheesy strings of Garbage Day to the prog rock of “Gonowhere” and yet he never seems to mock. He also manages to pull each genre in interesting new directions, introducing us to his old familiar friends.
NO.2 – What Does Good Luck Bring: This was pleasant little surprise. Nice heavy indie rock with a touch of funk which reminded me a bit of Heatmiser. A quick look showed that it was indeed Neil Gust’s band (The not Elliot Smith half of Heatmiser). He’s paired with Jim Talstra of the Minus 5 and Paul Pulvarite of Atomic 61. This is much heavier than the Heatmser stuff and it’s really growing on me. Sadly, eMusic does not appear to have any other NO.2 releases… at least not by this band. They do seem to have an Asian Jazz outfit called NO.2 and a techno band called NO.2 all of which are located under a single band heading (kind of wish they had a way to report this kind of thing).
Offspring – Greatest Hits: I was feeling a shortage of anthemic choruses in my life and Offspring always delivers. Ever fist in the air head banging chorus leads me one step closer to a speeding ticket (or at the very least an uncomfortable youTube moment when some tween snaps a video of this 45 year old dude head banging at a stop light).
Weird Al – Pretty Fly For A Rabbi: Can’t download Offspring without getting this version from Weird Al. I also picked up “The Story Begins” which has been stuck in my head this past week and It’s All About The Pentiums (I always love it when Al raps). I might have to break down and get Straight Out Of Linwood. This kind of goofiness can be bit much over a whole album but whenever a song pops up on the iPod it always makes me smile. Smiling is good… so more Weird Al.
The The – Soul Mining: Ever try to look up this band? Given that the word “the” is one of the ignored words in a mySQL search, it becomes problematic on some sites, especially eMusic (even google has some trouble with it). Need a preview? thethe.com (http://www.thethe.com/sections/jukebox/jukebox.html) streams all of their music from a jukebox application. How cool is that?
Journey – Journey: Okay first off, shut up. This was a real band before Steve Perry came along and made them insanely wealthy. Like Genesis before Phil Collins, Journey was a much artier band with more substance than flash. In the case of both Genesis and Journey, the new singers took the band to insane heights of popularity, but in both cases, the original band was better in my humble opinion. Part of this stems from the fact that I am not a “singles” person. It’s like only having one or two great chapters in a 12 chapter book. This first Journey album is a wonderful listen all the way through. If you like prog rock, give it a listen. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.