Issue: #353

Bob Dylan,
Demi Lovato,
Ben Harper And Relentless 7,
The Church,
The Subways,
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds,
Tribute To Gordon Lightfoot,
Amon Amarth,
Hanne Hukkelberg,
The Last Vegas,
Rich Man's War,
Dolly Parton,
Hollywood Undead,
Heather Kropf,
Tech N9ne,
Jason Michael Carroll,
The Black Crowes,
JD Souther,
The Smithereens

  • The Oak Ridge Boys "The Boys Are Back," Springhill/EMI
  • The Earthworms "Singin' Green," Shows That Teach/Building Block
  • Kate & Kacey "Dreaming Love," Big Machine/Valory/Universal
  • Ruby Rendrag "Wartime Favorites," Self-Released
  • Carissa "Bittersweet," Bogan

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Bob Dylan -
Together Through Life

Columbia/Sony BMG

Bob Dylan, age 68, is incapable of wearing with age. Aside from the slowing down of songs, and the slow but steady drift towards the blues, there is not a single hint of growing old on the entire track list of Together Through Life.

No flaws, no filler tracks, and not a single lost message, Dylan's most recent work serves to show just how great he really is. We all know him, so why don't you just stop kidding yourself and go get this record???

***Shelton's Single of the Week: "Beyond Here Lies Nothin'"***

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Demi Lovato -
Don't Forget


Demi Lovato's debut album Don't Forget feels like a more intricate and complex Avril Levigne: horrifyingly upbeat pop music with fake emotions, but with an extravagant and technical musical dynamics that is lacking from almost every other pop artist out there.

Personally, this works, possibly better. Musically, Don't Forget is miles more interesting than an album of the same track rehashed a dozen or so times, forcing real musical intonation in each song. Dynamics, different sounds, breakdowns, time changes...this really works, and don't let the Jonas Brothers tag mislead you to think this is just another pop album.

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Ben Harper And Relentless 7 -
White Lies for Dark Times


Harper is moving in the direction towards legendary status. Unbelievably well written blues/alternative rock, fronted by the signature voice that marked "Steal My Kisses". He's lost the up-tight nature that held his earlier work, letting forth strong emotions and intricately written spacey rock music.

***Best Album Of The Week***

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The Church -
Untitled #23

Second Motion

Tripped out goth-rock band The Church has released Untitled #23, proving, once and for all, that goth is the pinnacle of western music. Slow, serene, and emotionally restrained, The Church are one of the most impressive bands to play the genre.

Everything is fuzzed out, creating a solid layer of anti-energy, felt more through the energy it creates than what it holds back. This is what all pop records should sound like.

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Chairlift -
Does You Inspire You

Kanine/Columbia/Sony BMG

Not all-that-dance-able electronic pop makes me a little sad. Does You Inspire You sounds like a not-angry Kathleen Hanna, taking notes from incredibly catchy melodies but never any emotional umph! thrown into the mix.

Certainly driving, but not much more so than any other electro-trash band out there. This band serves as a step in the right direction, but not quite there yet.


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The Subways -
All or Nothing

Sire/Warner Bros

Taking influences from everything from At the Drive-In to Queens of the Stone Age, and a whole lot of Nirvana, The Subways shine through as the voice of modern energetic alternative rock. Leading this force, the band produces music that is heavy and catchy, but also keeping that ATDI tradition of odd-timing progressions and high energy songs.

Simplistic drumming drives each track, breaking just in time for stoner-rock breakdowns, which The Subways manage to turn into the theme of the record.

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Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds -
Kicking Against The Pricks


This is Cave experimenting more with punk and operatic components than previously discussed "The Firstborn Is Dead". This may be because it's primarily a cover album, or maybe it's just because this is Nick fucking Cave, and he does whatever he wants.

John Lee Hooker, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Lou Reed...all part of the long line of stolen riffs used by the Bad Seeds on Kicking Against The Pricks. Really weird, but really awesome.


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Various Artists -
Beautiful: A Tribute To Gordon Lightfoot

Factor/Borealis/NorthernBlues/Big Daddy

Beatuiful is a tribute to one of the most notable Canadian folk artists, Gordon Lightfoot. Primarily residing in the folk realm, Lightfoot's career spans all the way back to Presley and Cash, living the dream that most today only think of as vague fantasies. The tribute gives his songs to the up and comers of the folk-indie world. All tracks are great, especially Cowboy Junkies "The Way I Feel", each taking a different approach to the historic relics.

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Amon Amarth -
Once Sent From The Golden Hall DOUBLE CD

Metal Blade

Repressed first full-length from Swedish melodic-death metal turned fake black metal band Amon Amarth is still heavy and pissed, but a little bit of a disappointment compared to the next few records after this one. And I do mean "a bit", because this is still raging.

Solo after solo, grim and vaguely black metal tremlo picked parts, and a huge wall of sound to cover the full record, Amon Amarth are pissed, primarily at dragons. If that entices you at all, this will be RIGHT up your alley.


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Hanne Hukkelberg -
Blood From A Stone


Beautiful ambient pop music. I've been following Hukkelberg since her first solo full length Rykestrasse 68, which absolutely blew me away. Blood From A Stone doesn't let me down.

Melodic, dreamy, and oh so eerie, the album is mostly ambient soundscapes (delayed and revered guitars, an occasional snare hit, and feedback everywhere), and Hukkelberg's voice just butters up the package to feel more like craftsmanship than stupid production. This is pop music for those with good taste.

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The Last Vegas -
Whatever Gets You Off

Tenth Street/Eleven Seven

This is impressively bad. Take all the bad qualities of AC/DC, make them worse, and try putting them in the body of glam-hipsters attempting to make a name for themselves by any means necessarily. If nothing else, they have great guitar tone. So, boys, just start writing songs that could qualify as music, and maybe then you should consider having an album released.

***Shelton's Single of the Week: "Secret,"***


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Jewel -


Award winning Jewel has released an album of children's music (covers of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, if that gives you any idea of what I mean). While this is certainly not my cup-of-tea, nonetheless Jewel manages to make all of these redundant standards into songs that are respectable and warrant at least a few moments of attention. What I'm trying to say is, while I don't care about this, every kid will.

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Various Artists -
Rich Man's War - New Blues & Roots Songs of Peace and Protest


A compilation of political peace and protests folk and blues songs. You already know how you are going to feel about this. I, personally, think this is great: plenty of fun and up-beat tracks bursting at the seams with satire and anger.

While a bit simplistic politically for me, the release makes it up with soul, and, surprisingly, some great music. Included on here is Bob Brozman, Roy Zimmerman, Eddy Clearwater, and many more!

***Shelton's Single of the Week: "Bob Brozman: 'Follow the Money'"***


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Dolly Parton -
Backwoods Barbie Collector's Edition

Cracker Barrel

The first album to be released in 17 years from Parton, Backwoods Barbie characterizes everything that she's known for. Upbeat country hit after hit, the album culminates a lifetime of career into 15 developed and well-rounded songs, primarily about love. People either love her or hate her. You know what you think of this already.

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Hollywood Undead -
Swan Songs


While I can usually find a sliver of positivity in any record, any rewarding quality whatsoever, I have nothing for Swan Songs. Hollywood Undead are miserable from head to toe: rap-rock (which I was under the impression had finally died) with masks that look like a 12 year old version of Slipknot, relying on fake grimness and pathetic excuses for melodies. This is inexcusable.


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Heather Kropf -


Solemn, piano based singer/songwriter type Heather Kropf has a unique sound to her art. Beautiful, yes, but it's a bit more than that: melodies are simplistic, almost minimalistic, and build on itself throughout songs to create a mass of energy built up by the end. With a reserved and flawless voice, Kropf's record Hestia is a pleasure, from first to last track.

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Tech N9ne -
Collabos: Sickology 101


Oh Tech N9ne. Even with a collaboration album, jugallo-rap is a joke. It's simple. You cannot take a hip-hop artist serious with bad made-up and stupid "evil" song topics. So, beyond its pretense of being on par with videos of people falling down on YouTube, Collabos isn't a total disappointment.

Yes, with low expectations, anything can be listenable. Catchy deliveries, interesting beats, and a few moments of unbelievable delivery, this album will only fit great in between your Slipknot and Kottenmouth Kings' records in your collection.

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Jason Michael Carroll -
Growing Up Is Getting Old


While not necessarily groundbreaking, Growing Up Is Getting Old is an album that on first listen you know this is something special. Carroll's produced what could be the country hit of 2009; from beginning to end, the album feels perfected.

From the reverb on the snare, to the lapsteel beautiful ringing tone, Carroll's vocal work seems to bring the music out through golden melodies. Country fans, take note.


(created by the original NYC D.J. Jocko, 1955)

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The Black Crowes -
Warpaint: Live DOUBLE CD

Silver Arrow/Eagle Rock

Blues-rock band The Black Crowes have returned to the spectrum of music, and kicking it off with a brand new live album entitled Warpaint. I never cared for this band, and I still don't.

Contemporary 70's rock and roll bores me like no other, and not even amazingly well performed musicianship will save it for me. Included on here is "Goodbye Daughters of the Revolution," and a few other hit singles, plus some new material!

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JD Souther -
If The World Was You

Slow Curve

After twenty-five long years of MIA status, JD Souther returns to the spotlight with his fourth solo album, If The World Was You. While more jazz-inspired than previous releases, the album is just as good as anything to come before: well thought out folky rock ballads and an occasional country tune mixed in with a voice firm and full of life.

Recorded live as a standard jazz five piece (drums, bass, piano, and horns), If The World Was You goes beyond most albums of our time and doesn't particularly waiver: great song after great song. Moments make me think of the more upbeat Dylan, and at moments even give me vibes of Reed, but all in all crafts itself out into an incredibly well put together record.

***Shelton's Single of the Week: "I'll Be Here At Closing Time"***

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The Smithereens -


This album makes me mad. While The Smithereens arent't the worst thing to happen to the world, anyone redoing a perfect album is just stupid. Tommy was perfect the first time, and there is absolutely no reason to try for a second, because, seriously guys, you failed.

Though, I should probably give a bit more explanation. The album isn't bad, by any means. More acoustically driven than the Who, less dynamic, and certainly not Townsend, the Tommy reboot still stands fairly similar. I just cannot excuse stupidity.


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Artist: Phil Ochs

Song: The Ballad of John Henry Faulk

I'll tell you the story of John Henry Faulk.

I'll tell you of his trials and the troubled trail he walked,

And I'll tell of the tyrants, the ones you never see:

Murder is the role they play and hatred is their fee.

On the TV and the radio John Henry Faulk was known.

He talked to many thousands with a mind that was his own,

But he could not close his eyes when the lists were passed around,

So he tried to move the Union to tear the blacklist down.

His friends they tried to warn him he was headin' for a fall.

If he spoke against the blacklist he had no chance at all,

But he laughed away their warnings and he laughed away their fears:

For how could lies destroy the work of many honest years?

Then slowly, oh so slowly, his life began to change.

People would avoid his eyes, his friends were actin' strange,

And he finally saw the power of the hidden poison pen

When they told him that his job was through, he'd never work again.

And he could not believe what his sad eyes had found.

He stared in disbelief as his world came tumblin' down,

And as the noose grew tighter, at last the trap was clear:

For every place he turned to go, that list would soon be there

-- Oh, that list.

And is there any bottom to the fears that grow inside?

Is there any bottom to the hate that you must hide?

And is there any end to your long road of despair?

Is there any end to the pain that you must bear?

His wife and children trembled, the time was runnin' short,

When a man of law got on their side and took them into court,

And there upon the stand they could not hide behind their eyes,

And the cancer of the fascist was displayed before our eyes.

Hey, you blacklist, you blacklist, I've seen what you have done.

I've seen the men you've ruined and the lives you've tried to run,

But the one thing that I've found is, the only ones you spare

Are those that do not have a brain, or those that do not care.

And you men who point your fingers and spread your lies around,

You men who left your souls behind and drag us to the ground,

You can put my name right down there, I will not try to hide --

For if there's one man on the blacklist, I'll be right there by his side.

For I'd rather go hungry to beg upon the streets

Than earn my bread on dead men's souls and crawl beneath your feet.

And I will not play your hater's game and hate you in return,

for it's only through the love of man the blacklist can be burned.