Issue: #359



  • The Looking "Cabinet of Curiosities," Rhizoma Man/Astraea
  • Owl "Self-Titled," Overit
  • Paul Van Dyke "The Best Of: Volume DOUBLE CD SET," Ultra/Vandit
  • Lou Reid & Carolina "My Own Set of Rules," Rural Rhythm
  • David Kirton "Island Songs for Children," Bird's Eye Music

Sick Puppies "Tri-Polar," RMR/Virgin/EMI

Luckily, this band's miserable name is on par with their awful music. Bad nu-metal influenced alternative rock with vocals resembling Korn and the like really reinforce the notion that all creativity is dead, and music has lost all artform. This band is just stupid.

*****Shelton's Single of the Week: "Ain't Misbehaving,"*********

EDITOR'S NOTE: Will make you happy, and that's what music ought to do.

Joanne Shaw Taylor "White Sugar," Ruf/Allegro

Joanne Taylor has finally done what no one else can seem to do: find the balance between production and song-writing. White Sugar is a blues album with just the right amount of grit, but yet crystal clear enough to make every single hammer-off as audible as if you were watching her play it in front of you.

The music has soul, energy, and I'm pretty sure every track will cross the bridge easily between recorded and live. Taylor, while not revolutionary, has solidified blues as an relevant art form of today.

Ray Charles "Genius: The Ultimate Collection," Concord

A legend that defied all impressions, Ray Charles career has spanned over 50 years of dedicated perfection. Whether it was his blindness or his working-class upbringings, Charles defied it all with his savant ability to craft the most impressive songs the world has ever heard. The Ultimate Collection takes, as expected, the best of the best ("Hit the Road Jack," "Georgia On My Mind," and even "America the Beautiful") on one perfect CD. Yes, perfect.

******BEST ALBUM OF THE WEEK*********

Shelton's Single of the Week: "Busted"

Kristina Train "Spilt Milk," Blue Note/EMI

Spilt Milk showcases up and comer Kristina Train's vocal abilities as a soul diva. Train's voice is marvelous, with the ability to hit the lower registers that, personally, is what does me in for any female soul vocalist.

Music is straightforward: general pop melodies with slow rhythm and a slight country edge to it. But with the spotlight set straight on Train, this records is sure to sit well with the whole family.

Tiny Masters of Today "Skeletons," Mute

Tiny Masters of Today have been blowing everyone, and I mean everyone, out of the water. Sibling duo Ivan and Ada, ages 15 and 13 respectively, perform something between The Ramones and electro-pop, keeping the simplistic and straightforward fuck-up nature of the Ramones in tact while shooting up with their full doses of electronic dance beats. Cameo's with Kimya Dawson and Karen O cement this record as golden, and to be honest, there isn't much out there that can hold a candle to Skeletons.

******ARTIST TO WATCH!!!*******************

Nathen Maxwell and the Original Bunny Gang "White Rabbit," SideOneDummy

Reggae/dub album from the bass player of Flogging Molly. I have a personal vendetta against dub, but somehow this doesn't bother me quite as much as it should. Maybe it's because Maxwell is still just a punk kid, unable to rid the nuanced punk highlights out of his hair, or maybe this is just really good.

Maxwell's vocal work feels a lot of like The Slackers with a whole lot less energy. While the rabbit theme is lost on me, the music certainly isn't. Solid record.

The Animals "Retrospective," Abkco

Collecting the best of UK's The Animals on one record, Retrospective takes a well-rounded look at a band that, while certainly a product of their time, still managed to separate themselves enough from the rest of Brit-Pop with a heavy dose of blues.

Lead vocalist Eric Burdon also helped keep the band apart from the rest, with an uncharacteristically low voice for the sounds of the time. Soul and pop together? Amazing. Includes "House of the Rising Sun," "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood," and "San Francisco Nights" to name a few.

************LATE BUT GREAT***********

*******Shelton's Single of the Week: "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place"**********

EDITOR'S NOTE: Try to subdue his hormones with common sense - no hope.

Devil Makes Three "Do Wrong Right," Malin

Santa Cruz's own The Devil Makes Three has some of the most promising Old Time music of this century. The catchy-factor is off the charts with Do Wrong Right, composed of 12 spotless tracks with not a single second of hesitation or off moments.

This album is, dare I say, perfect? If you like Old Time, Do Wrong Right is what you have been saving your prayers up for.

I Killed The Prom Queen "Sleepless Nights and City Lights CD/DVD SET," Stomp/Metal Blade

ÊThe last thing the world needs right now is another bogus metalcore band with no rewarding characteristics besides good hair. Which, in turn, means that releasing a live album from one of those types is just about the worst idea humans have had since the Pet Rock.

Sleepless Nights and City Lights showcases the bands few reunion shows after their '07 break up, which unfortunately didn't stick long enough. The live sound absolutely kills any studio magic this band has used in the past, and while the DVD proves to be a bit more entertaining, I couldn't recommend this to even my worst enemies.

**************MIGHTY MIGHTY**********************

Paul Potts "Passione," Syco/Simco/Columbia/Sony

Winner of the first Britain's Got Talent competition, Paul Potts is living his dream. Releasing full orchestral opera records (Passione is number two, for those counting), touring the world, and working with some of the best contemporary composers, Potts has hit the big time with his score on British television.

Passione is a opera record, which unfortunately is one of the few styles that have never appealed much to me (unless you actually consider "Rights of Spring" an opera, though that isn't what most people think of when you hear of a new opera composition).

While not something that necessarily lights my fire, the music is superb. Epic ballads through and through, and pure emotion running throughout the entirety. The record proves that Potts earned his award, and for those who have any interest in this sort of thing, you will be blown away. I promise.

Various Artists "Have You Heard?: Fresh Sounds Handpicked By Starbucks," Starbucks

So obviously I'm going to be down on anything that Starbucks does. The world doesn't need more Best Of albums, and it sure as hell doesn't need more washed up musicians recording live albums. So while I can't actually support Starbuck's musical endeavors, they have released another record that I feel uncomfortable when I have to call great.

Have You Heard? Is what it sounds like: a compilation of tracks from not-quite-chart-toping musicians, but all of which deserve to be. Everything resides heavily in the singer/songwriter realm, but all have a definite style to their sounds. M. Ward, Andrew Bird, Gomez, and Lisa Hannigan are a few of the names that you will need to know in the next few months, collected here.

***********LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL*****************

Patricia Talem "Self-Titled," Conhecca a Amazonia

Brazilian jazz-soul from Patricia Talem. Beautifully sung melodies (assisted by her breathtaking accent) create a texture of jazz that is void from the American brand.

Music is a bit on the "by the numbers" side of the tracks, but with a voice like this, who cares? Talem pushes the entire record along, leaving not a moment of space to think "I wonder what could make this better?". No, Talem makes sure that you don't get that chance.

Woody Guthrie "Long Ways to Travel: The Unreleased Folkways Masters 1944-1949," Smithsonian Folkways

There's little I need to say about this. Woody Guthrie is perfect 99.99% of the time, and those few moments pass by too quickly to remember. Long Ways to Travel collects a handful of the unreleased Guthrie songs in the mid to late Ô40s, and each is impeccable.

I can't really say I would suggest this record over any other Guthrie recording, but you should really go buy them all. It's just worth it.

************POLITICAL ALBUM OF THE WEEK*******************

******Shelton's Single of the Week: "Former-Labor Train'"*************

Hiroshima "Legacy," Heads Up/Concord

While I've never been one to back jazz-fusion, Hiroshima at least has brightened up the painfully dull genre with a heavy dose of traditional Japanese music.

Legacy is still not what I would call a "good jazz album", the intricacies of taiko and koto (both Japanese instruments) make for sounds that aren't marketable on just any release. If you are into jazz fusion, Hiroshima will blow you away like no other.

DM Stith "Heavy Ghost," Asthmatic Kitty

Music for musicians and people who like art-rock. This album is a mess of layers, which for some ears (mine included) makes a record interesting enough to listen to over and over.

At times creepy, others cute, DM Smith has little in the way of traditional melody here, but prefers the free-flowing harmonies that refuse to just go along with the program. Heavy Ghost is the schizophrenic dream album for all of the sane and not-so-sane of us out there.

**************** NEW ALBUM OF THE WEEK**********

LMFAO "Party Rock," Interscope/Universal

This is a huge guilty pleasure. Electro-trash to the fullest, maybe even crossing the line into the realm of club dance, but with stupid amounts of hooks and simplistic but catchy MIDI beats that create what I can only hope will be the club hits of the future. Ridiculous music, from beginning to end.

Starflyer 59 "Ghosts of the Past DOUBLE CD SET," Tooth & Nail

Electronic indie-pop with a serious side of melodramatic-ism. Aside from a guitar and bass, Ghosts of the Past sounds almost entirely digital, with percussion, strings, and electronic melodies all served from computer terminals.

While the music reeks of pre-ambient Nine Inch Nails at points, Starflyer 59's original take on music is commendable, and the fact that they hit the bull's-eye 75% of the time is remarkable.

Parachute "Losing Sleep," Mercury/Island Def Jam/Universal

This is the type of music that I hate more than anything. Soulless pop-rock with more studio tricks than actual instrument playing. Boring songs about nothing, marketable melodies, and an agenda for fame that just brings nothing but bile up from inside me. This album makes me sick.

"SO NICE GOTTA DO IT UP TWICE" (created by the original NYC D.J., Jocko, 1955)

EDITOR'S NOTE: He drives around aimlessly - feeling there's no way to be in his kind of hell, no way to extinguish a flame that burns, burns, burns.

This is a Shakedown! "Love Kills," Reversed Image Unlimited

Pure electro-trash, but the brand that actually creates a sound that is pleasant to the ears. This is a Shakedown! Sound as if The Faint ran out of classical samples: heavily danceable, catchy chorus melodies, and so many digitized sounds that it's hard to tell what is and isn't happening at moments. While Love Kills may not be something on my rotation any time soon, it sure beats the hell out of Brokencyde.

Soulfood & DJ Free "Zen Lounge," Soulfood

Indian-inspired house music. Virtually downtempo, the quiet and beautiful sounds created on Zen Lounge are essentially an audible downer, or any sort of suppressent. Meaning, that while this is an incredibly pretty record, from opening "Funky Budda" to the end, the album is boring. Some people may be into it, but I can't stay awake through another listen.

Big D and the Kids Table "Fluent in Stroll," SideOneDummy

Fluent in Stroll takes a swift detour from where Big D have been for the last few years, but whether this is improvement is up to you. Slower than previous work Good Luck, the record reaches back to second wave more than ever; most of the record actually feels like a less-well-written Madness.

The album is undeniably fun, and the production isn't unbearable (like most contemporary pop-punk or ska) so that's a plus. But ska isn't for everyone. If you can deal with it, Fluent in Stroll is an amazingly fun pop album. If you aren't down with the skank, this album holds no hopes for you.

***************If You Like Music You're Gonna Love This******************


Artist: Paul Simon
Song: "Wartime Prayers"

Prayers offered in times of peace are silent conversations,
Appeals for love or love's release
In private invocations
But all that is changed now,
Gone like a memory from the day before the fires.
People hungry for the voice of God
Hear lunatics and liars
Wartime prayers, wartime prayers
In every language spoken,
For every family scattered and broken.

Because you cannot walk with the holy,
If you're just a halfway decent man.
I don't pretend that I'm a mastermind
With a genius marketing plan.
I'm trying to tap into some wisdom,
Even a little drop will do.
I want to rid my heart of envy
And cleanse my soul of rage
Before I'm through.

Times are hard, it's a hard time
But everybody knows all about hard times.
The thing is, what are you gonna do?
Well, you cry and try to muscle through
Try to rearrange your stuff
But when the wounds are deep enough,
It's all that we can bear,
We wrap ourselves in prayer.

Because you cannot walk with the holy,
If you're just a halfway decent man.
I don't pretend that I'm a mastermind
With a genius marketing plan.
I'm trying to tap into some wisdom,
Even a little drop willdo.
I want to rid my heart of envy
And cleanse my soul of rage
Before I'm through.
A mother murmurs in twilight sleep
And draws her babies closer.
With hush-a-byes for sleepy eyes,
And kisses on the shoulder.
To drive away despair
she says a wartime prayer