Sixpence None the Richer,
Audie Blaylock and Redline,
Southern Excursion Quartet,
ALBUM OF THE WEEK
THE HIGH FIVE!!
- Kelly Carmichael "Queen Fareena," Dogstreet
- BrokeDown Cadillac "Somewhere in America," Pop Slop/Speak English
- Rodney Atkins "It's America," Curb
- Tas Cru "Grizzle N' Bone," Crustee Tees
- Irene & Her Latin Jazz Band "...A Song Of You," VRC
The Alchemist "Chemical Warfare," E1
Pioneer of hip-hop production The Alchemist's third album Chemical Warfare pulls off the stylistic hip-hop flawlessly. Think Mobb Deep, but with less hard-hitting MC work.
The real genius here lies in the work between production and The Alchemist's lyrical delivery: every syllable was thought through and spewed perfectly. While the thematics are a bit cheesy at moments, the album is one of the better crafted hip-hop albums of the year.
*****Shelton's Single of the Week: "Dearest Forsaken"*********
EDITOR'S NOTE: Will make you happy, and that's what music ought to do.
Sixpence None the Richer "The Dawn of Grace: A Collection of Original and Traditional Christmas Songs," Nettwerk
Songs about God are far from anything I seek out, but occasionally I can ignore the content for the composure. The Dawn of Grace, from Texas' Sixpence None the Richer, is filled with Christmas songs that, while not something on a caliber that I would listen to of my own accord, far surpasses anything the style has given me until this point.
Instrumentation is more presently dated, which adds a bit of charm, but what really gives it is vocalist Leigh Nash's approach. To be honest, every
track just reminds me of their 15 minutes with "Kiss Me". So if you wish the 90's still brought us gems like that, and you want Christmas any time
of the year, The Dawn of Grace will be perfect for you.
Maxwell "BLACKsummers' Night," Columbia/Sony
"Seductive" describes this album better than any lengthy paragraph could. Every signifier our mind has given us that reflects scandalous situations was used to define BLACKsummers Night.
From the smokey production to the soft whispers and wails of Maxwell, each track, tackling every topic of R Kelly and more, packs in every trick the production could think of to make the sexiest album ever.
******BEST ALBUM OF THE WEEK*********
Shelton's Single of the Week: "Busted"
Various Artists "Om 15: Celebrating 15 Years of Om Records DOUBLE CD," Om
Two discs filled to the brim with electronic downtempo and club hits. If you are a fan of Om, you know what this has:
J-Boodie, Radio Slave, Idan K, Jade Alexis, and many more. This album showcases the variety the label has, still not outdoing
itself as the most popular electronic label in the last 15 years.
The Vaselines "Enter The Vaselines DOUBLE CD," Sub Pop
Aside from Nirvana, The Vaselines are one of the least appreciated names in Indie Rock, worldwide.
And even though Cobain's opinions were right on, the band still has been largely ignored by far too many. Every
track is a sing-along that seems beyond reason. Don't believe me? Just listen to "Son of a Gun" once and try to
tell me that the song doesn't stick with you for the day.
Enter The Vaselines is their kick-start back into the music world. Essentially a repress of their early discography,
the double record set includes the first two EP's, their one full-length Dum Dum, and a slew of demo and live tracks.
This record is possibly the best news the world has had in a long time.
******ARTIST TO WATCH!!!*******************
Wonderlick "Topless At The Arco Arena," Missing Piece/Rock Ridge/ADA
Wonderlick is a mess. Two parts sampling disaster, one part streamline indie-pop act, and just a sprinkle of what
I can only hope is a joke band, Topless At The Arco Arena just feels like a trainwreck with no hope of recovering
much life. Proof that recording studios need a screening process.
Yes "Symphonic Live DOUBLE CD," Eagle Rock
Pioneers of prog-rock Yes, while not back to their old game of making every other musician look pathetic, are still in the works of getting all their material out there. Symphonic Live, a 2002 performance released on DVD a lifetime ago, has finally come to CD.
While live is never my preferable setting, Symphonic Live seems to be set apart, almost entirely because of the pure genius of the musicianship
(not to mention the on the dime tightness of the group). My only complaint is I had to wait through two full CD's to finally get to hear "Roundabout".
************LATE BUT GREAT***********
*******Shelton's Single of the Week: "OWNER OF A LONELY HEART"**********
EDITOR'S NOTE: Try to subdue his hormones with common sense - no hope.
Greycoats "Setting Fire to the Great Unknown," Self-Released
Big-Brother themed indie rock. Is someone reading my mind to figure out my fantasies? Setting Fire to the Great Unknown is dreamy,
spacey, and every other melodramatic description that could come to mind to describe fuzz, drive, and walls of sound. Think the best
parts of U2 (if you can imagine that) with a lot of the contemporary indie-rock feel that seems to be going around these days. Pure genius.
Saliva "Cinco Diablo," Island Def Jam/Universal
ÊI shouldn't be surprised by bad music, but rap-metal still catches me off guard every time. If there was some legitimate emotion behind this album, it might be easier to swallow, but the band decided it would be a better idea to let the listener be angry for having their life wasted rather than put any into their songwriting.
A few marginally heavy moments, created entirely through by-the-books breakdown rhythms, and not a single moment of salvation on the entire record,
you're better off throwing your money in the gutter.
Carley Tanchon "Peridot," Cabreleny
Upbeat pop-country from this wondrous lady. Structure feels more rock than anything else, but that slight twang in Tanchon's voice shifts everything out back to the honky-tonk camp, giving a flavor that isn't heard that often.
Think an inverse stadium country: instead of playing rock music in the country fashion, Tanchon takes the rock approach
for her country project. This succeeds where Hank III fails. Soulful, intelligent, and some goddamned heartfelt singing. Peridot
fulfills all that I need from a country album.
ZO2 "Casino Logic," In-Tune/24-7
ZO2 are trying to keep hair-metal alive with all their might. Dinosaur's couldn't outlive extinction, and neither can dying genres. But that doesn't mean that they shouldn't stop trying.
Poison worship, done surprisingly well, the band does the sound as flawless as anyone else ever did.
Even with their textbook sound-design and structure, the group still manages to make Casino Logic feel
authentic, even if 20 years too late. But if you miss glitter and glam and a time before metrosexuality had a name, Casino Logic is your gem.
***********LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL*****************
Eric Church "Carolina," Capitol Nashville/EMI
Soulless arena country. With no real rewarding qualities beyond the crystal clarity of major-label production, Eric Church at least sets himself
apart with a hair of rockabilly influence. Just a hair. Think Dire Straits' "Money For Nothing" feel without the excitement and inventiveness.
This is further proof that the record industry, too, needs more self-censorship.
Paul Robeson "On My Journey: Independent Recordings," Smithsonian Folkways
A man beyond most of us. Paul Robeson was an actor, an athlete, an activist, a lawyer, a writer... all this plus one of the most amazing singers in our history. With a strong basso profundo voice (as low as it gets), Robeson plays emotional songs of hope, redemption, justice, and faith.
On My Journey is so lo-fi that most of the time the only accompanying instrument, a slightly out of tune piano, is virtually inaudible
underneath the fuzz and chants of Robeson. It makes an album that is that much more emotional, that much more impactful, that this album
honestly raises the bar of good music.
************POLITICAL ALBUM OF THE WEEK*******************
******Shelton's Single of the Week: "SONGS MY MOTHER TAUGHT ME"*************
Robert Glasper "Double-Booked," Blue Note/EMI
More often than not, "inventiveness" in jazz ends with a record both unlistenable and embarrassing. Double-Booked, Glasper's fourth full-length, embarks on a trip. And I do mean one of those kinds of trips.
Half hip-hop, half smooth-ish jazz, the album virtually cuts and pastes styles intermittedly, both between tracks and
within tracks, splitting between piano textures and ambient sampling, with occasional MC work just to make sure no one was
confused as to what was going on. Still aren't sold? Mos Def is the man on production. Out of this world.
fun. "Aim and Ignite," Nettwerk
I have a soft spot for rock-operas, but hugely turned off by drama kids. So what does fun. have for me as a solution? Aim and Ignite, an album with all the tricks and turns of stage feel and emotion, but without any of the visual nausea I usually associate with it.
Incredibly technical and eclectic music ala "Bohemian Rhapsody" for an entire album, fun. thrives on intensely dynamic orchestration,
with any classical instrument in the book incorporated somewhere here. Overall, this album is beyond impressive, one anthemic track to the next.
**************** NEW ALBUM OF THE WEEK**********
Audie Blaylock and Redline "Hard-Driving Bluegrass," Rural Rhythm
Most of the time, musicians should just settle for what will sound best rather than original and gimmicky. Audie Blaylock and Redline play bluegrass as streamline as audibly possible.
Every song topic, every mandolin solo, and all song structures, all taken from the bluegrass rulebook. And you know what? This still
manages to be better than almost every "original" country artists. Hats off to you, Audie Blaylock!
Krizz Kaliko "Genius," RBC/Strange/Fontana
Tech N9ne protégé Krizz Kaliko out-does N9ne at his own game. Somehow, Kaliko's beats and rhymes out-crazy the mentor, even without the face paint.
Huge beats, filling out the sound waves more than any other hip-hop album as of late, comes across as dancible-circus music, with
layer upon layer of Kaliko's vocal tracks, each with different octaves and intonation. Genius is completely off the wall, a step above
any other jugallo act out there.
Southern Excursion Quartet "Trading Post," Artist Recording Collective
Finally! Trading Post is the style of jazz that I go nuts for: arrhythmic, mostly tonal, and a smorgous-board of different sounds.
Not to heavy on the self-indulgence, but just enough to impress those who've never touched a piano key. Southern Excursion Quartet
carry an intense feel through everything they do, with Trading Post as no exception.
"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.
Putnam Smith "Goldrush," Itchy Sabot
Indie folk from Putnam Smith gives new light in a world of such boring music. A very straightforward folk nature covers the surface level of
the songwriting, but it is so much more. Aspects of bluegrass (primarily through accompanying banjo work), pieces of indie rock, and
melodies that derived in the rock world, Goldrush has a bit of it all. 12 songs of intensely personal and captivating tracks, what more do you need?
Ronnie Milsap "Then Sings My Soul: 24 Favoirte Hymns & Gospel Songs DOUBLE CD," Ronnie Milsap/Star Song/EMI
This is the type of album that makes songs about God too much for me. While the quality of the music isn't all bad, with a few shining moments
here and there, the record puts its base in Lord-worship, which is completely beyond me. I can't hang with this.
Adelitas Way "Self-Titled," Virgin/EMI
Contemporary hard-rock is something of an anomaly: virtually non-existent aside from a few stranglers, and rarely do any get any real mainstream success.
Adelitas Way may have found the loophole here. While not groundbreaking, they manage to write high-caliber songs (and, adding the best production
money could buy, makes an album that sounds phenomenal), which sets a path for fame. Sure, they take notes from bands like Staind and any other
rap-metal groups that has created the Ozzfest stage, but the band is set apart with a heavily decreased dose of cheese and pathetic angst.
***************If You Like Music You're Gonna Love This******************
******Shelton's Single of the Week: "INVINCIBLE"*************
POLITICAL SONG OF THE WEEK
Artist: Rise Against
Song: "State of the Union"
If we're the flagship of peace and prosperity
We're taking on water and about to fuckin' sink
No one seems to notice, no one even blinks
The crew all left the passengers to die under the sea
Countdown, to the very end,
Equality, an invitation that we wont extend
Ready aim, pull the trigger now,
in time you firmly secure your place in hell
State of the union address,
reads war torn country still a mess
the words: power, death, and distorted truth
are read between the lines of the red, white, and blue
Your place in hell
'Guilty' is what our graves will read,
no years, no family, we did
nothing (nothing) to stop the murder of
a people just like us