Issue: #363



  • Billy Currington "That's How Country Boys Roll," Mercury Nashville
  • Rev Theory "Acoustic Live From The Gibson Lounge," Interscope/Universal
  • Neil Diamond "A Cherry Cherry Christmas," Columbia/Sony
  • Tom Wurth "If The Road Runs Out," Echelon
  • Candian Tenors "Self-Titled," Decca/Universal

Elvis Presley "Love Me Tender: The Love Songs," Coming Home/Sony

While masculinity has been flipped on its head since the crowning of the King of Rock and Roll (I mean, could you imagine anyone wearing those sequenced white vests anymore?), this post-mortem compilation shows the softer edge of the patriarch.

14 softer love songs that, despite the change in times, still hits the tender spots of any heart. This is coming from a time when love songs were socially acceptable for men to sing, not just songs about promiscuous exes, and it shows.

Even with fifty plus years gone, these songs still carry the emotion that they did when the King finally realized how to make black music acceptable to white folks. Includes such hits as "Love Me Tender," "Can't Help Falling in Love," "I Can't Stop Loving You," and eleven others using the adulation "Love".

*****Shelton's Single of the Week: "ARE YOU LONESOME TONIGHT"*********

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

The Weepies "Hideaway," Nettwerk

The Weepies play cutesy pop music. I'm all about it. Consisting of Deb Talan and Steve Tannen, the band compiles the best of so many worlds: mainstream pop with elements of singer/songwriter cuteness ala Kimya Dawson, and topping everything up with the back and forth male/female vocal style that gets me every time. Really.

If you ever want to make sure there is a record I will like? Just have male and female-back and forth vocals and I'll guarantee you a spot at the top. Minor electronics riddle the whole release, but not enough to shine through. Just enough to add the appropriate emphasizes and accents. To add to all of this, the novelty of Mandy Moore's co-writing on a song makes this really golden. Hell yeah.

The Beatles "Help!," Gramaphone/Capitol/EMI/Apple

If there is a single track on this record that you couldn't name, you should get out from under that rock you've been living in the last 45 years. Help!, arguably the most complex and interesting pop album ever created, was the soundtrack to their cult classic film under the same name.

John, Paul, George, and Ringo: love them or hate them, they are fixture in music for the foreseeable future. I don't care if they have all rotted away or burning in hell or reincarnated another six times since their albums were released, their legendary status will be revered for as long as music will be listened to. So if you don't own a repress already, you might as well just bite the bullet and get this. You should already know what is on this.

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

Shelton's Single of the Week: "YOU'VE GOT TO HIDE YOUR LOVE AWAY"

The Vampires of Dartmoore "Dracula's Music Cabinet," Finders Keepers/B-Music/Caroline

Finally, someone found an album to repress for the right reasons. While unfortunately not bound to sell millions, Dracula's Music Cabinet is bound to make those eclectic music nerds (read: myself) stoked for the holiday bonuses to blow on the weird, rare, and unexplainable.

Released in 1969, this record, which is almost psychedelic jazz, includes overlaid soundclips of...what is it? I couldn't tell you. Sometimes it sounds like dogs barking, sometimes women crying, and other times your guess is as good as anyone's. Think David Lynch scores with a surf-rock mastermind and a knack for sheer horror. Woah.

Chrisette Michele "Epiphany," Island Def Jam/Universal

She has yet to shatter the confines of r&b, but Chrisette Michele certainly has set herself apart from the lemmings that are all throwing themselves to their death. While most will be thrown into the back bins, forgotten amongst the millions others who lack any sort of originality or features that set them apart, Michele will still be known for being something else entirely.

Opinions on this, despite the charts, must be polar: her electronic and abrasive beats (while still the more low-key end of r&b); her jazz-styled vocals that show that she hopefully is not a second coming of Milli Vanilli; and the distinct Erykah Badu influenced music approach, all of which is as easily loved as annoyed. My vote is still out there, but this is something that the majority of music listeners will eat up like hotcakes.

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

AZ Kenny Tsak "Like I Do," 56 Deluxe

I have no idea what Tsak was thinking by having a bunch of half naked women playing guitar on his album cover. Actually, I know exactly what he was thinking, and it was stupid of him to have the idea even cross his mind.

But at least the rest of his ideas are a bit better. Like I Do does the rock/blues concoction well enough. Soul lacking, but harmonies in mass. Everything is in order on this record, aside from the irrelevant cover art, pushing this right onto the contemporary blues scene.

The Enemy UK "We'll Live And Die In These Towns," Warner Bros.

While I personally think a band should be able to dignify themselves without their location in their names, The Enemy's debut album We'll Live And Die in These Towns is one of the more promising new alternative rock albums to arise in the recent years.

Like Green Day's Warning, but realized that distortion is meant to be cranked up, vocals needed to be turned down, and that simplicity is best, The Enemy UK takes on the slight punk qualities with their never-ending rock flow that makes the defining style one that is unfortunately not as marketable as Fall Out Boy, but will hopefully at least catch a view earnest listeners attention. Great album.

************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.

Cathy-Anne McClintock " Self-Titled," 37

Wow. This record takes a few minutes to sink in, but once you get into it, this self-titled record from McClintock is impactful. And I mean that. Incredibly soft-spoken through and through, this folk masterpiece takes the best aspects of pop music while still living in the stream-line world of contemporary folk.

Her voice is nothing that will blow you away, but she can sing, which is enough to match up to her incredible song writing. If you like what is coming out of the folk world today, this album could bring you to tears.

Brokencyde "I'm Not A Fan...But The Kids Like It!," Breaksilence/Suburban Noize

In Copenhagen recently, a near riot broke out due to the world leaders complete ambivalent feelings towards climate change. In the University of California school system, students are taking over buildings and attempting to torch administrative offices. Amongst the case going on in the political scene, amalgamations and mutations of things considered music are arising across the world. Rap-metal broke out in the '90s, and sometime in the '00s Crunk made it's first appearance on the airwaves. Brokencyde is proof that we are reaching the breaking point: there is not much longer that the United States, capitalism, and civilization can exist under this weight.

There was a time before Brokencyde, a time before the world knew that music could reach depths and defecate on the concept of music so well. Before, I had faith. I had faith that maybe it was possible for the world to pull itself out of the hole that a powerful few have put the rest of us in. I'm Not A Fan...But The Kids Like It!, which itself is a bold-faced lie, smashes any hope of redemption I could hope for in the human race. With its blatant and nauseating misogyny being perhaps the least offensive portion of this entire recording, Brokencyde have dignified themselves enough to launch themselves as the saviors of contemporary music. In fact they are the embodiment of the anti-christ. Maybe even they are the firestorm that God promised to Sodom and Gamorrah.

The unquestioning subservience of the workers in the production plants, voicing no opposition to this plague that they have passively allowed to exist in this already parasitic world portrays the complete contempt that modern culture has for the human will, life, and love. There is no deeper depths this world could sink to.

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

Jack Ingram "Big Dreams & High Hopes," Big Machine/Universal

This Texas boy is doing it again, this time with a better record and a bigger production budget. The production makes it, obviously, but who cares? This is still great.

Big-sound country, taking on stadium speakers or small amphitheaters, Big Dreams & High Hopes is a beautiful work of country and pop fused in their prime. Not strong on the honky-tonk, but making up for it with heartbreak, Ingram has released a dependable line of records that continually improve.

*******Shelton's Single of the Week: "SEEING STARS WITH PATTY GRIFFIN"**********

The Iveys "Self-Titled," Self-Released

Low-key pop country performed by newcomers, The Iveys. Little in the way of emotion here, but if you are more interested in beautiful harmonies and catchy hooks, this Self-Titled debut will treat you right.

8 songs that are unique, pretty, and completely inoffensive. While there is little to find soulful about this recording, it is a record that I find unbelievably soothing after the mountains of crap that has been unleashed as of late. Plus, it is incredibly hard to go wrong with male-female duets.

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

Lucuna Coil "Shallow Life," Century Media

While this is interesting at moments, the singing kills this. I'm way down for goth, but when people try to fuse it with nu-metal it ruins any chance at salvation.

Sure, the album is heavy, but that's nothing more than studio tricks and down-tuned guitars. Seriously, people need to stop thinking pop singing over metal is an acceptable way to make music.

Joshua Marcus "This Land: An Environmental Justice Folk Recording," Contraphonic/AK Press

While a bit cheesy, Marcus is at least doing something genuinely moving for making social change. This Land is a concept album about environmental justice, focusing on big business, antiquated laws, and the completely ignorant ways that individuals think about the Earth's degradation.

Plus, every other track is a piece of a lecture, discussing the way that each of these issues are relevant to everyone's life. The music is a bit of a rejuvenation of Great Depression-era folk, relying on vocal melodies and simplistic stringed progressions, with a serious tone to call out the world on its lack of empathy and accountability. For anyone interested, or anyone not, this album will hopefully sway a few to care more about the world around us.

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

******Shelton's Single of the Week: "SONGS MY MOTHER TAUGHT ME"*************

Jessy J "True Love," Peak/Concord/EMI

Upbeat jazz performed by the lovely Jessy J. The album was obviously made solely for Jessy's saxophone showcase, but at least she's doing it well. Catchy melodies, production that accents her playing, and hitting a low-medium on the mastabatory scale, True Love is for those interested in the newest in loungy jazz.

Obits "I Blame You," Sub Pop

As I've talked about in the past, I grew up in the San Diego punk/indie scene. I grew up on bands like Rocket From The Crypt and Hot Snakes. I loved anything that Rick Froberg touched.

Obits, his newest musical venture after perhaps his best recording to date (Audit in Progress), is a disappointing only in comparison. Obits lost the aggressive edge that previous works embodied, now fully diving into the straight-forward rock world that his previous works had always flirted with.

Even a bit of surf-rock pops up here and there. But don't take that the wrong way: while I just wished that Hot Snakes had released another album, I Blame You is the best rock album released in 2009. Period.

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

Gypsy Dave and the Stumpjumpers "A Bucketful of Ghosts," Self-Released

Donovan's side-kick Gypsy Dave has released another record with the Stumpjumpers, entitled A Bucketful of Ghosts. Intricate folk, with a nuanced sense of emotion that is more than enough to reel me in, Gypsy Dave is plenty for me. And with my soft spot for excessive mandolin, I wouldn't change a thing about it.

Various Artists "African Reggae," Putumayo

Another in the long line of Putumayo releases. African Reggae takes the musical form and plays it more interestingly, possibly better, than its American counterparts. Most of the tracks are not in English, which adds, and uses a good helping of African sounds. Solid.

Justin Moore "Self-Titled," Valory/Universal

Country artist Justin Moore has his work cut out for him. With a debut album that is put together as well as it is, he has nowhere to go but up.

Over-the-top stadium country with every single point needed for a shining record, Moore doesn't falter for a moment. Basically, this album does it as well as anyone could possibly do it. Hank Williams III couldn't be more depressed.

"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.

Charlie Faye "Wilson St.," Wine & Nut

A majority of singer/songwriter folk stuff that gets passed through here is, at best, tolerable. Faye caught my attention within the first 20 seconds, which is a real accomplishment.

No, this isn't anything that has broken ground, or will be the winter anthem, or even something that will revolutionize music. But it is good. Catchy melodies, straightforward songwriting, and a general knack for progressions. Anyone up on contemporary folk should look this way.

******Shelton's Single of the Week: "Why I'm Leaving"*************

Johnny Cooper "Follow," Tenacity

For being 20, Cooper can hold his own in the rock world. Rock, with the underlying flow of singer/songwriter, Follow sounds like an album that most in this scene would strive for, which Cooper managed years early. Though his voice is close to nails on a chalkboard, he has the makings of something impressive.

Kittie "In The Black," E1

While the Spice Girl's spout of "girl power" was parallel to Obama's use of a trademarked "Hope", Kittie instead leads by example: heavy, dark, and unwavering metal riffing.

The fact that Kittie consists entirely of women, one of the most ignored groups in metal is only consequential. In The Black's intensity ignores gender, putting their money where Spice Girl's proverbial mouth would be. And, as an added bonus, Kittie wins the award for First Metal Album of the Year to use singing appropriately. Fucking grim.

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

******Shelton's Single of the Week: "INVINCIBLE"*************


Artist: Willie Nelson
Song: "Cowboys Are Frequently Secretly Fond Of Each Other"

Well, there's many a strange impulse out on the plains of West Texas.
There's many a young boy who feels things he can't comprehend.
And a small town don't like it when somebody falls between sexes.
No, a small town don't like it when a cowboy has feelings for men.

And I believe to my soul that inside every man there's the feminine.
And inside every lady there's a deep manly voice loud and clear.
Well, a cowboy may brag about things that he's done with his women.
But the ones who brag loudest are the ones that are most likely queer.

Cowboys are frequently secretly fond of each other.
Say, what do you think all them saddles and boots was about?
And there's many a cowboy who don't understand the way that he feels for his brother.
And inside every cowboy there's a lady that'd love to slip out.

And there's always somebody who says what the others just whisper.
And mostly that someone's the first one to get shot down dead.
So when you talk to a cowboy don't treat him like he was a sister.
You can't fuck with a lady that's sleepin' in each cowboy's head.

Cowboys are frequently secretly fond of each other.
What did you think all them saddles and boots was about?
And there's many a cowboy who don't understand the way that he feels for his brother.
And inside every lady there's a cowboy who wants to come out.
And inside every cowboy there's a lady that'd love to slip out.