Broken Bells "Broken Bells," Columbia/Sony
In an unexpected collaboration, electro-funk guru DJ Danger Mouse (Brian Burton)
and Portland indie rocker James Mercer melt away genre barriers, resulting in an
album that courses with a marriage of digital and acoustic.
"Broken Bells" incorporates multi-layered vocals and harmonies that are at once
familiar and fascinating. You'll find yourself humming along from the very first time you
listen to "Broken Bells"Ñit has a way of inhabiting your head before you get a chance
to beckon it in. In short, if psychedelia exists today, "Broken Bells" is it. Get this album:
the experience is not to be missed.
*****Shelton's Single of the Week: "Everybody's Hurting"*********
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Beatles, four-working class Liverpool boys who came out of nowhere to conquer the world with the greatest songs ever heard.
The Bird and the Bee "Interpreting the Masters Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and
John Oates," Blue Note/EMI
This is a blip-driven soul album that covers six of Hall and Oates's most popular
1970s and 1980s pop songs. It presents warm, jazz-style vocals by Inara George (the
Bird) and an extensive range of keyboard sounds by band member and producer
Greg Kurstin (the Bee).
The album has some danceable songs, but they are interspersed with moody tracks
that would sound great played from caf speakers. The overall production leaves you
with the impression that the band is playing right in front of you. This album will
provide a musically unique update to any jazz vocalist or electro-pop collection.
*****Shelton's Single of the Week: Willie Nelson: "On the Street Where You Live"*********
EDITOR'S NOTE: By the way, for you youngsters, Hall & Oates are the most
commerically successful duo in rock history, and have come to epitomize the term
k.d. lang "Beautifully Combined," Nonesuch/Warner Bros.
The new compilation album by Canadian musician and activist k.d. lang is
appropriately titled "Beautifully Combined": in it, accordion follows cello, jazz follows
blues, and ballad follows pop song. All the tracks on the album were previously
released with the exception of the final one, but the album still holds surprises for
those relatively new to lang's music.
These include moving covers of songs by Leonard Cohen and Neil Young, and an
appearance by jazz musicians Medeski, Martin and Wood.
The album offers a mellow but satisfying ride through the last three decades of lang's
musicianship. If you don't have any k.d. lang yet, "Beautifully Combined" will make a
******BEST ALBUM OF THE WEEK*********
Shelton's Single of the Week: "Long Hard Road"
EDITOR'S NOTE: Sade has ranked among pop's most enduring acts,
largely without the glare of celebrity or much fooling with their proven
Robin Thicke "Sex Therapy: The Experience, Explicit Deluxe," Star
This R&B album is more playful than Robin Thicke's past albums, and edges into the
world of hip-hop, with lots of lyrical play, a bouncy beat and short brass samples that
will leave you wanting more. Besides, Thicke's vocal range and sense of rhythm are
The subject matter isÉwellÉtitillating, so much so that you may not (or may?) want to
play it on a first date. However, its positive take on sex will leave you in a grinning good
mood. The production style varies greatly song to song with the different producers,
but they are all high-quality. Al Green and Stevie Wonder are influences for many of
today's artists, including this one, but when you put this album on, expect something
fresh and new.
Shelton's Single of the Week: "Don't Cost a Dime"
EDITOR'S NOTE: Sweet's hits lead the raunchy glam pack during the
Seventies. These coifed pretty boys were just obnoxious enough to offend
your mother but safe enough to cultivate a mass success.
The Almost "Monster Monster," Tooth & Nail/Virgin/EMI
Floridian band The Almost features a rollicking, pop-punk sound on its high-energy
second album, "Monster Monster." The Almost is headed by drummer Aaron
Gillespie, known previously for his work with Christian metalcore band Underoath. It
created "Monster Monster" by crossing heavy but upbeat rhythms with searching lyrics
about love, self-doubt, morals and finding ways through life's obstacles.
"Monster Monster" is essentially a theme album about how we all have a little monster
inside of us, and how we, our friends and our families can cope with that. Unafraid of
singing about everyday feelings, The Almost has created a truly heartfelt, if musically
******ARTIST TO WATCH!!!*******************
Bassnectar "Cozza Frenzy," Amorphous/Child's Play/Om
Bassnectar started as a multi-media, community activism project in the San
Francisco Bay area in the 1990s, and is now popular because of its live shows at
music festivals. When you pick up "Cozza Frenzy," get ready to stumble into a world of
dubstep, hip-hop and electro-pop rolled into one.
With pumping swirls of bass organized into danceable rhythms, scattered samples
and interesting chanted vocals, Bassnectar is known for getting a mixed crowd
dancing, and "Cozza Frenzy" will achieve that objective beautifully, if you remember to
skip over a couple of the more ambient tracks. Not to worry, though, you can save
those for your relaxing after-party bath.
The Fugs "Collection, Including The Final CD Part 2," Fugs/Kindred Rhythm
The Fugs have done it again: they produced another endlessly entertaining and
hopelessly charming album armed with poetry, political commentary, irony and
downright hilarity, as they did in throughout their collection, which was in the package
they sent to us. "The Final CD Part 2" is cleverly infused with words of wisdom from a
band that has seen a lot since its start in 1964. It was recorded partly in the home of
co-founder Tuli Kupferberg, who suffered a stroke while the album was in production.
The instrumentation on this album bounces between blues and fingerpicking, and
provides a quality background for lyrics to songs with titles such as "The CIA Made Me
Sing Off-Key" and "Goofitude." Best of all, the 14 songs are all brand-new, so long-
time Fugs fans and newbies alike can drool over this fantastic final Fugs album.
************LATE BUT GREAT***********
*******Shelton's Single of the Week: "Sex (I'm a Women)"**********
EDITOR'S NOTE: THE FUGS: RARE AND UNRELEASED RECORDS AND A
BRAND NEW ALBUM--I WAS RAISED IN WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, JUST NORTH OF
HARLEM. ME AND MY BUDDIES WERE A BUNCH OF WORKING CLASS PUNKS. WE
NEVER WENT DOWN TO THE VILLAGE--TO0 MANY HIPPIES AND TOURISTS THERE.
NICK UNGER CONVINCED BARRY BLUESTONE AND MYSELF TO SEE THE FUGS IN
THE MID '60S. AND SHOCKINGLY, WE WENT. 'CAUSE NICK WAS ALWAYS RIGHT.
I'LL NEVER FORGET THAT NIGHT. THE FUGS CHANGED MY LIFE. THIS CLUB WAS
CALLED THE CAFE WHA. AND IT WAS GREASY AND SLEAZY. SO WE FELT RIGHT AT
HOME. AS A ROCK AND ROLL ELVIS FREAK, I COULDN'T IMAGINE THESE FOUR GUYS
HAD THE NERVE TO GET UP ON STAGE, THEY WERE TERRIBLE. COULDN'T HIT A
NOTE. COULDN'T SING A LICK. I WAS USED TO SEEING SMOKEY AND JAMES
BROWN AT THE APOLLO. CROONING WITH THE BLACK AND LATIN BROTHERS IN
AND YET I COULDN'TSTOP LAUGHING... FOR TWO HOURS I ROLLED AROUND ON
THE FLOOR. OUT OF CONTROL. THESE GUYS, ESPECIALLY TULI KUPFERBURG AND
ED SANDERS, DIDN'T HAVE A CARE IN THE WORLD. THEY DIDN'T FEAR U.S.
IMPERIALISM. THEY DIDN'T FEAR TTHE RULING CLASS. AND THEY DIDN'T FEAR
WHAT ANYONE THOUGHT OF THEM. AND NEITHER DID I. THEY SANG "RIVER OF
SHIT." THEY SANG "I'D GIVE UP HEIFER FUCK' FOR YOU, BABE." THIS WAS THE
GREATEST SHOW I'VE EVER SEEN. AND I'VE SEEN THEM ALL.
Brad Colerick "When I'm Gone," Back 9
Beautifully layered banjo accompanies rich vocals on Brad Colerick's recent release,
making for a head-nodding, unpretentious country listen. Colerick used to work writing
jingles for large corporations and singing alongside other, more established artists,
but "When I'm Gone" is a sign that he is committed to making his own music as well.
His lyrics focus on a refreshing range of topics, from Hollywood to death to liquor to
family. His best songs are the faster ones, but put together, the album is solid. It
presents an honest look at existential anxiety and the observations of everyday life.
*******Shelton's Single of the Week: "Back Broke"**********
EDITOR'S NOTE: Their shockingly successful cult phenomenon is one of the strangest rock stories of our time. Check them out.
Valkyrja "Contamination," Riot/Metal Blade
Valkyrja's new release drenches your ears so thoroughly with astounding double-kick
bass drum speed, searing guitars, otherworldly moans and throaty vocals that it
doesn't matter if you understand the lyrics. One listen will lead you on a spiraling
descent from a this decaying earthly realm into a flourishing underworld.
While the second album by Valkyrja would drive delicate aural connoisseurs to stick
their heads in the sand, those who want to jump on the metal roller coaster will
discover the heaviest of rhythms, soundscapes that can drive you mad and a ride that
goes only one wayÑinto the middle of Satan's own orchestral pit.
*******Shelton's Single of the Week: "Burn"**********
Jennie Arnau "Chasing Giants," MRI
The sound of skillfully worked guitars compliment Jennie Arnau's confident but
emotional voice to create a thoughtful album full of longing. Her lyrics aren't straight
storytelling, rather, they give you gems of insight and scenarios you can identify with.
Though Arnau lives in New York City, a country-folk sound runs strongly throughout
"Chasing Giants." Electric solos play tag with fingerpicked acoustic guitar and
twanging slide guitar. Arnau's singer-songerwriter talent will undoubtedly please fans
of Neko Case and Gillian Welch. The question is: who are the giants Arnau is so
ardently chasing? Are they past lovers, big ideas or her own musical idols?
*******Shelton's Single of the Week: "SEEING STARS WITH PATTY GRIFFIN"**********
EDITOR'S NOTE: Mark Knopfler is more interested in satisfying himself than any audience, but when he played "The Sultan's of Swing" with Dire Straits and you don't get a multiple orgasm when you listen, you need help.
Various Artists "Casual Victim Pile," Matador
"Casual Victim Pile" is an anagram for "Live Music Capital," a.k.a. Austin, Texas, and
this album showcases some of the best underground Austin musicians of 2008-
2010. The artists on the album play mainly with traditional rock and roll instruments,
have a pleasantly over-compressed, under-produced sound, and aren't afraid of
turning up the distortion knob.
The vocal style is varied throughout the compilation. For example, the Dikes of
Holland sound like the vocals are coming from the bottom of a puddle, Wild America
has a traditional punk-rock voice and the Kingdom of Suicide Lovers pull out a Sonic
Youth-style, male-female duet. This is a fun and danceable, guitar-heavy mix, but it
would benefit by the addition of more female artists.
***********LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL*****************
*******Shelton's Single of the Week: "Remember Me"**********
EDITOR'S NOTE: In 1979, Jones released her first album on Warner Bros
Records. She wasn't going to let the press see her play down in Greenwich Village
in New York City. I threatened her press agent that I would commit suicide
if I wasn't let in. The result: front-row seats. She'll always be a
beret-wearing, boho-pop singer that looks and sounds like she just walked out of a
Jack Kerouac novel. They'd still make a great team.
Coheed and Cambria "Year of the Black Rainbow," Columbia/Sony
Coheed and Cambria has put out a prequel to its musical sci-fi epic known as the
Amory Wars. The album itself has some catchy songs with twirling guitar hooks and
other songs that, unfortunately, because of predictable chord changes, blur together.
The odd thing is that while Coheed and Cambria's albums are obviously cult classic
material, they are too popular for cult statusÑ"Black Rainbow" sold 101,000 records
in its first week. This is the album for you if you are ready to blast off into a space
adventure, paying close attention to the album's strongest tracks, and otherwise
simply riding the wave of electric guitars, aliens and conspiracy.
EDITOR'S NOTE: He burst onto the scene in the late 70's as one of the first
in a new breed of singers known as "new traditionalists." They were
dedicated to playing country the way Hank, Merle, and Lefty did, and to keeping the
tradition of real country alive. I've never heard a sweeter voice in my
Pete Seeger "American Favorite Ballads, Five Disc Set," Smithsonian Folkways
You will not be able to get through Pete Seeger's 138 American ballads without
running to pick up a guitar, banjo or kazoo and belting out a few of your own favorite
folk songs. With so many popular folk, blues, country and Irish tunes on this five-CD
set, you'll have a hard time thinking of an American roots song that's not on the
Seeger recorded this collection for the Smithsonian Institute between 1957 and 1962.
His strong, sincere voice fits comfortably with every song, making this compilation
perfect for musicians looking to bolster their repertoire of standards as well as those
who simply enjoy listening to tunes, political and otherwise, that have stood the test of
************POLITICAL ALBUM OF THE WEEK*******************
******Shelton's Single of the Week: "Never Learn"*************
EDITOR'S NOTE: PETE SEEGER DESERVES THE SAME DEEP RESPECT WE
GIVE ELVIS PRESLEY AND LOUIS ARMSTRONG--OTHER ARTISTS WHO CREATED
SOMETHING NEW AND LASTING OUT OF THE MUSIC THAT PRECEEDED THEM.
SEEGER'S ACHEIVEMENT, HOWEVER, RESTS NOT ON INNOVATION, BUT ON
PRORGRESSIVE CONSCIENCE AND COMMITMENT.
Puddle of Mudd "Volume 4: Songs in the Key of Love and Hate,"
Thank God that dirty rock and roll still exists. An album that covers topics as
delightfully unprofound as sex, drugs, love, feces and outer space will always have a
place in the hearts of youth across the nation. While the music on this album is
nothing too original, it is surprisingly memorable.
The Midwestern band reminds us that rock stars are real people too: Puddle of Mudd
could be the garage band next door. The ghost of Kurt Cobain haunts the vocals of
these songs, though they are much less poetic than any Nirvana track. Overall, it's a
party album that satisfies your desire to reminisce about the 1990s.
******Shelton's Single of the Week: "You Belong To Me"*************
EDITOR'S NOTE: I fell in love with Carly many moons ago as she was taking
her kid home from a gymnastics class and I was bringing my daughter to the
next class at Central Park West in New York City. Vulnerable vocals share
romantic intimacies, childlike wonders and bold observation. Her "Never Been
Gone" album is as forthright, passionate and wonderfully outspoken as ever.
Audra Mae "The Happiest Lamb," SideOneDummy
Audra Mae has incredibly intuitive musical talent, predicting what you'll want to hear
next and giving it to you, so the album only gets better track by track. Her smoky,
cabaret voice and story-telling lyrics could lead to this being the album you put on loud
and sing passionately along to when no one is home to hear you.
With clear country and jazz influences, Mae involks the sound of Patsy Cline and Dolly
Parton. At the same time, she embraces the unique backup provided by the likes of an
accordion and mandolin. Mae is echoing the strengths of female songwriter-vocalists
of the past, but the album she has put out is also fresh and full of interesting twists.
**************** NEW ALBUM OF THE WEEK**********
******Shelton's Single of the Week: Chet Atkins "The Poor People of Paris"*************
EDITOR'S NOTE: They go to a place outside themselves, sitting under the stars or all of a sudden there's a hailstorm.
Shakura S'Aida "Brown Sugar," Ruf
"Brown Sugar" is a sweet experience, as Shakura S'Aida's beautifully funky vocals
take us through the realm of broken hearts, seduction and longing. You can hear
behind the lyrics that Shakura loves what she's singing, and these powerful, guitar-
driven blues are composed to impassion the listener. Shakura's guitar backup,
played by Donna Grantis, is nothing to scoff at either.
Shakura sung with world music ensemble "Kaleefah" before moving on to her solo
career, and she grew up in Switzerland, but the sound she has now is firmly rooted in
North American funk, soul and R&B. Pull out this album while getting ready for a night
on the townÑit'll inspire you to seek love and enjoy life.
EDITOR'S NOTE: One of my true heroes. Her singing is so unique it's like speaking. She's completely naked within a song.
The Grascals "The Famous Lefty Flynn's," Rounder
The Grascals, a Nashville, Tennessee, bluegrass sextet that has been making music
since 2004, give us yet another traditional, feel-good, bluegrass album with fantastic
banjo, guitar and fiddle playing. The banjo especially stands out, and is handled by
the newest member in the band, Kristen Scott Benson, who won the International
Bluegrass Music Award for Banjo in 2008.
The album has an even mix of fast and slow songs. With two covers of Monkees'
songs and an appearance by Hank Williams Jr., the Grascals manage to keep us on
our toes. The often layered, harmonic vocals of the six-member band add complexity
to songs that could hold their own with instrumentation alone.
******Shelton's Single of the Week: "Dreamless Sleep"*************
Katharine McPhee "Unbroken," Verve Forecast/Universal
Since becoming famous as a runner-up finalist on American Idol in 2006, Katharine
McPhee has been selling albums like hotcakes (she sold 350,000 of her debut
album) and making forays into acting.
"Unbroken," shows that she is maturing musically and lyrically, but features a sound
that is polished almost to the point of being bland. The highlights of the album are its
subtle country twang and McPhee's vocal gymnastics. McPhee is striving to be a star,
and while she may be letting overly enthusiastic producers clean up her sound to the
point where her music is losing any character, she has abundant talent.
"SO NICE GOTTA DO IT UP TWICE" (created by the original NYC D.J., Jocko, 1955)
******Shelton's Single of the Week: "Hey, Soul Sister"*************
EDITOR'S NOTE: Reba is one of the great, if not the greatest,
women of country music, who has sold millions of albums. Her lyrics always come
from the heart, and she has created another great Reba album for old fans
as well as new ones.
Corinne Bailey Rae "The Sea," Capitol/EMI
"The Sea" is a mix of acoustic ballad, funky jazz and rock and roll. Complete with
guitar, organ, trombone, piano, viola, choir and the high, sweet voice of the UK's
Corinne Bailey Rae, the musical melodies and harmonies on the album paint a
picture of a relaxed afternoon by the sea.
However, the lyrics dive deeply into that sea, poetically asking questions about life,
love and society. Bailey Rae's album is mellow enough to be appropriate for all
audiences, and dynamic enough to keep you listening raptly the whole album through.
******Shelton's Single of the Week: "Why I'm Leaving"*************
EDITOR'S NOTE: His political wordplay anticipated rap. As a novelist, poet, and pianist, Scott-Heron achieved an incredible synthesis of laid-back soul music long -- with jazz-fusion, embellishment borrowed from Bitches-Brew - period.
Goldfrapp "Headfirst," Mute
Some hipsters are cynical. Some hipsters are morose. Not these hipsters.
Goldfrapp's recent album has lyrics that speak of sunshine, tight jeans, laughter and
feeling alive, and synthesizers that will beam you over a sparkling rainbow of dreams.
With glam-rock falsetto and pumping 1980s beats, the female-male duo will have you
dancing in no time. By the time the album is over, you'll be feeling quite hopeful about
your life, and you may go out and buy a unitard. Goldfrapp makes for a fun, fancy-free
listen, complete with quality instrumentals and catchy hooks. It has a place in every
dance music collection.
******Shelton's Single of the Week: "All Comedians Suffer"*************
Brandi Carlile "Give Up the Ghost," Columbia/Sony
Brandi Carlile writes catchy choruses. She belts out lyrics telling the kinds of love
stories that feel like they are straight out of your own life. She made a smart choice in
accompanists, twin brothers who match her bold singing with bass, sturdy electric
guitar and backup vocals.
She writes in her album's thank-yous that she was highly influenced by the Indigo
Girls, and that is readily apparent: her deep voice, her sometimes fierce country rock
sound and her sing-along choruses should render Carlile a spot next to them as
another good ol' crowd-moving singer-songwriter.
***************If You Like Music You're Gonna Love This******************
******Shelton's Single of the Week: "Surfing in a Hurricane"*************