MGMT "Congratulations," Columbia/Sony
MGMT is one of those bands that is famous for a good reason: substantive lyrics, danceable rhythms and
original chord changes. Each song transforms within itself, leading to a dynamic and intricate psychedelic
old-rock sound with odd yet catchy solos sprinkled throughout.
The theme of the album is philosophical and ironic; it's a foray into the imaginary and the absurd. Tracks
with titles such as "Siberian Breaks" and "Lady Dada's Nightmare" lead down the vine-covered British
invasion garden paths of your unconscious. The album truly is, as stated on the back of the case, "a
primal scream for the How GenerationÉmore Dada than Gaga."
The album is clever and illusion-provoking. If it doesn't blow up into a series of singles like MGMT's last
album, blaring from jukeboxes across the nation, you'll want to have "Congratulations" as a whole safely
at home in your collection.
*****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.
Mighty Squirrel "Sqworld Record," Hearth
The album opens with a beautiful ballad about a fate told in the stars. The Ladino-Sephardic song carries
old-country flavor with well-balanced, edgy stringed instrumentation. The first song portends the fantastic
quality of the rest of this world-music album, on which tango and klezmer sit comfortably side by side.
Reaching from Yiddish to Celtic to French-Canadian to Swiss roots, Spokane, Washington, based Mighty
Squirrel unites folk traditions with flair.
Pick up this still-underground treasure as soon as you can. Connoisseurs of old-time music, world music,
female vocals, and string instruments must get this album. But all of you non-connoisseur, everyday
music people should get it too: it's an all around feel-good record.
*****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
Willie Nelson "Country Music," Rounder
"Country Music" is an album of acoustic country. It's a pleasantly simple soundtrack to your woes and
travels, to your smiles and homecomings. Though it has its share of blues songs, the album is comforting.
You could play it while sitting on your front porch with a beer, or while speeding through green rolling hills
to get home to your sweetheart. The country twang of the album sounds completely natural, with fiddle,
mandolin, banjo and slide guitar completing the sound.
Some songs, such as "Pistol Packin' Mama," break out of the blues feel, with an upbeat rhythm and the
lyrics "I'll see you every night, babe, I'll woo you every day. I'll be your regular daddy if you put that gun
away." These original tracks would make great covers for any other band, a testament to their versatility
and universal, yet original, themes.
******BEST ALBUM OF THE WEEK*********
Shelton's Single of the Week: "Drinking Champagne"
EDITOR'S NOTE: TO MAKE ANY SENSE OUT OF WILLIE NELSON, YOU HAVE TO REALIZE
THAT HE HAS REINVENTED HIMSELF FOUR TIMES. I'LL LEAVE IT TO YOU TO GUESS ALL FOUR.
BUT HIS WARM, SUAVE SOUL WILL NEVER BE MORE INFLUENTIAL. HE PUTS HIS WHOLE BODY
AND HIS WHOLE ENERGY INTO HIS VOICE. WHEN HE'S SINGING, SOMETHING ELSE ENTERS
douBt "Never Pet a Burning Dog," MoonJune
douBt defies order. The singing of a Mellotron melds with a drummed out rhythm my brain cannot
comprehend, the sound of a voice appears only when used as a sound-maker, an organ battles, or
perhaps dances, spastically with a guitar. It's a free-for-all, it's a cityscape of the odd, it's, well, jazz.
It's amazing that all the noise is made by only four musicians. Undoubtedly influenced by Miles Davis and
Mr. Bungle, "Never Pet a Burning Dog" is an adventure, so when you are ready to listen, put on
headphones and don't think you'll be able to concentrate on anything else until the sounds have found
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.
Basia Bulat "Heart of My Own," Rough Trade
Theatrically sweeping, Basia Bulat's recent release will spin you into a world of waltzing time signatures,
strong, beautiful, vibrato vocals and a landslide of instruments. Autoharp, French horn, accordion, organ,
upright bass and harmonizing vocals give the album a bursting-wide-open sound at times. This is
perfectly broken up by tracks where stringed instruments alone back up Bulat's complex vocal melodies.
In "Heart of My Own," Bulat picks up musically where singer-songwriter Mirah leaves off, with the vibrancy
of Po Girls' singing, miraculously pulled off by a single front-woman. The transformation of folk into more
than a musician-with-guitar act is exemplified by Bulat. The Canadian musician is youngÑin her mid-
twentiesÑand may have quite an important musical career in front of her.
******ARTIST TO WATCH!!!*******************
Barrett Deems "Deemus," Delmark
"Deemus" was originally recorded in 1978, and features famous jazz drummer Barrett Deems working in
perfect synch with the rest of a full jazz band. The self-restraint of the bandÑthey remain in bounds of
playing a theme through and through, interspersed with solos--only goes to showcase their quality
musicianship. Deems's drumming stands out, and so does work by clarinetist Chuck Hedges.
Pull out this album while drinking a gin and tonic in your living room if you truly want to focus on the
musicianship, or while entertaining guests if you want to create a party vibe. "Deemus" will transport you
to smoky, bluesy, nostalgia for the days before postmodern jazz.
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds "Tender Prey," "The Good Son" and "Henry's Dream," Mute
Consistently more popular in the UK, Australia and Germany than in the U.S., Nick Cave and the Bad
Seeds are notable for their fearless combining of post-punk, folk, blues and gothic sounds. The band was
revolutionizing new ways of approaching folk music throughout the 1980s, and continued to put out
fantastic albums through the new millennium.
Sometimes chanting and sometimes singing, Nick Cave sings with a deep voice that rings out his poetic
lyrics with clarity. Cave will continue to show generations of cynical youth that folk songs can be just as
dark and brutally honest as any punk, rock or rap, and certainly just as fun.
************LATE BUT GREAT***********
*******Shelton's Single of the Week: "Sex (I'm a Women)"**********
EDITOR'S NOTE: NICK CAVE WASN'T THE FIRST PUNK WITH LITERARY AMBITIONS, NOR
WAS HE THE FIRST ROCK SINGER TO BE FASCINATED AND INSPIRED BY SUFFERING, RELIGION
OR THE GOTHIC LORE OF THE AMERICAN SOUTH. BUT FEW HAVE EXPLORED THESE THEMES
WITH CAVE'S PASSION OR DETERMINATION, OR LASTED SO LONG.
Karling "Bound For Nowhere," Independent
If you haven't heard of rockabilly, it's time to check it out. Rockabilly is a type of music that lies
somewhere in and around country music, punk rock, a blue-collar lifestyle, Grease and Betty Page.
Karling may be the new darling of rockabilly with "Bound for Nowhere." She's badass, fun and quirky, and
she has backup from traditional country instruments.
The music is perfectly reminiscent of her cover photo: Karling is sitting on a motor scooter, dressed in
fishnets, feet bound with rope, somewhere in the middle of Arizona. Her voice, as well her image, will
charm you. So get your poker chips together, grab your bottle, and get ready for the ride.
*******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.
Disturbed "The Sickness, 10th Anniversary Edition," Reprise/Warner Bros.
Music by Disturbed in known as nu metal. The guitars are on a high-fuzz distortion, which leaves the
melodies of the guitar surprisingly comprehensible, the lyrics are sometimes clear and sometimes roared,
but always highly masculine, and the drums beat out a steady, headbanging rhythm. Disturbed's
instruments stay together to the millisecond, allowing the band to explore the world of musical negative
spaceÑsilences that serve to enhance the music.
"The Sickness, 10th Anniversary Edition" is a re-release of Disturbed's debut album from the year 2000.
Some of the sounds explored on "The Sickness" are the usual industrial grindings of today's metal, but
others are well-executed and unexpected vocal experiments. Overall, the record is quality, and the songs
are catchy. It's easy to see why this album made Disturbed famous. Disturbed's debut album rings with
authenticity 10 years later, and still stands out from the swarm of other nu metal and hard rock albums.
*******Shelton's Single of the Week: "The Game"**********
EDITOR'S NOTE: DRAWING EQUALLY ON THUDDING NEW DASH METAL RIFFOLOGY AND THE
GOTHIC-INDUSTRIAL DISCO OF THEIR HOME TOWN OF CHICAGO, DISTURBED WAS PART OF
THE FIRST WAVE OF POST-KORN, NU METAL BANDS.
Motion City Soundtrack "My Dinosaur Life," Columbia/Sony
The upbeat pop-punk band Motion City Soundtrack isn't afraid of a well-placed acoustic guitar or a bit of
hand clapping. "My Dinosaur Life" is a charming album, and their best to date. The music is a lot like other
pop punk, with a touch of Weezer. It isn't too out-of-the-ordinary, but it is well executed, and the lyrics are
packed with clever metaphors and loveable nerdiness.
From "Pulp Fiction" to "Her Words Destroyed My Planet" you'll identify with the experiences and outlooks
of Motion City. At the end of the record, you'll feel like you spent the hour getting to know the band
personally. If you like pop punk, let Motion City Soundtrack into your life at last.
*******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.
Boyce Avenue, "All We Have Left," SKH/Universal Republic
Boyce Avenue is truly a band of this generation. The members are young and have a sense of which pop
songs would make good covers, and these covers are what shot them to fame via video website
YouTube. Creating original, moody pop songs for "All We Have Left," the heartthrob Manzano brothers let
us know that their genius goes beyond making video covers of other people's songs. The strengths of
Boyce Avenue are its bold use of heavy drums and guitar, its sing-along choruses and it's ability to strike
a chord with its music videos.
Boyce Avenue promises to be the next darling boy band. Teenaged girls of today will find their next muse
in one of the three brothers in Boyce Avenue, and pop-loving adults will appreciate Boyce Avenue's
powerful, expansive, lovelorn singles.
***********LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL*****************
*******Shelton's Single of the Week: "Daylight"**********
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.
Justin Bieber "My World," School Boy/Island Def Jam/UMG
Justin Bieber, boy wonder. He's 16. He's Canadian. He's R&B. And you can hear in his voice why he has
blown up. Bieber's clear, young, sometimes Auto-Tuned, voice soars. He has a huge Internet fan base,
and his fans are so ardent that police have canceled some of his appearances due to crowd safety
It sounds a little artificial to hear R&B spouting from the mouth of such a fresh-faced adolescent boy, but
this is the pop music of the day, and teens love it too. The themes in the music are age-appropriate, even
down to the sexual innuendo. However, the lyrics do strongly reinforce gender stereotypes and condone
the pressure often place on women and girls to get intimate. Get "My World" as a fun look at what is
topping the charts in the pop world.
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
Jean Ritchie and Doc Watson "Jean Ritchie and Doc Watson at Folk City,"
The complexities and heights of the human voice are sung clear by this female-male duo. Meanwhile,
nuances of life during the earlier centuries of the United States are exposed both explicitly and hidden
between the lines of each song recorded from Ritchie and Watson's 1963 performance at Folk City. It was
recorded as "the great folk scare of the sixties," a politicized folk revival, was just gaining steam.
This album, like most put out by Smithsonian Folkways, is superb, documenting some of the most
important songs, styles and voices in recent history. Both Ritchie and Watson play instruments as well as
sing during this performance. The instruments are appropriate to folk songs, banjo, dulcimer and
harmonica among them. This album will help you appreciate songs that have likely been floating at the
edge of your consciousness since childhood.
************POLITICAL ALBUM OF THE WEEK*******************
******Shelton's Single of the Week: "Where Are You Going?"*************
EDITOR'S NOTE: WATSON'S ARRIVAL ON THE FOLK SCENE WAS A MAJOR EVENT IN
AMERICAN MUSIC. NOT ONLY DID IT REVOLUTIONIZE FOLK GUITAR PICKING, BUT IT SET THE
STANDARD FOR THE REST OF HIS CAREER WITH ITS MIX OF OLD-TIMEY NUMBERS, BLUES,
GOSPEL, AND ADAPTED FIDDLE TUNES. THERE WILL NEVER BE ANYONE IS HIS CLASS.
Ted Nugent "Penetrator," Eagle Rock
Ted Nugent's release, "Return of the Cock Rock"Ñoh, I mean, "Penetrator," is typical, though not terrible.
A whole slew of heavy rock songs worthy of play on any classic rock radio station, "Penetrator" focuses
on desire and survival in this harsh world, as expected. Electric guitar wails the whole album though, so if
you're into Nugent's hard-rock solos, you'll be thoroughly fulfilled.
Nugent is known for his conservative, survivalist, pro-gun, anti-drug stance, and this comes out in some of
his lyrics. However, he does deliver the hard-rock, yet again. So if you love him, check out "Penetrator."
******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.
Laura Bell Bundy "Achin' & Shakin'," Mercury/Universal
Country singer and Broadway performer Laura Bell Bundy has put out her second album using a two part
approach: the first half of the album, known as "Achin'," showcases her story-telling ability and explores
intense emotions to a track of slide guitar and slow fiddle. She incorporates a touch of 1950s music into
this album with backup singing and rolling bass lines. The second half of the album, "Shakin'," is hopping
dancing music with distorted guitar, picked banjo, occasional brass and funky drums, and it shows the
more risqu side of Bundy.
Throughout the album, Bundy's voice has a sincere country twang and speaks words just as sincerely
about who she is, her beliefs and what she's been through. The subject matter in her songs is multi-
faceted. It's a relief to hear such an honest and diverse country album that covers more than
straightforward romance, venturing into politics, childhood, anger and sexuality. This is country for the rest
**************** NEW ALBUM OF THE WEEK**********
******Shelton's Single of the Week: Rebound"*************
EDITOR'S NOTE: They go to a place outside themselves, sitting under the stars or all of a sudden there's a hailstorm.
Matthew Kaminski "Taking My Time," Chicken Soup/Summit
It's not every day you get to hear a jazz organist outside of outdated lobby music. And Matthew
Kaminski's sound is more "wicked" than "waiting room." The pipes seem to blow in grooves of days gone
by, jazz oozing from accompanying guitar and drums like globs of bright strawberry jam.
It's now hip to listen to instruments that have been laying dormant for the last few synth-inhabited
decades. The organ is a strange creature to bring back, and a worthy one. It's versatile, spooky yet
enthusiastic, classic yet poppy, evocative of both Catholicism and vampires. On "Taking My Time," it's
handled with barely restrained care. The album should have a place on your jazz instrumental shelfÑuse
it to demonstrate to your friends that organs are back, and raring to go.
EDITOR'S NOTE: One of my true heroes. Her singing is so unique it's like speaking. She's completely naked within a song.
Celtic Woman "Songs From the Heart," Manhattan/EMI
Celtic Woman is actually a group of five women singly sweetly very polished versions Celtic songsÑboth
originals and covers of traditional songs. "Songs From the Heart" would make a good Christmas album,
and the group is known for their live, choreographed performances.
If you are looking for a slow, ethereal sound paired with songs like "Amazing Grace," "Fields of Gold" (yes,
by Sting) and "Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears," Celtic Woman is what you want. However, if you are looking for
Celtic music that is anything less than cherubic, turn to another artist.
******Shelton's Single of the Week: "Dreamless Sleep"*************
Everclear "In a Different Light," 429 Records
There's a highly rhythmic, head-nodding rhythm in Everclear's keyboards and drums during this album.
Choral singing gives this Everclear record a special touch, setting it apart from other rock bands. An
impassioned cover of Sheryl Crow's "Santa Monica" pops up unexpectedly.
"In a Different Light" is a quirky album, which is its strength.The subject matter varies, and although the
lyrics aren't made up of the most color words ever written, they do hold up, especially since it's so easy to
understand each and every line. If you like the kind of rock that was popular throughout the 1990s, this
album is a fresh taste of it.
"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.
Andreas berg "Six String Evolution," Resonance
Somewhere between Muzac and swinging jazz lies Andreas
berg. The album has fun moments of
racing guitar and interesting tempos, and the songs berg selected to translate into laid-back jazz are
promising. However, the result is something not unlike so many other easy-listening jazz albums over the
years: good background music.
"Six String Evolution" is laid-back and non-offensive. It's at its best when
berg is truly showing his stuff,
and if you truly like the sound of a smooth saxophone, you'll dig the album overall. If you don't, you may
want to save this for a Christmas gift for relatives.
******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.
The Kilborn Alley Blues Band "Better Off Now," Blue Bella
Welcome to the crunchy, deliciously rough sound of the Chicago Blues. This twelve-bar blues-playing,
socially conscious quintet keeps the blues as relevant as ever. Some of the songs are slow and wailing,
giving us time to focus on the emotion of the vocals, while others are more uppity and danceable.
The best thing about Kilborn Alley is their adherence to the only real code of the bluesÑdon't dumb it
down. They play with raw energy and gritty musical love the whole album through. Even their name plays
into this image, says vocalist Andrew Duncanson: "The important part [of the name] is "alley"Ñdirty
places, hangouts for misfits." And Kilborn Alley will keep it rockin' all night long.
******Shelton's Single of the Week: "All Comedians Suffer"*************
Paul McCartney "Good Evening New York City, Two CD, One DVD Set" Concord/Universal
Paul McCartney dishes out four CDs worth of music recorded at July, 2009, concert in New York City. At
age 67, he is as energetic as ever, and his voice cruises through the mix of Beatles, Wings and
McCartney solo songs with contagious enthusiasm.
The instrumentation on the album is a standard rock ensemble. It is really McCartney himself that stands
out. The mix of songs from all over his history carries something for everyone. If you've missed all of
McCartney's recent tours, this album will provide a second chance--dim your lights, invite your friends
over, and turn up the volume.
***************If You Like Music You're Gonna Love This******************
******Shelton's Single of the Week: "Yesterday"*************
EDITOR'S NOTE: PAUL MCCARTNEY WAS A LOT MORE THAN THE EASY-LISTENING HALF OF THE
GREATEST SONG WRITING DUO IN ROCK HISTORY. HE IS TOTALLY REDEEMED BY HIS LIVE
ALBUMS, WHICH PORTRAY A CHARMING ENTERTAINER, AND WHICH AFFIRM HIS OUTSTANDING
VERBAL SKILLS AND ENGAGING MELODICISM.