Monday, June 05, 2006

New releases this week: Costello! Toussaint! Obscura! Zero 7! Rux! Walker!

Tomorrow, Tuesday, bears the dubious distinction of having the date 6/6/06.

On what I'll assume is an unrelated note, tomorrow is also the release date for a host of intriguing new recordings. Most exciting of all-- at least for this listener-- is The River in Reverse, the new Elvis Costello-Allen Toussaint collaboration produced by the great Joe Henry. Stephen Thomas Erlewine is raving:
This undercurrent of protest gives The River in Reverse thematic cohesion -- and as politically minded pop goes, it trumps such other 2006 albums as Neil Young's Living with War, if only because it isn't so heavy-handed about its intentions -- but what makes the album rather extraordinary is that it's as much celebration as it is protest. There is joy and tenderness within the performances of Toussaint, Costello, his backing band the Imposters, and Toussaint mainstays the Crescent City Horns, all captured by Joe Henry's clean yet warm production. If Costello pushes his phrasing a little harder than most interpreters of Toussaint -- not only does Allen himself have an easy, casual delivery, but so did such singers as Lee Dorsey, Aaron Neville, Ernie K-Doe, and Lowell George -- it suits the spirit of when the album was recorded, and Elvis is balanced about by the earthy, natural sound of the band, and Allen's graceful harmonies. As pure music, this is impossible not to enjoy, and this rich blend of R&B, blues, soul, and funk illustrates exactly how important New Orleans is to America's culture, and that it needs to be embraced in the wake of the disaster of Hurricane Katrina. Ultimately, the greatest achievement of The River in Reverse is that it, like the music of New Orleans itself, can not be pigeonholed or reduced to one specific thing. It can seem like a party, or it can seem like a bittersweet elegy, which is only appropriate for an album borne out of tragedy but created as a celebration.

Meanwhile, the new record from Camera Obscura is drawing praise from across the board; check out this review from Tim Sendra:
Head Camera Tracyanne Campbell writes amazingly intimate and tender ballads that can break your heart with the slightest lyrical twist, swell of strings, or vocal harmony. That she sings these songs in a voice so sweet and direct adds an extra level of feeling to songs like the wrenching "Country Mile" and the almost unbearably melancholy "Tears for Affairs." The band's gentle and restrained playing and the expansive production courtesy of Jari Haapalainen are note perfect as well. Whether rocking out in a Motown manner or lying back with some mellow country-rock, the combination of music, lyrics, melodies, and vocals is, well, enchanting.
And how 'bout that new Zero 7 disc, Garden? Marisa Brown says it's great:
While Sia's emotive voice has been long proven to be an excellent fit with Zero 7's music, the relative flatness of Gonzáles' adds a nice texture to the rolling movement behind it. And main songwriter Henry Binns, who also take lead vocals occasionally, is a master at adding harmonies that bring a kind of light pastoral intensity to the pieces, and gives them a great sense of structure. With Garden, Zero 7 have created what could be the ultimate summer evening record: warm pop hooks, lush instrumentation, unobtrusive electronica elements, and '60s-style harmonies that all come together into superb, wonderfully descriptive songs. And what could be better than that?
And then there's Carl Hancock Rux, whose new album is reviewed by David Jeffries:
Working with a smaller set of musicians -- and for a smaller label -- the multi-disciplinary artist Carl Hancock Rux delivers what is arguably his most musical album to date. There are more "songs" on Good Bread Alley than on the poet/author/vocalist's previous efforts, and Rux also uses his deep baritone singing voice more than usual. Hip-hop and electronica make brief appearances, but most of the sounds here are neo-cabaret, neo-classical, or downtown loft blues, played naked and live enough to suggest what a one-man show from Rux might sound like.
And then there's that new Scott Walker album, which, frankly, sounds a little scary.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

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5:53 AM  

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