Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Stephen Thomas Erlewine loves Paris Hilton!

I love Stephen Thomas Erlewine. He's such a fascinating critic-- his writing is always great, and his tastes can be quite unpredictable. He's never ashamed to admit it when he likes an album by, say, Pink, or Christina Aguilera.

But man... I'm having a hard time swallowing this latest review:

It's easy to hate Paris Hilton -- lord knows that she and her friends like Brandon Davis are walking advertisements against the repeal of the estate tax -- but any pop fan who listens to Paris with an open mind will find that it's nothing but fun.

Andy Whitman loves Lambchop!

Andy Whitman loves Damaged, the latest feast of beautiful weirdness from Lambchop.

I've heard the album a few times myself, and I too think it's a great piece of work from one of America's most visionary and idiosyncratic bands. It's difficult, slow-moving, and extremely bizarre, but it's worth your investment of time, as it's filled with wisdom and wit.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Riverside Battle in Review

Remember Ollabelle, the funky, fiesty little Americana band discovered by T-Bone Burnett? Their debut album was one of the best surprises of 2004, and now they're back with Riverside Battle Songs. I've posted my review of the album at Reveal.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Tom Waits brings home Orphans

Pitchfork has the exciting news about what will probably be the most exciting 3-disc, 54-song collection released all year:

The 54-track release includes a 94-page booklet and over three hours of music, ranging from waltzes to blues and Celtic ballads to lullabies. According to Waits, "Orphans [contains] rough and tender tunes. Rumbas about mermaids, shuffles about train wrecks, tarantellas about insects, madrigals about drowning. Scared, mean, orphaned songs of rapture and melancholy. Songs that grew up hard. Songs of dubious origin rescued from cruel fate and now left wanting only to be cared for. Show that you are not afraid and take them home. They don't bite, they just need attention."

A number of tracks on Orphans were originally recorded for film and theatre, and some are reworkings of songs by other artists, including the Ramones, Daniel Johnston, Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht, Leadbelly, Jack Kerouac, and Charles Bukowski. Waits produced the epic album along with his wife and long-time collaborator Kathleen Brennan.

High Praise for Cruel Words

I've posted a brief review of another one of 2006's must-hear new records-- Johnny Dowd's Cruel Words.

Next up: My long-delayed-- not to mention just plain long-- review of Jolie Holland's Springtime Can Kill You. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

New album news: Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams!

So, Willie Nelson's got another new album in the pipeline. Songbird comes out in October, and includes both new versions of classic Willie cuts as well as Jerry Garcia and Leonard Cohen covers.

And the crazy part: The set is produced by Ryan Adams, whose Cardinals appear as Nelson's backing band throughout. Billboard has the story.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Beck reveals more Information

Billboard has posted some further news about the upcoming Beck album, The Information. Due on October 3, the set was produced by Nigel Godrich, who also worked with Beck on Sea Change and Mutations, not to mention the recent Thom Yorke record and just about everything Radiohead's ever done.

Here's the set list:

"Elevator Music"
"Think I'm In Love"
"Cell Phone's Dead"
"Soldier Jane"
"Strange Apparition"
"Dark Star"
"Movie Theme"
"We Dance Alone"
"No Complaints"
"1000 BPM"
"The Information"
"New Round"
"Horrible Fanfare/Landslide/Exoskeleton"

Monday, August 14, 2006

Blue on Review

Tomorrow is a joyous day for fans of the sadly-defunct Sixpence None the Richer-- Leigh Nash releases her long-awaited solo debut, Blue on Blue. I've got a fresh review served up at Reveal.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Beck leaks The Information

According to NME via Pitchfork Media, Beck has a new studio album set for release this October, titled The Information-- and it sounds like he's up to his usual tomfoolery. Check out the Pitchfork story for the scoop on the album and its tour.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Kelly Joe Phelps' Tunesmith Retrofit: My review.

Look at the track times on Tunesmith and you’ll notice that, for a Phelps record, these songs are comparatively short. It’s not that they’re slight—they’re just taut, lean, cut close to the bone. These aren’t the works of a guitar show-off, but of a storyteller and poet. Phelps’ lyrics are front and center here, and they’re delightful—brilliantly observed, eloquently stated, full of character and wonderful turns of phrase. They’re not sermons, parables, or political screeds—they’re slices of life, beautifully preserved for posterity. Phelps’ lyricism is enchanting, even inspiring… More>

My favorite album of 2006 gets a little... longer.

My favorite recording yet released in 2006-- Bruce Springsteen's We Shall Overcome-- is about to get re-released... with five new songs, as well as extended DVD extras. Billboard has the scoop.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Tom Waits| Orphans Tour| Nashville, TN

Goodness gracious-- last night's Tom Waits show was truly one of a kind. I've never been to a show with such an enthusiastic crowd; the auditorium was sold out, and there were even people standing along the back walls. There were people who had come to Nashville from Dallas, New York, even Germany to see the show-- it is, after all, Waits' first American tour in at least six years-- and everyone there was clearly a huge fan; the man sitting next to me said he owned a bar in Texas called Tom Waits' Bar! And good grief... I've never heard such thunderous applause from an audience craving an encore; there was stomping, shouting, pounding on the walls, and all manner of cacauphonous mayhem.

As for Waits, I can see why he doesn't tour more often; it's a miracle his voice has held up the way it has. He sounded as strong and as powerful as I've ever heard him, shouting and howling and spitting and growling his way through a two-hour set. Like it or not, the man's voice is just incredible. He was animated and theatrical, dancing around the stage, his whole body shaking. He was warm and funny, too, telling stories and bantering with the audience. He's a very witty and coherent guy-- much more personable than I was expecting, honestly.

Here's the set list, as taken from another Web site; there were two or three songs that I didn't recognize, so I'm taking their word for it:

Make It Rain
Hoist That Rag
Shore Leave
Gods Away On Business
All The World Is Green
Blue Valentine
Down In The Hole
Cemetery Polka
Tom Traubert's Blues
House Where Nobody Lives
Cause Of It All
Bye Bye Baby
Murder In The Red Barn
Shake It
What's He Building In There
Trampled Rose
Get Behind The Mule
Don't Go Into That Barn
It Rains On Me
Sins Of The Father
Going Out West
Day After Tommorrow
Heartattack And Vine

Review Updates

Just a quick word to say that I've posted two new reviews within the past few days:

  • Here's my take on the promising but ultimately frustrating new album from Antje Duvekot.
  • And, here's my review of the hell-raising, barn-burning new record from Def Leppard.

Friday, August 04, 2006

New album news: Peter Gabriel! Outkast! Massive Attack!

In what might be the best music news of the summer, the great Peter Gabriel has announced his imminent return! Well, sorta-- he's referring to the upcoming project Big Blue Ball, which features a number of well-known rock musicians performing with ethnic musicians from Africa, Asia, and Sout America. Gabriel himself handles lead vocals on several tracks.

Meanwhile, Outkast has finally settled on the track listing for their new disc, Idlewild.

And, Massive Attack is hard at work on new material.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Ghost Reviewer

Things have been pretty slow in terms of music news and happenings, but I'm positively drowning in excellent new music. Over the next several days, I'll be posting about many of the great new recordings that I've been enjoying. And, for my first review of the month of August, here's my take on Jeffrey Foucault's Ghost Repeater-- one of the year's finest singer-songwriter albums.