Mini-Reviews For All Of Youse

Check the sell-by date — most of these are actually from Malaysia, ’cause in Thailand it’s all one can do to hold on for dear life at the overwhelming Thai-ness of it all. Not much time to dig in to new musics, alas.

The New Pornographers, Brill Bruisers
Robyn Hitchcock, The Man Upstairs

Robyn was my favourite musical act from 1988 through 2003 (and is still my favourite of all time); The New Pornos have been my fave since then. It’s kinda cool to see them releasing records within such close chronologic proximity. Quite underwhelmed by the former; assume it will grow on me. Alas, I hate the latter very much — his worst album since Luxor (which I guess makes it the second-worst of his career).

The Eels, Cautionary Tales — Lovely and haunting. Suddenly, he’s got the Midas touch again.  Will probably be in my Top 5 for the year.

Leonard Cohen, Popular Problems — Okay, he’s not going to make any more important records.  But that voice remains so iconic that it never fails to send pulses of electricity shooting through the body.  And, a few songs here would merit inclusion in a late-career retrospective.

Lee Fields, Emma Jean — A lock for my top ten of the year, with a chance to crack the top five.

Morrissey, World Peace Is None Of Your Business — Gawd damn. Don’t know whether he was inspired by last year’s great Johnny Marr record to up the ante, or whether he’s simply in a very prosperous career phase, or what — but, this is so phenomenal.

Clairy Browne & The Bangin’ Rackettes, Baby Caught The Bus [2013] — Last year’s top ten is so incredibly jam-packed with brilliance; but this album has in retrospect elbowed its way into my top ten of ’13.  Is a knockout.

Me First & The Gimme Gimmes, Are We Not Men? We Are Diva! — Wait, Dolly Parton wrote “I Will Always Love You”? Huhn, learn something new every day. I lost track of these guys around about the late-’90s or so — had no idea they were still making records. As usual, they’re a lot of fun. Amidst all the Punk Rock mayhem, my fave is actually the ballad, “Crazy For You”. It just feels so sincere — much more so, in fact, than Madonna’s original.

Conor Oberst, Upside-Down Mountain — I always wonder, “Do we really need another Conor Oberst record?” But then I listen to it, and conclude, “Yes, we did.” He no longer makes my jaw drop. But he sill puts the whipping on the llama’s ass.

The Matadors, Say You Love Satan — They’ve got album-title of the year in the bag; and have the inside track on song-title of the year with leadoff cut “Shake Your Fornicator”. Never heard these guys before — pretty great Hillbilly Garage/Punk thing they’ve got going on, with some hilarious lyrics to boot. One of those records, though, where you listen to it and just keep thinking, “Wow, this band must be so much better live.” Wouldn’t neither be surprised to learn that they wear costumes on stage.

Pontchartrain Wrecks, self-titled — To me, it just sounds like a somewhat-okay DBT ripoff. But it came highly recommended, so, I dunno, you may want to seek it out.

Macca, Kisses On The Bottom [2012] — Love it!

Sunny Day Real Estate, “Lipton Witch” — First new song since The Rising Tide. Is okay-fine. If it presages a new album, then consider my interest piqued. Otherwise, they oughtn’t have bothered.

Krishna Das, Kirtan Wallah — Not really loving the arrangements here, but, holy crap, his voice sounds better than ever.

Holly Golightly & The Brokeoffs, Trouble In Mind — Great! Easily her best, in fact (though I think there are a few I’ve not heard). And easily in my top ten for the year.

Mammatus, Heady Mental — Skip it. Do, however, check out their excellent self-titled debut, from 2006.

Ingrid Michaelson, Lights Out — Her voice has never sounded as good on her own records as it does dueting the title track of Greg Laswell’s Landline. Her vocal performance here, however, is dynamite — as are the arrangements. An excellent record.

Jolie Holland, Wine Dark Sea — The best album of her career (including the Be Good Tanyas records), and a very strong contendah for album of the year.

The Delines, Colfax — I love Willy Vlautin’s prose, but not at all enamoured of the story-song lyrical approach, here. The playing and the vocals are insanely good; hopefully they’ll put a batch of songs with the tried-and-true verse-chorus-verse.

Ghost Of A Saber-Toothed Tiger, Midnight Sun — Ha! Sounds (apart from the dead-giveaway vocals) more like Floyd progeny than Beatle. Either which, it’s one  of the best records of the year.  Pretty cool interview with Sean: “The whole reason I play music is because I love my parents.”

Monster Magnet, Last Patrol [2013] — Holy shit 2013.

Jenny Lewis, The Voyager — Meh. Nowhere near her best record, as all the critics are claiming. And nowhere nearly as good as other recent releases listed here: Jolie Holland, Holly Golightly, Anna Calvi, Ingrid Michaelson. I do like the title track and “Late Bloomer” quite a lot.

Anna Calvi, Strange Weather EP — First listen: “Holy shit.” Second listen: “Not as holy shit — but still in the Holy shit ballpark.”

Anna Calvi, One Breath [2013] — Liked her first album pretty well, but hadn’t got around to this before listening to the new EP. I think she’s leapfrogged Thea Gilmore to become my fave British female singer-songwriter of the moment.

Swans, To Be Kind — They’re on a roll.

Tom Petty & The Heartbrekers, Hypnotic Eye — Doesn’t really feel like a Tom Petty record.  I like it pretty well.

Hollie Cook, Twice — Never been able to really get into the Reggae — but, what a set of pipes! Oh, and odds-on favourite for album-cover of the year.

Andrew Bird, Things Are Really Great Here, Sort Of — It’s not that it’s bad. It’s that it’s always a bit shocking to see one of the most reliably powerful artists descend helplessly into mediocrity and not be able to find their mojo again. Maybe he’ll someday be able to again capture the lightning; as for now, he just seems to be going through the motions.

Yann Tiersen, Infinity — Rarely ever sounds like Yann Tiersen. Not bad, at any rate.

That’s all for now…

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2 Responses to Mini-Reviews For All Of Youse

  1. JBJ says:

    I, too, hate the new Jenny Lewis record and think that the Jolie Holland record is wonderful.

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