Shot Of Rhythm

[ Friday, May 12, 2006 ]


New release round-up

Today was perhaps the first great weak of new releases this year, with several that deserve mention.

-Paul Simon's new album, a collaboration with producer Brian Eno, is easily his best work since GRACELAND. As always, Simon's genius is in weaving together subtly effective sonic and lyrical textures to create songs of arresting power. While I could have picked any number of tracks from the album, many of which are meditations on mortality, societal turmoil and the search for grace, I picked one with musical backing to match its lyrical tone.

Paul Simon - "Outrageous," from SURPRISE

-Gnarls Barkley has appeared here before, but I thought that Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse deserved another spotlight now that their wonderfully quirky album has officially dropped. This track, hidden deep on the album behind at least three potential hits, might just be my favorite cut of all, as it perfectly captures the record's P-Funk-from-outer-space (or, as the first tracfk calls it, "go go gadget gospel") vibes. (I also hear on this track, behind the sci-fi imagery, the tradition of "Great Pretender" masking that's been signifying from Brer Rabbit to Flava Flav.)

Gnarls Barkley - "Transformer," from ST. ELSEWHERE

-Neil Young's LIVING WITH WAR is not a masterpiece, but it's about the most consistently interesting thing he's done in a decade, since 1996's underrated BROKEN ARROW. It's an urgent dispatch from the front, with Neil dissecting (and in some cases destroying) every cloud of uncertainty and sorrow caused by our great national mess. He doesn't simply point fingers (check out "Shock And Awe," where he blames all of us as much as Bush, Cheney or Rumsfeld), though - when he does point fingers - they pierce the walls of Jericho with clarity and conviction. ("Let's Impeach The President" should be MoveOn's new theme song, and it's catchy enough to be sung by a children's choir.) Speaking of a choir, Neil's use of over 100 voices on many of the songs adds to both its majesty and its personalization. "Families," like Steve Earle's "Home To Houston" from two years ago, is the song which most directly addressess the soldier's experience, and - perhaps uncoincidentally - is also the album's most affecting track. And, just like the rest of the album, it rocks like crazy...

Neil Young - "Families," from LIVING WITH WAR

-The Red Hot Chili Peppers made a double album which, like 98% of all double albums, is overlong and self-indulgent. That being said, the P-Funk Beach Boys are still churning out pretty, funky gems of melancholy that has become their stock and trade. Nothing on here is as good as any of the singles from CALIFORNICATION, but they're as good as the high-spots of the last album, and there's plenty enough here to add a decent-sized chapter to the Peps' surprisingly impressive legacy.

Red Hot Chili Peppers - "Hump de Bump," from STADIUM ARCADIUM

-Finally, Teena Marie comes back with a new one this week, SAPPHIRE, which further cements her place as probably the most successful white R&B singer in history. While I haven't yet heard the whole album, this cut - with Smokey Robinson in full "Quiet Storm" mode - suggests that there's gold in them hills.

Teena Marie (feat. Smokey Robinson) - "Cruise Control," from SAPPHIRE

-As a special bonus today, here are two hip-hop singles recently leaked to the Internet. OutKast's is from the still-delayed IDLEWILD soundtrack, and - unsurprisingly - it's intriguing enough to even whet my already voracious appetite for the finished product. I never thought there'd be a great hip-hop track based around a Cab Calloway hook, but this one qualifies. Secondly, DMX's track is (for my money) even more impressive, like a gangsta Kirk Franklin. DMX has always been good for a couple triumphs on every album, though usually not much more, and it's nice to hear that he hasn't lost his powerful touch.

OutKast - "Mighty O"

DMX - "Lord, Give Me A Sign"

On the box right now: George Jackson, IN MUSCLE SHOALS. I hear country-soul on our horizon...



Dove With Claws [1:04 PM]

[ Wednesday, May 10, 2006 ]


Keith don't go

So, after resisting the temptation to make jokes after the news first broke that Keith Richards was hospitalized after falling out of a coconut tree, and then stepping back when it was then reported that he was forced to have brain surgery to relieve bad headaches, and now hearing that conflicting reports either have the King of Rock and Roll perfectly fine or headed for another surgery, with potential brain damage, I figure it's high time to play some Keith. Rather than all of his many wonderful additions to Stones albums, one of the few consistent high-spots on their all-too-uneven body of work, his own solo records are great little slices of greasy, graceful rock-and-soul. Here's four cuts, two each from each solo album.

Get well, Keith...after surviving heroin, alcohol and so many blood replacements, you can't let a fuckin' coconut take you out.

"Take It So Hard"

"How I Wish"



By the way, props to Way Down In The Hole for keeping the faith with Keith news updates, as well as posting his "Could Have Stood You Up" - a great track in its own right - a few days back.

On the box right now: Paul Simon, SURPRISE. Delightful stuff; new release round-up coming soon.


Dove With Claws [4:16 PM]

[ Sunday, May 07, 2006 ]


New release round-up

Lots of stuff this week, from all over the stylistic map.

-First is a pure-pop gem off a (minor) triumph from Terry Anderson, longtime Southern pop/rock gadfly who wrote the modern garage-rock masterwork "Battleship Chains," counts himself among the mighty Yayhoos, and has put out a series of cool little albums over the past decade that tread the same exuberant ground as Rockpile, NRBQ, Bottle Rockets and others. This new affair coulda been Dave Edmunds' best album, or - in a previous era, at least - a well of potential hits. Alternately, and simultaneously, propulsive and pretty, I've picked one of the Al Anderson-esque (no relation) jewels that oughta make Terry Anderson a Nashville song mainstay. Probably won't happen, but I can dream, can't I?

Terry Anderson and the Olympic Ass-Kickin' Team - "Walk Between Raindrops", from TERRY ANDERSON AND THE OLYMPIC ASS-KICKIN' TEAM

-Next is radical hip-hop from one of the few overtly political hip-hop groups to be as compelling musically as they are rhetorically. The Coup, led by Boots Riley, haven't let us down yet, and their new album - while a little spotty - contains some of the best world-on-fire music I've heard in awhile. Firmly aware of the depth of the problem, yet awash in audacious, resilient hope for the future, The Coup has proven once again that the revolution won't be televised, but it will be digitized.

The Coup - "Ass-Breath Killers", from PICK A BIGGER WEAPON

-Alejandro Escovedo's time almost ran out a couple years ago, when the effects of Hepatitis C nearly robbed the world of one of its great artistic citizens. Therefore, we oughta be glad that Senor Escovedo is making any music at all, but we can be particularly grateful that his new album, THE BOXING MIRROR, is a graceful collection of meditations on life, love and death that equals any of his previous work. As always, his sonic palette fuses classical, Tex-Mex, post-punk and the generalized melange of "roots music" in an endlessly inventive set of textures that perfectly complement his deep thematic content. It's so good to have him back. Muchas gracias, Alejandro.

Alejandro Escovedo - "Dear Head On The Wall", from THE BOXING MIRROR

-Finally, Pearl Jam fires back with their best single (from their best album) in a decade. Like a garage-rock Springsteen, Eddie and company blow the bullshit out through their amplifiers, with the only assurance being that they'll stand with us when the smoke clears. Roll over Beethoiven.

Pearl Jam - "World Wide Suicide", from PEARL JAM

-As a special bonus, I'm including the title track from Rev. Al Green's superior BELLE ALBUM, first released in 1977 and reissued last week with bonus tracks and remastering. The entire album, and this song particularly, finds Rev. Green at a spiritual crossroads, contemplating the tension between God and sex that led him (literally) back to church. As his best work always has, though, "Belle" possesses an implied, even overt, understanding that the two seemingly oppositional devotions share a helluva lot of common ground.

Al Green - "Belle", from BELLE: EXPANDED EDITION

On the box right now: En Vogue, BEST.


Dove With Claws [10:31 AM]