I Beliebe To My Soul!
They say that age brings wisdom--and so it is that more than a few of the older among us chuckled when younger music fans were puzzled by the reaction met by this week’s announcement of the Coachella Festival lineup!
While the appearances of both Blur and the Stone Roses might have approached the heralding of the Second Coming to those of a certain age, the simultaneous appearance of a ”Who Are The Stone Roses” Tumblr asked by those even younger shocked those stunned by who might even ask the question!
Right around now might be a good time to bring up Bob Dylan’s famous “times they are a changin’” line, but come on--that would be dopey! I’d rather mention that an even younger person just asked me “What the hell is a Coachella?” and his brother added, “Does it have candy?”
Later we watched the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Dragon Ball Z tapes and caught some Ke$ha videos! “She makes me tingly,” someone said!
Justin Bieber: Believe Acoustic (Island) I think most of us would agree that Justin Bieber is this century’s Jimi Hendrix! For starters, as this album cover illustrates, the charismatic youth is a left-handed guitarist! Additionally, he’s colorful! And perhaps most profoundly, both “Justin” and “Jimi” start with the letter J! A wonderful collection of all your favorite tracks from Justin’s smash album Believe, all played acoustically, the intriguingly named Believe Acoustic is a smash through and through, chock full of emotion-packed lyrics, vocal derring-do, and 11 songs certain to set your soul aflame! It’s not a bad listen, either! Like James Brown and Aretha Franklin before him, Bieber breathes oxygen, enjoys food, and would like to be your friend! I like his hair, too!
Tegan And Sara: Heartthrob (Warner Bros.) If ever the time was right for a mass cultural takeover—for a bold statement that would take a generation by storm and create an entirely new culture based on love, trust and tattoos—it will come via this great new album by Tegan and Sara Quin, those delectable identical twin sisters from Calgary, Alberta, who’ve been recording for several years now, making guest appearances with the likes of Tiesto and David Guetta, and essentially are laying the groundwork here for complete and utter superstardom! This new album is totally fab, featuring production help by the likes of Greg Kurstin, Mike Elizondo and Justin Meldal-Johnsen, and sounding strong, super-commercial, and exactly what you’d like twin sisters from Calgary to be sounding like right around now! That said, I’m stumped about which sister I like more! They’re both talented, but I simply can’t tell them apart! It’s sort of bumming me out! This never happened with the Roches!
Fleetwood Mac: Rumours (Warner/Rhino) If you’re into things—and not abstract concepts like wave, flac or MP3 files you can’t really hold in your hands—and you like music, you’d be well advised to pick up this new, superdeluxe edition of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, which offers up not only one of the finest albums in rock ‘n’ roll history, but a batch of related permutations that makes it, as a complete package, the sort of thing you wouldn’t mind plopping down on your coffee table. The set, which features 4 CDs, a DVD, and the original album on 140-gram vinyl, is about as Rumours-esque as it could get: the original album, a batch of live tracks, demos and outtakes (some of which have been released on previous “deluxe versions,” but hey—ain’t that always the way?), and a DVD featuring The Rosebud Film, a 1977 documentary by Michael Collins with performances, rehearsals, interviews, and just about anything else a Rumours fan might want to sit down and seriously contemplate. Unless a still-to-come box set will be offering us samples of the band members’ DNA, this may be the final stop when it comes to owning a piece of popular audio culture. Perhaps you should buy it!
Amor De Días: The House At Sea (Merge) To arbitrarily mention what is in fact this week’s finest new release—that sort of thing is fun to do every once in a while—let us mention the second album by Amor De Días, the collaboration between the Clientele’s Alasdair MacClean and Lupe Núñez-Fernández of Pipas, both from very worthy bands on their own and impeccably inspiring here. Aesthetically somewhere between the Clientele themselves, Brazilian pop ala Astrud Gilberto and maybe a little Marine Girls/Young Marble Giants thrown in, the pair produce appealing, mellow and melancholy thoughtful pop—well-played, and understatedly populated with lyrics about mud, thatched huts and the sort of things you won’t really hear unless you listen for them. Personally, I am of the belief that the Clientele have played some of the best pop music of the last two decades, so I am thrilled to hear MacClean return in any context and, whether you know it or not, you should be too. Highly recommended.
Ben Harper with Charlie Musselwhite: Get Up! (Stax) It seems that the very talented Ben Harper has been floundering, in a sense, since his emergence in the mid-‘90s: An artful player without a truly unique sound of his own or peer group to fall back upon, being perceived as a member of the jam-band set now and then, however erroneously, or popping up as one third of a trio featuring Dani Harrison and Joseph Arthur, or at his best recalling blues revivalists of generations past. So happily he comes into his own here with another player from the latter group, highly respected harp player Charlie Musselwhite, who brings Harper a context that places him squarely at home, fully comfortable and highly emotive. It’s an excellent album, a fine showing for both players, and a great indication that Harper has many more high-quality albums in his future. An inspirational effort, and—for him—a move long in coming.
Miles Davis Quintet: Live In Europe 1969: The Bootleg Series Vol 2 (3 CDs/ 1 DVD) (Columbia/Legacy) A welcome addition to Miles Davis’s never-ending legacy and a dynamite package as well: 3 CDs featuring the trumpeter with his under-recorded band of Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea, Dave Holland & Jack DeJohnette, all captured 44 years ago and sounding entirely contemporary, and a spectacular DVD featuring the same group performing for 46 minutes in Berlin. Davis was in fascinating peak form here—post his second famed quartet, roughly circa Bitches Brew, shortly before the fascinating intricacies of On The Corner and Agharta, all of which weirded out the hardcore who weren’t already weirded out by what followed In A Silent Way. That such quality material exists in the archives is fascinating—and a good sign that there is much more quality Davis material to come. Thrilling, enriching stuff.
Deep Purple: Paris 1975 (Eagle Rock) On a vaguely related note—of classic bands unexpectedly surfacing years later—here’s Deep Purple, the version referred to by fans as the MK III group—featuring original band members Jon Lord, Ian Paice and Ritchie Blackmore as well as comparative “newbies” David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes. Recorded mere moments before Blackmore would depart to form Rainbow—a proficient but nowhere near as compelling a combo as Purple—the set sounds superb, supplanting previous compilation samples, and mixing up latter-day songs such as “Stormbringer” with the inevitable, but still finely played, “Smoke On The Water.” All these years later, hearing these excellent players bringing a surprising amount of actual improvisation to this familiar material is kind of ear-opening—and very much worth a critical re-think. For all their fame and influence, Deep Purple still seem an underrated group.
Lisa Loeb: No Fairy Tale (429) It’s difficult to argue with a bio that claims Lisa Loeb “was the first (and still only) artist to have a Number 1 single, ‘Stay (I Missed You)’ from the film Reality Bites”—I mean, yeah, that’s true, Cyndi Lauper’s version from Reality Bites only hit No. 21!—but who can not love a gal that empowered an entire generation to wear horn-rimmed glasses, that did something or other with Dweezil Zappa and had her own show on the Food Network? Plus, I remain unduly fascinated with her decision to release an album with the stridently italicized “and” of Cake And Pie! This chick takes chances we can only dream of! Still, not a bad album! I wonder if she’d be mad if she found out my new glasses were designed by Randy Jackson and not part of the Lisa Loeb Eyewear Collection? She’s probably a seething cauldron of resentment or something! Hah! No, not Lisa!
Chris Potter: Sirens (ECM) Must make mention of this tasty new album by saxophonist Chris Potter, who makes his ECM debut as a leader and has already demonstrated his might on prior works with Dave Holland, among others. The combo here features Potter with pianists Craig Taborn and David Virelles, bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Eric Harland, is pleasingly melodic and subtle, never for a moment dwells in cliché, and in fact make the perfect background for record reviewers looking at Justin Bieber’s new album and wondering what on earth could be left to write! Bottom line is that these appear to be songs and compositions—not mere improvs—that are impeccably recorded and, as is this label’s rule of thumb, tasteful beyond belief. Which means as albums go, this is quite good!
Hatebreed: The Divinity Of Purpose (Razor & Tie) Certainly one of the most compelling and single-minded metal bands Connecticut has ever produced, Hatebreed remains one of rock’s biggest mysteries! What's so bad about French Poodles? What, they think Chihuahuas are cooler or something?