Here are some bands or albums I have had a chance to listen to. Most of them, I haven’t liked. Some of them, I’m pretty lukewarm on. And some, I did like. As always, you can make up your own mind.
[Note: All tracks removed. Contact me for a copy.]
Tori Amos – American Girl Posse.
Amos has transformed herself from naughty maiden to mother, and I’m not all that fond of the move. “Yo George” is ridiculous and “Big Wheel” is … well, we all know someone that’s old trying to be cool and using terminology that just tries too hard. I’m old and uncool, but even I know that “MILF” is practically antique, in slang years. And then there are all the new “girls.” These personalities of hers were weird but bearable on “Strange Little Girls,” but now they’re just overwrought. I know Amos has multiple personalities, and that’s cool and artistic, but I don’t want to be exposed to their blogs and their stockings over the shower door, so to speak.
I long for the days of “Pele,” when the songs were jagged and you cut yourself on them. Now they’re smooth and “Scarlet’s Walk”ish, but without the cohesion and interest that Scarlet’s journey across America engendered. There are some chipper numbers like “Secret Spell” and “Code Red,” and a couple returns to the early days, most interestingly in the short but pithy “Fat Slut.” I can see the girl from “Icicle,” finally driven to a point, yelling all the epithets she can at the people that hurt her. I don’t wish Tori would return to the grrrl-feminist days of yore, but this song, as well as the sly “Programmable Soda,” reminded me for a few short minutes why I used to idolize Tori.
Tori Amos – Secret Spell
Tori Amos – Programmable Soda
Rufus Wainwright, Release the Stars.
In spite of the ravishing beauty of “Going To A Town” (and you should see the video, my friends, because it is Hot with a capital Haw), the songs on “Release” all blend into themselves sort of blandly. There’s only one other standout number (see below), unlike “Poses,” which was full of ‘em. The weirdest thing to me is the song “Tiergarten” — Wainwright’s conceit is that he pronounces it like “tear garden,” and uses it that way, but I haven’t forgotten all my German, and a Tiergarten is, well, a zoo. So it just doesn’t work when he invites his beloved to “walk [him] through the Tiergarten.” Unless they’re going to be looking at some zebras or something.
Notable exception to this is “Between My Legs,” which is as risquÃ© as it sounds, but is also a commentary (as I read it) of the narrator’s willingness to take a chance on love even when he knows it will probably blow up in his face. I love the piano backup too, mixed with the odd spoken word guy at the end, and even a little showtunes in the form of … well, you’ll see if you listen to it. It’s rather wonderful.
Rufus Wainwright – Between My Legs
The Antlers, In the Attic of the Universe.
The very cool thing about this album is that you can download and listen to it for free, so you have absolutely nothing to lose. This is another album that I felt like I was supposed to like, but didn’t. In retrospect it seems completely passionless. I think in a genre where you aren’t even supposed to move at a concert, just sort of stand there and look dopey, it’s easy to make passionless music (or damp your passion to where the listener is barely aware of it). But it doesn’t appeal to me much.
The Antlers (site and download)
Young Galaxy, Young Galaxy
This one I go back and forth on. In spite of the strong start of “Swing Your Heartache,” I just didn’t like this album as much as I thought I would. If you like other Arts&Crafts type music, of course you will probably love this. And I do love some songs, like the sibilant, sweetly sung “The Alchemy Between Us” and the semi-gospel “Embers”. But inbetween there are clunkers like “Lazy Religion,” which is weird and goes on forever (or maybe there was some kind of timewarp, I don’t know). What do you think, oh faithful reader? Should I give them some more chances or what?
Young Galaxy – The Alchemy Between Us (video)
Young Galaxy – Embers
The Detroit Cobras, Tied and True.
Oh man, is this ever gonna be an awesome album. It continues the fantastic faux-motown-punk tradition of “Baby,” and though I have not heard all of it, it promises to be just as good. If you like Nagy’s wailing remixes of r&b classics, then please go to Bloodshot Records site and pre-order the tunes! You can download “As Long As I Have You,” a Garnet Mimms cover, while you’re at it. Or holler along to the Beatles’ “Leave My Kitten Alone.” Meow!
The Detroit Cobras
The Detroit Cobras – Leave My Kitten Alone
Amadou et Mariam, Dimanche A Bamako
Racing faster and further than the rest of the African pop pack, this Malian dynamic duo make music that you cannot, I mean cannot, stop listening to. I received “SÃ©nÃ©gal Fast Food” on a mixtape from a stranger, but I wish I could find her and bake her some brownies. “Dimanche A Bamako,” released in 2005, is danceable and fun, and if you speak French you might even be able to know what they’re talking about. Of course that might spoil it, because it might be all serious and stuff underneath (like I suspect “M’bifÃ© Blues” and “Politic Amagni” might be). I prefer just to chair-dance to it — I get crappy political songs stuffed in my ears all day. Let me have some fun, okay? And I pass the sparkly happy fun baton to you — please. Enjoy.
Amadou et Mariam
Amadou et Mariam – SÃ©nÃ©gal Fast Food
Amadou et Mariam – La RealitÃ©