Christmas is always such an expensive time of year. I have to rush, rush, rush to make sure I get all the great new releases I can't live without. Life would be simpler, easier, and cheaper if I could wait until December 25 to have them but that wouldn't be me.
It's the week before Black Friday, boys and girls, and that means there is only one more Tuesday between now and the big day for the major labels to tempt and torment us all. They're pulling out some big guns this week, and I'm already getting tendinitis in my elbow from reaching for my wallet.
I didn't get my e-mail from the mighty AllMusicGuide this week and I held out as long as I could, so you're not going to get as full a rundown as I usually provide. Instead, we'll talk about a few of the higher profile releases and leave it at that, hoping for better luck next week. First up…
That which is understood need not be explained, dear readers. It's a new record from Norah Jones. You don't need a reason to buy it, just $15.
Jones continues her evolution as an artist with The Fall. This might alienate some of the masses who embraced Come Away With Me. The nocturnal piano ballads that made her debut such a classic have been left behind; Jones plays guitar at least as often if not more than she plays piano. She also continues the trend of Not Too Late, writing or co-writing all 13 songs. Among her songwriting collaborators are Jesse Harris, who wrote her smash hit "Don't Know Why," and Ryan Adams.
I've listened through the album twice now and I'm still getting a feel for it.
BUYER'S NOTE: Target is selling an exclusive version of the album that comes with a second CD, featuring six live cuts. Among the live cuts are covers of Johnny Cash's "Cry, Cry, Cry" and Wilco's "Jesus Etc." I don't know about you, but that justifies a trip to Target for me. These bonus tracks are also available to those who buy the album through iTunes.
A Fine Frenzy
Oh Blue Christmas
I don't know exactly when this was released, but seeing as we don't have a full list, I figure I have some column inches to fill.
The worst thing about Oh Blue Christmas is that it's only an EP. The second worst thing about it is that it's a Target exclusive, and I hate retail exclusives with the passion of a nova.
Those are the only bad things to say about this wonderful little EP. Alison Sudol was blessed with one of those Christmas carol voices. Oh, I know Elvis' "Blue Christmas" will be the definitive version for generations to come but you'll have to forgive me if I enjoy hearing AFF's rendition just a little more. Since we're being sacrilegious, I'll also tell you I'd rather hear her sing "Christmas Time Is Here" than the Peanuts' Gang.
Good Evening New York City
The great Paul McCartney is drawing rave reviews for this 2 CD/DVD live set from NYC. As someone who has mostly enjoyed McCartney's recent output, I've inexplicably bypassed the recent live packages he's released. After reading the reviews, I think I'm about to end that streak.
He mixes in a few songs from his Memory Almost Full album, but the overwhelming majority of these tracks are the hits you know and love from his solo career as well as his time in that little Beatles band of his.
Okay, I'm busting out my asshole card here. If there's one thing in this world I hate, it's the music of John Mayer, and I never pass up an opportunity to heap scorn upon it. When I'm King he'll be first against the wall, charged with Attempted Profundity and Aggravated Inanity as well as Counterfeit Stevie Ray Vaughan and Counterfeit Jimi Hendrix. Those seem to be the two sides to his musical persona: writer of vapid ballads yearning to be deep and the soul of privileged kid stealing licks from SRV and Hendrix when he wants to prove he's "hard."
Them Crooked Vultures
Them Crooked Vultures
Interesting release, this. I'm not sure it's one I'm going to check out but the names attached to it make it intriguing and there's a chance some of you may not have ever heard about it. Former Nirvana drummer and current Foo Fighter frontman Dave Grohl has teamed up with Josh Homme, full-time Queen of the Stone Age and one-time part-time Screaming Tree, and Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones.