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New Album Releases Oct. 6, 2009: Morphine, Built To Spill, Michael Bublé, Toby Keith, Backstreet Boys

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Despite being late with the New Releases this week, I haven't had a lot of time to take a look at the list.  I'm not going to insult your intelligence and tell you this week's list is good or bad, deep or shallow.  I will tell you there about two titles of interest to me. 

Before we get to those, it looks like some of the bigger names on this week's release schedule are crooner Michael Bublé and country star Toby Keith.  I'm passing those up, as well as new music from Brandi Carlile.  Has-been boy band Backstreet Boys are back with a new record this week.  I glanced at one review headline and that reviewer wasn't a fan, but kicking the Backstreet Boys is easy sport these days.  We've also got a set of deluxe edition Jesus Lizard albums, remastered and expanded.  With that, here's what I'm buying…

Morphine
At Your Service

Morphine spent the best years of their too-brief career with the Rykodisc, who now releases a 2-CD anthology of rarities, live cuts, outtakes, and previously unreleased material from the Boston-based trio.

Before I can tell you how happy I am about this collection, here's a writing lesson.  Never — I'm using the word never — put a modifier or qualifier in front of the word unique.  Unique stands alone.  Whatever unique is describing — a person, place, thing, state of being — is like nothing else.  That's what it means.  Something can't be very unique.  How unlike something else can something be than to be like nothing else?  Something can't be kind of unique.  It's either unlike everything else or it's not.  Unique stands alone.  I dance you through this dance so I can say so did Morphine.  They stood alone.  They were unique.  They still are.

Mark Sandman died 10 years ago, and in the intervening years a small amount of the material he left behind has seen release.  The Night was a posthumous album the band was soon to release.  There's been a live bootleg release.  There's a 2-CD collection called Sandbox, which collects Sandman music with his various bands including Treat Her Right and Morphine.  There was a greatest hits package.  Now there's At Your Service.  I got my copy yesterday and haven't listened to it in its entirety yet, but so far I'm reveling in the comfort of listening to the only band that ever sounded like this.  I wouldn't suggest At Your Service as your starting point, but you are politely commanded to give Morphine a listen.

Built to Spill
There Is No Enemy

I recently told the story of how I discovered Built to Spill.  Since that discovery, I've relished the musical magic of albums that came before Keep it Like a Secret and fell deeply in awe of You In Reverse.  Doug Martsch returns with the followup this week, There is No Enemy.  I got an advance of this late last week and have listened to it from beginning to end once and have picked my way through it a time or two since. 

I like what I've heard so far.  It has the familiar BTS sound.  I haven't gotten to explore the songs or textures carefully enough to tell you about the ways they've expanded, evolved, or changed.  The basic blueprints of previous BTS albums are evident:  Martsch has a distinctive voice that sounds like a cross between Shannon Hoon and Neil Young and he's a fantastic guitar player.  The ballad "Life's a Dream" has been the first song to emerge from the pack for me.  Each time I listen to the album, it rises above the rest.  I'm sure others will, too, in time.  We'll come back to this one. In the meantime, Mark Saleski has the goods on it.

Here's the full rundown:

Air
Love 2

Michael Bublé
Crazy Love

Built to Spill
There Is No Enemy

Brandi Carlile
Give Up the Ghost

Toby Keith
American Ride

Osso
Run Rabbit Run

Tokio Hotel
Humanoid

Kurt Vile
Childish Prodigy

Brian Auger
Definitely What!/Open

Backstreet Boys
This Is Us

Backstreet Boys
This Is Us [Bonus DVD]

Bad Lieutenant
Never Cry Another Tear

Lou Barlow
Goodnight Unknown

Black Hollies
Softly Towards the Light

Karl Blau
Zebra

Blue Collar Comedy Tour
The Best of Blue Collar Comedy

Luke Bryan
Doin' My Thing

Joe Budden
Escape Route

D.L. Byron
This Day and Age

Califone
All My Friends Are Funeral Singers

Rosanne Cash
The List

Exene Cervenka
Somewhere Gone

Riccardo Chailly
Mendelssohn Discoveries

Sarah Chang
Bruch, Brahms: Violin Concertos

Ray Charles
The Spirit of Christmas [Remastered] [Bonus Track]

The Clientele
Bonfires on the Heath

Joe Cocker
Live at Woodstock

John Coltrane
Side Steps

DJ Spooky
The Secret Song [Bonus DVD]

Betty Davis
Is It Love or Desire

Betty Davis
Nasty Gal

Dead Man's Bones
Dead Man's Bones

John Denver
Unplugged in the U.S.S.R.

Joyce DiDonato
Rossini: Colbran, the Muse

Amy Dickson
Amy Dickson plays Glass, Tavener & Nyman

Mike Doughty
Sad Man Happy Man

Gustavo Dudamel
Discoveries

The Dutchess & the Duke
Sunset/Sunrise

Eddie & the Hot Rods
The Singles Collection

Tinsley Ellis
Speak No Evil

Bill Engvall
Aged and Confused

Evangelista
Prince of Truth

Everclear
In a Different Light

Fat Joe
Jealous Ones Still Envy (J.O.S.E. 2)

Orenda Fink
Ask the Night

Lita Ford
Wicked Wonderland

Gogol Bordello
Live from Axis Mundi

Gossip
Music for Men

Vince Guaraldi
The Definitive Vince Guaraldi

Calvin Harris
Ready for the Weekend

Grant Hart
Hot Wax

Headlights
Wildlife

Hockey
Mind Chaos

HORSE the Band
Desperate Living

Shafiq Husayn
Shafiq En' A-Free-Ka

The Jesus Lizard
Down [Deluxe Remastered Reissue]Goat [Deluxe Remastered Reissue]Head [Deluxe Remastered Reissue]Liar [Deluxe Remastered Reissue]

King Tubby & The Dynamites
Sound System International

Lake
Let's Build a Roof

Blake Lewis
Heartbreak on Vinyl

Lights
The Listening

Lucero
1372 Overton Park

Dean Martin
My Kind of Christmas

Mayday Parade
Anywhere But Here

Eugene Mirman
God Is a Twelve Year Old Boy with Asperger's

Mission of Burma
The Sound the Speed the Light

Morphine
At Your Service

The Mountain Goats
Life of the World to Come

Music Go Music
Expressions

Me'Shell Ndegéocello
Devil's Halo

Noah and The Whale
The First Days of Spring

Nick Oliveri
Death Acoustic

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About Josh Hathaway

  • http://www.riddledphantasms.com R.P.M.

    Shocked they are still around or at least selling, hard to make money without touring these days though, too many crooks stealing music…anyhow good indie band, no GREAT indie band. I guess it’s not the same since Mark died though, that guy was golden, horrible loss to the music world and I am sure those who knew him best. He made some awesome music along the way and this is def. worth a look if you like something that isn’t Kings of Leon or Paramore and you want something a lot smoother, darker and certainly different. No one has come really too close to replicating the Morphine sound.

    I am pretty sure he just had a two string bass and those vocals were like… :)

    If you like music from the mid 90s, when Ben Harper was acoustic and Jeff Buckley was still alive you will love this (though not exactly like those bands, unique like them in their own way…throw the bands Seam, Soul Coughing and Slint in the mix while you’re at it).

  • http://www.riddledphantasms.com R.P.M.

    Also didn’t see this, but Built to Spill, with or without cello (I prefer with) is still one of the greatest indie rock bands of all-time. I can’t vouch for this album, but if you want to start off right grab their first two albums, “Ultimate Alternative Wavers” featuring the song of the same name as the band that has some great lyrics and some amazing tunes.

    And also one of my favorite albums ever not a song on here misses, their sophomore release “There’s Nothing Wrong with Love”. Doug knows how to write songs and work bend notes like no other.

  • http://www.riddledphantasms.com R.P.M.

    Also I got a press release from some where not Blogcritics that said one of the Backstreet Boys has Swine Flu…bizarre, bizarre.