I’m back, did you miss me? It’s been a very busy couple of weeks preparing our home for the impending arrival of the Unknown Johnson (anytime between now and the end of August!) and a combination of exhaustion and a lack of compelling new releases the past couple weeks kept me away from posting.
Bob Mould: Body of Song – The highlight this week is squarely on Bob Mould’s latest album, Body of Song. As a follow-up to the more electronic, experimental, but ultimately disappointing Modulate, it’s an overwhelming success. And as a new addition to his strong catalog (including Husker Du, Sugar, and his other solo material,) it will probably depend on what era of Mould you like. Those looking for a Sugar fix might be a little disappointed – very little of this album contains the pop buzz Sugar was so good at, but those looking for follow-ups to his first two, more stripped down solo albums Black Sheets of Rain and Workbook might also need some time to adjust, too – less so than the Sugar-enthusiasts, however. Where this album shows the most similarities is with Mould’s post-Sugar solo output, tempering the excessive, naive electronics of Modulate with Mould’s signature razor sharp guitar. Mould’s skills with programming have developed quite well, and there’s very little of the awkward, pre-programmed feeling of Modulate. What you get is an album of guitar rock with a techno edge – nothing new in the music world, but Mould’s particular spin on this style is something new and interesting to listen to. While some may balk at his occasional use of the now-cliche “Cher vocoder” effect she made popular again with “Believe,” if you can listen past it, the songs are as strong as Mould’s work is always known for. Highly recommended is the beautiful deluxe edition (which I spoke about here) that comes with a bonus disc of 9 extra tracks (three of which are unfortunately remixes) and lush packaging.
Garage a Trois: Outre Mer – 8-string guitar/bass virtuoso Charlie Hunter continues his explorations of funk-jazz with saxaphonist Skerik, vibraphonist Mike Dillon, and Galactic as well as (temporary) Corrosion of Conformity (!) drummer Stanton Moore (check their latest, In the Arms of God for a very different outing for Moore!) Outre Mer functions as both a soundtrack and their third release.
Brad: Brad vs. Satchel – To be honest, I really don’t know much about this one – Brad and Satchel are essentially the same band, Brad featuring Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard, but the real power on display comes from singer/keyboardist/guitarist Shawn Smith, whose high, scratchy falsetto allows him to belt out 70s-esque soul as easily as wail dramatically in straight-up rock. All I know is that this consists of outtakes of the two bands material from the later 90s. If you like one band, you’ll likely like the other.
Death Cab for Cutie: Drive Well, Sleep Carefully: On the Road with Death Cab for Cutie – A Film by Justin Mitchell – The title pretty well sums it up – live and “life on the road” footage mingle throughout, so those looking for a straight concert DVD will be disappointed.