Saturday , June 15 2024
Barack, Ballads, Remixes, and...Centipedes?

New Album Releases 01/20/09: Umphrey’s McGee, Andrew Bird, Tuatara, Mariah Carey, Thom Yorke, From The Heart Series, & More

At this very early point in the new year, it's not surprising to see a lot of reissue packages still making their way to record stores, and that is exactly what we've got for you this week. We've got your Mariah Carey ballads, your Thom Yorke remixes — we've even got an entire new series of repackaged albums from some of your favorite artists headed your way this week from the folks at Legacy.

Of course, it's also Inauguration Day. The historic swearing in of Barack Obama as our President will most likely already be underway for many of you by the time you read this. It's one of those days where a lot of you will always remember just where you were, what you were doing, and who you were with.

But for Chicagoans, today is particularly special. Perhaps that is why Chicago band Umphrey's McGee have chosen this day to release their two-years-in-the-making new album, Mantis. This is a band that has grown itself a devoted following largely through its concerts, which always feature plenty of improvisation and experimentation, and where the band often works out their new material onstage.

Here, in a change of pace, the band is offering all-new, never-before-heard material that was entirely conceived in the studio. The advance word (well at least according to our own Pico), is that this also represents what could be Umphrey's most progressive and fully realized work to date.

The Eraser, the solo album released by Radiohead's Thom Yorke a few years back, is given a re-imagining on The Eraser Rmxs. It features remixed versions of every track on the original album, all done by some of Yorke's favorite artists, and apparently with his blessing. The release was previously only available as a Japanese import.

Legacy's new From The Heart series, brings together complete albums of previously released material by artists ranging from Babyface to Miles Davis to Sinatra to Dolly Parton, presumably with some sort of romantic theme. Some of Mariah Carey's own biggest romantic hits are repackaged while she is otherwise between projects on The Ballads [US].

Josh Hathaway checks in with his thoughts on the new Tuatara in just a second. But first, NAR welcomes back contributor Tom Johnson, who is here to tell you why the new Andrew Bird reminds him of a centipede. Take it away, TJ…

Tom Johnson's Tasters Choice: Andrew Bird – Noble Beast/Useless Creatures

I hear a good melody and I am hooked – the kind of thing that sounds like it is crawling over and through the nooks and crannies of the music as if a centipede is making its way through the busy forest undergrowth. And that's what Bird's music is – busy forest undergrowth, with a beautiful melody weaving its way through it, across it, and sometimes opposed to it. The lush background is entrancing, often based much on hymn – Bird plays violin, guitar, mandolin, and glockenspiel, (not to mention whistling), sometimes looping it all.

But the listener may just be most drawn to his vocal melody, which is that centipede I mention above, tasked not only with flexing and bending over a complex terrain, but also with the intricately verbose, multi-syllabic lyrics Bird can't help but explore in every song. It seems like odd, demanding music when described, but the results are serene and beautiful, the kind of thing that, for the right listeners, quickly becomes a favorite – and Bird seems to be finding a growing fanbase with each release.

Note: Skip the one-disc release and head straight for the deluxe, two-disc release, which features a second album of instrumental music. You won't be sorry.

Josh Hathaway's Fanboy Pick: Tuatara – The Here & The Gone

"A Grainy Taste" is more than the first song on an album; it's an invitation to explore the mystical places of the universe and the human spirit. Not a bad way to spend an hour of your life, is it?

Tuatara's seventh studio album is a collaboration with poet, professor, and spoken word performer Coleman Barks. He contributed to the band's East of the Sun, one of the first Tuatara discs to include vocals, but was one of many voices. With Here, he takes center stage as the lone "vocalist." I wasn't sure an entire album of spoken word poetry and music would hold up, but Barks' inimitable delivery and Tuatara's expansive musical vocabulary complement each other in special, beautiful, and unexpected ways.

Originally slated for release in November 2008 it was pushed back until this week. I'm happy to tell you it was well worth the wait.

Here are all of this week's new album releases courtesy of All Music Guide:

Animal Collective
Merriweather Post Pavilion
Experimental Rock, Indie Rock

Antony and the Johnsons
The Crying Light
Secretly Canadian
Chamber Pop, Alternative Pop/Rock

Andrew Bird
Noble Beast
Fat Possum
Adult Alternative Pop/Rock

A.C. Newman
Get Guilty
Indie Pop, Indie Rock

The Albums
Swedish Pop/Rock, Pop/Rock, Euro-Pop, AM Pop

Air Supply
From the Heart
Soft Rock, Adult Contemporary

From the Heart
Contemporary R&B, Adult Contemporary, Urban, Quiet Storm

Alligator Purse
Yep Roc
Traditional Cajun, Zydeco

Andrew Bird
Noble Beast/Useless Creatures
Fat Possum
Adult Alternative Pop/Rock

Bon Iver
Blood Bank
Alternative Singer/Songwriter, Indie Rock

Anthony Braxton
Quartet (Moscow) 2008
Experimental Big Band, Avant-Garde Jazz, Free Jazz, Avant-Garde, Structured Improvisation, Creative Orchestra

Mariah Carey
The Ballads [US]
Pop, Pop, Club/Dance, Adult Contemporary, Adult Contemporary, Urban, Urban, Dance-Pop

Cash Cash
Take It to the Floor
Universal Republic
Emo-Pop, Pop, New Wave/Post-Punk Revival

Clue to Kalo
Lily Perdida
Indie Electronic, Indie Pop

Cut Off Your Hands
You and I
French Kiss
New Wave/Post-Punk Revival, Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock

Miles Davis
From the Heart
Modal Music, Post-Bop, Cool

Miles Davis
Kind of Blue [Legacy Edition]
Modal Music, Hard Bop, Post-Bop

Tony DeSare
Radio Show
Standards, Contemporary Jazz, Vocal Jazz

Fiction Family
Fiction Family
Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter

Aretha Franklin
From the Heart
Contemporary R&B, Urban, Quiet Storm, Soul

Benny Golson
New Time, New 'Tet

The Isley Brothers
From the Heart
Epic/T Neck/Legacy
Quiet Storm, Soul, Smooth Soul, Urban

Jackie-O Motherfucker
The Blood of Life
Experimental Rock, Indie Rock, Space Rock, Post-Rock/Experimental

Etta James
From the Heart
Ballads, Vocal Jazz, Standards

Dawn is Breaking: Choral Music from Latvia
Contemporary Choral & Chamber Music

MV & EE/The Golden Road
Drone Trailer
Dicristina Stair
Lo-Fi, Noise Pop, Post-Rock/Experimental, Indie Rock

Matt & Kim
One Label
Indie Rock

Jane Monheit
The Lovers, the Dreamers and Me
Vocal Jazz, Contemporary Jazz, Standards, American Popular Song

Ben Nichols
The Last Pale Light in the West
Rebel Group
Alternative Country-Rock, Indie Rock

The 1900s
Medium High
Indie Pop, Chamber Pop

North Mississippi Allstars
Do It Like We Used to Do
Songs of the South
Roots Rock, Blues-Rock, Southern Rock

Roger O'Donnell
Songs from the Silver Box
Great Society

Simon Rattle
Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique; La mort de Cléopâtre
EMI Classics
Romantic Music for Orchestra

Jonathan Stockhammer
Wolfgang Rihm: Symphonies 1 & 2; Nachtwach; etc.
Haenssler Classic
Contemporary Music for Orchestra & Chorus

Markus Weiser
Reinhold Friedl: Schönberg Pierrot Lunaire Cheap Imitation
Contemporary Music for Voice & Ensemble

Dolly Parton
From the Heart
Country-Pop, Progressive Country

Urban, Contemporary R&B

Psychic Ills
Mirror Eye
Social Registry
Experimental Rock, Space Rock, Indie Rock

Reel Big Fish
Fame, Fortune and Fornication
Rock Ridge
Third Wave Ska Revival, Ska-Punk, Punk Revival

Frank Sinatra
From the Heart
Columbia/RCA Victor/Legacy
Traditional Pop, Vocal Pop, Big Band, Swing

Frank Sinatra
Seduction: Sinatra Sings of Love
Vocal Jazz, Traditional Pop, Ballads

Studio 1
Studio 1
Studio 1
Minimal Techno, Techno-Dub, Experimental Dub, Experimental Techno, Club/Dance, Techno

Mezcal Head [Bonus Tracks]
Second Motion/Hi-Speed Soul
Shoegaze, Alternative Pop/Rock

Raise [Bonus Tracks]
Second Motion/Hi-Speed Soul
Shoegaze, Alternative Pop/Rock

Titus Andronicus
The Airing of Grievances
New Wave/Post-Punk Revival, Indie Rock

Conway Twitty
Lost in the Feeling
Shout! Factory
Nashville Sound/Countrypolitan, Country-Pop

Umphrey's McGee
Sci Fidelity
Jam Bands, Prog-Rock/Art Rock

Univers Zéro
Relaps: Archives 1984-1986
Avant-Prog, Prog-Rock/Art Rock

Wicked Witch
Chaos: 1978-1986
Experimental Rock, Funk

Thom Yorke
The Eraser Rmxs
Indie Electronic, Experimental Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock

About Glen Boyd

Glen Boyd is the author of Neil Young FAQ, released in May 2012 by Backbeat Books/Hal Leonard Publishing. He is a former BC Music Editor and current contributor, whose work has also appeared in SPIN, Ultimate Classic Rock, The Rocket, The Source and other publications. You can read more of Glen's work at the official Neil Young FAQ site. Follow Glen on Twitter and on Facebook.

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