In this week's edition of the new album releases, we find things starting to pick up a bit as the record industry begins to lumber back to life following the post-holiday season hangover. But before we get to that, a few housekeeping items are in order.
Change is afoot here at the weekly new album release column. And we think they are some changes that you regular readers here are going to like. Beginning with this week's column, in addition to my regular rundown of all the new releases, we are going to begin including a weekly feature where a guest BC writer will focus in on a personal album pick of note, and write a few choice words on why this particular release might merit your own special attention.
The good news, is that for this daunting task I've enlisted two of BC's very best music writers.
You already know Mark Saleski as something of the unofficial "dean" of BC music critics, and for his two popular columns, The Friday Morning Listen and the sadly, soon to be retired feature Tuesday Morning Purchase (but I'll let Sir Mark tell you more about that in his own space here at BC).
Although Mark has decided to retire his Tuesday feature, he has graciously agreed to continue on the tradition of a weekly pick right here in the new album release column. And so…drumroll please…this week it gives me great pleasure to announce the debut of Saleski's Choice.
Oh, but that's not all boys and girls.
Since any great team's backup needs to be just as good as the starting lineup, we will also be joined here from time to time by the one and only Tom Johnson. In addition to being another of BC's star music writers, Tom offers his own rather unique perspectives on all things tune-related in his own ongoing regular BC feature Re:Collection. Like Sir Mark, when it comes to music Tom is a guy who knows what he's talking about. Tom has also agreed to contribute his own picks here on a semi-regular basis.
Either I'm the luckiest weekly new release columnist on the planet, or these two guys have hatched an evil master plan to put me out of business. Time will tell, but the way I see it, the readers win. So, with the introductions out of the way, and without further adieu, we bring you…
Among some of my Internet friends, I'm known for being into "obscure" jazz. I suppose this is true, though given the average person's engagement with the jazz world (face it people, it's a pretty small number, percentage-wise), the definition of "obscure" is a slippery one.
Now that my role on new release day has been reduced (somehow, it feels 'enhanced' at the same time) to a single album's entry, it seems proper that I keep up my end of the bargain.
Which is why I'm selecting a country record.
Thanks goodness for Sundazed Records. They have reissued so many cool & obscure (hey, there's that word again) rock, country, soul, surf, and rockabilly albums. In this era of the bean-counter-driven record label, it's heartening to see that somebody out there still cares about music.
Sundazed has been a champion of the entire Buck Owens & the Buckaroos back catalog, and this entry adds to the legacy. Check it out, because Buck was much more than an guy who played guitar and laughed at bad jokes on Hee Haw.
And not to be outdone, here is…
Things fall through the cracks, whether it be a tiny band that many don't notice or a major artist that many write off as a has-been. For whatever reason, the publicity machine churns is fueled by certain combinations of factors that few really understand, and so much good music goes unnoticed. Take Super Furry Animals, for example. They're not that strange that the mainstream can't get into them and yet they've never really taken off, especially here in the U.S. But a rabid fanbase they do have, there's no doubt about that. Perhaps that's why they seem to have been part of an experiment of sorts.
Maybe as a sign of "things to come," this album came out back in the early fall on vinyl and mp3, with the CD release held off for months – but only in the U.S.
Now that it's coming out on CD, however – and here's the "ha ha – burn!" – it's coming with a second disc of extra songs, five to be exact (one is a video, however.) Ooohh – feel the sting. Are they worth the extra investment? Well, I don't really recall finding any casual SFA fans – people either want it all or nothing when it comes to this band. Few aren't going to want these, but, as these things go when it comes to die-hard fans, some may already have them as singles b-sides.
As has been the case with the previous Super Furry reissues, those "leftover tracks" found on singles are really just songs they couldn't fit logically into the flow of the album – not necessarily throwaway songs. We fans seem to make out pretty well with this band, even if maybe Love Kraft didn't quite meet the high expectations many had. Word is that Hey Venus! makes up for lost time.
Finally, for the rest of the week's new offerings, we have these to chew on…
On Jukebox, her latest album of cover versions by other artists, Chan "Cat Power" Marshall takes on the songs of Joni Mitchell, and Bob Dylan's born-again years. The Drive-By Truckers are also back with Brighter Than Creation's Dark, their latest collection of greasy, countrified, funkified southern rock.
Liam Finn shows that he is more than just a chip off the old block (you might know his old man from Crowded House), with I'll Be Lightning. The North Mississippi Allstars return with Hernando. Coldplay frontman Chris Martin's favorite Canadian psychedelic metal band Black Mountain is back with In the Future, and seventies prog-pioneers Emerson Lake & Palmer revisit volumes one and two of their Works.
Here are all of this week's new album releases courtesy of All Music Guide:
Brighter Than Creation's Dark
Alternative Country-Rock, Southern Rock, Hard Rock
I'll Be Lightning
Alternative Singer/Songwriter, Indie Pop, Indie Rock
North Mississippi Allstars
Songs of the South
Retro-Rock, American Trad Rock, Roots Rock, Blues-Rock, Southern Rock
Best Tracks and Side Tracks 1979-2007
Country-Rock, Roots Rock, Alternative Country, Alternative Country-Rock, Americana, Country-Folk
Safe Inside the Day
Pocketful of Sunshine
Teen Pop, Dance-Pop, Adult Contemporary
Experimental Big Band, Jewish Music, Avant-Garde Jazz, Jazz-Rock, Fusion, World Fusion, Modern Creative
In the Future
Neo-Prog, Space Rock, Neo-Psychedelia, Indie Rock, Prog-Rock/Art Rock
Bodies of Water
Ears Will Pop & Eyes Will Blink
British Punk, Punk
Kyle Gann: Private Dances
Contemporary Keyboard & Chamber Music
Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock
Live at Low End Theory
IDM, Ambient Techno, Indie Electronic, Experimental Techno
Razor & Tie
Indie Rock, Roots Rock, Neo-Psychedelia
Destroy All Monsters
Live in Tokyo & Osaka
Obscuro, Detroit Rock, Proto-Punk, Alternative Pop/Rock
Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Works, Vol. 1
Prog-Rock/Art Rock, Album Rock
Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Works, Vol. 2
Prog-Rock/Art Rock, Album Rock
The Evening Descends
American Underground, College Rock, Jangle Pop, Alternative Pop/Rock
Take a Good Look
Garage Rock Revival
Juan Diego Florez
Arias for Rubini
Romantic Italian Opera Arias
Teacher Fe di Class 1979-1980
Blood and Fire
Indie Electronic, Contemporary R&B
Instruments of Science and Technology
Music from the Films of R/Swift
Indie Electronic, Experimental Ambient
Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Americana, Contemporary Folk
Sneaky Pete Kleinow
Country-Rock, Traditional Country
Watch the Sky
Contemporary Singer/Songwriter, Contemporary Folk
The Purple Tape
Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter
Indie Electronic, Indie Pop, Neo-Psychedelia
Standards & Ballads
The Definitive Collection
British Folk, Singer/Songwriter, British Folk-Rock
Sticks and Stones
Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, American Trad Rock, Jam Bands
Charles Wuorinen: Archaeopteryx
Contemporary Chamber Music
Takashi Yoshimatsu: Stellar Dream Dances
Contemporary Chamber Music
Original TV Soundtrack
Dr. Who: Series 3
Television Music, TV Soundtracks, Soundtracks
Live in Scandinavia
Bakersfield Sound, Honky Tonk, Traditional Country
The Pack A.D.
Garage Rock Revival, Punk Blues, Blues-Rock
Savoy Family Band
Turn Loose But Don't Let Go
Bring Me Home
Folksongs, Traditional Folk, Folk Revival
Live at the Berks Jazz Fest!
Times New Viking
Rip It Off
Indie Rock, Lo-Fi
Robin Trower/Jack Bruce
Hard Rock, Blues-Rock
Ato – JV
With Blood Comes Cleansing
Heavy Metal, Christian Metal, Death Metal/Black Metal
Film Works, Vol. 19: The Rain Horse
Original Score, Soundtracks, Modern Composition