This is not a busy week for new album releases by any stretch.
Still, there are a number of tasty new CDs to talk about, including new solo releases from an ex-Kink and an ex-Jayhawk, as well as an enhanced, reissued version of a power-pop classic by one of the greatest producers of the late seventies "new wave" era — a guy known to friends and confidantes simply as "Basher."
Proof that even in a slow new release week there are still choices. There are always choices.
So let's dive right in, shall we?
From "Dedicated Follower of Fashion" to "Lola" to "Celluloid Heroes," Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Ray Davies has written some of the greatest — and most distinctly British — pop/rock songs of the twentieth century with the Kinks. On his second solo album, Working Man's Cafe, Davies is said to flip that script somewhat with a record where the songs take on more of an American focus.
Many of the songs here were written after the twin American tragedies of 9/11 and Katrina (a number of them were also reportedly written in New Orleans). Always a wry observer of culture, Davies' best work combines his always sharp wit with just a touch of sarcasm. It should be interesting to see how that is applied here on Davies' "American album." A bonus, expanded edition features a documentary DVD directed by Davies himself that includes footage from his 2001 solo Storyteller tour.
Another British legend, Nick "Basher" Lowe gets the expanded reissue treatment this week with a deluxe edition of his power-pop classic, Jesus Of Cool. During the late seventies new wave era, Lowe was one of the most sought after producers in music, following his great work on the first three Elvis Costello albums (which many fans, including myself, still regard as his best). Lowe also did double-duty co-fronting the great band Rockpile with guitarist Dave Edmunds.
Lowe's first album Jesus Of Cool was released in altered form in America as 1978's Pure Pop For Now People (the original title made Lowe's American record label nervous), and was quickly recognized as a masterpiece of post-punk power pop. On this expanded reissue, both the British and American versions are combined so you get 21 tracks total — virtually everything is here for the first time ever.
I got my copy of this last week through the kindness of fellow Blogcritic Bill Sherman, and it hasn't left my CD changer since. There are too many great songs here to list, but "Little Hitler," the original version of "Cruel To Be Kind" and the Bay City Rollers tribute (?) "Rollers Show" are reason enough to pick up this classic.
One of my favorite bands from the nineties was the Jayhawks, who made great American folk-rock in the tradition of bands like the Byrds and the Band on such albums as Smile and especially the great Hollywood Town Hall. On his first solo album Vagabonds, Jayhawks singer-songwriter Gary Louris is joined by the likes of the Black Crowes’ Chris Robinson (who also co-produced), the Bangles' Susanna Hoffs, and Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis.
Rounding out this week's highlights are the Raveonettes Lust, Lust, Lust (check out the BC review by Mat Brewster), and The Golden Age, Mark Eitzel's latest recording under the American Music Club moniker.
Or is it Exercises in Futility? Amazon lists one, Ribot's label Tzadik has the other, allmusic has both! No matter… I'll take either.
Marc Ribot is an amazingly diverse guitar player who takes on everything from jazz (straight ahead to twisted beyond recognition), rock (Elvis Costello, Tom Waits), and great projects like Ceramic Dog and Los Cubanos Postizos (the prosthetic Cubans… love that name). Ribot is also on that Allison Krauss/Robert Plant record that's been making so many waves lately.
Anyhow, I know absolutely nothing about this new record (whatever it ends up being called), but a new Ribot album is always something to look forward to.
Tom Johnson did not contribute a pick this week.
Here are all of this week's new album releases courtesy of All Music Guide.
American Music Club
The Golden Age
Alternative Singer/Songwriter, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Working Man's Cafe
Jesus of Cool [Bonus Tracks]
Pop/Rock, Power Pop, New Wave, Rock & Roll
Contemporary Singer/Songwriter, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Folk-Rock
Lust Lust Lust
Noise Pop, Indie Rock
Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel
Experimental Rock, Indie Rock
Percussion(s) [Includes Book and DVD]
Modern and Contemporary Music for Percussion
Jump Blues, R&B
For Emma, Forever Ago
Alternative Singer/Songwriter, Indie Rock
Peter Brotzmann/Peeter Uuskyla
Free Improvisation, Avant-Garde Jazz, Free Jazz
Vincent Persichetti: Complete Piano Sonatas
Modern Piano Music
My Life's Been a Country Song
Contemporary Country, Country-Pop
Dig That Treasure
Experimental, Indie Pop, Experimental Rock, Post-Rock/Experimental
A Cursive Memory
Alternative Pop/Rock, Punk-Pop, Emo
Contemporary Singer/Songwriter, Alternative Pop/Rock
Roky Erickson & the Explosives
Garage Rock, Psychedelic, Rock & Roll, Proto-Punk
Faces of the Night
Experimental Rock, Post-Rock/Experimental
The R&B Sessions: Elvira/Tell It Like It Is
Rock & Roll, Pub Rock
Schoenberg: Pierrot Lunaire; Brattl-Lieder
Modern Vocal Music
The Grand Archives
Indie Pop, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock
Some Racing, Some Stopping
Indie Pop, Indie Rock
Levon Helm & the RCO All-Stars/American Son
Roots Rock, Country-Rock, Rock & Roll
Modern Electric Blues, Soul-Blues, R&B
Safe and Sound
Left-Field House, Club/Dance, Techno
Americana, Alternative Country, Progressive Bluegrass, Progressive Country
Contemporary Singer/Songwriter, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Roots Rock
The Mountain Goats
Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Thomas Pasatieri: Hotel Casablanca
Come into My House
Robert Hugill: The Testament of Dr. Cranmer and Other Works
Contemporary Sacred Choral Music
University of Calgary Wind Ensemble
Contemporary Music for Wind Ensemble
14 Kt. God
Kill Rock Stars
Indie Electronic, Indie Pop
Seven Mary Three
Day & Nightdriving
Post-Grunge, Alternative Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock
Donita Sparks & The Stellar Moments
Alternative Pop/Rock, Hard Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter
Throw Me the Statue
Indie Pop, Indie Rock, Lo-Fi
Don't Press Your Luck! The in Sound of 60's Connecticut
Garage Rock, Rock & Roll
Billy Vera & the Beaters
Hopeless Romantic: The Best of Billy Vera & the Beaters
Blue-Eyed Soul, Soul