Top Five Most Interesting New Releases:
Isobel Campbell: Milk White Sheets (V2) – The former Belle & Sebastian member is back with her second album of the year. This time around there’s no Mark Lanegan and no country-ish ballads. Stylistically, Milk White Sheets is more in line with her Gentle Waves and Amorino sound. She mixes original material with traditional folk songs. James Iha and Eugene Kelly make guest appearances. Mellow songs, acoustic guitars, cello and her pretty voice.
Karen Dalton: In My Own Time (Light in the Attic) – This is one of those lost folk treasures (first time on CD). You know the kind... a bunch of artists you respect will explain its brilliance and the press materials will tell you how Dalton was a muse for many. She’s got one of those love it or hate it voices. I only listened to a few songs, but unfortunately fell into the latter category. If you’re into the acid folk scene, you should check it out and decide for yourself. Download “Katie Cruel”
Pavement: Wowee Zowee – Sordid Sentinels Edition (Matador) – Here’s Matador’s super special deluxe two-disc reissue of Pavement’s third album. I remember a lot people didn’t like it when it came out, but a lot of contrarians now say it’s their favorite Pavement record (I’ll vote for Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain which no real Pavement fan ever votes for). If you’re smarter than I, you already pre-ordered it and got a free 7” and live download. I didn’t, so I’ll have to go pick it up at the record store. At least I’ve still got a mint condition original vinyl pressing. Take that. Download “Rattled By the Rush” and “Heckler Spray/ In the Mouth of a Desert” Letter Grade: B+
Various Artists: This American Life - Stories of Hope & Fear (Shout Factory) – All of my smarty pants college friends totally love This American Life. For the uninitiated, it’s a weekly radio program hosted by Ira Glass that airs on public radio. Each week is a thought-provoking exploration of some aspect of American life. This two-disc collection is comprised of 11 segments of the program. There are standup routines, interviews, confrontations with phone companies and stories from great writers like David Sedaris. The musical backdrop comes from people you love like Sonic Youth, RZA and Blonde Redhead. This collection is a great companion on a road trip and would make a great holiday gift for under $20. You can check out the Sedaris’ bit here: David Sedaris: "So a Chipmunk and a Squirrel Walk Into a Bar"
Voxtrot: Your Biggest Fan (Playlouder) – I can’t recommend these Ausinites highly enough especially if you like music like the Smiths, C86 and Belle and Sebastian. This kid is such a good songwriter (I put him on par with James Mercer as one of my favorite songwriters today). This is only three songs, but after I got it in the mail I couldn’t stop listening to it. You can stream all three on Myspace. On “Sway” he finally realizes (with the help of the Tosca String Quartet) the chamber pop promise that’s been around since the early press materials comparing him to the Left Banke and Love. Lyrically he explores fading love, fame and even gives a shout out to Cherry Red. Who’s he talking about there? Lawrence from Felt? They just played the Troubadour and I really enjoyed the show. Sure they could be tighter, but they’re still a young band. They’re building a very admirable relationship with their audience - the kind of show where 100 people got in line at the merch table after the gig. Download “Trouble” Letter Grade: A
Other Noteworthy Releases:
31 Knots: Polemics EP (Polyvinyl) – I don’t like how they put Kris Kristofferson in their list of ironic influences on Myspace. Hey guys, don’t dismiss his early 1970’s stuff. Their real influences are probably math rock, Fugazi, Modest Mouse maybe? See them at Spaceland on 12/9. Download “Sedition’s Wish”
Bee Gees: The Studio Albums 1967-1968 (Reprise) – If you think you don’t like the Bee Gees because of the disco stuff but you haven’t heard their earlier stuff, then do yourself a favor and give it a shot. I’m not ultra-familiar with these records, but I really like Odessa which came right after these. A $60 box set probably isn’t your best entry point, but it probably means hardcore fans will dump their old versions at the used record shops and you can pick them up on the cheap.
The Evens: Get Even (Dischord) – Do you like Fugazi and Minor Threat? Me too. Did you know Ian MacKaye’s in this band with his special lady friend?
PJ Harvey: Peel Sessions 1991-2004 (Island)
Owen: At Home with Owen (Polyvinyl) – Owen is Mike Kinsella of Cap’n Jazz, Joan of Arc, etc. Harp compared him to Elliott Smith, Joe Pernice, Nick Drake and Paul Westerberg. Download “Bad News” See him at the El Rey on 11/22.
The Slip: Eisenhower (Bar/None) – I was thinking, why does this sound familiar? And I remembered that I got this in the mail a while back. Obviously I wasn’t feeling it, but maybe you will? They’re touring with My Morning Jacket and I like them. Probably more for the jam band crowd? Download “Even Rats” See them at the Knitting Factory on 11/12. Letter Grade: D+