Neu! Neu! Neu! 2 & Neu! 75 Astralwerks Records By David Pence Last year saw the reissue of three records that have thrown a long shadow across the landscape of rock. These three albums were made by Neu! (pronounced noy and meaning “new”) in Dusseldorf and Hamburg between 1972 and 1975, after Michael Rother and Klaus Dinger had abandoned the fledgling Kraftwerk to work as a duo. In the ensuing three decades, the influence of Neu! has reached bands like Pere Ubu, Joy Division, Mission of Burma, Sonic Youth, and Stereolab.
The Mighty Hannibal Hannibalism! Norton Records By Dylan Morrow West Coast soulster the Mighty Hannibal aka James T. Shaw is a master songwriter and fine vocalist. He is also a great storyteller as exemplified both by his lyrics and in the liner notes accompanying this 28 song collection (there is a nice story about Ray Charles the pilot in here). Apparently this man has made some interesting career moves (for example as a “Master Advisor and Maintainer of Women’s Affairs”) and seen some bad times as attested to in the gospel/funk of “The Truth Shall Make You Free” (containing the line “drugs is just a new name for slavery”). In this instance hard times and heroin made for some interesting music. This collection contains tracks ranging stylistically from 1950’s r&b clatter “Big Chief Hug-Um an’ Kiss-Um” and “My Name is Hannibal” to the deep mournful 70’s soul of the deceptively titled “Party Life”. There is something for the kids with ” Motha !
Sean McGowan River Coffee By Chris Darling Well, in this huge world of music, with “umpteen” artists debuting their work way before their time, few artists I’ve come across match the readiness and musical knowledge of native Mainer, Sean McGowan. Throw in the sonically pure steel-string guitar prowess & Sean’s masterful delivery and this Solo Guitar (DEBUT) release River Coffee displays, and your in for a treat.
This debut release from Sydney, Australia’s Ides of Space arrived at WMPG late last year and promptly blew my teenie little indie mind. Completely skipping a gawky musical adolescence, this quintet managed to show up on the first day of school with a nearly flawless balance of lush, shoe-gazing melody and carefully controlled bursts of thunderous, fuzzy guitar.
Clan/destine Amajacoustic By Valerie Cartonio This is the third release for this band out of Tempe, Arizona. Last year they walked away with a Native American Music Award (NAMMY) for Best Pop/Rock Recording of the Year. Recently, “Clan/destine” was nominated for Best Duo/Group of the Year.
Macy Gray The Id By Lenny Smith Macy Gray set the bar extraordinarily high for herself with her debut album, On How Life Is, her tremendously commercially and artistically successful 1999 release, but with her second offering, The Id, she may have surpassed it. It may take a few thousand more listenings to know for sure, but then, like her first LP, The Id is tremendously repeatable. While this album feels in no way like a copy or a rehash of her first release, there is a continuity with it, and the same lushness of arrangements and astonishing blend of styles and influences. That and Macy’s unique vocals and worldview make for thirteen killer tracks, complete with beautiful booklet with production notes and lyrics.
Paul Weller 22 Dreams Yep Rock Records, 2008 By Ron Raymond WMPG Music Director Once the musical force behind two memorable 80s bands, The Jam and The Style Council, Paul Weller has since made taken his Brit pop/rock to all different kinds of levels. His new album, his ninth solo effort titled 22 Dreams, is no exception. “After [2005’s] As Is Now, I thought the time was right to make the sort of record I wanted to make,” he says of the creative process which led to the new album. “Instead of worrying about anyone else, I wanted to really push the boat out. I think the result is going to surprise a few people.”
The Replacements Don’t you know who I think I was? Best of the Replacements Rhino Records, 2006 By Ron Raymond WMPG Music Director Minneapolis rock heroes The Replacements (led by a rock hero in his own right, Paul Westerberg) have had a best-of compilation before (the fantastic 1997, 2-CD Reprise collection All For Nothing, Nothing For All immediately comes to mind), and I know what you’re saying – why review a compilation that’s already 2 years old? Well, in April 2008, the good folks at Rhino reissued deluxe editions of all of the band’s great early Twin/Tone Records albums Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out The Trash, Stink, Hootenanny and Let It Be. And in honor of that, I thought for those folks looking for a starter course on the music of The Replacements, they should start with this great collection Rhino released before the reissues.
David Byrne & Brian Eno Everything That Happens Will Happen Today Todomundo, Ltd./Opal, 2008 By Ron Raymond WMPG Music Director Alt-rock legends David Byrne and Brian Eno have teamed together for the first time since 1981’s brilliant My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts on a release that, on the one hand, is less experimental and funky than Bush Of Ghosts, and on the other hand, is a more mature recording. Bush Of Ghosts was kind of like a first cousin to the Talking Heads; part of its sound, most notably on the track “The Jezebel Spirit, was very similar to the Talking Heads’ classic “I Zimbra” (from 1979’s Fear Of Music). The new album, though, tends to lean more towards David Byrne’s most recent solo efforts, including 2001’s Look Into The Eyeball, and especially, 2004’s Grown Backwards.
The Smiths The Sound Of The Smiths Sire/Rhino Records; 2008 By Ron Raymond WMPG Music Director Over the years, 80s modern rock heroes, The Smiths, have had their share of greatest hits collections, including the brilliant 1987 collective LOUDER THAN BOMBS. Now, Sire and Rhino have teamed up once again to bring fans THE SOUND OF THE SMITHS, a 23-track, one-CD offering of this 4-man band’s most memorable hits. Included are favorites like “Hand In Glove,” “This Charming Man,” “William, Was It Really Nothing,” “Bigmouth Strikes Again,” “Panic,” “Ask,” “Sheila Take A Bow,” “Girlfriend In A Coma,” the full-length version of “How Soon Is Now?” and the John Peel Sessions version of “What Difference Does It Make?”