A list of six recent releases to add to your music collection
The other day a customer asked about the old Triple Play Top 10, a list which used to run with this column. The customer said that she relied on it for some of her new music purchases.
After telling her that the list hasn’t run for a couple of years, she asked me for some current recommendations.
So here they are:
Robbie Robertson, “How to Become Clairvoyant” — This is one of the best CDs of the year. Robertson, lead guitarist for the Band, had a hand in great songs such as “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” “Up On Cripple Creek” and “The Weight.”
This 12-song CD features Eric Clapton (on seven songs), Steve Winwood, Trent Reznor, Robert Randolph and Tom Morello.
Morello, guitarist extraordinaire from Rage Against the Machine, solos on “Axeman,” Robertson’s tribute to his guitar heroes. Take my word for it, if you haven’t heard Morello play, you should. He is amazing.
Steve Earle, “I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive” — This is my favorite recording from Steve Earle since “Transcendental Blues” 11 years ago.
Named after a Hank Williams song and full of songs that, according to Earle’s liner notes, are “all about morality, one way or another,” “I’ll Never Get Out” is Earle’s most diversified effort to date.
Among the 11 songs on this CD, you will hear country, rockabilly, Cajun, Celtic, rock and folk blues in a seamless mix that is one of Earle’s finest.
Paul Simon, “So Beautiful or So What” — This album was hyped by some as Simon’s best solo record since his first album, “Paul Simon,” from 1972. I am not so sure about that, but I definitely think it is his best since the highly acclaimed “Graceland.”
The topics are familiar for Simon’s generation of singer/songwriters: love, loss, mortality and passion. Simon’s return to the 1970s is in songwriting style more than it is recording style. The recording is modern, but it is still obvious to me that Simon is still one of the world’s great singer/songwriters.
For those of you who don’t think there are any good newer or younger bands making worthwhile recordings I give you the following:
Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, “Unida Cantina” — Throughout his career, originally in the Refreshments and now with the Peacemakers, Clyne’s songs have always been humorous, fun to listen to, poignant and socially conscious.
“Unida Cantina” is no different, and “Heaven on a Paper Plate” just might be this summer’s anthem with these lyrics: “So the bill collector’s gonna have to wait / I got a long, long line of friends Flowin’ through my back gate / Don’t-cha wonder what the poor folks are doin’ tonight? We got heaven on a paper plate.”
The Strokes, “Angles” — Coming out almost 10 years after its debut album “Is This It,” this New York City quintet is back with its most ambitious and accessible recording to date. In the five years since the band’s last release, some members released solo projects, which seems to have made them more focused than ever.
This is fun, playful, uplifting retro pop that evokes memories of the Beatles, Velvet Underground and the Cars.
The Decemberists, “The King is Dead” — Led by Montana native Colin Meloy and now living in Portland, this seven piece band has hit another mark with its sixth record.
Leaving progressive rock behind and turning toward a sound that resembles folk music from the Appalachians, The Decemberists have released what I think will be a record that transcends time.
What is nice to about this band is its appeal to such a wide demographic of listeners, one of the essential tools for longevity in this business.
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