:: Friday, April 28, 2006 ::
Friday Five: new music edition
My five favorite new albums of 2006 from eMusic. Click on the album covers to sample the songs.


The New Cars and Blondie: Road Rage

The New Cars and Blondie, Road Rage

Two New Wave icons get together for this four-song live promo for their May-June tour. Debbie Harry's voice isn't as come-hither as it was back in the day, but she can still belt it out, as she proves on "Dreaming." Blondie also does a nice cover of Roxy Music's "More Than This." And the New Cars stars Todd Rundgren as Ric Ocasek, which is kind of weird, but he pulls it off with "Just What I Needed" and the new tune, "Not Tonight." The only old Cars in the New Cars lineup are guitarist Elliot Easton and keyboardist Greg Hawkes. But those two guys, along with Ocasek, pretty much defined the band's glacially cool New Wave sound. Rundgren capably replaces Ocasek, and fellow Utopia bassist Kasim Sulton and Prairie Prince, former drummer for the Tubes, form a nice backdrop for the band. If you were to subscribe to eMusic, this four-song set would cost you exactly a dollar. Well worth the price, IMHO.


The Greatest

Cat Power, The Greatest

I've already raved on this blog about the latest from Cat Power (aka Chan Marshall). Her sultry voice, evocative of Norah Jones but with a rougher, rawer feel to it, does indeed carry power. Most of the tracks on The Greatest are mellow, laid back jazzy affairs, but she spices it up with horns straight out of Memphis, some strings and keyboards, and a sweet pedal steel. This album was actually recorded in Memphis, which may explain some of the influence on her sound. While I think this record is great and well worth the 25 cents a song eMusic will sell it to you for, it comes in a distant second to CP's earlier record, Free.


A Blessing and a Curse

Drive By Truckers, A Blessing and a Curse

This is the one I'm hooked on at the moment. Drive By Truckers are a southern rock band, plain and simple, but the influence of punk and grunge is just as evident as the Rossington-Collins power guitar. They've toned down the Skynyrdesque stylings in A Blessing and a Curse, but the great stories are still there. The Truckers' three songwriters -- Patterson Hood, Mike Cooley and Jason Isbell -- craft lyrics that are solid, specific and detailed, and their stories are often as macabre as anything Flannery O'Connor ever came up with. As one recent review points out, this album is "about crosses borne, relatives and friends who’ve died too soon and those left behind in the crucible. It’s about relationships torn asunder or faded away. It’s also about a rock ’n’ roll band that drinks, smokes and carries on." And yet, it's more than any of those things. It's a collection of songs that is good for the soul.


Fox Confessor Brings the Flood

Neko Case, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood

I swear, I must be going through some sort of country music phase, or stopping too long at CMTV on my channel-surfing forays, or mellowing, or something. First Cat Power, then Drive By Truckers, and now Neko Case. Case, a Canadian crooner who moonlights with the New Pornographers on occasion, has released a fine solo album. Her sweet tones remind me a bit of Patsy Cline. Big Bro thinks she sounds more like Belinda Carlylse. So, I guess she falls somewhere between those extremes. But I agree with Rolling Stone's assessment that she would have been one of the great country singers of the 50s. With Fox Confessor..., her fourth studio release, Case pulls in some talented musicians, such as Garth Hudson of the Band and Calexico’s Joey Burns and John Covertino, to produce a fine CD. I haven't heard much of Case's previous work, other than with New Pornographers and her duet with John Doe on one song from Doe's 2005 release, Forever Hasn't Happened Yet, but I believe this would make a fine introduction to her talents for any listener.


The Life Pursuit


Belle and Sebastian, The Life Pursuit

Plenty of B&S fans probably think the band's best days are behind them, and this album might appear to be the final nail in their twee coffin. But I don't think so. With The Life Pursuit, B&S have produced a shiny, happy pop album, full of jangly guitars and catchy melodies wrapped around clever lyrics. From the "Spirit in the Sky"-influenced opening of "White Collar Boy" to the 60s-ish funk-pop of "For the Price of a Cup of Tea," the sounds of this album tell you Belle & Sebastian are just having a good time doing things differently. That may not make their old fans very happy, but it might win them some new admirers.

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:: Andrew 06:51 + ::
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In rotation

What I've been listening to lately. Click album cover or hyperlink to hear track samples and learn more.

Sermon on Exposition Boulevard Rickie Lee Jones, Sermon on Exposition Boulevard

Children Running Through Patty Griffin, Children Running Through

Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? Of Montreal, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?

Tones of Town Field Music, Tones of Town

The Girl Collection De Bossen, The Girl Collection

Robbers & Cowards Cold War Kids, Robbers & Cowards

Carinvore Simon Dawes, Carnivore

Until Death Comes Frida Hyvonen, Until Death Comes

Tratore Basics 2: New Brazilian Rock Tratore Basics Vol. 2, Novo Rock Brazil

Modern Times Yusuf: An Other Cup

Modern Times The Beatles: Love

Two Thousand The French Kicks: Two Thousand

Paper Television The Blow: Paper Television

Freedom Haters Unite! A Bloodshot Records Sampler, Vol. 1 Freedom Haters Unite! A Bloodshot Records Sampler

Beast Moans Swan Lake: Beast Moans

Prototypes Prototypes: Prototypes

Violence Is Golden Scanners: Violence Is Golden

Mothers, Sisters, Daughters & Wives Voxtrot: Mothers, Sisters, Daughters & Wives

Your Biggest Fan Voxtrot: Your Biggest Fan

Translate Macon Greyson: Translate

Get Evens The Evens: Get Evens

Veruca Salt IV Veruca Salt: Veruca Salt IV

Modern Times Bob Dylan: Modern Times

Look Your Best Pink Tuscadero: Look Your Best

Blue On Blue Leigh Nash: Blue on Blue

I Am  Not Afraid Of  You And I Will Beat Your Ass Yo La Tengo: I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass

Boys and Girls in America The Hold Steady: Boys and Girls in America

The Longest Meow Bobby Bare Jr.: The Longest Meow"

Hello Love The Be Good Tanyas: Hello Love

The Lemonheads The Lemonheads: The Lemonheads

Ben Kweller Ben Kweller: Ben Kweller

We Are The Pipettes The Pipettes: We Are the Pipettes

Surprise Paul Simon: Surprise

Sev7en Exene Cervenka and the Original Sinners: Sev7en

A Hundred Highways Johnny Cash: American V: A Hundred Highways

For the Best of Us The John Doe Thing: For the Best of Us

Runaway Bombshell The Fondas: Runaway Bombshell

Flat-Pack Philosophy Buzzcocks: Flat Pack Philosophy

Citrus Asobi Seksu: Citrus

The Loon Tapes 'n Tapes: The Loon

2006 Pitchfork Music Festival Sampler Various Artists: 2006 Pitchfork Music Festival Sampler (24 free tracks)

News and Tributes The Futureheads: News and Tributes

Zoysia The Bottle Rockets: Zoysia

Let's Get Out of This Country Camera Obscura: Let's Get Out of This Country

Bang Bang Rock & Roll Art Brut: Bang Bang Rock & Roll

A Blessing and a Curse Drive By Truckers: A Blessing and a Curse

Broken Boy Soldiers The Raconteurs: Broken Boy Soldiers

The Life Pursuit Belle and Sebastian: The Life Pursuit

The Greatest Cat Power: The Greatest

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