Sometimes you get a nice surprise from a new CD release that maybe you weren't expecting. Case in point: 2 recent releases have me humming along; Rhett Miller's Rhett Miller and Peter Holapple and Chris Stamey's Here and Now. These CDs don't grab you by the throat and say listen to me, but they subtly tickle your ears and echo in your head.
Rhett Miller is the lead singer for the The Old 97's, the fantastic Texas alt-country band. This is his 3rd major solo release; the first was 2002's The Instigator, a superb and lively affair; his second, 2006's The Believer, was a bit of a let down for me; and now his 2009 release is a return to form. The CD's high points are many; Happy Birthday Don't Die is simply one of the best songs of the year; Caroline, If It's Not Love, Like Love, No One Say I Love You Anymore are strong compositions; Haphazardly and Sometimes are softer tunes that stay with you.
Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey were the main song writers and singers of The dBs, the outstanding 1980's college rock band from North Carolina. The dBs were on the cutting edge of the '80s southern pop tidal wave led by R.E.M., Lets Active, The Windbreakers, The Reiveres, etc... The dB's broke up in the late '80s, but in 1992, the duo reunited for Mavericks, their acoustic-folk debut. Mavericks was an excellent and memorable release. Now the guys are back with Here and Now. The high points are the hauntingly beautiful Santa Monica, the title track Here and Now, Early in the Morning and A Song For Johnny Cash. The CD also includes a couple of bonus tracks with the guys updating some DBs classics.