Friday, May 21, 2010

A Flood of New Music

Heaven is whenever we can get together; sit down on your floor, and listen to your records...(The Hold Steady - Heaven is Whenever)

Early this year I was disappointed in the lack of new interesting music and I wrote about it in 2010: What's In Store. Then a few cds began to trickle out, like the terrific Broken Bells debut. Now the trickle has became a flood. Here is a list of new releases and future new releases:

  • The Dead Weather - Sea of Cowards
  • The Hold Steady - Heaven is Whenever
  • The New Pornographers - Together
  • Band of Horses - Infinite Arms
  • The Sadies - Darker Circles
  • John Prine - In Person & Onstage (Tuesday, May 25)
  • Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers - Mojo (June 15)
  • John Mellencamp - On the Rural Route 7609 (Box Set) (June 15)
  • The Gaslight Anthem - American Slang (June 15)
  • Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows: Songs of John Prine (June 22)
  • Alejandro Escovedo - Street Songs of Love (June 29)
  • Los Lobos - Tin Can Trust (August 3)

In addition to these, U2's Songs of Ascent and the Darkness on the Edge of Town box set from Bruce Springsteen are expected some time this year. 2010 is shaping up after all.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Broken Bells: One of the Best This Year

Use your intuition, it's all you've got... (Broken Bells - The Malls and Misery)

My favorite cd of the year so far is Broken Bells by Broken Bells. The question is who the heck are the Broken Bells. James Mercer of The Shins and musician/producer Dangerous Mouse met in 2004 at a Danish music festival and being fans of each others works decided to record together. In 2008 they finally got together in the studio and started recording as the Broken Bells. The result is a great blend of The Shins quirky melodies and lyrics with the experimental/hip-hop (trip-hop) of Dangerous Mouse previous works.

The cd opens with The High Road which starts with electronic swirling keyboards and then a hip-hop drum beat and when the singing starts it immediately evokes The Shins. Vaporize is powered by a driving organ, tight brushed drumming and very melodic bass; The Ghost Inside echoes the sound of Gnarls Barkley's Crazy (Gnarls Barkley was the name the band that Dangerous Mouse and Cee-Lo recorded under; Crazy was one of the best singles of 2006); The Mall and Misery is another winner that begins slow with a acoustic instruments and then breaks into an alluring tune with a great guitar sound.

Broken Bells is a solid recording with no low spots. The music is hypnotic and captivating.