Category Archives: CD Reviews

Some thoughts on my favorite new band, Fun.

This is my favorite new band and I’m telling you all to go to You Tube, watch their stuff and then buy their CDs. Seriously. Now.

Even though “We Are Young” is a big hit (and an amazing song) I suggest you start with their debut  Aim and Ignite and then move on to Some Nights. Nate Reuss’s voice is extraordinary and the rest of the trio (Andrew Dost and Jack Antonoff) play everything else, pretty much. Reuss uses his voice like an instrument and even the occasional use of the vocoder simply adds another instrument to the mix. Their first album, heavy on the string arrangements and personal storytelling in the lyrics brings  The Decemberists’ The Crane Wife to mind. (It’s not a concept album, though.)

I’ve only listened to Some Nights twice, so I hope to post a more complete review next week.

In the meantime, here’s a couple of videos. The first is an acoustic version of “We Are Young (feat. Janelle Monáe)” which might actually knock me out more than the album version. First of all, Reuss and Monáe are so damn nice to look at, right? She’s absolutely stunning! I met her once, very briefly after a show at South by Southwest. After putting on an amazing, high-energy performance that knocked the audience on its ass, she was so wiped out that she could barely speak. Maybe she was saving her voice, but she suddenly seemed a small (she is a pretty slight young woman) and almost timid thing and genuinely awed by the fact that she’d just blown us all away. The second video is of a live performance of the beautiful ballad “The Gambler” from their first album.

Nicole Atkins & Siouxsie Sioux – Two CD’s You Should Buy…Now

To some of my friends, people like Matt Dentler, I can be a little behind the curve, music-wise. Of course he works at possibly the best place on the planet to get the jump on new music, so I don’t feel too bad about that. Then there’s my nephew Michael who used to be one of the people I looked to, to learn about new music, but he went and got himself a “real” job and now he doesn’t have enough time to follow these scene as closely as he used to, so now I tell HIM about new tunes. That said, for the great number of people out there, I am still what you might call “ahead of the curve” when it comes to new tunage, so without further ado, here’s a pair of new CD’s that actually have more in common than one might think, while being decidedly individual, too.
622152_34605_1.jpgNicole Atkins & The Sea – “Neptune City
Oh lord. I have to say that not since Antony & The Johnsons have I been bowled over by such a voice and such a debut CD and to think it’s all because of an email from concert promoters Live Nation. Seriously. I got the email, looked at the picture of Ms. Atkins and thought My god, she’s hot. (Yes, sometimes I’m that shallow.) Then I went to her MySpace page and heard “Party’s Over,” “Maybe Tonight” and “Brooklyn’s On Fire” and I was completely hooked.
The best thing about this CD? As fantastic as those tunes are, they aren’t the best on the disc. That honor belongs to broken heart ballad extraordinaire “The Way It Is.” Opening with a sensuous mix of breathy vocals, bass, strings and guitar, it evokes mid-90’s Siouxsie sharing a martini and a good cry with Angelo Badalamenti, but not without a healthy dose of self-respect. For 2 verses it slinks along, threatening menace and then Atkins’ voice opens up and the heavens are laid bare. Maybe I’m a little biased (genders reversed, this song is eerily appropriate to my current state of mine, in parts) but I’d like to think I can still recognize a special song when I hear one, personal emotions aside.

And in my ears, my blood is just roaring,
’cause he’s the only one I’ve ever wanted.
I suppose that’s just the way, it is.

This song shivers my timbers more than any in a LONG time.

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Bloc Party – A New CD Worth Your Ten Bucks

To paraphrase and borrow my good friend Matt Dentler’s concept, here’s a new cd completely worth every penny: Bloc Party’s A Weekend in the City.
I’ve been listening to this almost non-stop since I, erm, obtained it on January 12th. (Don’t worry, I’ll buy a copy when it’s released!) main songwriter Kele Okereke’s song writing has matured from their stellar debut, Silent Alarm. Tackling such “light” themes such as post 9/11 racism in Britain, teenage homosexuality, anonymous gay sex in East Berlin, suicide and the seductiveness of drug use, Okereke is clearly entering a more personal territory on this sophomore release that doesn’t come near the dreaded “slump.”
Whether or not Okereke is gay was something that was intentionally ignored during the release of their first CD Silent Alarm but it’s something he feels like he has to address this go ’round. “‘With the first album I didn’t think it was essential to the experience,'” Okereke tells the UK newspaper The Guardian., continuing, “‘I didn’t want to have to talk about it in a tabloid way. It wasn’t there in the songs, so why did people need to know? But yeah, there are songs on this record that do feel like they’re about desire, longing. So yeah,’ he concludes, ‘I am gonna talk about that.'”

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CD Review: Springsteen Channels Seeger

Springstein.jpgI should be ashamed at only just now getting to the astonishingly brilliant collection of music known as Bruce Springsteen’s We Shall Overcome – The Seeger Sessions that was released earlier this year and to be sure, I am duly chagrined. However, now that I have finally opened the package and played it (and am listening to it for the 2nd time in a row) I have to I am having a damn hard time keeping my fingers on the keyboard when what I’d rather be doing is getting up and dancing around the room, clapping. Seriously, this is damn difficult! The cd kicks off with Old Dan Tucker, a rollicking, knee slapper if there ever was one and a square dance tune from the 1800’s. It gets the cd off to a rollicking start and give or take a ballad or two, the joint swings for the rest of the 60 minute disc.

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