Drake’s Take: New Releases 08.19.08

This week (or last week as the case may be) Drake takes a deep look at Light In The Attic‘s stellar reissue of Rodriguez‘s Cold Fact, fawns over Swedish pop-star Lykke Li, and tries to be fair and balanced about Jaguar Love. -ed.

Drake’s Take: New Releases 08.19.08

It’s a deep week for releases, topped by the latest Swedish pop star to grace our shores, Lykke Li, and the debut of Jaguar Love (The Blood Brothers rise again). Elsewhere there are new releases from Stereolab, Delta Spirit (an early look,) Ra Ra Riot, Juliana Hatfield, The Stills, Jennifer O’Connor, Don Caballero, Uh Huh Her, Jeff Hanson, David Byrne, Human Highway and the great reissue of the 1970 cult classic from the enigmatic Rodriguez.

Playlist: New Releases 08.19.08

Lykke Li – Youth Novels
Stream / Purchase [mp3]

Lykke Li - Youth NovelsThe 22-year old Swedish former professional dancer has created an album beyond her years, swirling together the pop sounds of her countrywomen (Robyn, El Perro Del Mar, Anna Ternheim) while injecting a bit more into the equation, and for the longest time, I couldn’t figure out what that ‘more’ exactly was. Sure, Björn Yttling (Peter, Bjorn & John) co-wrote and produced the spare sound, but it wasn’t until I noticed that two of Lykke’s favorite artists are Madonna and Tom Waits that it all started to make sense. The Madonna thing has been brought up before, but it’s the Waits influence that makes her sound different. Instead of a junkyard for rhythmic sounds, Lykke seems to be hanging out in a child’s music room, employing instruments that are both cute and don’t quite work like their adult counterparts do. Much as been made about her advance single, “Little Bit,” with it’s suggestive lyrics, and Lykke seems to recreate that magic in many of the other songs, like “Dance, Dance, Dance” and “I’m Good, I’m Gone” but there are also misteps here that almost derail the whole effort (“Complaint Department,” two spoken word pieces too many). Still, given that she’s so new to songwriting, it’s easy to forgive her for indulging. Can’t help looking forward to seeing what she does on her second album.

Free album stream from AOL

Rodriguez – Cold Fact
Stream / Purchase [mp3]

Rodriguez - Cold FactIt’s an old story, really. Man records record. No one buys it. Records another one. No one buys it. Moves on to do other things. Then, unbeknownst to him, he becomes an underground star in South Africa. Sixto Diaz Rodriguez lived out this age old story (with a twist) and his album Cold Fact (1970) finally gets a reissue (first time on CD here in the US) this week. Rodriguez comes off like a cross between Bob Dylan, Donovan and Arthur Lee of Love, mixing poetic folk with drug-fueled psychedelica, as best exemplified in the opening track, “Sugar Man”:

Sugar man met a false friend
On a lonely dusty road
Lost my heart when I found it
It had turned to dead black coal
Silver magic ships you carry
Jumpers, coke, sweet Mary Jane

The plaintiff folk however quickly gives way to the power chord attack of “Only Good for Conversation,” and it’s at this point you realize that this is truly a special album. “My statue’s got a concrete heart / But you’re the coldest bitch I know — so help me”. Motown guitarist Dennis Coffey discovered him in a club, playing with his back to the audience and coaxed him into the studio, backed by Motown’s Funk Brothers, to record Cold Fact, adding a nice punch to his otherwise plaintive protest folk. It’s a story and album that’s done justice by Light in the Attic’s usual attention to detail in liner notes and packaging, as is their specialty. Now that Rodriguez has toured Australia (1981, playing with the likes of Split Enz, Men at Work and Midnight Oil) and South Africa (1997, documented in the documentary, Dead Men Don’t Tour,) one hopes he’ll soon make the rounds here as well.

Download: “Sugar Man” [mp3]

Here’s the South African film loosely about Rodriguez called Looking for Jesus:

Jaguar Love – Take Me to the Sea
Stream / Purchase [mp3]

Jaguar Love - Take Me to the SeaRising from the ashes of the much beloved The Blood Brothers comes Jaguar Love, and as much as I like their debut Take Me to the Sea, I know it’s bound to disappoint folks on both sides of the BB aisle (those who like, those who don’t really know). The upper-register vocals of Johnny Whitney along with Cody Votolato’s guitar work make the Blood Brothers’ connection unmistakable, but it’s lean to pop conventions are bound to frustrate more than a few hardline BB fans, which is too bad. Meanwhile, folks not accustomed to Whitney’s vocals are usually repelled instantly (again, too bad). “Vagabond Ballroom” reminds me of the mighty aMiniature (with an organ,) “Highways of Gold” might be as close to conventional as The Blood Bros. ever got, and there’s even a ballad, “Georgia,” which is rightfully earned by the surrounding moments of sonic brilliance. Because everyone knows ballads are a privilege, not a right.

Download: “Highways of Gold” [mp3]

More on the radar this week:
Stereolab – Chemical Chords / Free album stream from AOL
Delta Spirit – Ode to Sunshine (in Rhapsody a week early)
Juliana Hatfield – How to Walk Away / Free album stream from AOL
Jennifer O’Connor – Here With Me / “Here With Me” [mp3]
The Stills – Oceans Will Rise / “Being Here” [mp3]
Don Caballero – Punkgasm
David Byrne – Big Love Hymnal
Human Highway – Moody Motorcycle
Jeff Hanson – Madam Owl / Free album stream (ecard) / “If I Only Knew” [mp3]
Ra Ra Riot – The Rhumb Line / Free album stream from AOL
MakeUpBreakUp – We Prefer Not to… / Free album stream (ecard) / “Blame Game” [mp3] / “She’s Always X-Rated” [mp3]
Uh Huh Her – Common Reaction / Free album stream from AOL
GZA – Pro Tools
The Dandy Warhols – Earth To The Dandy Warhols / “The World Come On” [mp3]
What Laura Says – Thinks and Feels
The Moondoggies – Don’t Be a Stranger / “Changing” [mp3]
The Duhks – Fast Paced World / Free album stream from AOL
Amy Macdonald – This Is The Life
Laura Marling – Alas I Cannot Swim / Free album stream from AOL
Caesars – Strawberry Weed / Free album stream from AOL
The Royal We – The Royal We
Toadies – No Delivery / Free album stream from AOL
Death Vessel – Nothing is Precious Enough For Us
The Uglysuit – The Uglysuit / Free album stream from AOL
Ice Cube – Raw Footage
Anarbor – The Natural Way EP
The Coast – Expatriate
The Gaslight Anthem – The ’59 Sound
Shwayze – Shwayze
31Knots – Worried Well / “Compass Commands” [mp3]
Pictures and Sound – Pictures and Sound / Free album stream from AOL
Glen Campbell – Meet Glen Campbell / Free album stream from AOL
Best of Comps
Arabian Prince – Shwayze / “Let’s Hit the Beach” [mp3]
Outrageous Cherry – Wide Awake In The Spirit World: The Best Of Outrageous Cherry
Robyn Hitchcock – Luminous Groove / “Bad Case of History” [mp3]

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