Drake’s Take: New Releases 03.04.08
It’s another deep week for new releases, with the latest offering from Stephen Malkmus making most the headlines. I’m excited for the collaboration between Greg Dulli (Twilight Singers, Afghan Whigs) and Mark Lanegan (QOTSA, Screaming Trees,) see the light of day. For four years, Dulli and Lanegan have been working on the Gutter Twins project between their own busy schedule, and it’s worth the wait. Elsewhere, I’m loving the debut EP from Fleet Foxes (even if it’s hard to find) and the final Jamaica to Toronto release from Light in the Attic Records. Finally, it’s alt-country heaven with new ones from Jim White, Kathleen Edwards and a special deluxe reissue of Whiskeytown’s great Stranger’s Almanac.
Playlist: New Releases 03.04.08
Album: Gutter Twins – Saturnalia
On the face of it, Gutter Twins seems like an inevitable pairing of two like-minded frontmen strong ties to Seattle, but even after coming up with the project, it’s taken Greg Dulli and Mark Lanegan four years to complete this labor of love (and cigarettes). In that time, they’ve made time for plenty of other projects. Dulli released two Twilight Singers albums and a solo project, while Lanegan released one solo album and contributed to too many others to list (releases from Isobel Campbell and Soulsavers heading the list). The result is not unlike you would expect from former frontmen from Screaming Trees and Afghan Whigs. It’s cigarettes and whiskey, locked in a room with a wayward preacher, begging for your redemption. God is a common thread in these tales, and it’s not surprising given that both Dulli (cocaine) and Lanegan (heroin) have helped each other at times recover from addiction. Lanegan pleads “where by the grace of God go I?” on the Catholic tinged “Stations” and then Dulli takes over the next track, “God’s Children,” complete with a chorus that’s akin to a religious experience (no choir – not that kind). Heck, with all the themes of addiction, God, Catholicism and redemption through fire, it’s like the album was written with Denis Leary’s Rescue Me in mind (no doubt, a song or two will make an appearance, when the series returns in 2009, as both Dulli and Lanegan are regularly heard there). The real fire-burner of a track here, though, is “Idle Hands,” with it’s heavy guitar riff and dark “Kashmir” strings, leading to another ‘raise your hands to God’ chorus. And, as if in salute of the labels’ 20th anniversary, it’s nice see these two on Sub Pop again, a home to both back in the early 90’s (Lanegan’s solo work, Dulli’s Afghan Whigs).
As a disclaimer, let me say upfront that everything Malkmus has released gets beamed straight to my consciousness — my appreciation for his work knows no bounds, so my love for this album was sealed the second they printed Malkmus’ name on the disc. Forgive me, then, if I compensate for this bias and take a more negative approach.
Real Emotional Trash is a goddamn jam band album.
The formula for SM appears to be to release an album full of 3-minute long pop experiments, and then get the Jicks together and jam away for the next release. SM’s solo debut was a masterpiece as far as I’m concerned, and Pig-Lib just tried my patience. Face The Truth again returned to great pop experiments, this time allowing for more illuminating self-commentary, and now we’re back to noodlin’ the night away (this time, though, with Sleater-Kinney/Quasi drummer Janet Weiss in the fold). Of all his albums, though, this one is the most cohesive, even if the cohesion involves long guitar-based excursions. “Gardenia” is the tightest song of the lot, tellingly, its’ the only one under 3 minutes. “Cold Son,” “Baltimore” and “We Can’t Help You” are other fine highlights, but in the end, this is still an album featuring a meandering 7 minute song called “Elmo Delmo.”
(And, yet, I still love it.)
Our favorite local record label, Light in the Attic, releases their sixth and final album in the series Jamaica to Toronto, a project which follows the emigration of Jamaican artists to Canada, and the music that followed. Earth, Roots & Water were formed originally as a back-up band for artists who ventured into the basement studio of Summer Records‘ honcho Jerry Brown. They backed Jackie Mitoo, Johnny Osbourne and others, before setting down their own funky grooves back in 1977. Innocent Youths is reissued here for the first time, from the original studio masters, sounding like some long lost Kingston classic. Goes great with a cold Red Stripe, some good ganja, and four-feet tall old school speakers.
Download: “Tribulations” [mp3]
More on the radar this week
Fleet Foxes – Sun Giant EP (MySpace)
Jim White – Transnormal Skiperoo
What Made Milwaukee Famous – What Doesn’t Kill Makes You Stronger (Free album stream from AOL)
Cadence Weapon – Afterparty Babies / Free album stream from AOL
White Hinterland – Phylactery Factory
Kathleen Edwards – Asking for Flowers
Bing Ji Ling – June Degrees in December / Free album stream / “Be Here with You,” “Kathalina” [mp3]
Mia Doi Todd – Gea
The Felice Brothers – The Felice Brothers
Ruby Sons – Sea Lion
Dr Dog – Passed Away, Vol. 1
Hysterical – Hysterical / Free album stream from AOL
Temposhark – The Invisible Line (free AOL album stream)
Ladyhawk – Shots
Bauhaus – Go Away White
Baumer – Were It Not For You
These United States – A Picture of the Three of Us At the Gate to the Garden of Eden
The Oaks – Songs For Waiting (Free ecard stream) / “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter,” “Masood” [mp3]
Pretendo – Pretendo II
Kelley Polar – I Need You To Hold On While The Sky Is Falling
BoDeans – Still
A Weather – Cove
Saint Bernadette – I Wanna Tell You Something
Murder By Death – Red of Tooth and Claw
Howlin’ Rain – Magnificent Friend
Flogging Molly – Float
The Black Crowes – Warpaint
Our Last Night – The Ghosts Among Us
Whiskeytown – Stranger’s Almanac (Deluxe Edition)