Hey everyone, Drake‘s back this week (er… last week) with some kind words about the new Dan Auerbach record (which I liked too, but maybe not as much as him), and some lukewarm affection for the new Lily Allen release, which is a hit with the kids, except for the naughty bits. -ed.
Drake’s Take: New Releases 02.10.09
Been awfully busy, missing the last couple weeks worth of new releases — which really can be boiled down to releases from J Tillman, Doug Randle and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. This week we’ve got the latest releases from Lily Allen, Dan Auerbach (Black Keys,) Charles Spearin, Sam Bisbee, Golem and Miranda Lee Richards.
Playlist: New Releases 02.10.09
It’s been more than two years since Lily Allen exploded in the UK with her debut (Alright, Still,) and a lot has happened to her since then. Courtship, pregnancy, a miscarriage, a break-up, and a lot of messy tabloid fodder. Speaking of tabloids, in the interim fellow retro-soul chanteuse Amy Winehouse climbed a mountain of fame, and then tumbled down the other side; while several other artists started on the same well-traveled path (Winehouse clones Adele, Duffy and Estelle; Allen clone Kate Nash). Allen was good to wait, then, as the field was crowded in 2008, and with It’s Not Me, It’s You, she’s making sure that no one confuses her with the followers. Instead of playing hopscotch with different producers like last time, Allen sticks with the Bird and the Bee‘s Greg Kurstin, which is both good and bad. While it makes for a more consistent album, the dynamics and spontanaeity is missed. Allen calls this a more mature effort, and since she’s no longer outside the tent pissing in, the lyrics take a bit of a look inward. While she does takes on more weighty subjects, too often her lyrics fail in the deep end (“Him”). She works a bit better when her sunshiney chorus is backed up with the throwing daggers, like on “Not Fair” or “Never Gonna Happen,” and even more when she combines the two (“The Fear,” “Everyone’s At it”,) a fine line the album does a good job of walking (for the most part). It’s a fun release, and my four-year old Eli is happy there’s more Lily… though this time we’re going to have to find the clean version, if only for the incredibly catchy (especially for kids) “F*ck You,” (Allen’s kiss off to George W). Experimented with a trial run, telling him she’s singing “Thank You,” but E seemed skeptical (rightly so).
When you’re strongly identified with a band, as Dan Auerbach is with the Akron, OH blues duo The Black Keys, releasing a solo album can be a tricky thing. Too often, the artist flying solo will try to distance himself too far from the band in sound. Auerbach is aware of this, and even made a point on his Nonesuch artist’s page to say he wasn’t going that route with Keep it Hid. In fact, the first song that made the rounds in advance of the album’s release, “I Want Some More,” sounded decidedly similar to a Black Keys grinding blues number. Much of the album builds upon the recent BK releases (2008’s Attack and Release, 2006’s Magic Potion,) not departing too far from Auerbach’s bluesy sweet spot, but he does spread his wings on a few songs, like the stripped down opener “Trouble Weighs a Ton” and the soulful “Whispered Words” — which reminds one that Auerbach was in the process of writing songs for Ike Turner when he died unexpectedly, and most of the music ended up in last year’s Attack and Release. Similarly, “Real Desire” sounds like Auerbach had been mining Muscle Scholes’ soul inventory, while “My Last Mistake” sounds like a long lost 70’s AM radio hit. It’s a fully realized effort from half of one of our finest.
More on the radar (and in the mp3 player) this week:
Charles Spearin – The Happiness Project
Sam Bisbee – Son of a Math Teacher / Free AOL Album Stream
Golem – Citizen Boris / “Tucheses & Nenes” [mp3]
Burning Hearts – Aboa Sleeping
Now, Now Every Children – Cars
Jon Hassell – Last Night The Moon Came Dropping Its Clothes In The Street
Martin Bisi – Sirens Of The Apocalypse
Trouble Andrew – Trouble Andrew / Free AOL Album Stream
Coraline: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
O Pioneers!!! – Neon Creeps EP
Miranda Lee Richards – Light of X (AOL Stream)
Glen Campbell – Greatest Hits / Free AOL Album Stream
The Beastie Boys – Paul’s Boutique (EP)