There was a lot of quality in the air last week, but Drake honed in the latest from the queen of the indie rock scene, Neko Case, and ex-GBV front man, Bob Pollard (a record whose release I wasn’t even aware of, I must admit). It’s a week later and we now know that the Neko record was a smash, cracking no. 3 on the Billboard Top 200 Album chart (44,000 units sold) and landing at no. 1 on the Billboard Top Independent Albums chart, making it the most successful independent release of our young year. Neko also some press rounds over this past week, stopping by the ultra-hip Tavis Smiley Show on Monday. -ed.
Drake’s Take: New Releases 03.03.09
Some would have you believe there’s just one release this week, but there is so much more than just what’s playing on Letterman. New releases from Neko Case and Boston Spaceships hold most of my interest, but there’s also fine releases from Bell X1, Marissa Nadler, The Boy Least Likely To, Wild Light, Angus and Julia Stone, and the soundtrack and score to Watchmen.
Playlist: New Releases 03.03.09
Neko Case has a supernatural command of nature. Seriously. The last two times I saw her live, her voice caused the sky to open and dump rain, hail, small rodents, what have you, upon the quickly dispersing crowd. With her latest, Middle Cyclone, she’s taken it one step further and become the weather, specifically, becoming a tornado in the album’s opener “This Tornado Loves You.” The song comes from a dream Case had where she was approached by a tornado, but it’s Case’s voice that seems like it’s from a dreams, always soaring over whatever style of song that suits her whimsy. Here she picks up where she left off with Fox Confessor Brings The Flood, keeping one foot in the alt country world, but stretching that genre into all directions, and always anchored with her way with lyrics. And while much of the album delves in her own mythology, there’s also a more plaintive line like “the next time you say ‘forever’ I will punch you in the face,” that jumps out of the poetic fabric. And while her voice is always center stage, the accompanying cast is sure hard to ignore, with work from M Ward, Garth Hudson (The Band,) and members of Giant Sand, Calexico and Los Lobos. Cyclone continues her streak of fine solo releases.
One of the pleasant surprises from last year was the debut of what just might be Robert Pollard‘s new Guided By Voices, Boston Spaceships. Comprised of ex-GBV Chris Slusarenko, drummer John Moen (Decemberists, Dharma Bums) and of course Pollard himself, the trio is the closest thing to sounding like a band since the breakup of GBV*. It’s telling that the lead single, “Headache Revolution,” was written during the GBV years (during Isolation Drills, to be more exact,) as the band is the new vehicle for Pollard’s more GBV/classic rock leanings. Released just five months after Brown Submarine, Planets are Blasted fine tunes some of the whimsy of that first release (aside from opener, “Canned Food Demons,” naturally) for what could almost be called a ‘tight set’ of 35 minutes. It’s hit it and quit it all over again, and while it’s still not up there with an Alien Lanes or Bee Thousand, it feels like the start of something great. I hope Pollard and co. keep building on what they’ve produced so far.
“Big O Gets and Earful” [mp3]
*I realize it’s hard for a lot of folks to tell the difference between Pollard solo and Pollard w/ anyone, but trust me, there is.
More on the radar (and in the mp3 player) this week:
U2 / No Line on the Horizon
Bell X1 – Blue Lights on the Runway / “How Your Heart Is Wired” [mp3]
Marissa Nadler – Little Hells / “River of Dirt” [mp3]
The Boy Least Likely To – The Law Of The Playground
Wild Light – Adult Nights / Free AOL Album Stream
Angus and Julia Stone – A Book Like This / Free AOL Album Stream
Watchmen: Music From the Motion Picture
Watchmen – Original Motion Picture Score
Bosque Brown – Baby
Moore Brothers – Aptos / “Went Walking” [mp3]
Grandmaster Flash – The Bridge
Nashville Pussy – From Hell to Texas
Buddy and Julie Miller – Written in Chalk
Marty Willson-Piper – Nightjar
The Bitter Tears – Jam Tarts in the Jakehouse (AOL Stream)
The Whip – x Marks Destination / Free Album Stream frm Razor & Tie
The Prodigy – Invaders Must Die
Thin Lizzy – Still Dangerous: Live at Tower Theatre Philadelphia 1977 / Free AOL Album Stream
Rush – Retrospective III (1989-2008) / Free AOL Album Stream
Bela Fleck – Throw Down Your Heart: Tales From The Acoustic Planet, Vol. 3 – Africa Sessions / Free AOL Album Stream
John Coltrane – Throw Down Your Heart: Tales From The Acoustic Planet, Vol. 3 – Africa Sessions
Peter Hammill – Enter K