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Brooklyn's finest, TV On The Radio, have just dropped an album on us – Dear Science – that has to go down as one of the most honest, challenging and engaging things we’ve heard all year. If I hadn't read the lyric sheet I'd say it was downright revolutionary, but the bands' concerns are personal ones, albeit personal in a context of an all-too troubling present and future. It's strong from start to finish, and TVOTR has really upped the ante for their major label debut.
For their new album – Tennessee Pusher – Old Crow Medicine Show enlisted the production skills of Don Was (Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones, Al Green, Black Crowes, tons more). Strangely, and perhaps owing to Was' skill as a facilitator, I really cannot tell any sonic difference between this album and the ones in their recent past. Pusher is another strong, understated, dusty, rollicking ride through the old-timey string band traditions, with a modern outlook and a decidedly harrowing set of stories.
World Cafe with David Dye has just polished off the track list for the 26th Volume in its incredible series of live recordings from XPN's signature program. Artists including Feist, Back Door Slam, Counting Crows, Levon Helm, Joe Jackson, and many others have contributed to this stellar collection.
For her seventh studio album, Joan Osborne has retained songwriters/producers Eric Bazilian and Rob Hyman (of Philly's beloved Hooters fame) and Rick Chertoff, all three of whom were prominent influences on Osborne's 1995 breakthrough album Relish. Little Wild One may – at times – take you back to those heady times in Joan's career.
Available only on their website (www.everythingthathappens.com) David Byrne and Brian Eno's first collaboration since the eclectic, influential My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts in 1981 sounds similar to its' predecessor, but with a bit more of a mainstream songwriting flourish. Everything That Happens Will Happen Today is a very listenable album, full of engaging songs and strange but beautiful sounds.
Delta Spirit's Ode To Sunshine has more in common with like rock traditionalists such as The Hold Steady than your typical "we-heard-it-first-'cause-we're-cool" shooting star band that the almighty music blogosphere seems to love then leave with alarming frequency these days. There's something timeless and soulful happening here, something with some staying power.
On The Verve's new album – Forth – the British band resurrects itself after a decade of relative inactivity. It's their first full-length album of new material since 1997. The new album's rangy tunes sound like a mixture of the early 90's Verve mixed with a modern sensibility, and it's a rather strong comeback overall.
Those of you who are wondering what makes Conor Oberst any different from a Bright Eyes release should join the crowd... there just isn't that much difference. Oberst has always treated Bright Eyes as a solo expression, so his reasons for using his name on this album remain unclear.
We've all been witness to an incredible musical transformation from Beck over these past fourteen years and eight or so albums. The once painfully ironic pop art provocateur and dead-end beatnik of the "Loser" days is now a fully developed, pretty un-ironic grown up who sings about similar subjects, but with a much different point of view. Modern Guilt - produced by Dangermouse - will probably make you recall several of Beck's "periods".
In the year's most meteoric indie rock success story, Tallahassee, Florida's Black Kids have climbed the major label mountain in record time. Thanks to a relentless barrage of positive press from all the right music crits, the band that was counting its collective change for gas money last fall have cashed in their rock dreams. Partie Traumatic documents a young band with great ideas in a big hurry.