Hey Mister DJ Play Something Good

| July 16, 2008 | 0 Comments

fly fishing music for the ears

Well, the new music releases are spinning in at a rapid rate. There are some truly hot releases that set the soundtrack for this summer afire – ranging from the super smooth Aimee Mann to the in your face Raconteurs. Sandwiched in between are releases by Mudcrutch (Tom Petty’s real ego), Beck, James McMurtry and My Morning Jacket. All are in hand at this writing except this weeks new release by Beck. That is some thick sandwich.

Aimee Mann has all the chops and production in her new release @#%&*! Smilers in a way that reminds one of a seasonal Steely Dan album or some other smooth project produced in a vacuum of sonic perfection. Her voice is like silk wrapped around songs that have all the body of a bombshell and all the punch of a powder puff. Fly fish chicks will dig it and so do I. Rating – A Keeper!

The Raconteurs are … radical. Don’t even listen to Consolers of the Lonely if you have sensitive ears. It sounds like Jack White left the tape running – thank god. This is what all the old fogies wish they could hear (today) from an early super group like Led Zeppelin in their prime. They tweak and twist all sonic sensibilities just far enough without breaking any confidence in how the story ends. It cuts across generational boundaries in music taste in a way that nothing this year has done – so far. If you ever wanted the White Stripes to pick up a few more instruments, this is your chance to hear what that could sound like with masterful musicians holding them in hand. Rating – A Keeper – Have it Mounted!

The fact that James McMurtry is actually having to talk about releasing a “political” album or an album with “political songs” can be construed as a lack of confidence in the final product. Don’t get me wrong, the tunes on his new disc “Just Us Kids” are by far the best music he’s ever put in digits. These tunes show all the care and concern and labor and focus that McMurtry can muster, and wherever he found that sonic fortitude – it’s all there. And he’s all in when it comes to his evaluation of the Bush administration and their (according to him) failure at the war. His satire is enough to slow me down and make me think more than listen – a real downer compared to the escape I need my music to be from the real world. Politics in music is fine and time tested, but a sensational tune like “Cheney’s Toy” is enough to make me stop and come back for more later. And I always come back for more McMurtry. Musically, he’s at the top of his game and having seen him three times in the last eighteen months, I can say his live confidence has never been higher. His bark and bite are not limited to politics though. Try listening to a single song – “Fire Line Road”. He is doubtless a star near the height of his orbit – dare I say Texas’ own Dylan. There’s no need to explain a political voice, but history can be harsh on something this shrill. Rating – Democrats – A Keeper / Republicans – Throw it Back (it’ll just piss you off)

Ahh, now to the Mudcrutch of the matter. This is clearly a Tom Petty goes back to the Florida swamp album. If you are smart enough to own Petty’s box set Playback, you may be familiar with a few Mudcrutch tunes buried there. Tom wants to do what Tom wants to do on this disc, and Tom wants to bluegrass, rock, roll and be … Tom. It’s great listening with few challenges and a few keepers like Crystal River, Orphan of the Storm and the great swamp song – Lover of the Bayou (check out the original by the Byrds). If you want to hear Tom Petty do what Tom Petty wants to do, this is for you. Rating – A Keeper

A funny thing happened awhile back; I was watching an episode of Saturday Night Live and the music was great. That doesn’t always happen on that show anymore, but I missed the usual monologue, and was trying to figure out who exactly I was hearing. Finally, after really liking what I heard, I said it “sounds like MMJ but with a harder edge”. Sure enough, My Morning Jacket rolled out some new tunes from their release “Evil Urges” and they were unlike anything I had come to expect from them. Gone were the monochromatic, tiring vocals – replaced by a ’70’s rock falsetto of a new timbre. This, I could stand for the length of an entire CD. It’s almost as if MMJ decided: Dude, it’s time to make some money, let’s make something folks will listen to and buy. That’s exactly what they did, and I bit just like a Striper bites a Clouser. Rating – Almost Mountable

It really is difficult to down music when you only buy what you think you will like. So, if there is someone who wants to throw down a musical challenge – feel free to post suggested listenings. Still to come is the new release by Beck, which according to sources is a tour de force.

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Category: Life Observed, Music

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I write. I photograph. I fish, and I live.

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