Top Five New CD Releases
Bedroom Walls All Good Dreamers Pass This Way (Baria Records) – The All Music Guide gives this local band a 4.5/5 and says: “"If Elliott Smith were still alive and decided to get together and jam with Neutral Milk Hotel, the results might sound a lot like this self-described ‘romanticore’ quintet.” That’s very high praise indeed. They’re appearing live at the Troubadour on 5/30. Download a demo of “In Anticipation of Your Suicide”
Johnny Cash Personal File (Sony) – A two-disc collection featuring 49 previously unreleased tracks. These are very intimate recording with just Johnny (during his prime) and an acoustic guitar. Most of the songs were recorded in 1973 but some of them are as recent as 1982. Most of these are covers (with lots of gospel tunes) but there are some originals too.
Dixie Chicks Taking the Long Way (Sony) – The controversy surrounding this band will remind people on the coasts what happens in the “heartland.” After the lead singer dared to speak her mind about the President and the war, the country music establishment turned their back on the group. Natalie Maines has even gotten death threats in her home state. Rick Rubin produced this record, so there are lots of collaborators (Gary Louris, Sheryl Crow, Keb’ Mo’, Neil Finn, etc.). The music is still rooted in country, but more rockin’. Will the NPR/Starbucks crowd buy enough copies to make up for the lost fans in the middle of the country? The “60 Mintues” feature and the cover of Time magazine can’t hurt. Critics seem to like it too. See them live at the Staples Center on 9/14.
Mission of Burma The Oblitrati (Matador) – Mission of Burma are a very influential post-punk band from Boston (“That’s When I Reach for My Revolver” is a classic for good reason). They’re known as innovators with odd time signatures, tape manipulation and quick tempo changes. They originally broke up in 1983 due to the guitarist’s tinnitus, but reunited in 2002. This is their second album since then. Critics (including Pitchfork) have been giving it glowing reviews. Download “2wice”
Scott Walker The Drift (4AD) – He had massive radio hits in the early 1960s with the Walker Brothers, but his baroque-pop albums from the late 1960s are what ensured his legacy in the hipster world. Those albums feature his deep baritone, over-the-top string arrangements and lyrics about the dark side of society. This is his first album in 11 years. Apparently it’s a very dark but interesting album with cold arrangements and his signature huge voice. Download “Cossacks Are”
Also released: The Ditty Bops Moon Over the Freeway (Warner Bros.) and The Walkmen A Hundred Miles Off (Record Collection)