rock/pop

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Morning Phase by Beck

One of the reasons Beck is beloved by critics is that he doesn't just put out warmed over versions of his "sound;" although, his music is certainly identifiable.  Morning Phase is recognizably Beck, but the more atmospheric, reflective Beck. Almost every one of his albums has had a song on it that I've loved instantly and forever and this album is no exception. In this case that song is "Heart is a Drum." That's not to say that there is only one good song, there are many: "Say Goodbye", "Blue Moon", "Morning" and "Blackbird Chain" among the best.

Tales from the Realm of the Queen of Pentacles by Suzanne Vega

Remember Luka? Suzanne Vega has just released her first album of original material in seven years (her 8th album for those of you counting). These ten new tracks instantly sound familiar and comfortable, like reuniting with an old friend. I hadn't realized I missed her, but her voice takes me back and the simple guitar work is the perfect accompanment (this is not the Tom's Diner remix!) Ms. Vega has great industry connections. She started her own label in 2010 and this album was mixed by Kevin Killen (who has worked with Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush).

Nordo by Air Traffic Controller

Local power-pop craftsmen, Air Traffic Controller provide some light, catchy tunes on this sophomore album. Sometimes sounding a bit like They Might Be Giants, with significant influence from Bleu (the producer for Nordo and their previous album, The One), this will sound new but familiar all at once.

Random Access Memories by Daft Punk

 Although much of this CD features a generic disco beat and really long, repetitive songs, I encourage everyone to have a listen.  I sincerely believe this album was released on a dare. Sadly, for the listener, every song on this album is a least 3 minutes too long, except disco monologue "Moroder" which, at 9 minutes and 4 seconds, is 9 minutes and 4 seconds too long.

Psychedelic Pill by Neil Young and Crazy Horse

Psychedelic Pill absolutely rocks. This is what rock-and-roll is supposed to be: loud, cranky, and grungy. You won't want to listen to these tracks on shuffle--this is an album meant to be experienced beginning to end. That being said, if listening to 87 minutes of Neil Young and Crazy Horse isn’t your style, you still won’t want to miss “Ramada Inn” and “Walk Like a Giant,” two of their best songs ever and probably two of the best songs of the year. These cranky old rockers sound like they did at their peak, and if that sounds like something you'd like, you will love Psychedelic Pill.

Banga by Patti Smith

I am of two minds about this CD. I love it but I also think it's pretentious and ridiculous.  I love the music and her voice but the poetry sometimes makes me cringe...or chuckle.  But who am I to complain?  I have no muse.

Falling Off the Sky by the dB's

I figured I better review the new dB's CD Falling Off the Sky since I mentioned its release as being the reason behind my recommending their Sound of Music a few months ago.   One of the best things about it is that the music isn't a rehash of old dB's, they are older and wiser and it shows in the content of their songs.  There are several catchy songs but also a few colossal duds,  the worst being the weepy lament "Far Away and Long Ago".  The rest of them are middle of the road pop/rock

Signs and Signifiers by JD McPherson

Everyone I've played this CD for loves it.  Well, not my sister's boyfriend who is Alice Cooper's biggest fan, but everyone else.  It's a great retro 50s R&B album with a modern sensibility.

What We Saw From the Cheap Seats by Regina Spektor

Playful quirkiness, precisely detailed songcraft, and lyrics that you want to listen to are the hallmarks of this New York's "anti-folk" singer-songwriter.  Upon first listen, I loved the quality of Spektor's voice but was slightly put off by some of her characteristic vocal mannerisms and doodads.  Listeners will probably either love her or hate her, but I found that after the second time through this album, I was won over.

Blunderbuss by Jack White

I find the White Stripes hit or miss so I wasn't expecting to love this CD.  But I do. There is no denying that Jack White is a talented guy.  The songs are familiar yet unexpected.  The opening riff of Love Interruption is pretty close to Son of a Preacher Man but the lyrics: "I want love to: grab my fingers gently, Slam them in a doorway, Put my face into the ground" aren't run of the mill.
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