Tuesday Touts: August 19, 2014

You know the drill by now, folks. These are the new songs or albums to which I’ve been grooving, so I suggest you check them out to see if they’re equally grooveworthy to you.

“Almost Like The Blues” by Leonard Cohen

It was with great excitement that I learned of Cohen’s new album, Popular Problems, coming out on September 23. And the first taste of that album doesn’t disappoint. Over bongos and bass, Cohen muses on the world’s problems with the typical combination of sly humor and understated grace. What a wonder that he hasn’t lost anything off his fastball after all these years. Check it out in the link:

“Gimme Something Good” by Ryan Adams: Another hotly-anticipated album around these parts (by “these parts”, I mean my office) is Adams self-titled release on September 9. Chances are if you’ve listened to rock radio in the past month or two, you’ve heard this forceful attention-grabber which cops a vibe more Heartbreakers (can we be sure that isn’t Benmont Tench playing those creeping organ riffs?) than Heartbreaker. As direct and powerful as I’ve heard Adams in a while, this bodes well for the new release. And, for some reason, Elvira is in the video, so it’s got that going for it.

“Dangerous Days” by Zola Jesus: In a perfect world, this sepia-tinged electronic anthem would be a summer radio smash. Nika Danilova, who performs as Zola Jesus, has one of those voices that sound amazing in any setting, but in the midst of this track, it’s damn near overwhelming. Listen to the wordless belts in the outro and I guarantee you’ll want to cue thing up again. From her upcoming October album Taiga.

“Even The Darkness Has Arms” by The Barr Brothers: Words and melodies never go out of style, and this one proves that eternal fact in captivating fashion. This act based on Montreal has one album under their belt and have another, Sleeping Operator, coming out in September. This is pretty, haunting stuff that effortlessly seeps into your consciousness. Check it out below.

The Reconsider Me Tout of the Week- Cloud Nine by George Harrison: It may seem silly to ask you to reconsider an album that was a huge smash and contained an unavoidable #1 single (“Got My Mind Set On You.”) But I feel like this one gets forgotten amidst the wave of Wilbury-related albums that came out around that time. This is Harrison at his most accessible, full of killer melodies and lyrics that alternate between spiritual and sardonic. It also features perhaps my all-time favorite song about the Beatles, “When We Was Fab,” with a video that includes, Ringo, Elton, Jeff Lynne, John (via album cover), and a left-handed walrus on the bass.

(E-mail me at countdownkid@hotmail.com or follow me on Twitter @JimBeviglia. Check out my books on the songs of Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan in the links below.)







Tuesday Touts: August 5, 2014

Here we go, folks. Another heaping helping of great new music you should be checking out pronto.

They Want My Soul by Spoon: The indie-rock mainstays are garnering some of the best reviews of their career for their new disc, out today. What I’ve heard so far certainly warrants those accolades. This stinging single, all pounding drums, jagged guitars, and Britt Daniel’s wolf howl, is a great place to start.

“She’s Not Me” by Jenny Lewis: Lewis has always been a critical darling as the singer in Rilo Kiley and as a solo artist, but here she releases something that has wide-audience appeal yet is still captivating and mysterious. It’s a standout track from her just-released album, The Voyager, even though it sounds like an American Top 40 hit circa 1977.

“The No-Hit Wonder” by Cory Branan: Getting help from members of The Hold Steady, Branan paints a rollicking, affecting portrait of a struggling musician. It’s the title track of his new album, due out on August 19, which also features an appearance by Jason Isbell. Running in such heady company might overwhelm lesser artists, but Branan’s songwriting chops here prove that he’s worthy.

“Cleopatra” by Sloan: These Canadian fellows are on their 11th album, and it’s a shame that more folks don’t know their stuff. Maybe that will change with their upcoming September release Commonwealth, which allows all four members a side of music to show their songwriting skills. Lead single “Cleopatra” is power-pop perfection.

The Reconsider Me Tout Of The Week: Lost In Space by Aimee Mann: Following up the sublime Bachelor No.2, it was almost a given that this 2002 album wouldn’t be as kindly received. And yet I find myself going back to it more and more these days, mesmerized by Mann’s typically brilliant songcraft. Take the gorgeous “It’s Not”, which you can check out below, for just one example, and then tell me how this undervalued album can possibly be considered a letdown.

No Touts next week due to a family vacation, but I’ll be back after that with more great new stuff. And I’ve also identified a new Retro Review topic. I’ll give you a hint: He has an album coming out later this year. Any guesses?

(E-mail me at countdownkid@hotmail.com or follow me on Twitter @JimBeviglia. Counting Down Bruce Springsteen: His 100 Finest Songs is now available all over the world at every major online bookseller.)