Wednesday October 22

Current Album Reviews

Our take on some of the latest material from a variety of artists.

barenaked ladies - stop us if you've heard this beforeBarenaked Ladies - Stop Us If You’ve Heard This One Before!  (Rhino Records) review The thing that surprises me the most about Stop Us If You’ve Heard This One Before is that it hasn’t been done before.

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The Barenaked Ladies have cultivated a rabid following in the 20 years since the release of their debut Gordon, yet this marks their first-ever rarities compilation.  For a band that’s staked their claim to fame on quirky songs, you’d expect some oddities included in any collection of outtakes, and in that sense, it does not disappoint.

 

regina spektor - what we saw from the cheap seatsRegina Spektor - What We Saw From the Cheap Seats (Sire /WEA) review by J Hamrick After three years, fans were thrilled to see a new album from Regina Spektor out May 29, called What We Saw From the Cheap Seats (check out amazon link here). With a combination of new songs and a few old, the release debuted at three on the Billboard Album chart.

quintet - live at massey hallParker, Gillespie, Powell, Roach, Mingus - The Quintet - Live at Massey Hall (Debut / Concord Records) review Concord Records continues their series of reissuing classic jazz albums with remastered sound and new liner notes.

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You can’t make this stuff up.  Five of the greatest jazz musicians of all-time come together for one night only and the room is half empty. This summit of future jazz legends was so highly regarded that the promoters scheduled a boxing match during the intermission of the concert.  Unbelievable.  But, probably the most amazing thing about Jazz at Massey Hall is that this once-in-a-lifetime event was actually captured on tape on a single microphone placed in front of the stage.

heart - strange euphoria box setHeart - Strange Euphoria (box set) (Sony/Legacy) review Never has a box set so perfectly captured the spirit of a band.

Browse the box set on amazon.com

The goal of most multi-disc collections is to sum up a band’s career by including hit singles and key album tracks, while throwing in a handful of rarities.  The problem is, the only people that usually buy box sets are the true fans, who already own most of this material. That’s what makes Strange Euphoria, the new 3-CD / 1-DVD collection from Heart, so enjoyable.  Lovingly compiled by founding members Ann & Nancy Wilson, who understand that this is meant for the true fan - and they deliver.

the Beach Boys new album - That's Why God Made the Radio Beach Boys - That’s Why God Made the Radio (Capitol) review

It's their best album in 40 years - and we're not kidding

Click here to preview the album on amazon.com

There is a lesson to be learned from the history of the Beach Boys - if you stick around long enough, everything will eventually come full circle.  Once regarded as little more than a glorified nostalgia act, the Beach Boys have found themselves back in favor, due in large part to the excellent archival release of last year, The Smile Sessions (read our review here), which unearthed some fascinating, revelatory pieces of music from over 40 years ago, and helped remind everyone just how insanely talented Brian Wilson was.  Now, all the surviving members are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the band with a brand new album, That's Why God Made the Radio.

The dB's - Falling Off the SkyThe dB’s - Falling Off the Sky (Bar None) review

The band releases their first new album in a quarter century - and it's one of their best

Click here to view this album on amazon.com

In the Eighties, while most of America was concerned with flash in the pans like A Flock of Seagulls and Men Without Hats, the dB’s were quietly making some of the most melodic music of the entire decade.  It’s okay if you didn’t notice - the dB’s didn’t sport snazzy hair cuts or wear flower pots on their heads.  After four albums, the band called it quits in 1988.  The good news is - now you have a chance to redeem yourself - the band has just released their first new album in over 25 years, Falling Off the Sky.

little willie john - the complete hit singles - reviewLittle Willie John - Complete Hit Singles - A’s & B’s (Real Gone Music) review

He made some of the eeriest rhythm and blues of the 1950's

When you think R&B pioneers, the names Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, and Jackie Wilson all come to mind - yet Little Willie John was just as influential.  The problem is,  it’s a lot harder to find his music. Real Gone Records has just compiled The Complete Hit Singles - A’s & B’s, helping to remedy that problem, and shed light on an underrappreciated artist.   

Although Little Willie John was never a household name like his contemporaries, he was no less talented.  In fact, in many ways, he outclassed any other singer of his time.  While Cooke was best at smooth ballads and Wilson at hyped-up dance numbers, John was arguably more versatile - tackling gritty blues numbers just as easy as tender ballads.  The Complete Hit Singles marks the first time that all of John’s hits and their respective b-sides are assembled in one place.

 

Norah Jones - Little Broken HeartsNorah Jones - Little Broken Hearts (Blue Note) review by J Hamrick Little Broken Hearts provides 12 examples of why folks love to listen to Norah Jones.  Debuting at number 2 on the Billboard 200 and a month into sales, the album remains in the top five.

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