Räkärodeo mailing list provided some great news yesterday. Australian The Blackeyed Susans is about to release a box set in late october. It looks like it will be two dics of their greatest songs, one disc of rarities and a DVD. A must have box set even though I have most of the albums (I dont’ have Shangri-La, missed it when it came out and soon after that the prices in places like amazon have been ridicilous). It’s a really amazing band like fellow Räkärodeo listeners all know. If there ever was a contest of who has the greatest voice on the planet, Rob Snarski wouldn’t need to go through the qualifying stages. The organizing panel would give him a guaranteed place in the final before the whole thing would have even started.
The Wigs: File Under: Pop Vocal (2009)
File under pop heaven. I’m always interested in power pop reissues and therefore I picked this up from notlame.com. The Wigs was a Milwaukee-based power pop band and their only album File Under: Pop Vocal came out in 1981. It’s strong and catchy skinny-tied power pop album. Especially the first four songs are pure gold. After listening to a song like 180 Degree or Tell It All one needs a forklift to pick up his jaw from the floor and keeps thinking “what the hell was that pure pop bliss” and “why the hell I hadn’t heard that one before”. Just fantastic late seventies power pop and the vocals are just magical. After the first four songs, everything remains enjoyable but the quality does drop a tiny bit. Not much, but it doesn’t reach the same heavenly heights anymore. I think this is mostly because it gets a lot closer to basic rock’n’roll. Nothing really wrong with that, but I just think that there are better rock bands out there. They couldn’t get even get close to that angelic pop bliss that The Wigs provided in the early stages of the album, but in their own game they are unbeatable. Therefore Popular Girl and It’s Over are the only ones that match the perfectness of the starting quartet during the later stages of the album. However, these six songs are so freakin’ good and could be compared to any pop classic of the era that it makes this a must have album. A minor complaint about the simple packaging and lack of liner notes, but in the end it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that these wonderful pop tunes are out and available on CD for the first time.
Rodriguez: Coming From Reality (Light In The Attic, 2009)
Sixto Rodriguez is an american folk musician who made two studio albums in the early seventies. The debut Cold Fact was released in 1970 on Sussex Records and this Coming From Reality a year later on the same label. Neither sold much which is again a crime against good music. Thankfully both of these have now been reissued by Light In The Attic and hopefully more people will find these jewels this time (I’ve learned that he is big in South Africa though, but the rest of the world should follow). At least these reissues have done the trick in my case. I didn’t know him before the amazing Shindig! magazine introduced him and his albums to me. I still haven’t heard Cold Fact, but it’s definitely on my shopping list after spending some quality time in the arms of this wonderful second album (if you want to know the reason why I choose to start with this one, it’s just that I liked this cover art more. That’s how much I know about music and how I make the selection of what to buy).
This is lyrically powerful folk music that also has a pop sensibility. Rodriguez is a great storyteller and his poetic lyrics are a big part of the charm and keeps my interest high even during those 2-3 songs that aren’t that appealing to me melodically. Usually there’s no need for the lyrics to carry the songs through. Usually the composition and the lyrical side are both equally wonderful and together they create a little bit of magic in form of a thoughtprovoking folk tale or a sensitive pop song. Coming From Reality is a great album full of stunning songs like I Think Of You, Halfway Up The Stairs, Sandrevan Lullaby-Lifestyles and To Whom It May Concern. Now I need to go and buy the debut.
The album of the year 2009 was released today on vinyl (CD / Digital / Deluxe box set will be released 29.9.2009). I bought my copy from 8raita record store today and I’m already completely in love with the new album. It’s just as stunning as I expected. It’s the first one on a major label, so obviously there were minor worries, but the band and producer Rick Rubin have done an excellent job. It just sounds brilliant and it’s not overproduced or overpolished. It’s The Avett Brothers. The greatest band in the world at the moment. A full review will follow later, but you already know the thrill. This is worth all the hearts in the world and if anything extraordinary doesn’t happen it will be my album of the year, if not the album of the decade.
The Leftovers: Eager To Please (Crappy Records, 2009)
I found The Leftovers this summer when I saw this album on Not lame’s front page. The sound clips sounded really good and noticing that it was produced by Linus Of Hollywood made it even more interesting. I ordered it the same day and I haven’t regretted that decision. Eager To Please is already the fourth The Leftovers album and it’s a whole lot of fun. It’s full of short, energic and catchy pop-punk and power pop songs with singalong choruses. Maybe they are occasionally getting dangerously close to becoming one of those lame punk-pop bands, but their melodic sense and 70’s power pop influences drive them back to more comfortable zones. 14 songs is a bit too big one time doze of this highly energic pop blast for me, because there isn’t much variation. However, it’s all very enjoyable and there’s not a bad song on the album. Maybe not that real killer song either, but Eager To Please is a very fine punky pop album.
Paleface: The Show Is On The Road (Ramseur Records, 2009)
This is obviously not the finnish rap artists Paleface, it’s the american folk artist Paleface. Paleface has actually been around quite a while. He released albums for Polydor and Sire Records in the 90s, but unlike his former roommate and close friend Beck, he never got the big break. After being dropped by Sire in 1996, Paleface has continued touring and writing music and has released a lot of stuff independently. Now the excellent Ramseur Records has given him a new chance to turn his tour success and experience to a successful recording career.
I have rather mixed feelings about the album. Even though I’m a fan of simple music some of the up-tempo tracks (like the title track especially) seem to lack some depth and become way too boring way too fast. These probably hit the target on live situations, but not so well on a record. Thankfully there’s another side and beautiful folk ballads like Traveling From North Carolina are the reason to fall in love with Paleface. That is the key song of the album for me. A really wonderful song that reminds me a bit of Ben Weaver and I do love the moment Monica Samalot’s (drummer) soft humming enters the frame. The moments when they sing together are charming. Whether Monica is just backing Paleface by humming or there’s a real male-female vocal interplay going on, it always works beautifully. It’s probably best to catch Paleface’s live concert, but the record does have several great moments as well. Half of it is really good, but the other half is only okay.