Trying To Get To You

Thursday, March 29, 2007

In The Jukebox This Week

Tony Joe White - Black and White

Thanks to the folks at NYCD, I’ve found one of those albums that is making me wonder, “Where have you been all of my life?” It’s Black & White, by Tony Joe White, a wonderful, swampy, southern soul album from 1969. Filled with great songs like the top 10 hit “Polk Salad Annie,” (Elvis covered it in concert) and showcasing White’s truly marvelous, one of a kind voice, this is an unheralded classic of the genre. Buy it.

Download: "Soul Francsico"

Art Brut - It’s a Bit Complicated (Advance EP)

Art Brut’s Bang Bang Rock N’ Roll was one of my favorites of 2006, and they’re back. Part of the delight in hearing the band the first time around was the shock of humor in Eddie Argos’s voice, and the smartass simplicity of songs like “Formed a Band.” The sound is a bit more fleshed out this time and there are hints of some Northern Soul on it (“Late Sunday”), but while this EP sounds good, the songs aren’t popping out for me the way they did last time out. Hopefully it'll be a grower.

(Credit to Downtown Records for sending the EP without any copy protection – they’re smart enough to know it’ll leak anyway, so they might as well control the context with which it’s originally distributed.)

Download: "Post Soothing Out"

Foutains of Wayne –
Traffic & Weather

I never have understood the appeal of this band. Wimpy, cutesy, ugh. It’s the kind of stuff that gives power pop a bad name. This album sounds like a band on its last legs.

Stax 50th Anniversary Celebration – They might as well call this collection, “The Greatest Hits of the United States of America.” Even if the songs are ones that I’ve heard a thousand times before (“Who’s Making Love,” “Shaft,” “Respect Yourself”), it doesn’t make the music any less sublime, and it’s required listening for anyone who loves American music, let alone soul music. To me, Stax’s story epitomizes the best of America – an unlikely community of people from varied backgrounds working together to create art that first transcended and then exploded boundaries of race and music in this country. And it’s art that you can still dance to.

Robin Thicke – The Evolution of Robin Thicke

There are certain albums whose success makes me feel incredibly alienated. This is one of them. I read the glowing comments on Amazon, got the album, and find it a shallow bore. He’s got a nice voice, but why this is getting the praise it’s getting is a mystery to me. It’s all gloss with nothing firm underneath the surface.

1 comment:

Kevin Webb said...

You should check out his first album. I liked it a lot. It was a lot more interesting, whereas the new one is more pedestrian, though it has some nice moments. The second album was clearly designed to sell some records, since the first one did not. It worked. I'm not mad at him. I also find it interesting that they keep releasing his albums at the same time as Justin Timberlake's. Maybe it's just a coincidence...

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