Man oh man has it been a great month or so for new music. I cannot believe how much stuff I have heard in such a short amount of time that has completely kicked my ass. I haven't seen a boon in music that was this great in almost a decade. No matter what your taste there is an awful lot out there. Seriously, it is an amazing time for new records. I have widdled down my crazy long list to just a few.
STUFF I LIKE:
Sonic Youth: Rather Ripped - This is kick ass SY with heart, thought and acute insight. They still remain relevant after twenty-five years.
Mission of Burma: The Obliterati - This is hard rock fun form Boston's MOB. Songs like "Nancy Reagan's Head" and "1001 Pleasant Dreams" are shredders that remain catchy enough to keep everyone happy.
Black Angels: Passover - Anyone who likes old Echo & the Bunnymen or Joy Division will love the band's sprawling melodies and droning guitars. This is great.
Asobi Seksu: Citrus - This NYC outfit combines stargazer pop with delicate lyrics to make some amazingly emotional music.
Justice: Waters of Nazareth (EP) - Justice is from France and kick ass in that way that French electro pop doesn't. They are loud, crunchy and bang the hell out a beat.
Regina Spektor: Begin To Hope - What are you waiting for? She is going to be huge. Spektor takes the kookiness out of piano pop and replaces it with irony, well conceived lyrics, clever concepts and brilliant imagery.
The Futureheads: News & Tributes - This is no sophomore slump. The Futureheads turn up the amps here and make some spirited rock & roll. They are feisty and raucous and definitely a fresh new voice in UK pop.
One of the great things about being a music nerd is that once in awhile record labels and artists will reissue an artist's albums with extra cool stuff and better sound. This has been the case for recent reissues from The Cure and Echo & The Bunnymen. So you can imagine my excitement when I heard that The Jesus & Mary Chain back catalog was getting reissued. Anyway, to make a long story short, the reissues suck. They don't have extra tracks, only a few videos each. Plus they didn't do anything cool with the liner notes. To make matters worse, the new batch of reissues from Wire and Depeche Mode disappoint as well. The DM discs features mixes and tracks that have previously been released elsewhere and don't really offer anything new. The Wire reissues offer somewhat crisper sound, but no extras. What all this bitching and a hollering means is this, caveot emptor when it comes to new reissues. After all, all I really want is extra stuff that isn't anywhere else. An example of how to do it right is the new Regina Spektor CD. It comes with an extra disc of material that has been hard to get recently but are still kind of cool to have for fans. My point is this, labels and bands need to give the music fan out there more for their money with reissues. In this day of downloading it becomes even more important for them to appease the whims of their music hungry public no matter how bad their anal or completist tendencies may be.
Daft Punk are set to release their first ever film, Daft Punk's Electroma later this year.
It has indeed been over a decade since we last heard form Kurt Cobain's favorite band, The Meat Puppets. But fear not dear reader, the band recently announced they have reformed and are recording new material.
Another one of Cobain's favorite bands, The Slits, have also gotten back together. They have a new album due this fall with Tackhead's Adrian Sherwood producing.
Nick Cave, Jarvis Cocker, Beth Orton, Rufus Wainwright and some band called U2 are featured in I'm Your Man, a film from Lian Lunson about singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen. The film features extensive footage from 2005's Come So Far for Beauty Cohen tribute concert which was held in Sydney.
Frank Black will mount an acoustic solo tour for most of the next two months in support of his has release, Fast Man Raider Man.
Let's Rock Again, the ill-fated 2004 documentary about Joe Strummer has finally come out on DVD.
Just when you thought it was safe to be camp again, The Scissor Sisters have returned. Their new album, Ta-dah, is due out on September 18th.
David Bowie, Sir Ian McKellan, Dianna Rigg and Orlando Bloom are just a few of the faces that will be seen in the upcoming series of Ricky Gervais' Extras.
The Decemberists have signed with Capitol Records. Their new album, The Crane Wife, is due this October.
Richard Ashcroft"Words Just Get In the Way."
Air has begun work on a new album for a midyear 2007 release.
Fans of Level 42, and there are millions of them, are eagerly awaiting Level 42: The Definitive Collection which is coming out this fall.
Portishead recently announced that they have actually completed songs for their much anticipated third album.
Bassist and founding member Andy Nicholson has left The Arctic Monkeys.
It has been too long, but DJ Shadow is just about ready to drop some new beats on the world. His new album, The Outsider, should be out by summer's end.
The Klaxons, currently one of the most hyped bands in the UK has released a new single, "Atlantis to Interzone." They are gonna be massive.
Another new it band form the UK, The Long Blondes, who are on the verge of big things, have a new single coming out, "Weekend Without Makeup."
The Ramones seem like an odd choice for a musical, but alas it is true. Gabba Gabba Hey (aka Ramones: The Musical) is now being performed in London with Hugh Cornwall of The Stranglers, Tony James of Sigue Sigue Sputnik/Generation X fame and Tommy Ramone (the one who isn't dead yet) in the lead roles. Billed as the first punk rock musical the production looks to go to Broadway in the next year. This isn't too much of a surprise considering musicals about Johnny Cash, John Lennon and Frankie Valli have already been staged. It is though kind of sad and scary.
Also scary is ex-NKOTB punk Joey McIntyre, who is currently playing Fonzie in the Happy Days musical which is playing in LA.
The genocide in Darfur is tragic and horrible, but not as horrible as the meteoric rise of that talentless mannequin of pop music badness that is Kelly Clarkson. Man she is bad. I rather get a root canal, or hear an entire album of reggae songs sung by Screech from Saved by the Bell then hear that drek she passes off to an unsuspecting public.
Maybe I missed something, but when exactly did Nelly Furtado start dressing like a skanky chick trying to sell records?
Superman Returns really would have been better without the kid and with another actress as Lois Lane. But I did like the effects and how they made him use all of his super powers in a somewhat convincing way. I didn't expect any real acting from Superman to begin with so I wasn't off put by Brandon Routh's performance. Although I can't help but pity poor James Marsden it is really hard to suck in four superhero movies. But he shouldn't worry; there is always the convention circuit.
The latest season of Doctor Who was okay, but I think it didn't really flow as well as the previous season. I didn't mind Tennant so much but the stories weren't as solid or intriguing. I am glad to see Piper leave and hope they take the show in some different directions with the next companion.
The Lake House is everything I hate about Hollywood films. It's schmaltzy crap with bad acting and no redeeming intellectual value.
I thought that Cars was pretty clever and fun. I must admit though that I am one of those weirdos who really like most of what Pixar does. Still, I think the film had some really great creative moments and generally was paced pretty well.
STUFF I'M READING:
The Battle for Spain by Antony Beevor. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War. Although Beevor has tapped into this subject before, here he manages to broaden the scope and examine the causes of the conflict and its effect on Europe. Beevor is one of the most readable historians around. His use of narrative is excellent.
The Italian Boy by Sarah Wise. You would not expect a book about body snatching in 1830s London to be so riveting. But it is. Besides chronicling the famous case of a missing boy whose cadaver changed British law, this book is also a really good study in the culture of pre-Victorian London.
Finally, make it a point to listen to some new music and read something interesting. Also, in this ghastly obscene summer of humidity and heat, please make it a point to stay hydrated and look in on your elderly neighbors. I say this because as I write this it is like 200 degrees in the Curmudgeon bunker. So drink more water goddammit!