I realized the other day that this will probably be the last roundup before I get together my year end list....and then I realized, with much dismay, that I would also need to make my best of the decade list. It doesn't seem that long ago that I was sitting in a corporate cubical in SoHo putting together my best of the decade for the '90s. Time flies.
So, here it is, the last weekly grab bag of my musical tastes before somewhat more structured lists appear for the high holidays.
Mumford & Sons - Sigh No More: I really enjoyed the two 2008 EPs released by this indie bluegrass band from London but worried this subsequent full length might get a little repetitive because both EPs, while very good, felt very much the same. Though this album maintains many of the characteristics, there's definitely an expansion here. The songs are moodier and more spacious. Solid addition to the new British indie folk movement.
Lee Fields & The Expressions - My World: I've been loving this album of late. Lee Fields has that old deep soul voice that at times make this album feel like your listening to some artifact from the early '70s, if it weren't for the expert inclusion of hip-hop and house beats that effectively update the sound, giving a new and familiar feel at the same time.
Magic Lantern - High Beams: Psychedelic drone rock from the L.A. area...always a soft spot in my musical tastes. High Beams doesn't stray far from the formula followed by a lot of these new stoner bands, but it does a fair enough job of it. A bit too much like a lot of other things to stand out, but if that's your genre, you should definitely turn the high beams on for a listen or two. I know I have.
Diplo & Santogold - Top Ranking: This one had been on my wishlist for quite some time. Essentially a remix album, but not in the traditional sense in that there is also a ton of new material. Basically, Santogold's debut is the skeleton for this dub album, beats and lyrics are used and reworked and reshaped into a record that ranges from hip-hop to dancehall. The result is kind of uneven. There are some amazing tracks and a lot of not-so amazing tracks which all left me feeling like it was a bit of mess. The good tracks though...pure gold.
Golden Animals - Free Your Mind and Win a Pony: More psychedelic rock from Cali, but this one is more blues inspired. It grooves. It rocks. It's fabulous.
Diamond Head - Lightning to the Nations: This 1980 British metal gem was recommended to me by a friend recently and I'd never heard of it. Though, upon listening, I recognized some songs right away from early Metallica covers. This album has to be one of the earliest thrash metal albums, but it's also very transitional. While developing a lot of elements that won't be heard widespread for another 6 years or so, it also has the very heavy blues feel of Black Sabbath and the frantic garage punk of Radio Birdman. The combination is pretty awesome.
South San Gabriel - The Carlton Chronicles: This is one of those bands that I ignored for a long time because its name. Yes, I'm guilty of that. If the band name seems uninteresting or gives me some association that I don't care for, I tend to be dismissive. Horrible, but hey, I'm human. But I also tend to go back at some point and get over those blocks. In this case, it was a win for me because this is stellar album. Very much in the indie quasi-country folkish sphere as Palace, Okkervil River, Midlake and others, this is beautiful album.
Blind Willie Johnson - The Soul of a Man: I've had this for a few months and though I was familiar with some Blind Willie (and blown away by it, hence the acquisition of this), I wasn't terribly excited by this collection at first. This week, I decided to give it another listen after "John the Revelator" came up in my ipod shuffle not too long ago (one of the aforementioned songs that blew me away). This time I knew what to expect and was in the mood for these acoustic gospel blues that sound as if they recorded in a tin shed circa 1923. Blind Willie's gravel voice is the voice of a ghost come to warn of the other side. Unbelievable. And now, right up there with Blind Lemon Jefferson in my book.