Just looking over the albums I picked for this week, I realize that this is one of those lists that kind of encapsulates my the wide range of my musical tastes. Perhaps that's because I spent several hours a day outside shoveling the winter from my driveway, which means I had the headphones on and the shuffle playing. I've constructed my low-memory ipod into the greatest jukebox in the world and therefore I'm feeling a little diverse this week. There's definitely something for everyone here, so enjoy.
Black Pistol Fire - Black Pistol Fire: This debut album from Toronto garage outfit was a nice surprise this week. There's nothing groundbreaking about this album to be sure. Sounding very much like the Black Keys or early White Stripes, this album kicks out a series of raw blues rock. But it's done really well. I've listened to this album a few times and it keeps getting better. It's just rock n roll, but I like it.
Gorillaz - The Fall: After last year's disappointing Plastic Beach album, I didn't have much faith in this 'fan club' giveaway album. Then I learned that it was basically a Damon Albarn solo experimental album created on his ipad and I grew more curious. Democrazy, a similar Damon album released several years ago was a treat. This was a pleasant surprise. Unlike the the Gorillaz, this is a minimal electronic album. Sure there's a lot of unnecessarily noise on here, but there are a handful of beautiful tracks. 'The Joplin Spider' and 'Bobby in Phoenix' are amazing.
Wanda Jackson - The Party Ain't Over: The latest in Jack White's career reclamation projects is '60s rockabilly darling Wanda Jackson. Unlike Rick Rubin who takes older artists and tries to reinvent them, Jack White simply revives what people have always loved about them. This is a fiery old school rock and rhythm record that grabs hold and thumps you. Again, there isn't any new territory covered on this this album, just an artist doing what she does best.
Bobby Bare, Jr. - A Storm, A Tree, My Mother's Head: I've been a fan of Bobby for a few years and believe his 2002 debut album Young Criminals Starvation League is pretty exceptional y'alternative. Subsequent albums didn't feel quite as fresh, but still decent. This album from last year however is a big step forward. Musically, it's richer than his previous albums as he delves deeper into indie rock. This album sounds more like Sea Wolf than anything country, and that's not a bad thing. There's still Bobby's twang and sense of humor that shines through. This was a contender for my best of list last year.
The Divine Comedy - Bang goes the Knighthood: Neil Hannon's band was always the sort of misfit of the Britpop scene, going extreme in their Baroque Pop style and exceptional wit. That the band is still going strong all these years later is because he's such an original. He knows how to craft beautiful songs and this album is simply more proof of that. This was another close contender to make my best of list last year.
The Stooges - You Want My Action: This four disc set came out two years ago and features the only recordings of the short-lived 5 man line-up for the band. Four different concerts from 1971 capture this band at its rawest. The band sounds explosive in these shows and have never sounded heavier. The extra guitar makes a dramatic impact. If you want to hear where both both heavy metal and punk were born, listen to these shows. But be warned, these recordings are extremely rough. This is probably why the package is so nice.
Wu Orleans: After last week's Notorious B.I.G./ Frank Sinatra mash-up, I went out in search of other mash-ups out there and found this one. DJ BC mixes Wu Tang with New Orleans Dixieland. While there are some amazing tracks on here (mostly Method Man tracks), this album wasn't as incredible as the concept should be. Partially this is because on many tracks the tempo of the songs doesn't match up as well as it should. Still though, it's definitely worth a listen and a worthy addition to the Wu Tang catalog. However, definitely check out the Wu Tang vs. The Beatles album first.
Spirogyra - Burn the Bridges: This early '70s Canterbury progressive folk outfit's St. Radigunds album was one of my favorite discoveries from last year. For Christmas, I got the rest of their albums, including this collection of demo tracks from 1970-1971. This album opens with psychedellic folk tracks which are brilliant and moves into dark forest type of hymns. By the end, it's a little uneven, but still an amazing early freak folk collection. "Turn Again Lane," "Bring Me Back" and "Nothing to Hide" are the three best tracks.