Welcome to November, the time of year when releases start to come fast and furious for the holiday season, and also the time when I try to catch up on all of the albums from the year that I'd wanted to hear. This week sees the beginning of that, but also sees me trying to absorb the records I bought up north of the border. I've been in an nostalgic autumn mood of late, and some of my choices reflect that. It must be an astrological thing, due to the recent full moon. This week's list is made up almost exclusively of favorite artists of mine, with the exception of one introduction and one other band. Hopefully some are among your favorites as well. Enjoy.
The Icarus Line - All Things Under Heaven: The L.A. noise rock's sixth album is a return to their earlier chaos. Their last two records embraced some aspects of sludge metal, while keeping intact their sleaze rock vibe that has always endeared me to them. This album sees them reawaken the demons that made 2004's Penance Soirée one of the best of albums of the last decade. From the opening of "Ride or Die" to the end, the music is threatening, and dangerous in the best of ways. "Little Horn," "Mirror," "Solar Plexus," and the epic "Incinerator Blue" are my personal favorites.
Nirvana - At the End of Lonely Street: For the past twenty odd years, I've been collecting Nirvana bootlegs and have amassed quite a collection. In recent years, I've turned to collecting these on vinyl, and seeing as how I have pretty much every possible obscure song, I tend to chose these by track listing, looking for my favorite rare songs. I came across this one and had to have it. The packaging was great, and the track listing is a wonder collection of home recordings and demos, including some that were found on the With the Lights Out box set and one instrumental track I don't recognize called "Grey Goose". As always, magnificent stuff.
Eric Dolphy - Quintet U.S.A. Live at the Gaslight Inn 1962: Dolphy has always been one of my favorite jazz musicians due to his spirit and improvisation. This unauthorized Live album captures his famed Quintet at the Gaslight Inn. Admittedly, it's not my favorite Dolphy (his Europe albums being more moody), it is still quite good. Two years before his groundbreaking Out to Lunch album, and his subsequent death, this is the portrait of a dedicated artist. The fantastic "GW," which takes up most of the second side, is worth the price of admission alone.
The White Stripes - BBC Sessions: I found this vinyl up in Canada and it's pretty much a flawless collection that spans the Stripes early catalog. The BBC format has always been great, especially for bands who are really best experienced live. Consisting mainly of tracks from their first three albums, this is the raw garage sound that made the White Stripes the biggest band on the planet in the first half of the last decade. "Lord, Send Me An Angel Down," "St. James Infirmary Blues," and "I'm Finding It Harder to be a Gentleman" are exceptional. Definitely a must for fans.
Buddy Holly - A Rock & Roll Collection: There are few true originals in the world, but Buddy Holly certainly was one of them. Over the years I've become a huge fan of his music, and no matter how many times I hear a song, it always manages to catch me a little off guard as to just how brilliant it is. I came across this stellar two album set for $1 up in Canada and couldn't resist. It is one unforgettable song after the next. Truly one of the best songwriters of all time.
The Enemy - It's Automatic: The UK indie band's first album in three years sees the once pub rock band move in the direction of pop rock, with mixed results. Much of the album felt a bit soulless to me. Other times, it felt like so many '80s rock albums that were heavy with synth hooks. Strangely, these are the moments that sound best, which is odd, since those are not typically things I like. The title track is the only really decent song on here, the rest is too Phil Collins meets the Police for my taste.
Bobby Long - Wishbone: Released two years ago, this is the third album from the New York based singer songwriter, a transplant from the UK. I recently heard him on the local Woodstock radio and really liked the things he had to say about music and the songs he played live, mostly from his newer album, released earlier this year. His music has an undertone of country rock, but with a knowledge of the folk blues. This is an enjoyable record, though nothing really groundbreaking. I'm looking forward to hearing the new record to see where he takes his sound next. "Devil Moon," "She Won't Leave," and "Help You Mend" are my personal favorites.
Elton John - Honky Chateau: Elton's fifth album, released in '72, only three years after his debut, sees the piano man at the top of his game. His early albums blend pop rock, country, and early glam in a way that nobody, except maybe Bowie, has ever done. Having had a string of hits leading into this album, he allows himself to get a little more dangerous on here, pushing himself farther into glam, especially on tracks like "I Think I'm Going to Kill Myself" and "Rocket Man." It also includes one of his best songs ever, "Mona Lisas and Madhatters", making it a must have for any collection.