Welcome to the first weekend of autumn, a season which has always been my favorite time of the year for music. I'm starting the season off with some much anticipated releases which match the weather, a few discoveries that do as well, and one classic hip-hop album. There are some great albums on this list, some I'd been meaning to check out for a long time and a few that I'd never thought about checking out until recently. A perfect list to make a pot of coffee and find something new to hear. Enjoy.
Jack White - Acoustic Recordings 1998-2016: This career spanning collection of acoustic tracks covers songs from the White Stripes days, The Raconteurs, and his solo career. Nothing he does is without giving his entire being to it and this is no different. The track selection is amazing and there is a flow from one to the other that you could never tell they were recorded over nearly twenty years. This is absolute must for fans. Outstanding stuff.
Eddie Money - No Control: The Cali rocker's fourth LP was released in 1982. Five years earlier, the first track on his first album, "Two Tickets to Paradise," had made him a star and by this time, he was the epitome early '80s cool and this album, with it's sax and beach night atmosphere is the epitome of early 80's pop rock. I've been getting into that sound lately, after shunning it since I hit puberty. But this is the music of my formative elementary school years and there's something groovy about. "Think I'm In Love," "Shakin," and "Take a Little Bit" are standouts.
Okkervil River - Away: Here another album that I have eagerly been awaiting. Over the last decade, this Austin indie folk band has been one of my favorite contemporary bands. It's been over three years since their last album, their longest stretch between albums yet to date. During that time they must have revisited the places of the past because this is reminiscent of their best work. There's a darkness hanging over the album, as there was on classics like Black Sheep Boy and Stage Names. It felt as though their last album was trying for a wider appeal, but this one goes back to the honesty that made them great to begin with. "Frontman in Heaven" is one of their best ever songs.
Elton John - The Captain and The Kid: Released ten years ago, and thirty years after Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, this album is a follow up, meant to bookend that album. Teamed with lyricist Bernie Taupin once again, they explore the way the song writing relationship has changed from the time of stardom to the present. I'm huge fan of these two working together and love all of their '70s work. I was nervous about this one, seeing as how Elton hasn't done anything in three decades that I'd care to listen to, but this is actually quite decent. There are moments where Elton's Broadway/Disney musical sensibility shows through, but there are also moments of greatness.
Ice Cube - AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted: Continuing to work my way through the NWA catalog, I've moved onto Cube's first solo album after leaving the group. Back in the day, I was partial to Dre, but Cube was the real lyrics mastermind behind NWA and it shows on this aggressive and angry album. His rhymes are tight throughout and the samples are uptempo funk and disco make it nostalgic, but not outdated. There are hip-hop albums from the era that age well, and this is one of them. Still as dynamic and raw as it was back then.
Squeeze - Sweets from Strangers: Released in 1982, this is the fifth album from the UK new wave band, though by this time, they were moving away from the new wave sound and into a pop rock style. That's not to say it's boring. There are a lot of lounge elements that make this interesting, and more interesting than a lot of the American contemporary pop rock of the era. As mentioned in the Eddie Money review above, I've been getting into early '80s rock and this is a good example. "Black Coffee in Bed," "Tongue Like a Knife" and "I've Returned" are standouts for me.
Odetta - It's a Mighty World: Released in '64, and the height of the southern gospel folk singer's career, this album is another example of her powerful voice. Odetta performs in a classic folk style, with simple folk arrangements that are carried by the deep spiritual nature of her singing. I found a perfectly clean copy of this on vinyl a few weekends ago. The vendor who sold it to me couldn't believe how good of shape it was in. He said it seemed that whenever someone had an Odetta record, they tended to play the hell out of it...and for good reason. This is a great weekend morning record to listen to as the day starts.