Monday Music Roundup
Last night my friend Jill and I were at the Denver Fillmore for the Emerson Hart/Collective Soul/Live lineup, an evening punctuated by literal spontaneous rock'n'roll combustion - one of the speakers caught fire. Afterwards my friend working the show was incredulous that I hadn't noticed. "You didn't smell the smoke?" he said. Yes, I smelled intense smoke but thought it was just the two middle-aged urban cougars in strappy tanks getting high to my left.
Emerson Hart was very very good, backed by his full band. I could have heard a much longer set from him. The former frontman of Tonic has a solo album out now called Cigarettes and Gasoline [previous mention] and came out afterwards by the merch booth to meet folks. Very warm, down to earth, appreciative fella. He tells me that he'll be back with an acoustic tour this November and I will definitely be there.
Collective Soul did nothing for me. I tried. Too much posturing and posing by singer Ed Roland, as if he had practiced his microphone slinging acrobatics beforehand in front of a mirror. I did get into the performance of "Hollywood," a ridiculously catchy single off their new album, and "All That I Know" had a delicious huge beat. Other than that . . . mmm, not so much.
Live's music is absolutely awesome in concert - it soars and writhes and pounds, and I adore it. I sang emphatically along to every song; they might be in my Top 5 pantheon of bands close to my heart. I am pleased to also report on the status of Ed's sweaty nipples: they are just as small as they were last year. My sister was with me at the last embarrassing display of gyrating self-confidence by their lead singer, so I texted her an ongoing update of his state of undress ("the shirt is unbuttoned" "we have nipples!" "he is shirtless. i repeat, he is shirtless") because it's just so bad you can't believe it's actually happening, and with such barely-concealed erotic glee on his part.
She texted me back this simple admonition: "Bask in their glory."
Lonely No More
Starting with a high and lonesome harmonica, combined unexpectedly with big band thumping drum-major beats, this one gets my attention from the start -- and then the perfect pop Buddy Holly melody sticks in my head for hours. From the new album by Magnet (aka Norwegian dude Even Johansen), The Simple Life is a kaleidoscope of instruments and influences, and it sounds absolutely fantastic to me. From the opening handclaps and Sufjan-banjo plucking of "The Gospel Song" through all the Eels-worthy strings, shiny brass, and thoroughly modern shimmer of sounds, I ♥ it with a vengeance. It deserves its very own post and a potential spot on my best-of-2007 list, but I am so excited I am throwing it out here now. My head literally spins a little with a discovery this good. The Simple Life is out now in the U.S. on Filter Recordings, and watch for Magnet opening for Stars on tour starting this month.
This one hits kinda like the Breeders seething with a smatter of glam rock. San Francisco-based Imperial Teen has been making music together for over a decade, and their newest one The Hair, The TV, The Baby & The Band (out now on Merge) shares lead vocal duties by both the girls and guys in the band, as well as a pink Starburst sensibility of retro-tinged indie pop, crunchy guitars, and summertime lyrics. This tune's all about a party at the Shim Sham club, and about "delinquent girls staying up all night / spray painting walls under suburban lights."
The Cat Empire
An empire ruled by cats is a terrible idea, right behind a mouthful of bees. Where do these bands keep coming up with these names? I don't know what went into the naming process of this Australian group that merges sounds of '60s-organ rock, funk, reggae, dancehall, and more. Their fresh sounds are all over the map. "In America they tie themselves in knots trying to categorise our music," says frontman/songwriter Felix Reibl. "It might not be easy to categorise but it's music that's perfectly natural whether it's playing in a shack in Vietnam or a nightclub in New York" [credit]. So Many Nights was produced by John Porter (The Smiths, Ryan Adams, Missy Higgins) and recorded in Melbourne and Malibu, and it's out recently in Australia with a planned invasion of U.S. shores in 2008. Listen to em now.
A guy recently posted on the Ryan Adams board about Robert Pollard's two albums coming out this month because, as he said, "no one's used the word 'prolific' around here lately." Another supercreative artist who doesn't try to quell the flow of tunes, former Guided By Voices leader Bob Pollard has the poppier Coast To Coast Carpet Of Love, coming out on the same day as the harder-edged punk feel of Standard Gargoyle Decisions. Street date is tomorrow for both sides of his persona, and you can stream both albums in full over on the Merge site.
I mentioned the new Small Tempest EP from California folk-bluesman Jackie Greene recently, and have now gotten a chance to enjoy it front to back. Let this run along with another perfect little song called Caroline -- and where that one was a melancholy piano-scored summer afternoon watching clouds pass, this one starts with few autumnal guitar-plucked notes that immediately call to mind the "Don't Think Twice" of Dylan. Greene's got a smooth and wistful voice, and some lonesome harmonica chops here. Despite the "I was a teenage heartthrob in a film noir" cover, pick up this EP if you can catch Jackie live this fall.