Amidst the oceans of papers I have to grade, I have had time to surface for a few bits o' entertainment. Some basic thoughts:
Aimee Mann, The Forgotten Arm
At first, this did nothing for me, and that was mostly due to "In the Jailhouse Now." I love Aimee, but this song is a stinker. It's very "by the numbers" and sounds like Ms. Mann and company have fallen into formula. Luckily, however, I have given this album another chance. Pretty much everything else rocks! Aimee has rediscovered mid/uptempo songwriting! "Going through the Motions" couldn't be catchier, and "Little Bombs" is possibly one of the most devastating songs I've heard in ages. This album definitely has legs.
Son Volt, Okemah and the Melody of Riot
I wanted to like this, I really did. Son Volt returns and Jay Farrar remembers how to rock...it sounds like a brilliant combination. And there is a lot to love here: "Jet Pilot" is biting and crushing, "Atmosphere" is catchier than it should be, and "Bandages and Scars" gets the blood racing. Alas, there are also a lot of dogs here. "Ipacac" has a weak chorus and suffers from "let me throw in a big, vague word so I look smart" syndrome, and "Medication" is a low rent version of "Vitamins" from Jay's first solo album, sans a decent chorus. This album does give the impression that Jay has forgotten how to write choruses. Plus, the dual disk format is extremely annoying.
Ryan Adams & the Cardinals, Jacksonville City Nights
More solid and consistant than Cold Roses. This is a nice album. It is also very country, specifically the type of country where you should really be slightly pissed off and starting a whiskey drunk. The inclusion of new versions of old unreleased favorites "My Heart is Broken" and "Don't Fail Me Now" really makes this a keeper. The other songs are great, but as I only got this yesterday, I'll have to stop back for more details. It does seem like great companion piece to...
Caitlin Cary and Thad Cockrell, Begonias
The album of the year so far. Damn, this is good. It is also very country. I seem to be listening to more country stuff. Is there something wrong with me? Am I just getting older? Caitlin and Thad have tremendous chemistry. Too many highlights to list, but "Something Less than Something More" and "Waiting on June" are possibly perfect songs. If there was more country that was this good, I would go full-bore and forget rock ever existed.
Clutch, Robot Hive/Exodus
Awesome stoner metal. Who could ignore the catchy chorus of "10001110101?" Plus, the first song mentions both REO Speedwagon and Dokken! This is very hard, heavy and much less monotonous than I was expecting, especially since every song is in the same key and tempo. The best heavy thing I've gotten in ages.
More media later.