Skip to main content

In Brief

139. Kaiser Chiefs: Yours Truly, Angry Mob (2007)

Ignore the ass-backwards review on Pitchfork and enjoy zippy XTC-derived pop from a group that has improved on its exciting but uneven debut. Ruby is joy and fear all mixed together, Heat Dies Down is as good of a meet-then-break-up-messily song as you could ask for, and the thrilling Everything Is Average Nowadays is anything but. On album closer Retirement lead singer Ricky Wilson claims, "I want to retire" but let's hope it doesn't happen anytime soon. Grade: A

140. The Broken West: I Can't Go On, I'll Go On (2007)

Mining the same indie power pop territory as The New Pornographers is a good approach, and Los Angeles' The Broken West do it well, even without Neko Case's gorgeous voice. The album never quite acheives full lift-off, but nevertheless cruises at a smooth, enjoyable altitude. Check out Brass Ring or Abagail. Grade: B

141. Alexa Ray Joel: Sketches (2006)

Billy and Christie's little girl, who was previously only known in pop music for being named after a boat which was featured in a song (The Downeaster Alexa), is trying her hand at being a singer songwriter. The results on her debut EP are promising if not spectacular. The good news is that she's got talent as a performer (especially evident on a cover of Neil Young's Don't Let It Bring You Down) and as a writer (see the excellent Now It's Gone). Grade: B

142. Elliott Yamin: Elliott Yamin (2007)

The most likable American Idol contestent since Kelly Clarkson makes his white soul debut. As much as I'd like to report otherwise, this is still an American Idol album, which means it has its share of cringeworthy ballads (One Word), an out-of-comfort-zone embarassment (Alright) and an obligitory cover (a too-showy version of his staple A Song For You). Even so, if Elliott charmed you on the show you'll embrace the hand-clappy Movin' On, the gospel-y Find A Way and the Stevie Wonder-evoking Free. Grade: B-

143. Robbers On High Street: The Fatalist & Friends (2006)

On this cheaply-priced ($0.99!) EP, the Robbers offer a sassy and groovy preview of their upcoming album. Judging by the chugging The Fatalist and jabbing Married Young, the band is more Spoonish than ever. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Most surprising and electrifying is a loose-limbed cover of Paul McCartney's little-known Monkberry Moon Delight. A good appetizer. Grade: A-


Popular posts from this blog

12 by Weezer

Here's the drill: 12 songs to summarize an artist's career, in chronological order (of course). This one features... I decided to take an unconventional route for this 12 by, and pretend Weezer have already released a "greatest hits." Here's what I think that would look like:  1) "Buddy Holly", 2) "Undone - the Sweater Song", 3) "My Name Is Jonas", 4) "The Good Life", 5) "El Scorcho", 6) "Hash Pipe", 7) "Island in the Sun", 8) "Dope Nose", 9) "Keep Fishin'", 10) "Beverly Hills", 11) "We Are All On Drugs", 12) "Pork and Beans".  Here's a different take: 1. " Say It Ain't So"  (from Weezer , 1994)  A little bit heavy, a little bit catchy, quiet-loud dynamics. So basically, it's Pixies lite. The song is interesting lyrically because it's basically nonsense until the "Dear daddy..." bridge, which lets out a t

12 by Vicious Vicious

Here's the drill: 12 songs to summarize an artist's career, in chronological order (of course). This one features... If you need a reference point for the work of Vicious Vicious mastermind Erik Appelwick, the most appropriate would be Beck. Like Mr. Hansen, Minnesota-based Appelwick has the ability to navigate between making you laugh and making you cry and making you want to dance, and embraces genres from country to R& B to folk to pop.  I've included songs from the two albums Appelwick did under the name Tropical Depression, because honestly there's not a lot of difference between that and Vicious Vicious.  I very literally  wrote the book  on Appelwick, so please feel confident you are hearing from an authority here.  If you have Amazon Music Unlimited, you can listen to an alternate version of list here  (sadly, not all of VV's music is on the service). 1. "Shake That Ass on the Dance Floor" (from Blood + Clover , 2003) A loungy, laconic come-on

12 by Jenny Lewis

Here's the drill: 12 songs to summarize an artist's career, in chronological order (of course). This one features... Completely separate from Rilo Kiley, Jenny Lewis has put together an impressive oeuvre that is very difficult to winnow down to just 12 songs (if you include her work with Rilo Kiley, fuhgeddaboudit). But I've made what I feel is a valiant attempt. Because I admire Jenny's lyrics so much, I'm going to limit my commentary to a favorite couplet from the song. (If you have Amazon Music Unlimited, you can listen along here .) 1. "Rise Up With Fists!!!" (from Rabbit Fur Coat , 2005) "But you can wake up younger, under the knife / And you can wake up sounder, if you get analyzed." 2. "Melt Your Heart" (from  Rabbit Fur Coat , 2005) "It's like a valentine from your mother / It's bound to melt your heart." 3. "Born Secular" (from Rabbit Fur Coat , 2005) "God works in mysterious ways / And God give