"I am an idealistic, naive, passionate, truth-seeking, spiritually motivated artist, unschooled in the science of law and finance." --Wesley Snipes

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Recently Rediscovered Thanks to iTunes

Alejandro Escovedo, With These Hands.

--I remember there being a fair amount of hype surrounding the release of this album in the mid-90s. I bought it expecting, oh I don't know, some sort of fusion of country and rock a la Uncle Tupelo. But instead the album was mid-tempo countryrock and slow ballads that owed more to Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings than it did the Germs and X. Not that there's anything wrong with Willie and Waylon--I was just expecting to be blown away, and I wasn't. The only song I ever listened to repeatedly was a duet with Willie, and primarily for Willie's voice. Escovedo sounds about how you'd expect an ex-punk singing country to sound like. It's not pretty. I decided to give him another chance, however, when I heard his guest vocal on Whiskeytown's "Excuse Me If I Break My Own Heart"(the fast version on Stranger's Almanac). Maybe homeboy needs to have Ryan Adams write his next album. Anyway, I've been listening to With These Hands at work and it's beginning to grow on me. He can't sing like Jay Farrar--Hell, he can't even sing like Jeff Tweedy, but there's a rawness, a world-weariness that he wears comfortably, like one of Andy Mister's old flannels or Slayer hoodie.

Crowded House, Greatest Hits

--It's actually not called Greatest Hits, but that's basically what it is. I know certain people will chastise me for even owning a greatest hits-type collection, but fuck off. I also have Elton John's greatest hits.

In the mid80s, I remember hearing "Something So Strong" and "Don't Dream It's Over" on what I guess were "Adult Contemporary" radio stations. I liked the songs but not enough to actually buy the album. Later, in the Navy, the local "edgy" station (this was before Alternative became an industry marketing term) used to play a live version of "Fall At Your Feet" alongside Beatles and Stones and dancehall reggae. I fell in love with that song and when April and Erik came to visit me one December, they brought a cassette single of that song. Inside the case was a certain illicit substance that from that point forward we simply called "Crowded House" in mized company. Other highlights are "Mean To Me," "Pineapple Head," "Locked Out," and "Not The Girl You Think You Are." Something about the earnestness (but also playfulness) of Neil Finn's writing and singing makes it the perfect antidote to indie-rock irony. Speaking of Finns, the Finn Brothers have a couple of pretty solid releases, and Tim Finn's Before & After is notable if only for the absolutely gorgeous Richard Thompson co-written "Persuasion." Speaking of Kiwi pop music, I need to get me some more Tall Dwarfs, because I won't be spinning Dead C anytime soon.

Youssou N'Dour, Womat (The Guide)

--If you're a fan of singing in Wolof, this is the disc to get. This is arguably his most "mainstream" album, though most of his stuff is accessible if you can get past the language barrier. I used to listen to "Mame Bamba" on repeat after my weekend long runs--he actually sings that song in English! Other highlights include a Dylan Cover, a radio-ready duet with Neneh Cherry, "Seven Seconds," and the song "Boy!" with a Wolof chorus that sounds like "Boy boy boy boy massage it! Massage it like this, massage it like that."


Jenaya said...

I have owned, and loved, all three albums that you blogged.

But I think Alejandra Escovedo is the only one that really stands the test of time.

julie said...

I secretly love Crowded House, too.