Sono distrutta this morning – a bit destroyed (it comes out in Italian, I don’t know why). But happily so, the after-effects of seeing a fantastic show last night with Ike Reilly and Tom Morello. More on that later, but portions were near magical. I will try to gather my Monday thoughts coherently on all of your lovely behalfs because there are some great new tunes this week.
Into The Colors [video]
Soulful songman/insanely good Weissenborner Ben Harper is back with a hotly anticipated album Lifeline (due August 28th) and already garnering positive advance reviews. I find myself heartily enjoying this song from the opening notes — playful and smooth, possibly his catchiest tune since “Steal My Kisses.” For the love of all things holy, go see the man in concert if you can (a few festivals left this summer, and hopefully a fall tour in support of the new album). He fairly ignites in spontaneous combustion flames from the fervor of his virtuosity in playing, and I love it.
Remember our good pal Jake Troth with the impressive potential? He recommended that I take a listen to this next artist and since I like Jake’s music, I promptly heeded his advice — and I’m really impressed. Patrick Watson is a musician out of Montreal, Canada whose 2006 album Close To Paradise slipped past me somehow. Man alive; close to paradise indeed. This is otherwordly stuff, haunting and melodic — like being trapped in Labyrinth, without David Bowie in spandex. And I’m not gonna solidify the most obvious comparison, but listen to those vocals; they bore an eerie resemblance to someone else I deeply love, pure and soaring and wrenching.
New Dark Ages
Truthfully, I probably first heard So-Cal literate punk band Bad Religion at the implied behest of Eddie Vedder – in ’93 he loaned guest backing vocals to two songs on their Recipe For Hate album. And since ’94 I’ve really liked their single “Infected” (even with that whole rant in the middle about crucifixtion and other violent desires; it’s got an unbeatable riff). Bad Religion has been together since 1980, and their fourteenth studio album finds them still alienated and politically aware, but fiercely melodic and intense as always. Frontman Greg Graffin has one of the most distinctive voices in punk rock: it kind of reminds me of standing over an active volcano. New Maps Of Hell is out now on Epitaph, and was produced by Joe Barresi (Tool, QOTSA).
This is a punchy cut off the fresh release from San Francisco’s John Vanderslice, in which he impresses me by (among other things) using the word veranda right off the bat and making it sound so lovely. I would like a veranda that overlooks the ocean. And maybe I’ve just got Ike Reilly on the brain, but the beginning is almost identical to “When Irish Eyes Are Burning,” although it morphs into something completely unique by the time the lyrics kick in. Emerald City was recorded mostly at Vanderslice’s all-analog studio Tiny Telephone (a dying breed) in the Mission District of SF, and is out July 24th on Barsuk.
Cigarettes & Gasoline
The former frontman of Tonic goes solo with this new release on EMI/Blue Note Records. Cigarettes & Gasoline is an intimate and well-crafted album from Emerson Hart which is loosely gathered around personal themes of his father’s unsolved murder and Emerson’s childhood associations with the man (cigarettes, gasoline). There’s a quality in his voice that draws out something from me — like sucking venom out of a rattlesnake wound. History: I’m undereducated on Tonic, but I remember not liking “If You Could Only See,” Tonic’s biggest hit, and also loving their song “Sugar,” which still makes me think of summers and all kinds of borderline nefarious activities. Hart’s new album is out tomorrow.