Last month I wrote about the fact that I hadn’t listened to a lot of new music in 2008 and went out and took on new releases from bands that hadn’t paid much attention to. Results of that little experiment can be found here, here, here, and here.
For some reason that exercise rattled me from my new music lethargy and I’ve taken on some other new(ish) releases. This is what I found.
Weezer – The Red Album. Although many Weezer fans hated Make Believe, I thought it was great and wrote about it last year here. The once again self-titled album (clad in red) harkens back more toward the Blue and Green albums and turns its back on the route found on Make Believe. To my ears the Red Album is a mixed bag. The good songs are quite strong (Pork and Beans, Troublemaker, Everybody Get Dangerous) while the rest is o.k. It definitely is a Weezer album and if you like Weezer, you’ll be all over this album. A highlight is the Shaker hymn song Simple Gifts. Which is Weezerized to full effect.
Hold Steady – Stay Positive. O.k. I’ll admit I wasn’t a big fan of Boys and Girls in America. I couldn’t just get my head around it. Plus Craig Finn’s talk-sing has irritated me since the Lifter Puller days. I know I am the minority so I was willing to try the Hold Steady again with Stay Positive. In a sentence, it’s much better than BAGIA. Finn’s talk-sing is still prevalent but not as much and it’s still a little irritating but it’s hard to ignore the rock anthemesque quality of this album and the infectious sing-along songs. It’s Bruce Springsteen for the Obama generation. Sequestered in Memphis is the obvious first single and a great song. Constructive Summer and Lord I’m Discouraged are other highlights (although the later can be a little overwrought.). Anyway a fine album from a band that obviously loves rock and roll and should be a lot more popular than they are.
Replacements – Remastered Sorry Ma, Stink, Hootenanny, and Let It Be. I’ve written plenty on the Replacements. Check here if interested so I will spare the sentiments of seeing this band from it’s humble beginnings to cult favorites. Having these albums re-mastered is great as the sound quality of the original releases was definitely lacking. The question everyone had was how were the outtakes, b-sides and demos. I would say, just like the band itself, they are a mixed bag.
The Sorry Ma extras are by far the most diverse. From the 4-song demo tape given to Peter Jesperson (the Holy Grail for Replacement fans) which includes Raised in the City, Shutup, Don’t Turn Me Down, and Shape Up one can understand the excitement Jesperson must have felt when he heard this for the first time. Also it’s nice to have If Only You Were Lonely in electronic form. The rest of the outtakes are o.k., nothing special. The Stink extras include Hey Good Lookin.’ Unfortunately it is a lesser version than the one that was a b-side to the I Will Dare single. You’re Getting Married is a classic, too bad it was never fleshed out and released on an album (would have fit nicely on Let It Be). The Hootenanny extras are o.k. Nothing to write home about although Ain’t No Crime is kind of fun. The Let It Be extras includes three covers (20th Century Boy, Temptation Eyes, and Heartbeat, It’s a Love Beat) which were heard a lot in concert at the time Let it Be was released. An alternative version of 16 Blue with some changed lyrics is interesting but not as good as the released version.
Overall some fun songs but typical of outtakes and demos. There was a reason they weren’t released. I still hope to get the Tim remastered as well, although those extras look more like alternative takes and not songs that were never released.
Finally I’ve been all over The Wedding Present. I picked up Bizarro, Seamonsters, and Hit Parade (singles compilation). This band is awesome. I can’t believe it took me until the later half of 2008 to discover them. Bizarro has to be one of the greatest albums ever and definitely would have easily fit into my favorite 30 albums of all time. Finally I picked up an Ike Reilly album (Junkie Faithful) that is really good. I may try to find more of his stuff too.
So there you go, lots of new music, at least for me. What are you listening to? Anything worth checking out?