Albums of the Week

September 12-September 18

1 Reply

In this edition: Vinny Peculiar, Glen Campbell, The Icarus Line and Wagons.

Dennis’ Pick of the Week:
Vinny Peculiar: Other People Like Me (Shadrack & Duxbury Records)

This one’s a stunner. It’s a great joy when all the promise and bright flashes in an artist bloom in happy fruition. Such is the case with Other People Like Me (released September 5), where Peculiar fulfills all the echoes of Ian Hunter, Robyn Hitchcock and Nick Lowe in his earlier work by becoming a peer to these greats. Just a hair over a half hour, this is a perfect album – and I don’t fling a word like ‘perfect’ around carelessly. The arc of this song cycle is utterly pleasing, each chapter artfully assembled, jammed with memorable verses and bookended by the right compatriots. Vinny cranks up the electric guitar a bit here, and it’s nothing but good for his music, adding an early Eno-esque touch in places and generally giving things pointier teeth to gnaw at the world. He’s a smart fellow and perhaps as big a fan as any serious music writer or record shop clerk, name checking the likes of Bryan Ferry & Howard Devoto and giving modern artists Christo & Jeanne-Claude get their own tune. His affections are exposed and sincere, yet threaded with a dark edged wit, an element that runs through his career. More simply, he’s often funny as hell if you’re bright enough to keep up with him. That he makes this art-wise stuff dance in pop outfits is impressive – his ideas may be weighty but his execution of them never is – and he’s got Morrisey’s gift for making lyrics swing that just shouldn’t work. It all comes together for Mr. Peculiar on Other People Like Me, the culmination of a decade in the trenches and a jolting harbinger of what the next 10 years may hold. (Dennis Cook)

Dennis’ Runner-Up of the Week:
Glen Campbell: Ghost On The Canvas (Surfdog)

Last albums tend to have a stale whiff to them, a near-miss of past glories or a funeral pallor that’s just plain depressing, but Campbell’s final hurrah, Ghost On The Canvas (released August 29) is a lovely exception. Earlier this year, the veteran pop-country-television star revealed that he’d been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and this would be his last album followed by a final tour. Any vestiges of his illness are invisible in these tracks, which both encapsulate the charms Campbell showed on classic singles like Galveston, Witchita Lineman and Southern Nights and expands his reach into today. There’s a decent amount of studio trickery to burnish his pipes to a golden hue, but it works with the Auto-Tune, reverb and near-vocoder touches cementing this as a contemporary Campbell joint. His guitar picking skills seem absolutely intact, and this is perhaps the best set of original co-writes of his long career – producer/primary writing partner Julian Raymond brings out all the best in Campbell. The quality is further upped by stellar writing contributions from Robert Pollard (Hold On Hope is one of the best songs the Guided By Voices chief has ever penned), Paul Westerberg (the skipping, sentimental title cut), Jakob Dylan (workingman’s hymn Nothing But The Whole Wide World) and Teddy Thompson (woulda-been-a-60s-hit In My Arms). Ghost On The Canvas is a beautiful record and one of the classiest bows pop has ever seen. (DC)

Ron’s Pick of the Week:
The Icarus Line: Wildlife (Cobraside)

According to frontman Joe Cardamone, Los Angeles’ The Icarus Line records every album as though it will be the last one they are ever going to create. And at the rate by which these guys work, Wildlife (released August 30) could very well be the band’s swan song, especially when you consider the four-year span of time that lapses between records over the course of their decade in rock. But, if this 13 track set proves to be their endgame, what a hell of a way to go out. This new Icarus Line record is largely only one by name, as it is predominantly the work of Cardamone, not unlike the way Paul Westerberg delivered The Replacements’ final classic All Shook Down back in 1990. Written in his hometown of Highland Park in East LA and constructed at the famous Sunset Sound studio in the same room Prince had used in the making of Purple Rain, Wildlife is an uncompromisingly catchy blast of Sunset Strip bombast dragged through the grime of Skid Row, crafted with the same sense of economic urgency that chases most of us working class people struggling to keep the lights on month to month. And the outcome is a desperate, bloodthirsty slapdash of your favorite moments from The Jesus Lizard, The The and Hanoi Rocks that is unlike anything blowing out speakers across America today. (Ron Hart)

Ron’s Runner-Up of the Week:
Wagons: Rumble, Shake & Tumble (Thirty Tigers)

Here’s a funny scenario: imagine if, when the Traveling Wilburys were seeking to a replacement for Roy Orbison after he passed on in 1988, they sidestepped the tragically short-lived recruitment of Del Shannon in favor of Nick Cave to become their fifth member. Kind of a jarring thought, thinking how the post-punk King of Oz at the height of his Tender Prey lunacy would have fit in amongst the company of George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty, right? Henry Wagons, a former English teacher from Melbourne, Australia who gave up his pursuit of a Ph.D. for a life of rock ‘n’ roll, has harbored this same premonition, it seems. And on the excellent new album from his group Wagons, he puts that vision into motion with a brilliant collection of Americana Gothic, exemplified in songs like Downlow and the cheeky homage to the Redheaded Stranger himself on Willie Nelson. If you are the kind of person who’s had Murder Ballads and Full Moon Fever on heavy rotation, Rumble, Shake & Tumble (released August 16) is clearly for you. (RH)

One thought on “Albums of the Week | September 12-September 18

  1. All good shit. The country/bluegrass/roots music wave coming out of Britain and Australia is like nothing we’ve heard since punk hit. If Jim Morrison and Iggy Pop had a kid, Cardamone is it, but you can see in his eyes, that this cat is fully aware of his performance and has some serious music in mind. Terribly sad about Glen Campbell’s illness. He touched almost every genre of the American Music scene. A player’s player. Wagons reminds me of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes. All good shit, thank you gentlemen!

Comments are closed.