Chrissie Hynde sure hasn't changed a whole lot since we first got a glimpse of her staring through stringy black hair, appearing urbanely street-smart in her red leather jacket from the cover of the Pretenders album in 1980. As Break Up The Concrete shows, she still has the wit, emotion, and backbone to write rock songs that seem to easily cut through the clutter. Armed with that talent – and with her remarkable, almost one-of-a-kind voice – the new album is an easy thumbs-up, much more of it's time than the last album (2002's Loose Screw) was.
Brooklyn's finest, TV On The Radio, have just dropped an album on us – Dear Science – that has to go down as one of the most honest, challenging and engaging things we’ve heard all year. If I hadn't read the lyric sheet I'd say it was downright revolutionary, but the bands' concerns are personal ones, albeit personal in a context of an all-too troubling present and future. It's strong from start to finish, and TVOTR has really upped the ante for their major label debut.
For their new album – Tennessee Pusher – Old Crow Medicine Show enlisted the production skills of Don Was (Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones, Al Green, Black Crowes, tons more). Strangely, and perhaps owing to Was' skill as a facilitator, I really cannot tell any sonic difference between this album and the ones in their recent past. Pusher is another strong, understated, dusty, rollicking ride through the old-timey string band traditions, with a modern outlook and a decidedly harrowing set of stories.
Rachael Yamagata has hardly been idle since her acclaimed 2004 full-length debut, Happenstance, and its Adult Top 40 hit 'Worn Me Down.' So for her Warner Bros. premiere, the singer-songwriter-pianist with the sultry voice unveils a double disc set: Elephants...Teeth Sinking Into Heart.
World Cafe with David Dye has just polished off the track list for the 26th Volume in its incredible series of live recordings from XPN's signature program. Artists including Feist, Back Door Slam, Counting Crows, Levon Helm, Joe Jackson, and many others have contributed to this stellar collection.
For her seventh studio album, Joan Osborne has retained songwriters/producers Eric Bazilian and Rob Hyman (of Philly's beloved Hooters fame) and Rick Chertoff, all three of whom were prominent influences on Osborne's 1995 breakthrough album Relish. Little Wild One may – at times – take you back to those heady times in Joan's career.
Available only on their website (www.everythingthathappens.com) David Byrne and Brian Eno's first collaboration since the eclectic, influential My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts in 1981 sounds similar to its' predecessor, but with a bit more of a mainstream songwriting flourish. Everything That Happens Will Happen Today is a very listenable album, full of engaging songs and strange but beautiful sounds.
Delta Spirit's Ode To Sunshine has more in common with like rock traditionalists such as The Hold Steady than your typical "we-heard-it-first-'cause-we're-cool" shooting star band that the almighty music blogosphere seems to love then leave with alarming frequency these days. There's something timeless and soulful happening here, something with some staying power.
On The Verve's new album – Forth – the British band resurrects itself after a decade of relative inactivity. It's their first full-length album of new material since 1997. The new album's rangy tunes sound like a mixture of the early 90's Verve mixed with a modern sensibility, and it's a rather strong comeback overall.
Those of you who are wondering what makes Conor Oberst any different from a Bright Eyes release should join the crowd... there just isn't that much difference. Oberst has always treated Bright Eyes as a solo expression, so his reasons for using his name on this album remain unclear.