On this historic night–Election Eve, 2012–I am compiling a list of this week's most compelling album releases and marveling at the history also on display!
Which is to say: Maybe half of these are by people who are really old or dead!
And while it would be easy to look inward, to perhaps say the blame is mine–for not keeping up with all that is cutting edge, to look for a familiar name to blather about semi-intelligently rather than to have to actually listen to stuff more than once–that would be inaccurate!
Between you and me? I'm just really into inoffensive stuff by artists with nice logos!
Aerosmith: Music From Another Dimension! (Columbia) The long-awaited sequel to Thomas Dolby's multi-platinum masterwork Aliens Ate My Buick, this new Aerosmith disc–their first all-new set in 11 years–offers up an intriguing concept that is startlingly unique: What if a giant Aerosmith logo came down from the heavens and wreaked havoc throughout all our greater metropolitan areas? From its spoken intro, borrowing heavily from The Outer Limits–a show that, oddly, came and went when the aged dudes involved were in elementary school and has no relevance to their contemporary audience–to its outro, which probably features the same thing if you can listen long enough, the album is a parody of a rock 'n' roll album by a band that was a parody of a rock 'n' roll band midway through their first album. So yeah, it's pretty great! And like all great albums, Music From Another Dimension provides answers to questions you never knew were being asked! So to save you some time: 1) The dimension the music is coming from is the 16th, where the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds never existed and Aerosmith were actual innovators; 2) Yes, it is true that the only logical word that can precede "havoc" is "wreak" and 3) Ending your album title with an exclamation mark is a profound way to ensure sales, establish both your enthusiasm and creativity, and catch the attention of morons! So I've been told!
Ne-Yo: R.E.D. (Motown) Few would argue with the talent of Ne-Yo–unless it detached itself from the man, took on human form, and said uncomplimentary thing about one's mother–and there's no denying that R.E.D. may be the album of his career! Though word is the title is an acronym for "Realizing Every Dream," it's obvious to most of who are deeply enmeshed in the inner workings of the music industry that the album's title is a direct retort to the recent bestseller by Taylor Swift–whose album shares not only the same title (sans the punctuation) but also the unexpected statement of allegiance to Communism! It's like–hey, did I miss something? Still, this album rocks, grooves, swings, and other verbs, and is exactly the album you'd want to be playing if a TV crew came over to your house and wanted to catch a cameo of you "just chillin'" at home! On this night of nights, however, can one be blamed for wondering exactly what the talented performer will say tomorrow when he dutifully goes to the polls to vote and is asked–in all innocence, one hopes–"Let me get this straight, sir. Your last name is 'Yo'?"
Jethro Tull: Thick As A Brick: 40th Anniversary Special Edition (CD/DVD) (EMI) One of the highlights of being a longtime music fan in 2012 is my ability to hear music that I was perhaps less than impressed with during its initial emergence and "rehear" it, now that all musical standards have enthusiastically leapt into the toilet! And so it is that I now wholeheartedly embrace legendary Brit album rockers Jethro Tull who–if I might be candid–I became less interested in after their 1968 debut This Was, perhaps unfairly, and thus never really gave a fair shake! I like them quite a bit now, and am even more enthused about their work with this release, which features the album's original mix, and a whole batch of new mixes, 5.1 and otherwise, by Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson! The latter's extracurricular remix work on Tull, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Caravan, and the King Crimson catalog is consistently remarkable and worthy of your hearing; not incidentally, by listening to at home, where most 5.1 stereo systems work best, you can avoid going out and maybe–who knows?--getting mugged by thugs who like to beat up old guys because "they're fun"!
Imani Coppola: The Glass Wall (Plush Moon) Boy, the number of times I've been deeply impressed by female artists who are smart, sassy, wise-ass, great singers and songwriters, and the sort of people I'd like to go hang out at a bar with for half a night must number about three at this late date–and I would put Imani Coppola at the top of the list. The singer, who's been around for a while and completely sold me with her whole Little Jackie persona back with 2008's The Stoop, is scarily intelligent--and her albums, however uncompromising, are never less than fascinating, wholly enjoyable documents. She's completely fab, and I get the sense the world has yet to fully catch up with what it is she's attempting to do. And that would be: make a living.
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