Taylor Tinkers!

October 23, 2012 1:05 PM ET

Apologies to those who sought out this blog and noticed it missing last week: I forgot to write it!

But for those who keep track, I probably would've said nice things about the latest album by Jamey Johnson, paid half-hearted lip service to Benjamin Gibbard's newest, yawned at the Ben Harper compilation, made a joke that would involve driving on the 405 freeway about Brandy's new album, completely tore into Scotty McCreery's Christmas disc, wondered aloud what the new albums by Mika and A Fine Frenzy sound like, since their labels don't seem to want to promote them, and devoted a witless, large paragraph to the new set by Bobby V in which I would mistakenly pretend he was the early '60s pop singer and give it a rave review!

For kicks, I would end it all by asking you to follow me on Twitter!

These things don't write themselves, but sometimes they get awfully close!

Taylor Swift: Red (Big Machine) I have two things to say about Taylor Swift! Just saw her in Las Vegas at the iHeartRadio Festival and, watching her image on the televised stage feed, was struck by the absolute certainty that this is one babe who has spent way too much

time staring at the mirror and making faces at herself! Like, she practices or something! That said, I'm sure this new album will be as successful as it is controversial: Swift's conspicuous embracing of Communism, most notably via its title track and "Everything Has Changed," might not sit too well in America's heartland! Heck, she used to be so sweet! Had this been the King Crimson tribute album we'd all been promised, maybe things would be differentóbut Taylor Swift, for better or worse, is following her muse! And it just got on a bus!

Donald Fagen: Sunken Condos (Reprise) Oops! Had I actually been around last week, I would've mentioned thisóbut being a week late won't alter the inescapable fact that Fagen, the guiding light of Steely Danóthe band so great one might be motivated to write an e-book about them and offer it for sale on Amazon!óhas put together his best album since 1982's The Nightfly, and you need to buy it purely to leave it to your kids when you die! Funkier than you might expect, as the cover of Isaac Hayes' "Out Of The Ghetto" might indicate, the nine tracks here offer sumptuous playing, fascinating lyrics that blend age, sex and technology in a manner that perhaps only a musically adept, highly intelligent 64-year old might muster in 2012, and a unique wryness that has been a hallmark of the man's work since Steely Dan's "Do It Again." He's quite good!

Kendrick Lamar: good kid, m.A.A.d city (Top Dawg/Aftermath) When it comes to great hip-hop albumsóand eventually, given the sheer number of titles involved, it does--there are many that get vigorously trumpeted but are quickly forgotten. Not so this one! Sonically fascinating, lyrically adventurous, abnormally punctuated, and the sort of thing you'd probably especially like if you listened to it on expensive headphones now being sold at outrageous prices and perceived first and foremost as a status symbol, good kid, m.A.A.d city is so good it will make your teeth hurt! Most notable may be transcendent anthem "Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe"óand really, who among us hasn't wanted to write a song with that title?óbut song for song, track for track, "explicit" warning for "explicit" warning, this album rocks hard from its opening track to its (Deluxe Edition!) closer, an unexpected cover of Elvis Presley's "Now Or Never"! Like most great hip-hop, it shares an undeniable affinity for outrageous beats, uncensored sentiment, and the great Italian classic "O Sole Mio," composed in 1898 and still knocking 'em dead today! Don't tell me Taylor Swift won't be listening!

Swedish House Mafia: Until Now (Astralwerks) Sometimes when I review new albums I like to "smarten up" by doing a web search about the artists I write about! My advice: Don't type "Swedish House Mafia" and "stabbing" into that little white box! Now enormously popular--and, oddly, while not Swedish, actual members of the Mafia!--this fab electronic dance music trio has filled venues far and wide with their innovative blend of music, mixing, and pressing the correct buttons on their MacBooks at precisely the right moment, and are now apparently going on "hiatus"! Why does that sound dirty? As always, I opt for quoting other people's reviews when I feel those writers can make an astute point better than I, so, as a wise Amazon reviewer has recently noted, this is "definitely a good album for parties, working out, or just getting pumped up." Me? I think it makes great background music for Presidential debates! Like many of today's best albums, this may be most enjoyed when purchased in CD format and left on your car's passenger seat for others to see when you park your car!

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