»Album Reviews For Release Date: 11.01.11
by Joshua Krage
Have yourself a Halloween and beyond with this week’s stunners:
Beach Boys, Smile Sessions box set – if you didn’t already own as much Beach Boys rarities material as your surf/sand-lovin’ ears could handle, here’s a quick cure for you. I believe there’s a two-disc version and a NINE-DISC version– in case two isn’t enough
Justin Bieber Xmas
Brite Futures – formerly known as “Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head”
Buraka Som Sistema
The Decemberists – Long Live the King EP
Florence + the Machine, Ceremonials – Florence Welch wears the crown for epic, indie-approved dominance in the realm of rock and pop. She has the voice; she has the passion; she has the arrangements, both instrumental and vocal (and choral!); she has the stylistic sensibility; and most amazingly, she has the production (via Paul Epworth) which perfectly marries pristine retro-new-wave colors with organic vocals and well-measured bombast. Each of these tracks– slow or fast, ferocious or contemplative– is a study in sturm and drang, building in its own ways and on its own themes, all centered around Welch’s impossibly-suited voice, an exquisite hybrid between Kate Bush’s crystalline coo and Freddie Mercury’s grandiose showmanship. Her debut was a stunner; this follow-up is an improvement beyond expectation across the board.
Girl In a Coma, Exits & All the Rest – I’m constantly amazed how kick-ass GIAC frontwoman Nina Diaz is on every release– such great guitar playing and a voice dominating with a style halfway between Betty Page and Joan Jett. These three ladies keep the sound stripped down but the rock piled up across this LP, bowing a bit into their Smiths-influenced territory in the middle but crossing the Tex-Mex desert all over and adding some ace melodic pop sensibility in some unexpected places.
Vince Guaraldi – Charlie Brown box
Insane Clown Posse – rarities
Carole King Xmas
Kings of Leon – DVD
Matt Pond PA
OCR – Elf (the musical)
Kele Okereke (Bloc Party frontman)
OST – A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas
OST – The Ides of March
OST – Real Steel (Danny Elfman)
OST – The Sing-Off Xmas
Panda Bear – four LP box set
Mike Patton – The Solitude of Prime Numbers
Pink Martini – A Retrospective & 1969
Placebo – DVD
Lou Reed / Metallica – …um, yeah I’m not touching this
Rolling Stones – Ed Sullivan Show DVD
The Soft Moon, Total Decay EP – only four songs, but this is dark, gorgeous stuff, keyboard drones and swarming synths bubbling over dark new wave beats and shadows everywhere. Very experimental, very iconoclastic, very Halloween-appropriate.
U2 – Achtung Baby Deluxe Ed
The Bridge School Concerts: 25th Anniversary Edition, Various Artists – two discs of amazing acoustic performances from Neil Young’s annual premier charity event (for the school he and wife Pegi founded for their developmentally disabled son, Ben) held at Mountain View’s Shoreline Amphitheater for the past quarter-century. Highlights include Norah Jones cooling down Wilco’s “Jesus, Etc.,” Neil Young guesting on R.E.M.’s “Country Feedback,” Thom Yorke busting out a heart-rending solo rendition of Neil’s “After the Gold Rush”… the list goes on. This concert is always phenomenal, a real meeting of mutual-affected talent which shows appreciation for each other in intimate, meaninful ways. Plus, the school is actually the best school of its sort pretty much on Earth. So that’s a double-WIN.
Time’s running out for quality new releases before the “Holiday$$$” set in, so get what you can, while you can.
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