Saturday, April 02, 2005

The Weekly Music Magazine CD Sampler Review

The Weekly Music Magazine CD Sampler Review, #2

Every month, I read many music magazines. Several of them have sampler CDs that have both known and lesser-known artists. This column covers my thoughts on the only the tracks that made a strong impression on me.

Uncut is a monthly British magazine that covers music, film, DVDs both new and re-releases, and books that also cover these topics. They tend to focus on music stars of the past rather than the hot new artists of today. This issue has Queen on the cover. The sampler CDs tend to have a laid-back feel to them. You will not hear nu-metal, rock, punk or hip-hop to any great degree, but singer-songwriters abound.

1. • Jeffrey Foucoult "Cross of Flowers" from Stripping Cane (Signature Sounds)
2. • Blood Meridian "Oh Oh Oh" from We Almost Made It Home (Teenage USA Recordings)
3. • Josh Rouse "My Love Has Gone" from Nashville (Rykodisc)
4. • Bright Eyes with Emmylou Harris "We Are Nowhere And It Is Now" from Wide Awake It’s Morning (Saddle Creek)
5. • LCD Soundsystem "Too Much Love" (alternate version); original version from LCD Soundsystem (EMI/ DFA)
6. • The House of Love "Days Run Away" from Days Run Away (Art and Industry)
7. • The Chris Stamey Experience "Venus" from A Question of Temperature (Yep Roc)
8. • Neko Case "Loretta" from The Tigers Have Spoken (Anti Inc.; Mint Records.)
9. • Mark Mulcahy "Cookie Jar" from In Pursuit of Your Happiness (Loose Records)
10. • Mercury Rev "Secret For A Song" from The Secret Migration (V2 Music)
11. • The Magnetic Fields "Born On A Train" from The Charm of the Highway (Domino Recording Co. Ltd.)
12. • Todd Snider "Play A Train Song" from East Nashville Skyline (Oh Boy Records Inc.)
13. • Lewis Taylor "Yeah" from The Lost Album (Slow Reality)
14. • Kelly Joe Phelps "Not So Far To Go" from Tap The Red Cane Whirlwind: Solo Concert Recordings (Ryko)
15. M83 “Teen Angst” from Before The Dawn Heals Us (EMI)

“My Love Has Gone” by Josh Rouse once again confirms that he has a gift for crafting simple but effective melodies. If you like Ryan Adams, the Jayhawks and John Mayer, you should check this out. This is apparently one of the saddest songs on an otherwise upbeat break-up album. Clearly, Jose Rouse is one of the best new artists who I have heard in the past few years.

"We Are Nowhere And It Is Now." Connor Oberst, aka Bright Eyes, is one of the most celebrated rising stars in music these days, and he’s only 24 years old. A lot of people are hearing about him long before they actually hear his music and he runs the risk of not being able to live up to the hype. This duet with Emmylou Harris is alright but not spectacular but its appeal grows with each listen. It’s laid back, with a hint of orchestration, and accompanied by acoustic guitars. He’s a storyteller and after hearing this song a few times, you will definitely want to hear more. Currently ranked # 21 on the Amazon sales charts, Bright Eyes also released a more synth-pop album at the same time titled Digital Ash in a Digital Urn.

“Talk To Loretta” is an upbeat, driving rock’n’roll flavored track from one of the indie world’s most popular alt-country singers, Neko Case. And, she’s backed by The Sadies, a twangy Toronto band, on this mostly live album, “The Tigers Have Spoken.” I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Ms.Case perform before and she has an excellent, distinctive voice, which more than I can say for the vast majority of singers out there. Will she sell out to corporate interests and become a product like Shania Twain and other photogenic singers? I hope not. She is also the singer for The New Pornographers, the Canadian indie supergroup that recorded the hugely popular “Letter To An Occupant”, hailed as the alternative Canadian national anthem.

“Yeah” by Lewis Taylor. Remarkably beautiful electric guitar playing in this song that curiously channels CSNY at times, with it’s layered vocals. The guitar soloing will appeal to fans of Mark Knopfler and Eric Clapton. You just don’t hear this sort of playing in most pop songs. I had not heard of him before this song. Great discovery.

“Not So Far To Go” by Kelly Joe Phelps. He’s a well-known singer-songwriter acoustic guitar player and on this sparse live track, you truly get to hear how less can definitely be more. This is from his first live album. His vocals are sandpapered rough and experienced and they accompany his stories well.

“Teen Angst” by M83 sounds upbeat, shimmering and ethereal, with whispering vocals and dreamy synths. Great atmospheric electro-pop. This isn’t a song so much as it is a soundscape.

The Weekly Music Magazine CD Sampler Review # 1 from March 26, 2005.

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