Spiritualized — “Sweet Heart Sweet Light”: Spiritualized’s frontman Jason Pierce claims “Sweet Heart Sweet Light” is the kind of pop album a singer makes when youth is well behind him, and that might be true, but the album’s search for deliverance is timeless and ultimately uplifting. Pierce told Rolling Stone that the record is influenced by middle-period albums from artists who are beyond their youthful years and making “these great pop albums, these great collections of songs that you play and in the end you say, ’What a beautiful album.’” Though there’s no shortage of beauty or orchestral decoration on “Sweet Heart Sweet Light,” the influence of a middle age precipice on those pop trappings gives the album a rare and yes, spiritual, power. — Thomas Britt
Dar Williams — “In the Time of Gods”: For an album that, in the words of its creator, boasts “an epic setting” and that draws upon Greek mythology in order to explore contemporary political, social and moral issues, Dar Williams’ “In the Time of Gods” strikes as a decidedly modest, low-key listening experience overall. No towering, large-scale “American Doll Posse”-esque opus, this (disappointing, perhaps, for those of us who were “kind of” hoping to see Dar don a selection of wigs and outfits for this venture). Rather, Williams offers a distilled (just 32 minutes) set of 10 short songs that initially feels like one of her slightest releases to date. — Alex Ramon
Our Lady Peace — “Curve”: “Spiritual Machines,” this album most certainly is not. That was a different idea, from a different time, featuring a different band. Today’s version of Our Lady Peace isn’t that same band, for better or for worse, and this album is proof that today’s incarnation isn’t exactly sure about where the band will be tomorrow in spite of having a firm grasp on where they were yesterday. It’s because of that precise idiom that “Curve” fails; leaving little hope for a legacy that at one time was filled with promising tomorrows. — Colin McGuire
Grinderman — “Grinderman 2 RMX”: Just as Nick Cave’s Grinderman has toyed with the idea of how older artists should behave, “Grinderman 2 RMX” toys with the concept of the remix and proves that reworkings need not be danceable; they just need to appear a bit bruised. So good was Grinderman’s second and (allegedly) final album, “Grinderman 2,” that not even something as expendable as a remix compilation can sully its artistry. Although not the first artists one would expect to release a remix album, “Grinderman 2 RMX” encourages the listener to revisit the source material and be pummeled into submission and wowed all over again. — Maria Schurr
Other notable releases this week:
- Battles — “Dross Glop”
- Chris Botti — “Impressions”
- Horse Feathers — “Cynic’s New Year”
- Janis Joplin — “The Pearl Sessions”
- Lightships — “Electric Cable”
- Jason Mraz — “Love Is a Four Letter Word”
- JD McPherson — “Signs & Signifiers”
- Moonface: With Siinai: Heartbreaking Bravery
- Neon Trees — “Picture Show”
- Rebecca Pidgeon — “Slingshot”
- Yann Tiersen — “Skyline”
- Train — “California 37”
- Loudon Wainwright III — “Older Than My Old Man Now”
- Hank Williams III — “Long Gone Daddy”
TUNES ON THE TUBE ... MUSIC ON TV THIS WEEK
“Jimmy Kimmel Live” (ABC): Ashanti (T), Jason Mraz (W), Kasabian (Th).
“Late Show with David Letterman” (CBS): Esperanza Spalding (T), The Shins (W), Lionel Richie with Jason Aldean (F).
“The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” (NBC): Melanie Fiona and J. Cole (T), Toby Keith (W), Los Lobos and Robert Randolph (Th), Meat Loaf (F).
“Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” (NBC): Andrew Bird (T), The Ting Tings (W), Bruce Springsteen (F).
“Last Call With Carson Daly” (NBC): Fool’s Gold (T), Bombay Bicycle Club (W), Young the Giant (Th), Trentemoller (F).
“Saturday Night Live” (NBC): not available at press time
“Austin City Limits” (PBS): Alejandro Escovedo and Trombone Shorty (Sa).
“Conan” (TBS): Girls (W), Emeli Sande (Th).
NOW HEAR THIS
Gossip’s video for “Perfect World” gives sample of what to expect from their next album
Gossip, headed up by lead singer Beth Ditto, has experimented with everything from gospel to punk rock, but they are constantly reinventing themselves. For their newest album, “A Joyful Noise,” due in stores May 22, they intended to approach their sound from a new angle and to “create their own brand of pop.” Singer Ditto even admitted to having drawn great inspiration from the music of ABBA when putting together “A Joyful Noise.” The video for single “Perfect World,” straight from their upcoming album, has just hit the Web with the song hailed by “Spin” as a “taut, uptempo electro-rock, with soaring disco orchestration.” Shot on location in London, where the band filmed inside a medieval church, it begins in a black and white/sepia tone, and adds color in as it proceeds. The use of color builds in a way that echoes sunrise peeking through a stained glass window, and by the end the video is bathed in vibrant color. Seductive dancers move to the beat of the music and fire pops up throughout, making the video a dramatic and unforgettable backdrop for the catchy and soulful song from this innovative band. — Comfort Clinton
Aesop Rock releasing “Skelethon” this July
Aesop Rock is returning July 10 with his first solo album in five years and like all great hip-hoppers has a bevy of fine guests joining him on the new tunes, including Rob Sonic and Kimya Dawson among others. Promotion has already begun with a video EPK for the record as well as the first Soundcloud of a new song, “Zero Dark Thirty. — Sarah Zupko
Controversial video for Jack White’s “Sixteen Saltines” hits the web
Jack White, former member of the White Stripes, has been on his own since the band split in February 2011 and the rocker’s highly anticipated solo album, “Blunderbuss,” is due out April 24. White has just released the new video for a single from the album, titled “Sixteen Saltines,” which is dark, gritty and somewhat controversial. It has already made quite a splash among online critics, who note its edginess and provocative subject matter. The premise is that a group of children and teenagers have taken over a town, and are running things their way. The video is a montage of clips of them behaving badly, or at least, strangely — everything from a 10-year-old getting a face tattoo to a young man covered in blue paint playing kidnapper. White’s website says of the video, “’Sixteen Saltines’ seems to take place in a walking nightmare world outside of time or any kind of rule, a place you’d never want to live, but one you can’t stop visiting.” And it’s true, no matter how bizarre the events on screen get, it’s impossible to stop watching. — CC
Lana Del Rey releases new single “Blue Jeans”
Lana Del Rey has had quite the year. Her first major label album, “Born to Die” has hit number one on 19 countries’ iTunes album charts, and has gone multiplatinum in several European nations. She recently received the honor of “Best International Newcomer” at the Brit Awards in the UK. Additionally, April 8th saw the release of single “Blue Jeans,” from “Born to Die,” produced by Polydor Records. The video is as haunting as the song and echoes a dark side that seems to be characteristic of Del Rey’s music videos in general. She has been called a “gangsta Nancy Sinatra,” after all. We watch as the singer immerses herself more and more deeply into a pool of water, unaware of the alligators that circle her, and the vicious plan they have to come between the singer and her lover: a plan that ultimately ends in tragedy. The tune itself is lilting and catchy, lulling us as it surrounds us with its melody, much like the water that eventually surrounds and envelops Del Rey. — Comfort Clinton
Brendan Benson offers download of title track from new album
Brendan Benson has been releasing solo records since 1996 and “What Kind of World,” releasing April 21 via Benson’s own Readymade label, will make it his fifth. After 2005’s “Alternative to Love,” Benson took a break from going it alone by co-founding rock supergroup the Raconteurs with Jack White. Both Detroit artists have since made Nashville home and Benson has become a family man, hitching up and having his first child.
Of course, in Nashville has he has found a true musical family as well, as so many more have before him. On “What Kind of World,” these new friends joined in to lend a hand, including Jon Auer (The Posies, Big Star), Ken Stringfellow (The Posies, Big Star, R.E.M.), Brad Pemberton (Ryan Adam’s Cardinals), Mark Watrous (Loudermilk, Gosling), and Sam Farrar (Phantom Planet). The changes in his life have also led him to explore new themes in his songwriting in a more straightforward style. “I think on this record I’m saying a lot of things I never thought I would say,” says Benson. “Maybe I’m just getting older, but I don’t want to hide now in my songs, I just want to be truthful. And I’m realizing that the truth is really interesting — I’m more attracted to honesty these days than to convolution.”
This is the title track from the new album, “What Kind of World.” Benson describes the tune as “one my favorites on the record. I think we captured an ’80s, new wave sort of sound that I’ve always been obsessed with a la the Cars or Missing Persons.” — Sarah Zupko
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