New Tunes

I haven't gone on a new music bender for many years now; in fact, I can't remember the last time I bought two new CDs in the same month. However, these past few weeks have been chock-full of new tunes for me, with a flurry of offerings from some of my favorite bands:

Built to Spill, You in Reverse. This is the first full-length studio offering from BtS in five years, and it is definitely worth the wait. The pre-release single "Goin' Against Your Mind" shows Doug Martsch & Co. haven't lost a step, and have solidified the sound by making long-time touring guitarist Jim Roth a permanent piece of the project. "Conventional Wisdom" is probably my favorite track on the album, an up-tempo romp with plenty of quirk and sonic flash. Warner recently redesigned the band's official website, complete with a sweet Flash-powered hoops game where you get to challenge Doug to a little one-on-one. Doesn't get much better than that.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Show Your Bones. Hardly a reviewer has passed up the opportunity to describe the Yeahs' new album as a marked departure from their ballsy Fever to Tell, so I'll just rest on saying how much I respect their decision to make an album we can all dance to. Especially us fat, pasty 30-somethings who should know better. The comparisons between Karen O and PJ Harvey are only going to continue, especially if Ms. O keeps cranking out such intelligently written and paced lyrics; the vocal similarities are certainly there, but I'm struck much more by Karen's ability to inhabit the same meditative space as Polly Jean. In other words: it's absolutely no coincidence that Zoe Trope and Karen O attended the same liberal arts college.

Glen Phillips, Mr. Lemons. Michelle and I saw Phillips play live here in Portland last year, and we've always been pretty big Toad the Wet Sprocket fans. Phillips recorded the album without any support from a record label, and is now embarking on a summer tour that will eventually see him reunite with Toad as they tag-team some dates with Big Head Todd and the Monsters. His last solo album, Winter Pays for Summer, is still a staple on my commute, so I was excited to hear this new offering. Unfortunately, though, this new album is a bit of a disappointment, the low-spot definitely having to be a strange reassemblage of Huey Lewis & The News' "I Want a New Drug." (Yeah, you read that right…)

The Raconteurs, Broken Boy Soldiers. I first heard this album last December, when my buddy Paul popped a freshly-burned CD-R into the dash of his Scion and sat back to watch me squirm. A few months before that, Paul had hooked me up with second row seats to see the White Stripes; opening up were The Greenhornes, who perfectly matched the Stripes in their back-to-basics approach to rock and roll. With the Stripes now taking a much-deserved break after ripping the face clean off the mainstream music scene last year with Get Behind Me Satan, Jack White has joined his Greenhornes chums to form The Raconteurs. A media blitz featuring the single "Steady As She Goes" is currently underway on TV and the internets, but don't let that fool you—this album, for lack of a better term, kicks major ass. Steal it if you must.

Pearl Jam, Pearl Jam. Look, I haven't bought a Pearl Jam album since Vs., and like most college freshmen who fell instantly in love with their debut offering 10 way back in 1991, I just as quickly turned away when the alt-rock scene went all Hullabalooza. I've been swayed over the years by my long-time pal Zeke to give each new Pearl Jam disc its day in court, and I've certainly downloaded my share of *ahem* samples from said discs, but I can't say any of them have really stuck. This time around, though, we have a keeper. There is a discharge of energy on this album that is genuinely palpable, and Eddie Vedder's voice has never sounded better.

Snow Patrol, Eyes Open. Final Straw is nearly a perfect album, so expectations for the follow-up are fairly unrealistic. That said, however, this is easily the album in heaviest rotation on my iPod right now. The first three songs are an irresistable traction beam into the rest, and since the disc came out last Tuesday I haven't been able to escape.


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