Known Johnson

April 28, 2005

Overlooked Alternatives: new releases for April 26, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 6:29 am

(This was delayed on Blogcritics by technical problems, so I waited to post it here until those issues were taken care of. So forgive me the delay.)

How is it that so many other weeks of the year suffer from having only a tiny amount of interesting releases and then suddenly there’s a day with so many things to buy that it’ll take weeks to catch up? This is one such week. In addition to that Springsteen guy’s new album, there’s also the following:

Porcupine Tree: Deadwing – Steven Wilson’s powerful prog-metal outfit returns with a follow-up to 2002’s amazing In Absentia. This time around, the emphasis appears to be on the heavier aspects of their sound, with less of the dreamy psychedelia that has informed much of their earlier catalog. It’s nothing particularly new sounding, as In Absentia was, but it continues on with the successful “metal meets Pink Floyd” sound they’ve developed and honed to near-perfection. Adrian Belew and Mikael Ã…kerfeldt of Opeth guest on a few tracks.

Ben Folds: Songs for Silverman(Not an “overlooked” release by any means, but I’m going to comment on it anyway because I do enjoy the Ben Folds.) Folds is back with another album of smart piano-pop. Reports are that this album forges a more low-key path than pretty much anything he’s done in the past. This one comes available in the increasingly popular Dualdisc format as well as the annoying “special package” CD/DVD ploy to loosen a few more dollars from your wallet. What do you get? The Dualdisc’s DVD side has a making-of documentary as well as a “strings” mix of first single “Landed.” The CD/DVD has a longer DVD and comes in a pretty book with 40 pages of photos and various notes. Here’s a tip on getting the best deal on that pricier book version: Head over to this page at and order the book for $14.99, select “in-store pickup” as the shipping option, and you save yourself $5 over the in-store Best Buy price.

Eels: Blinking Lights and other Revelations – Eels’ front man E (otherwise known as Mark Oliver Everett) has some dark shadows in his soul, but he sure uses them to make some pretty music. Mostly strings, acoustic guitars, and lilting melodies, Blinking Lights isn’t going to be heating up any dancefloors, but it’s introspective nature should make for many hours of deep contemplation on the state of the human soul. If you enjoyed Daisies of the Galaxy and Electro-Shock Blues, you’re in for a treat – E has headed back more in the direction of those two than anything else in the band’s catalog. It’s very pretty, like I said, but it’s also very dark and dense – this album, a heady two-disc affair, is going to take some time to reveal its secrets. Thankfully, the Eels’ music makes the effort more than worthwhile. Tom Waits, John Sebastian, and REM’s Peter Buck make appearances.

DJ Spooky vs. Dave Lombardo: Drums of Death – Another entry in Thirsty Ear’s deservedly much-praised Blue Series featuring frequent Series contributor Spooky paired up with Slayer/Fantomas drummer Dave Lombardo, along with Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid, Meat Beat Manifesto’s Jack Dangers, and contributions by Public Enemy’s Chuck D. Fellow Blogcritic Mark Saleski sums it up nicely here.

Elvis Costello: King Of America Deluxe Edition – Rhino has apparently gotten tired of putting three of these reissue/remasters out at once, what with the rapidly approaching end of Costello’s re-releaseable catalog, so they’re only handling one this time. King Of America is Elvis’ 1986 exploration of Americana and ranks as one of my favorites in his catalog. If you wanted more of Costello handling country-like songs but Almost Blue was too dreary, this is the album for you. Disc two features 22 non-album tracks, 6 of which appeared on the Ryko/Demon reissues from the 90s. Mysteriously absent are the live tracks that formed that issue’s second disc . . . better hold onto that one if you have it (like I do.)

A quick warning to ward you off of one rather disgusting release:

Yes: (Re) Union – Yes’ much-maligned 1991 conglomeration between the previously warring Yes camps – Trevor Rabin’s “Yes West” vs. Anderson/Bruford/Wakeman/Howe – isn’t as awful as some make it out to be, but this hacked-up release makes a complete joke out of the album and further sullies the band themselves (after years of multiple releases of the same album with only slight variations – this needs to stop, Yes!) What’s been left out are tracks that may not have been so strong, but the real problem is that it’s being marketed as a new product – new title, artwork, etc. Less knowledgeable fans might stumble upon this and think it’s a great deal, but I’d still direct them to the original 1991 issue, warts and all, and let them decide which tracks to skip over.



  1. Apparently, there are two reasons for “King of America” being released on its own: first, this is one of Elvis’ personal favorites and he felt it should get a special place in the reissue schedule. Second, There’s apparently nothing left to reissue. Rhino is reissuing Elvis’ catalog only up to 1996 (up to and including “All This Useless Beauty”). The only album within that time frame that isn’t being reissued is “The Juliet Letters,” and I don’t know if they’re skipping it because it’s not a big favorite among Elvis and his fans, or there isn’t any bonus material to glean from those sessions. Could be a little bit of both.

    I’m not 100 percent sure of anything I just wrote, but that’s the rumor mill.

    Comment by Chris — April 28, 2005 @ 12:39 pm | Reply

  2. That makes good sense, Chris. Thanks! I thought I’d heard that they’d be reissuing The Juliet Letters? And I seem to recall some word of a b-sides/outtakes/live stuff type deal like an updated Taking Liberties/10 Bloody Mary’s and 10 How’s Your Father’s, which would clean up the missing pieces left off from the Ryko releases?

    Comment by Tom — April 28, 2005 @ 6:14 pm | Reply

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