Known Johnson

July 24, 2006

Overlooked Alternatives: new released for July 25, 2006

Filed under: Music,Overlooked Alternatives — Tom @ 10:16 pm

There’s some cool stuff this week. How can you not find something intriguing this week? If you can’t find something you just have to have, well, you’re just not looking hard enough, or maybe you don’t read English, or maybe you’re blind – but then you wouldn’t be reading this, either, in which case this is totally pointless. But then maybe you have one of those Braille translation machines, or someone is reading this to you, in which case you probably are excited about something coming out afterall. This is all beside the point, however.

Tom Petty – Highway Companion: After stumbling along with a few albums that just didn’t quite hit the mark, Petty is back with another strong album of amiable, yet strangely infective tunes in the vein of Full Moon Fever its close sound-alike cousin, Into the Great Wide Open. Blogcritics’ Nik Durga has a very favorable review that sums it up better than I can in this small space. Check it out thusly.

Michael Brook – RockPaperScissors: I fell in love with Michael Brook’s sound before I even knew it was Michael Brook’s sound, and so did millions of other listeners – only they still aren’t aware it’s his sound they’re in love with. No, what they think of as the sound that made U2’s the Edge so distinctive, that chiming, endlessly ringing guitar heard on songs from The Joshua Tree, is really a sound that Michael Brook invented with his “infinite guitar,” a special guitar he built utilizing a slew of secret electronics that sustained notes and created that great chiming sound, and he gave one to his friend The Edge. But if you listen to Brook’s small solo catalog, you’ll hear that sound throughout, and I’m sure many people who happened upon his music by mistake probably thought “Hey, this guy’s totally ripping off U2.”

Brook isn’t upset, apparently, as he has maintained his fine name by producing some of the finest albums in world music over the past two decades, not to mention playing on many of them himself, but his solo career has taken a backseat to all this production work. After some 14 years of delay, he’s finally releasing another solo album, and Blogcritics’ David R. Perry was lucky enough to score an early copy in order to tell you all about it.

Voivod – Katorz:Voivod earned a permanent place in my heart when I was a teenager and stumbled upon their cover of Pink Floyd’s “Astronomy Domine” from 1989’s Nothingface. It’s one of the few times when the cover is still as powerful as the original, and in some cases preferable. They actually managed the feat few others do – they made the cover their own song. Their own material was even more original. And often weirder.

When Jason Newsted “left” Metallica years ago, he joined forces with Voivod. In a brilliant move, he got himself back to a band who were still as involved in the art of music as they were when they started, not to mention a band that was still hungry to make an impact. But when Denis “Piggy” D’Amour died last year from colon cancer, it seemed impossible that Voivod, who had released only one album with Newsted on bass, could carry on – until it was revealed that D’Amour had recorded all of his guitar parts into a laptop for safe keeping. The band was able to assemble the album out of what he left behind, and the rumor is that he left so much material that there is another album’s worth of content ready to go. But after that . . . well, maybe it’s good that Newsted’s got that Rockstar: Supernova thing going on, huh?

Paul Weller – Catch-Flame! Live at London Alexandra Palace: You can make as many arguments as you want that Taylor Hicks is some kind of soulful genius, but the fact remains that Paul Weller’s got the goods and he’s been delivering them for a long time. It might not have been evident in the Jam’s material, but beginning with the Style Council, and especially in his solo material, Weller has been dripping with soul for decades. I’d be hard-pressed to find a more genuinely soulful, honest, and earnest musician in the past two decades plying this genre.

And finally, in 2006, we get a live album out of the guy and it covers all of his career.

James Dean Bradfield – The Great Western: The amazing voice of England’s Manic Street Preachers is going to have a hard time selling this album in the states, just like the Preachers have a hard time selling their wares here, too – something made obvious by the fact that there’s no release in sight for the US for this solo album from him here, so buying import is the only option. It’s unfortunate – 1994’s Holy Bible is a fantastic album that should have been a tremendous hit in the US, but it was shuffled under the rug when the band’s guitarist went missing and the label got cold feet (and is now presumed dead,) not sure what to do with such a touchy situation.

There aren’t too many surprises in store on this album – Bradfield seems to steer the creative decisions of the band anyway, from the sounds of this solo album. If you like what the Manics preach, you’re probably safe picking up a copy.

How can it possibly be the end of July already?


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