Known Johnson

April 18, 2007

Overlooked Alternatives: Nine Inch Nails, Michael Penn, Robert Pollard/Guided By Voices, David Torn

Filed under: Music,News,Overlooked Alternatives — Tom @ 10:32 pm

In light of the horror that took place at Virginia Tech, it seems ludicrous to talk excitedly about new music coming out this week, but I suppose that’s part of being human and moving on. We just have to deal and get back to real life, and part of real life is finding things to enjoy.

Obviously, I wasn’t there, and not many of us were, but those of us with children, even those of us with very young children like me with my precious 19 month old daughter, are automatically transported there for just a moment in imagining ourselves in that situation, with our children on that campus, in those rooms, with that madman stalking them with his weapons. It doesn’t take much to worry a parent.

As much as I keep the victims in mind, I also keep their families in mind and how they deal with the sudden, completely unexpected and horrible loss to a complete asshole who felt he was somehow bigger and better than everyone else. I cannot imagine their pain.

But we deal with tragedies by getting back to normal life, and normal life with me is music.

Nine Inch Nails – Year Zero: Reportedly the first of a two-part set (the second part coming sometime next year, from what I understand,) this concept album tells about a government conspiracy to cover up some kind of nation-wide water-poisoning, or something like that. It’s very complex – as I’m sure many of you have seen by now, there are tons of websites connected to this album that have bits and pieces of the mystery embedded in them. It’s pretty fascinating if you’re into such things, and if you’re not, well, luckily the music is getting good reviews.

Michael Penn – Palms & Runes, Tarot & Tea: A Michael Penn Collection: I’ve always found something slightly lacking about Penn’s albums as a whole, but I’ve liked a whole lot of his individual songs. The brother to actor Sean Penn is a superior singer-songwriter with a distinctive voice, both vocally- and lyrically-speaking, and this set pulls together a far more cohesive album than one might expect from such a wide-range of years (1989-2007). It doesn’t hurt that many of the tracks are alternate takes or brand new recordings of old tracks, but even 1989’s hit “No Myth” manages to not stick out like a sore thumb, blending in with the newer tracks to make a fantastic album experience.

Robert Pollard/Guided By Voices – Crickets: Just over two years ago Robert Pollard said goodbye to Guided By Voices and now bids farewell to the label he created while in the band that launched so many of his side-projects, not to mention GBV singles and EPs, Fading Captain. He’s decided to form a new label for upcoming releases, but before the launch of that he’s clearing out the cupboards with this two-disc set of favorites from the series which also features 6 never before released tracks. And as far as I know, the only place to get a copy of this thing is over at Luna Music’s site, the store that has been the portal through which so much of his hard-to-find paraphernalia was to be found. At $19.99, 56 songs, and a 48 page booklet with tons of artwork and other stuff, this is a great thing for the hard-core fan and newbies alike.

David Torn – Prezens: Freak-guitarist Torn pairs up with recent collaborators Tim Berne (saxophone), Craig Taborn (keyboards and other stuff), and Tom Rainey (drums) for his first solo album in many years. For those familiar with the names, you’ll note that this is basically Berne’s Big Satan with Torn sitting in, but leading, or his Science Friction band with Torn in control, but the sound is decidedly David Torn’s otherworldy brand of weirdness. As with everything Torn does, this is going to require some serious dedication to really appreciate, and that’s exactly what makes it so rewarding.


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