New CDs This Week: Rancid, Elvis Costello, Ryan Bingham...
Rancid - Let the Dominoes Fall
Rancid have been gone for a regrettably long time, having not put out new studio material since 2003's Indestructible. Their raw and poppy brand of smart punk rooted heavily in Clash influences has been sorely missed, especially as these tough financial times and torture scandal tinged days imploringly cry out for angry, literate and passionate voices like Tim Armstrong and co. Let the Dominoes Fall is another fine entry to the band's catalog with its tunes of disillusionment. They pay tribute to soldiers on "The Bravest Kids" and they try their hand at country this go-around with "Civilian Ways". Yes, everyone seems to be reaching for the dobros these days.
Elvis Costello - Secret, Profane and Sugarcane
Elvis Costello has long harbored a passion for country music and he's created twang-filled albums before, with 1981's Almost Blue, recorded in Nashville, being one of the highlights of his distinguished discography. It's only fitting that a songwriter of Costello's literary talent would embrace the quite visceral and adult medium of country music. He's returned in 2009 with another platter full of rootsy tunes, here. The elder Costello inhabits these climes like an old native.
Ryan Bingham & The Dead Horses - Roadhouse Sun
Speaking of roots music, this young Texan has unleashed the best Americana album of the year so far with Roadhouse Sun. Bingham has the serious songwriting chops of his Lonestar forbearers like Joe Ely, Guy Clark and Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and mixes ‘em with some of the finest whiskey-soaked, shredded vocals to emerge from a honky tonk this decade. The album really sounds as though it was born in a rough roadhouse along some forgotten road in a hardscrabble part of the Texas Panhandle, and that rawness combined with finely honed musicianship makes the record a non-stop stomper.
Iggy Pop - Préliminaires
Punk godfather Iggy Pop is trying something different this time around and not always successfully. The album kicks off with the bare-chested one putting a suit on in a smoky club and crooning the French jazz standard "Les feuilles mortes" au francais. Continuing in this vein, Iggy Pop tries for a jazz-influenced soft pop approach that somehow sounds vaguely Leonard Cohen-esque. Or is he actually trying to morph into Serge Gainsbourg? Iggy Pop does debauchery well, no doubt about it, but he lacks the subtlety to really pull this sort of thing off. On "King of the Dogs" he trots out New Orleans horns. Yes, you heard that right. Still, trying something new is admirable, but others do this sort of thing much better.
Eels - Hombre Lobo
E (Mark Oliver Everett) and the Eels return with their first new music in four years and have made this one a concept record about desire in all its extremes, flying straight in the face of the singles dominant playlight culture of the iPod generation. E boils his intentions, saying the songs are about "that dreadful, intense want that gets you into all sorts of situations that can change your life in big ways."
Other notable releases this week:
AZ - Legendary
Jeff Buckley - Grace: Around the World
Franz Ferdinand - Blood
Little Boots - Hands
Dave Matthews Band - Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King
The Sounds - Crossing the Rubicon
311 - Uplifter
Patrick Wolf - The Bachelor
Neil Young - Neil Young Archives, Vol. 1: 1963-1972