-->
Music

New CDs This Week: Conor Oberst, New York Dolls, Fischerspooner...

Sarah Zupko

Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band: Outer South -- Former Bright Eyes poster boy, Conor Oberst returns in rootsy guise for his second album with the Mystic Valley Band and now resides firmly in that space between alt-country and pop that is also occupied by Wilco.

New York Dolls: Cause I Sez So -- The New York Dolls were at the very forefront of the punk revolution, forming in 1971 and being the primary influence on early UK punk bands like the Sex Pistols and to a lesser degree the Clash. The original group broke up in the late '70s, but David Johansen and Sylvain Sylvain reunited the band in 2004 and put out their first studio record since 1974 in 2006. Now they have another gritty rock platter for us in Cause I Sez So.

Fischerspooner: Entertainment -- New York electroclash duo have typically had long breaks between albums and Entertainment is their first full-length release since 2005's Odyssey. Fischerspooner are among the poppiest of the acts in the electroclash cannon and their debt to Depeche Mode and New Order is on full display here.

Ben Harper and Relentless7: White Lies for Dark Times -- Ben Harper's ninth studio album is a blast of pure major label rock in a week dominated by the indies.

The Smithereens: Tommy -- Power pop's Smithereens take on the Who opus in a fitting tribute given the Who's massive influence on all power pop following them. Yep, that's part of the problem here: it's a bit too faithful with even the occasional faux British accent, to the point that you wonder why it was necessary at all. A thorough re-imaging of Tommy by a band not so clearly indebted to the Who would have ultimately been more interesting.

The Vaselines: Enter the Vaselines -- Scotland's Vaselines were one of the short short-lived cult bands that go on to influence crate digging musicians but remain questions marks to virtually everyone else. In this case, Kurt Cobain was a surprising huge fan of the Vaselines ragged, but fragile pop. Enter the Vaselines is a reissue of 1992's The Way of the Vaselines along with a host of extras including alternate mixes, demos and live performances.

Other notable releases this week:

Akron/Family: Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free

The Birthday Massacre: Show and Tell

Ciara: Fantasy Ride

Cracker: Sunrise in the Land of Milk & Honey

El Nuevo Grupo de Omar Rodriguez-Lopez: Cryptomnesia

Hatebreed: For the Lions

Jon Hopkins: Insides

The Horrors: Primary Colours

Isis: Wavering Radiant

Yusuf Islam: Roadsinger (To Warm You Through the Night)

Ziggy Marley: Family Time

Chrisette Michele: Epiphany

Nomo: Invisible Cities

Tara Jane O'Neil: A Ways Away

Peaches: I Feel Cream

Pink Mountaintops: Outside Love

Alasdair Roberts: Spoils

Rodriguez: Coming From Reality

Frank Sinatra: Live at the Meadowlands

St. Vincent: Actor

Elliott Yamin: Fight for Love

Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and Woodstock each did their stint as a lonely Mexican cowboy, it seems. These and other things you didn't know about A Charlie Brown Christmas.

How Would You Like to Be the Director of Our Christmas Play?

It's really a beautiful little movie and has affected my life in numerous ways. For years, especially when we were poor, we always tried to find the littlest saddest Christmas tree possible. In fact, my son Eli has a Christmas tree set up right now that is just one single branch propped up in a juice bottle. And just a couple weeks ago we were at a wedding, everyone was dancing, and me and my wife Amy and my friend Garth started dancing like the Peanuts characters do in the Christmas special. -- Comic artist James Kochalka.

Bill Melendez answers questions with the sort of vigor that men a third his age invest thousands in herbal supplements to achieve. He punctuates his speech with belly chuckles and comic strip taglines like "Oh, boy!" and "I tell 'ya!" With the reckless abandon that Melendez tosses out words like pleasure, it's clear that 41 years after its premiere, A Charlie Brown Christmas remains one of his favorite topics of conversation. "It changed my life," he states simply, "being involved with this silly little project."

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less
Music

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

Keep reading... Show less

It's ironic that by injecting a shot of cynicism into this glorified soap opera, Johnson provides the most satisfying explanation yet for the significance of The Force.

Despite J.J. Abrams successfully resuscitating the Star Wars franchise with 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many fans were still left yearning for something new. It was comforting to see old familiar faces from a galaxy far, far away, but casual fans were unlikely to tolerate another greatest hits collection from a franchise already plagued by compositional overlap (to put it kindly).

Keep reading... Show less
7

Yeah Yeah Yeahs played a few US shows to support the expanded reissue of their debut Fever to Tell.

Although they played a gig last year for an after-party for a Mick Rock doc, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hadn't played a proper NYC show in four years before their Kings Theatre gig on November 7th, 2017. It was the last of only a handful of gigs, and the only one on the East coast.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image