Guster prep new album

Posted by Greg , Friday, July 30, 2010 8:51 AM

Guster are set to release their six full-length album, Easy Wonderful, on October 5 on Aware/Universal Republic Records.  "Bad Bad World" is available for free download here.  Check the news section for tour dates and more information.

From the band's official announcement:


I've been waiting two years to announce that. At some points this recording process was neither Easy nor Wonderful for the Gusters, but we persevered and came out on top. Our new album is twelve songs deep, simultaneously adventurous pop and classic Guster. The "results are in the pudding" -- as it is said -- we couldn't be more proud of where we ended up. Here's your track list:

1. Architects & Engineers
2. Do You Love Me
3. On the Ocean
4. This Could All Be Yours
5. Stay with Me Jesus
6. Bad Bad World
7. This Is How It Feels to Have a Broken Heart
8. What You Call Love
9. That's No Way to Get to Heaven
10. Jesus and Mary
11. Hercules
12. Do What You Want

We've only played a few of them live, so go ahead and analyze the titles all you want, it won't help. Yes, some long and awkward names in there. Yes, two more songs with the word "Jesus" in them from a band of chosen ones.
It's hard to believe that Ganging Up on the Sun came out four years ago, but for Guster fans, the wait is almost over.

Ryan Adams to release new solo album, Blackhole, Cardinals III/IV

Posted by Greg , Sunday, July 18, 2010 7:37 PM

 Photograph copyright of David Ryan Adams

From his Facebook page:

Tomorrow starts the first day of two weeks of recording part one of a new solo album. This is the one I have been working on that is so far written on my old acoustic and I plan to keep these recordings simple...I am dubbing this the "west coast"sessions...THEN in two weeks I am off to NYC to record part two of the cra...zy NYC sessions which started as a "Cold Roses evil twin" minus the noodling vibe but now sound like some weird extension of Love is Hell. Where there was excessive jamming ( which I was shit at ) there are now cool chord passages and feedback and neat rhodes organ fills. Exciting times! Fingers crossed it all works.

This is on top of his announcements that Blackhole (written in 2005) and Cardinals III/IV (written in 2006) will soon see the light of day.  It sounds like all three will be available on CD, vinyl, and digital formats via Adams' own PAX-AM label.  The early/draft pressing for the Cardinals III vinyl looks particularly badass:

Tomorrowland (from Blackhole):

Jimmy Eat World prep new album

Posted by Greg , Wednesday, July 14, 2010 7:36 PM

Big news from Arizona.  Jimmy Eat World will release Invented on September 28.  The record was produced by Mark Trombino, who produced all their best work: Static Prevails [1996], Clarity [1999], Bleed American [2001], and Stay On My Side Tonight [2005].  For the first time since Clarity, the album will contain a song with vocals by guitarist Tom Linton.  Remember "Blister"?  That's Tom.

The first single, "My Best Theory," should be out soon.

Barenaked Ladies, All in Good Time [2010]

Posted by Greg , Tuesday, July 6, 2010 6:38 PM

Buried within All in Good Time is Barenaked Ladies' hardest-hitting record, if you take the time to find it.  The messy departure of vocalist Steven Page weighed heavily on the band while writing these songs, and this is no more obvious than in those sung by former co-lead (now just lead) vocalist Ed Robertson, particularly on the ballad "You Run Away," angry rocker "I Have Learned," and jaunty "Golden Boy."

The trouble is, though, that the potent bitterness of this "breakup" album is diluted by more introspective, outside-looking-in contributions from keyboardist Kevin Hearn and bassist Jim Creegan.  Undoubtedly, the remaining members made a decision to feature every vocalist in the name of band solidarity.  But while their combined five songs provide a probably more accurate/complete account of Page's exodus, they divert attention from the more cohesive picture presented by Robertson.

An argument can be made that it's important to include these perspectives, but the record suffers artistically for it.  While Creegan is a revelation (where have they been hiding this guy so long?), Hearn has written better songs, particularly on Barenaked Ladies Are Me/Are Men.  Indeed, even Hearn's best track from these sessions (at least among those that have been released), "Let There Be Light," was inexplicably relegated to vendor-specific bonus track.

Likewise, the track order gives the impression that the record is more mid-tempo, burying Robertson's heavier tracks in the second half.  For an album with so many rockers, the listener should not need to wait seven tracks to hear the first one.  With that in mind, I'd like to propose an alternate track order:

1. You Run Away
2. Ordinary
3. Four Seconds
4. I Have Learned
5. On the Lookout
6. Every Subway Car
7. Summertime
8. Let There Be Light [iTunes bonus track]
9. How Long
10. Golden Boy
11. I Saw It
12. Moonstone [Amazon bonus track]
13. The Love We're In

"You Run Away" retained the leadoff track position only because there are no other songs in from these sessions that have the feel of an album-opener.  Ideally, I would have like to put it as track 3 or 4, the typical location of a ballad radio single.  Either way, I would have released "Every Subway Car" as the lead single, with "You Run Away" as the follow-up.

Still, this tracklisting achieves a stronger rock feel than the original All in Good Time, while retaining vocal contributions from Hearn and Creegan.  For a shorter, tighter album (11 tracks), any two of "On the Lookout," "I Saw It," or "Moonstone" could be removed, but I think that pushes the album too far into Robertson-solo territory.  After all, it's supposed to be a Barenaked Ladies album.

Either way, with the modified album above, reviewers could confidently call All in Good Time the hardest rocking record in the entire BNL catalog, moreso even than Stunt or Maroon.  That's the review I'd like to give, and it'd be accurate with the original version if your attention is focused on the latter part of the record.  It's frustrating, too, because notwithstanding a few logistical missteps, All in Good Time is the best Barenaked Ladies album in a decade.

Every Subway Car:

Golden Boy:

Gold Motel, Summer House [2010]

Posted by Greg , Thursday, July 1, 2010 10:26 PM

Gold Motel is the lovechild of Greta Morgan (formerly Greta Salpeter) of The Hush Sound, members of This is Me Smiling (Dan Duszynski, Mike Minx, Adam Coldhouse), and Eric Hehr of the Yearbooks. Their debut LP was inspired by Morgan's 2009 trip to California, which is abundantly clear from the first notes of album-opener "We're on the Run," or a standout track like "Safe in L.A." The band evokes a sound similar to the Beach Boys and the Mamas and the Papas, or more contemporary acts such as She & Him, latter-day Rilo Kiley, or a happier Anna Nalick.

Safe in L.A.:

Duszynski, Minx, Coldhouse, and Hehr are a refreshingly positive influence, channeling Morgan into more upbeat arrangements than one might expect from other female-fronted summery 60s throwback bands. Imagine if Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward spent less time writing sugary sweet pop songs and more time rocking out - well, they'd sound like Gold Motel.  Summer House is damn catchy, and feels like a natural progression from The Hush Sound's last album, Goodbye Blues. On that album, it seemed like the band was trying to make a statement that it was a Serious Band. Unfortunately, this played against The Hush Sound's youthful exuberance, which was always its greatest strength. It's no surprise that the best songs on Goodbye Blues (e.g. "Honey" and "Love You Much Better") wouldn't be out of place on Summer House.

Summer House:

Minor disclaimer: I don't mean to disparage Goodbye Blues.  I liked that record, and if you're interested in Gold Motel, you probably will too.  It's just that Summer House is so much more carefree.  The poignant loneliness that occasionally emerged in The Hush Sound's music is nowhere to be found here (with the possible exception of "Who Will I Be Tonight?").

This shift is a result of what seems like a conscious decision to downplay the piano (always a beautifully melancholy instrument) in favor of sunny guitars.  Piano's minor role on this record is surprising, though, considering Morgan is a classically-trained pianist, and This is Me Smiling play a style of piano-driven power pop similar to that of a more energetic Ben Folds Five.  Still, when the summer of 2010 begins to fade, I'm confident we'll look back on Summer House as one of the most fun records of the season.