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Oh, it is good to be back, and this is one of the finest batches of new music. Seven, count them, seven, new albums, with a couple standouts for the year among them.

Flaming Lips - Embryonic

Embryonic

The Flaming Lips

Released: October 13, 2009 (US)

Near perfect. Can I say that? As far as paranoid acid-rock epics go, this is it, folks.

For a taste, check out “Watching the Planets” performed live, cuz, you know that’s where The Flaming Lips are Vikings.

The only way out
Is destroy all traces
Oh, destroying yourself

There’s no way back
It’s complete devastation
Oh, there’s no way out

– The Ego’s Last Stand

9.5/10

Swell Season - Strict Joy

Strict Joy

The Swell Season

Released: October 23, 2009 (Ire)

Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová are back! Fans of depressing music rejoice! (er….or just nod in solemn agreement). After winning an Oscar for “Falling Slowly” from Once, the expectations are running high for the duo. Strict Joy lives up to the hype. Whereas it was impossible to listen to their debut album, the eponymous Swell Season, without linking it to Once (as there was considerable overlap in tracks), Strict Joy is a work removed, with a life of its own, aided by a full band. The surprise of the album has to be “Love That Conquers”, a sweet harmony reminiscent of CSN&Y.

For a taste, check out this live take of “Fantasy Man

Just before the rain came down
The sun came out at last
And as for all assumptions made
And questions never asked

– The Rain

8.5/10

matthew-good-vancouver

Vancouver

Matthew Good

Released: October 6, 2009 (Can)

A good old rock tribute to the hometown is exactly what the doctor ordered, after 2007’s Hospital Music, an album written in a psychiatric ward while Good was battling Ativan addiction and manic depression. As a tribute to the city that jump-started and defined his career, it is fitting that Vancouver musically sounds like 1990s Matthew Good Band meets 2000s solo lyrics.

For a taste, check out “Us Remains Impossible

We all live downtown
Pay 12.50, no parking
Live with a clown
Step over ourselves
We all live downtown
Paying blood, no parking
Sleep on the ground
Step over ourselves

– Vancouver National Anthem

8/10

Wolfmother - Cosmic Egg

Cosmic Egg

Wolfmother

Released: October 23, 2009 (Aus)

I have to say that I am disappointed to have waited until October for an album to come out that is loud enough, obnoxious enough, and abrasive enough to peel the paint from my walls while still being considered an enjoyable listening experience. Thank you to Andrew Stockdale, last remaining original member of Wolfmother for bringing me Cosmic Egg.

For a taste, crank up your speakers and check out “New Moon Rising

I see this small town boy now
From a small town family
He’s got to find his way now
Gotta find himself a woman
With the skill of the people
He don’t wanna be no whipping boy
Well, the time has come now
Gotta hit the highway

– New Moon Rising

8/10

Mr Hudson - Straight No Chaser

Straight No Chaser

Mr Hudson

Released: October 19, 2009 (UK)

Kanye, get your damned dirty paws off of this album, please! When the first song you hear is filled with auto-tune and Kanye West singing (yes, singing, not rapping), you know you are in for an interesting experience. Should I be surprised when Mr Hudson is signed to Kanye’s label and West is producing the album? No. Of course not.

The good news is that following the opening track and its overt Kanye-ness, Straight No Chaser is actually an enjoyable album (with the exception of moments where the production runs heavy), due largely to Ben Hudson’s vocals, which (to admit lazy writing) sound a lot like Sting meets The Script. Throw in some post-modern angst on “Instant Messenger” and we’ve got an album.

For a taste, check out the video for “White Lies

Time is all I feel
That’s why I just keep running
The quest for love was all that you and I held dear
With the beat still in your head
And a good book by your bed
We will survive

– Time

7.5/10

Editors - In This Light and On This Evening

In This Light and On This Evening

Editors

Released: October 12, 2009 (UK)

Rather than continue on with standard guitar rock (if their music could ever be called that), Editors shifted directions on In This Light and On This Evening, heading to a more synthesised industrial style and drafting the services of producer Flood (U2, Depeche Mode) to accomplish it. The result is exactly what they wanted, delivering a dark, industrial soundscape. Unfortunately, the consequence is sounding quite dated, and drawing further comparison to bands that have influenced Editors, such as Joy Division, where the original is better than the imitation.

For a taste, check out the video for “Papillon“, and if you’re into the dance/techno scene check out Tiesto’s remix.

Darling, just don’t put down your guns yet
If there really was a God here
He’d have raised a hand by now
Darling, you were born but I’m gonna die here
Well that’s quite enough for me too
We’ll find our own home somehow
It kicks like a sleep twitch

– Papillon

7/10

Joss Stone - Colour Me Free

Colour Me Free!

Joss Stone

Released: October 19, 2009 (UK)

Joss Stone dislikes her record company. Her album is about freedom. Subtle messages, much? The good news is that rather than pull a Neil Young and make a bad album for the sake of pissing off the record company (see: most 1980s Neil Young albums), Joss has done her best to put together a respectable collection of middle of the road soul/R&B songs. A bunch of friends drop in and lend a hand, with the highlight appearance belonging to Raphael Saadiq on “Big Ol’ Game”, who only adds a layer of smoke without stepping all over the junior diva. Definite disappointment on the album is the 80s kitsch performance of “You Got The Love”, a severe miss, considering Florence and the Machine killed it on Lungs earlier this year (why would you bother if you can’t do it better?).

For a taste, check out this live performance of “Free Me

Something that you don’t see every day
A little girl who found her way
Through a world that’s decide to break
All of your dreams

And if there’s one thing I will say to you
It’s that there is nothing that you can’t do
Cuz it’s all about your attitude
Don’t let them get to you

– Free Me

7/10

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One thought on “New Music Reviews: October 26, 2009

  1. Great Swell Season post. Very astute CSNY observation! I also heard a little bit of a Paul Kantner “Have You Seen the Stars Tonight” vibe on some of the quieter songs. And just enough upbeat stuff for those who are not totally depressed. Ha ha. I posted a review on my blog too, at http://bit.ly/1HKsW3

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