Here are some discs you should either buy, borrow, download or steal! The choice is yours; just make sure you pick this stuff up!
I’m Ok, You’re Ok – Jason Faulkner
Jason Faulkner should be a household name. Until lately, his claims to fame have been being an original member of the psychedelic 90’s pop band Jellyfish and he has recorded lullaby versions of Beatles tunes (“Bedtime for Beatles” is a must have if you have little ones). On his latest disc, Faulkner plays all instruments and creates a heady, healthy balance between swirling keyboards, shimmering, fuzzy guitars and layered melodies and harmonies so full and buoyant, you will want to lay your head upon them while you listen. Jason is your go to artist when it comes to alternative pop and he brings it all together on this disc. He easily waxes poetic about the fickleness of love (Stephanie Tells Me), his own idiosyncrasies (Komplicated Man) and serious infatuation (Anondah). It’s hard to know if Faulkner is singing about himself when he croons “ignored by this industry” but when listening to his latest disc it’s clear that as a singer/songwriter, Jason Faulkner should not be ignored at all, and he is indeed more, than just ok.
In The Dark – The Whigs
One of the best indie rock records released this year, has come to us by way of a three piece band from Athens, Georgia. The Latest disc from The Whigs is a slice of rock and roll abandon with hints of southern fried rock and psychedelic soul. Julian Dorio and Tim Deaux make a powerful rhythm section giving vocalist/guitarist Parker Gispert room to croon, howl and roar over each and every track. If you want to feel the swagger and cool of indie rock or if you miss the innocence of The Replacements, then check out The Whigs. It has been a while since music has been this cool.
I liked You Better When You Had No Heart – Butch Walker and the Black Widows
The thing that has always been great about singer/songwriter Butch Walker’s solo efforts is that even when he is in a somber, melancholy mood he still sounds like he is having a good time. Some of his sadder songs sound celebratory (say that three times fast!!). This is what makes Walker’s latest solo album probably his weakest. Walker and his semi-new band The Black Widows sound, well, a bit bored on this outing. Butch serves up a couple quirky gems like “Trash Day” and “She Likes Hair Bands” but overall instead of a celebration or sadness, Butch and his band just sound tired. Walker truly is a gifted songwriter and a dynamic performer on stage. Here’s hoping his next disc will be recorded in a studio near a Pete’s Coffee!
The Stimulus Package – Freeway and Jake One
Philadelphia/Rock-A-Fella rapper Freeway has hooked up with the Rhymesayers label and has teamed with G-Unit producer Jake One to drop The Stimulus Package. Jake One’s production is seamless and Freeway has not gone indie or backpack. He is quite the opposite in fact with rhymes and tales of street life, drug deals gone wrong (and right), and braggadocio for days and enough rhymes about the cash/money hustle to stimulate our economy for years to come! The disc breaks no new ground for the genre and it is too long (I get it…the streets are rough and you are the roughest on the streets) but Freeway’s high pitched delivery has a sense of urgency and Jake One’s bass heavy beats cannot be denied.
Wu Massacre – Method Man, Rakewon, Ghostface Killah
Coming straight out of the tales of The Shaolin; three of the Wu-Tang Clans star MCs have come together like Voltron, on Wu Massacre. Even when it gets a bit redundant the skills of the Wu cannot be denied. Meth, Rae and Ghost have a great time trading rhymes over tightly wound, funky beats. The tunes are short on metaphors about the Shaolin. Instead, the three charter members of “The Clan” liken themselves to three comic book style assassins, verbally assaulting all who get in their way. All three mcs are adept at lyrical gymnastics but it’s Method Man, who seems to always be in the pole position to spit the cleverest rhymes on the disc. Protect ya neck; The Wu Massacre is lyrically armed and dangerous.
Suspicious Package – Earl Greyhound
Anyone reading this remember Album Oriented Rock (AOR)? When this format existed bands like Led Zeppelin, Mandrill, Pink Floyd, Malo and Santana had to write and record whole, cohesive albums with no filler. Earl Greyhound seem to not only remember those days but they are hell-bent on reliving them on their latest disc, to the joy of REAL music lovers. “Suspicious Package” begins with a Latin flavored intro that moves into a mid-tempo rocker and from there; the band takes off on a disc that combines soul, heavy rock, acoustic leanings and explosive guitar work. The band’s last disc had a serious a slam/bang attitude. “Suspicious Package” boasts a subtle power, with a much more sophisticated style. Earl Greyhound prove on their second full length, that they don’t have to knock you on the floor in order to floor ya, with their brand of progressive rock. Album Oriented Rock is back! Thank you Earl Greyhound.