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new music week of May 25th: it’s a family affair

2009 appears to have awaken from its winter slumber with the third good week in a row. Not great, mind but definitely good

Doom Draw – Julian Marley
Family Time – Ziggy Marley (featuring Judah Marley)
Don’t Lose your Head – Zion I
The Marley siblings have a real problem: call it another Julian’s son problem, Julian Lennon, however good they are they just aint good enough. So once you get that out the way what you have is long and creative careers in reggae and pieces of crap like “Family Time” don’t help. Julian’s “Doom Draw” is that hardcore rastaman stuff and a beautiful piece of rock steady. Zion I are an excellent dub rap due and “Don’t Lose Your Head’ is like “Maxinquay” meets mid-period Rakim.

Don’t Make Promises – Dave Alvin
I have called the 80s a musical wasteland forever but there were still mountains along with the troughs and rockabilly band the Blaster were all that. Dave Alvin’s solo career has been very consistent, the same rockabilly roller and strong, strong songcraft. The 50s weren’t like this, the 50s weren’t quite this good. “Don’t make Promises’ is all pretty harmonys and slide guitar. A wonderful song (I haven’t bought any other’s but i did notice the Blaster’s oldie “Marie, marie -listened to 30 seconds and plan to buy it when i get home!)

Arma-goddamn-m***********n-geddon – Marilyn Manson
Devour – Marilyn Manson
The return of Twiggy!!! I always thought that if MM had been a little smarter he coulda taken David Bowie circa “Diamond Dogs” and forged a real career out of it. but he could never write a “When you rock And roll With Me” and this shock horror stuff is pushing up the daisies. Still, from his newbie “The High End Of Low” -the former song is fun in a hand clap, foot stomp kinda way, the latter isn’t.

Diddy Boppin’ – Diddy (featuring Yung Joc)
Casa Bey – Mos Def
My Job – Cam’ron
A-Yo – Method Man and Redman
Hello – Eminem
Why people be hatin’ on Diddy? My friend Matt Drummond, a big hip hop fan, tells me he hates every song Diddy has ever rapped. me? I’ll give him some off “Victory” (he was very good on the tour as well -Busta Rhymes and Jay-Z were the opening act). But as a pop star he is really good and this is a fun if flimsy pop song. I used to like Mos Def but nowadays I find him a real snooze just like this song. The new Cam’ron is overtaking “Relapse” as the hip hop album of the year and “My Job” is maybe the best song on “Crime Pays” -gone is the gangster posturing for some rough handed real urban realism. has it been nine years since “I’ll Be Dat”. “A-Yo” from “Blackout 2” hooks exactly where you think it does. “Hello” is one of the best songs off the excellent “Relapse” and may be a good place to start sampling the album.

Two Weeks – Grizzly Bear
Twin Of Myself – Black Moth Super Rainbow
Satellite Skin – Modest Mouse
What Death In Vegas have wrought, eh? “Twin Of Myself” is a pretty indie-electonica piece of weirdness, “Two weeks” sounds one helluva lot like Brian Wilson circa “Surf’s Up” (not even “Smiley Smile”). I guess once you start getting into symphonic pop it’s gonna either be the Beach Boys or ELO. It’s OK and makes the second highly hyped band of the year (and I give into hypes, I like the next big thingyness of bands) after Animal Collective that have left me yawning. I didn’t like Modest Mouse much till “We Were Dead…” turned me about. “Satellite Skin” is a great song (I mean GREAT SONG), love this blokes voice, love that back beat (I sound like Kathy McGowan!!!), love the acoustic strum in the back of the chorus (actually, it’s like a chorus followed by a chorus).

Pocket Philosopher – Mandy Moore
Everblue – Mandy Moore
I Could Break Your Heart Any Day Of the Week – Mandy Moore
The trouble with new albums by people who are coming off a career high is the exact same problem with second dates after brilliant first dates: ergo, they never live up to expectations. 2007’s “Wild Hope” was a wonderful, melodic, sad, smart album. But in retrospect maybe she owed more to the Weepies who co-wrote many of the songs than we thought at first. “Everblue” sounds like her husband Ryan Adams on a bad day, “Pocket Philosopher” isn’t as good as “Everblue” and “Break Your Heart” is a pop confection worthy of the girl who sang “Crush” (that’s a compliment if you’re keeping score at home). All off her disappointing new album “Amanda Leigh”.

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