This was a surprisingly strong week for new music. Sure, there’s nothing that’s going to top any charts or make any end of the year critic’s lists, but there are a number of releases worth investigating.
First off, you have One True Vine, the second Mavis Staples record produced by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy. Besides three Tweedy originals, Staples also covers new tunes by Low, Nick Lowe, and even an old Funkadelic classic, “Can You Get To That?”. More gospel-oriented than their previous collaboration, the Grammy winning You Are Not Alone, the album showcases the power of Mavis’ classic vocals.
Willie Nile should be a rock ‘n’ roll legend. His 1980 self-titled debut was an unnoticed classic, and legal problems stalled his career for a full decade. Since his re-emergence in the mid-90’s, Nile has reestablished himself as a noted singer-songwriter, particularly on 2006’s Streets of New York. The new album, American Ride, may be his most varied to date, highlighted by great songs such as the punchy rocker “This Is Our Time”, the rockin’ title track, and even a punch cover of Jim Carroll’s “People Who Died”. Please check him out.
The first two records by Smith Western’s were garage pop classics. On their third record, Soft Will, the band expands their sound a bit, channeling themselves into a more relaxed California pop band. Some longtime fans may not like this move, but their layered sound is a perfect accompaniment to lazy mornings on the deck.
Last year, reggae legend Jimmy Cliff made the comeback of the year with Rebirth, produced by Rancid’s Tim Armstrong. Highlights from that album, along with old classics such as “Trapped” and “Many Rivers to Cross”, are the basis for The KCRW Session.
Reissues and repackages complete the week’s new product. Rattle Your Cage collects the best of former Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock, and its definitely worth checking out. College radio fans of the 80’s should also be happy with The A&M Years box set by the jangly pop-pers Swimming Pool Q’s. Hurt Me by Johnny Thunders is a reissue of a primarily acoustic double disc Johnny Thunders albums from 1983. Thunders fans consider it one of the few highlights of his post-Heartbreakers career.