Kaleidoscope – Tangerine Dream (Repertoire U.K.)
Oh man is this reissue long awaited and great!!! Few ‘60s Brit freakbeat bands could combine elements of garage and psych with baroque pop and BEE GEESesque melodic sweetness. Don’t miss the absolute classic “Dive Into Yesterday” but there’s a few more where that came from.
Kaleidoscope – Faintly Blowing (Repertoire U.K.)
The second LP has also been reissued and is also a must. But if your pockets are light for expensive imports and you need an intro, just start with the first one. If not, get them both at once!!! More of the same, a little harder, a little less pop, more consistent, with a few less huge highs.
Billy Bragg – Life’s a Riot with Spy Vs. Spy (Yep Roc)
A bit formative compared to the four albums that came after this debut, but is there any getting around what a classic “A New England” is? Bragg is touring again, and he doesn’t do that as regularly as he once did, so you owe it to yourself to go. C’mon, you know you’ll laugh all night at the between song patter, plus there’s the stellar music…
Stars – Set Yourself on Fire (Arts and Crafts)
Having interviewed them recently, I mentioned to them their LP has great legs. It’s like 18 months old, and yet it sounds as ‘now’ as ever, and the band is selling out venues right and left. THE DELGADOS circa Hate is still the reference (to their credit, they copped to being fans in the interview, calling them “older siblings of sorts” in terms of music), but these folks do it well on their own. Nice people to talk to, too, smart, relaxed, funny, not full of themselves—just the way I like ‘em. See for yourself in issue 58 later this spring.
Mojave 3 – Spoon and Rafter (4AD)
Sadly, still haven’t heard the new one in the can, coming in April or so. So I’m settling for a fresh hearing of this overlooked little gem. This band has been consistently excellent since changing their name (and style) from SLOWDIVE, and this is no exception. Light, breezy, pretty, timeless.
Ray Davies – Other People’s Lives (V2)
I guess if PAUL MCCARTNEY (and to some extent, THE ROLLING STONES) can return to form, than the other ‘60s geniuses have no excuse. Of all of them, this might be the biggest artistic comeback of them all!!! Everything you liked about THE KINKSis here, circa Village Green Preservation Society to Muswell Hillbillies.
Jon Auer –
Songs From the Year of Our Demise (Pattern 25)
Auer’s first proper solo LP is a total surprise. Rather than just a collection of new tunes, he’s gone the route of his POSIES bandmate KEN STRINGFELLOW and made a conceptual soulful record, low on power-pop and high on mannered, sweet, and lovely songs. It isn’t out for a few months, but mark my words. This could be 2006’s sleeper LP, quality wise.
Black Market Baby – Coulda… Shoulda… Woulda: The Black Market Baby Collection (Dr. Strange)
Fourth week in a row! Slam bang, take no prisoners, pure rock ‘n’ roll punk is as rare today as the dodo, and the early ‘80s stuff here by these original D.C. punks just blows me away. Get past the first few decent songs and this thing explodes. Please reunite, BMB!!! Please please please.
The Orioles – Sing Their Greatest Hits (Rhino)
I don’t love a lot of doo-wop (I like a whole lot though!), but these precursors are an exception. I’m always taking out their 1940s and early 1950s recordings monthly to take in their (in my mind definitive) versions of such standards as “You Belong to Me” and “Till Then.” Along with THE MILLS BROTHERS, their harmonic brilliance with a simple song is just breathtaking at times. These recordings helped launch a few 1000 street corner quartets, and it’s not hard to see why. They make it seem so simple, yet it’s so profound. All with the human voice, and next to no backing tracks. Wonderful.
NEW YORK DOLLS – Live at Motherf***er, Avalon (formerly Limelight), February 19
All you naysayers who think this is a farce, just because there’s only two members still alive, well, I hear you, but I still insist you see for yourself the next time they play near you. They’re getting tighter, better… scarier. This might be their crowning New York show in 30 years, the atmosphere was so electric (the crowd so wild!!!), and the performance so good. Just for the extended coda of an amazing “Jet Boy” alone, which I didn’t want to end it was so incredible, this show was a rare 10. Wow! Can they keep this standard up? Raunch and roll never got/gets any better than this!