ALBUMS OF THE MONTH:
Debris, by Michelle Malone
Pity me, I almost missed this release. Fortunately fate intervened and I’ve now got my lead candidate in the summer album derby. Malone’s blend of Southern rock and blues, with the occasional folk and acoustic rock interlude, are the perfect accompaniment for sunny summer days. And lest there be any doubt, she wields a rockin’ guitar. “Debris” is an instant classic, starting as a brooding Southern rocker before breaking into an uplifting pop chorus. I’ll have this on constant rotation all summer, I’m sure. “Undertow” starts with some tasty acoustic blues until Malone blows it up with her impressive slide guitar. “Weed and Wine” needs no description as the title gives an indication of the sing-along merriment it provides. “Yesterday’s Make-Up” is her ode to the walk of shame although, as Malone described in a recent concert, “it’s not so shameful in my song.” Yes indeed.
Audio Download: Michelle Malone, “Yesterday’s Make Up”
For Crying Out Loud, by Scott Miller & the Commonwealth
This is the Scott Miller album for which I’ve waiting. He’s always hinted at greatness, but has finally found the perfect balance of grit and wit while maintaining all his Southern charm. Opener “Cheap Ain’t Cheap” blows open the gates with a rumbling beat. “The dollar’s weak but its stronger than me,” sings Miller, “I’m so damn broke that I can’t even pay attention to anything that you say.” Miller serves up a pair of rockabilly-influenced numbers with “Claire Marie” and “I Can’t Dance.” The former is a furious romp fueled by a pounding piano while the latter is more loose and rich with harmony vocals. “Let You Down” leans more towards the country end of the spectrum, heavy on the acoustic guitar and fiddle. Start to finish, Miller succeeds with a down-home and rowdy affair.
Audio Download: Scott Miller & the Commonwealth, “Appalachian Refugee”
I’m Sorry, Baby, But You Can’t Stand in my Light Anymore, Bob Mould (from the Anti- release Life and Times)
I liked this song on the title alone. As it suggests, Mould is masterful at capturing the intensity of failed relationships. This track fits perfectly alongside Mould’s classic Workbook or the mellower portions of Black Sheets of Rain.
Take Me Back, Tinted Windows (from the S Curve Records release Tinted Windows)
Tinted Windows are: Taylor Hanson (Hanson), James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins), Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne), and Bun E. Carlos (Cheap Trick). The band stays true to their pedigree with a healthy dose of power pop.
The Lonely Ones, The Takeover UK (from the Rykodisc release Running With the Wasters)
There’s a certain type of rock and roll song that will bring a smile to your face every time you hear it. Put this one in that category. The Pittsburgh quartet lets loose with a song that is part barroom sing-along, part punk rock anthem and completely fun.
Time Lapse Lifeline, Maria Taylor (from the Nettwerk release Ladyluck)
A fluttering beat anchors the lead single from Taylor’s latest release. Added urgency from a string section gives the song extra intensity and a sharp contrast to Taylor’s restrained vocals.
It Comes to Me Naturally, Sarah Borges & the Broken Singles (from the Sugar Hill Records release The Stars Are Out)
Borges and company stake their claim to this NRBQ classic. While the boys in the band pound out a chugging rhythm, Borges nails the vocals with unabashed swagger. [See Kelly’s full review (with mp3) here.]
Teenage Lust, Butch Walker (from the Original Signal Recordings Here Comes the… EP)
The melancholy drips from this laid-back pop gem, culminating in a nice outro featuring piano and chorus set against a marching-band style drum beat.
Love’s Never Half as Good, Roger Joseph Manning, Jr. (from the Oglio Records release Catnip Dynamite)
Ah, the glory days of pop revisited. Ah, the glory days of pop were magical. Manning re-visits the old days with a chorus that will get you swaying to the melody and savoring the rich harmonies.
About the author: Mild-mannered corporate executive by day, excitable Twangville denizen by night.