Tune Talk

Jason Singer
Mar 23, 2010

 

It's Election Day, and while most Americans are hopefully choosing our next president, they might want to choose CDs later in the week. In honor of that sentiment, we'll still do out first installment of "Tune Talk."

Unfortunately, unlike the presidential race -- which had two viable candidates -- this week's crop of CDs has less substance than a Sarah Palin policy speech.

The big headliner is Travis, which releases its sixth studio album, Ode to J. Smith. Back in 1997, the Scottish rock band made critics salivate with their 1997 debut album, Good Feeling. The album, produced by U2 and Rolling Stones guru Steve Lillywhite, was a catchy, fist-pumping, no-mercy-for-60-minutes rock record, which critics lauded for its simplicity. All Travis wanted to do was make you dance, not change the way you view the world.

"The future of rock has arrived," New Musical Express declared.

But something happened on Travis' way to stardom: They grew soft. Over the last 10 years, Travis ditched their rock roots for moody, emotional soft rock, with woe-is-me singles like "Why Does It Always Rain on Me?" and "Mid-Life Krysis." Luckily, Ode to J. Smith is supposedly a return catchy, foot-on-the-pedal rock, with mostly positive reviews from critics.

Billboard called it "exceptional."

"It's 11 songs bristle with an urgency that more closely resembles (but rocks harder than) Travis' 1997 debut 'Good Feeling,'" the magazine wrote. "(It has) a decidedly uptempo countenance and plenty of room for lead guitarist Andy Dunlop's riffs, solos and fills."

I can tell you the album's first single "J. Smith," is definitely a step in the right direction. While it's not perfect, it's plenty catchy. Listen Here.

For the more exotic listeners, El Guincho's debut album, Alegranza!, has received critical acclaimed. It's melodic, dance-oriented psych-pop, along the lines of more popular indie rock bands Animal Collective or Panda Bear, but with a decided Caribbean Feel.

"It's fun and light, and even though for all I know he could be singing about the destruction of mankind, but it is bursting with joy and happiness," Lost At Sea wrote. Listen Here.

For country fans and mainstream pop fans not interested in what critics think, country star Brad Paisley (Play) and radio-friendly Dido (Safe Trip Home) also release albums today.

Comments

Anonymous

Why is it that Tom Jackson is the only person down there than can write without bias, and conduct himself in the manner of a professional journalist?

Anonymous

I'm a Republican who voted for McCain, and I even I thought the Palin joke was funny. I think the verdict's out on the governer: Policy isn't her thing.

Look, he said both presidential candidates were viable. I think most people agree she wasn't a great VP, even Republicans.

Anyway, blogs are suppose to be informal, and it was a joke. Even McCain joked about Palin on Saturday Night Live! If you got hung up on that, you missed the point of the posting, which actually has some quality writing and insight into music.

Lay off the political jokes, Mr. Singer — not all Republicans have a good sense of humor — but keep up the good work.

Anonymous

I agree with "RE why is it."

If McCain can make jokes about Palin on SNL — and if her unfavorables are near 60 percent, which means BOTH Democrats and Republicans think she's a little silly — than Singer can make a small joke about her.

He acknowledge both candidates were viable options for president, and blogs are meant to be less informal and more opinionated.

Plus, a pop-culture blog has to have a little political humor. That's what's dominating pop culture right now, and so he has to talk about it.

It wouldn't be a good blog without a bit of humor.