>> Featured Artist: Ryan Adams
For someone who has never bought a Ryan Adams album, I consider myself a moderate fan. His songstyling is so solid, his vocal performances so distinct and his high levels of both music output and (formerly) drug-alcohol abuse that it's hard not to be at least intrigued by this guy.
Everyone says this is a return to form - the way Ryan Adams sounded on Gold or, even better, Heartbreaker. Not having been a die-hard from the get-go, I don't really understand the complete dismissal of his middle solo works. Sure, there's a lot of crap he put out, but there's rarely an album without at least some classic Ryan Adams gems. (And his great songs are great enough to be called classics).
"Everybody Knows" - one of two songs leaked from his latest release Easy Tiger - didn't necessarily blow me away. It's a solid song with some great lines (especially "You and I together, but only one of us in love, and everybody knows" from the chorus); the harmonies are nice; and the guitar work sounds like James Taylor is in the studio either guiding Ryan how to pull of his sound, or playing the song himself.
But does it make me want to break my self-imposed, unintentional Ryan Adams record-collection sanctions? Eh...I'm waiting.
>> Album Lookout: Fables
I promised last week that I'd spend more time and give full due to Immacluate Machine's latest excellent pop album, Fables. I'm ready now.
As I said last week, I expect fun, fast pop songs from this band (not that their slow songs are bad). I expect songs that are so easy to like that it's hard to notice everything that is going on, all the ins and outs and whatnot.
"Nothing Ever Happens" is exactly what I'm talking about. Fables may not find its way onto many year-end lists (then again, who knows?), but it's going to be one of the records that defines this summer for folks like me.
Power pop me home.
Time for another Toaster classic. Eric Clapton's Derek and the Dominos outfit put out two classic love songs - "Layla" and "Bell Bottom Blues."
"Layla" is great, but it is nothing - nothing - compared to the latter. All that over-the-top guitar work in the coda of "Layla" doesn't just turn me off; it actually kind of hurts my ears in the most literal of senses.
"Bell Bottom Blues," on the other hand, plays a much more subtle hand - even if the entire band is screaming the bridge and chorus. The solo is so good it's tragic and the lead licks are so prevalent (and not in your face) that it's easy to see how this song gets second billing. I mean, at least this one isn't about George Harrison's wife.