It’s not uncommon for me to go six months wondering where the good new music can be found. Many people often ask me “how do you find all the music you listen to?” It’s a slippery slope, kids. Most of my discovery comes in two forms these days: word-of-mouth from friends and sampling songs online, either at the ITunes Music Store or Emusic.com. It bears noting that I have not purchased any music from the ITunes Music Store for many months now and I will not until they lift their Digital Rights Management from their songs. That shit is strangling the music business right now and the people who run the labels, the 60 year old white guys, can’t get their heads around the fact that this isn’t 1982 anymore.
There are yet more ways I source music: I subscribe to a couple of music magazines, so now-and-then I’ll pick up some stuff based on knockout reviews, but that’s relatively rare. One other way to find good music is to simply read the liner notes of the albums you purchase to find out who played in the band. I call this the Benmont Tench Effect, which basically means that if there’s a musician in a band you like who plays on a different album with different musicians, you’ll probably like that, too. Benmont Tench’s presence on Dramarama’s Vinyl, for example, is a shining beacon of the Effect (for reference, Benmont Tench is Tom Petty’s keyboard player who also happens to make guest appearances on roughly 84% of all the recorded music in the history of the world).
All that said, the last month or so has been an absolute treasure trove of great releases. Some are below:
The Racontuers, “Broken Boy Soldiers” – when I heard that The White Stripes’ Jack White had started this “rock/pop” band, I pretty much wrote it off because my dislike of The White Stripes is, um, strong. But this album is surprisingly good and while it doesn’t break new ground, it will make you happy if you dug T.Rex, Sweet and a little Led Zep. I hope they cover “Jeepster” live.
The Black Keys, “Chulahoma” – This is an aggressive electric blues/rock duo from Akron, OH whose last record sounded a lot like all their other stuff. This new one rights that ship as they explore some other sounds, but not obnoxiously.
The Yayhoos, “Put The Hammer Down” – Dan Baird, Eric Ambel and crew have put together their best record yet with this collection of songs that make me envious I wasn’t there to see it recorded – it sounds like it was about as much fun as you can have recording music. Baird’s “Fittin’ To Do” will be one of my top 10 songs of the year.
Built to Spill, “You In Reverse” – these guys are unstoppable. Doug Martsch’s ultimate indie-rock band is tight, his voice is unique and the songs are……superb. There’s only one or two this time that are over seven minutes, but this time those long songs don’t even feel long. It’s like one of those three hour movies that is so good it feels like a hour-and-thirty.
Drive-By Truckers, “A Blessing and A Curse” – another sweet set of songs from the band I never thought would take it this far. The three-pronged songwriting beast rears its head yet again, except this time they do their best at getting their Ya-Ya’s out, channeling Sticky Fingers-era Rolling Stones into their own blend of tunes. Very impressive.
The Whigs, “Give ‘Em All A Big Fat Lip” – got this one from, of all places, Rolling Stone magazine, who labeled them America’s best unsigned band. I felt like I was being dared and also set up for great disappointment, nonetheless I went to their site and lo and behold, we’ve got ourselves another terrific band from Athens, GA. They have that Athens, GA sound, too. You know it, don’t you?
The Bottle Rockets, “Zoysia” – read the Brian Henneman interview from earlier this week for more. This new album simply has some of Henneman’s best songwriting ever on it. The title track is a bit of a departure for the B.Rox – seven minutes, half of which find the band in a long, tight jam and the other half where the lyrics really make you think about the world we’re living in today. Can’t we all just get along?
Bruce Springsteen, “We Shall Overcome” – Finally! A good new Bruce Springsteen album. This collection of old Pete Seeger songs showcases Springsteen doing what he does best – recording live in the studio, off the cuff and having an absolute blast doing it. I was so taken aback and surprised by its excellence. A total romp.
Others that I’m digging: Tim Easton, Tarkio (old, but new), Milton Mapes, The Hotel Lights, Gomez, Jenny Lewis/Watson Twins, Isobell Campbell & Mark Lanegan……..
This is a very rich time for new music and I am loving it. As always, you can see what I’m listening to anytime by checking my page on the excellent Last.fm website.
I like that: “The Benmont Tench Effect”
If you enjoy that whole “this musician that I like played with that musician that I’ve never heard of” thing, you might want to play around a bit on this site I set up: http://musicroutes.com/
I went to your Last.fm page that’s linked in this post and typed in the last two artists you’ve listened to: Joe Walsh and Built To Spill. I tried it a couple times and got some very different routes:
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