Lots of great music to listen to this past week with new releases covering the gamut of music genres. There were new releases from rapper Lil Wayne, dance hall DJ David Guetta, and the latest from synthpop band Cobra Starship. This week’s airwaves also featured the first new release by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers in more than five years with I’m With You. Unfortunately, the Chilli’s are not ‘with’ digital music streaming yet so we haven’t been able to check out their latest. What we’ve heard sounds like the Peppers doing their thing.
There was a lot to listen to this week, but there were two surprise releases that caught my attention by artists who have been best known as ‘sidemen’ throughout their respective careers.
Add It To The Collection… Rage Against The Machine/Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello delivers his fourth solo album with his folk side project, The Nightwatchman. World Wide Rebel Songs is an impressive collection of tracks that capture Morello at his finest, delivering thought-provoking lyrics and playing killer guitar licks. In fact, this is the first Nightwatchman project that features Morello playing electric guitar alongside his folk offerings. The combination is nothing short of inspiring. Must-have track: Save The Hammer For The Man (featuring Ben Harper).
Editor’s Note – Biff Bam Pop! readers can look forward to another cool project from Morello later this fall with the release of the first of a 12-issue series of graphic novels called Orchid on October 12. Illustrated by Toronto artist Scott Hepburn, each issue will be accompanied by a free musical soundtrack, scored by Morello himself.
Add It To The Collection…Tommy Stinson has spent most of his career in the shadows of his infamous band-mates. Playing bass in one of alternative rocks founding forefathers, The Replacements, Stinson was always #2 to lead singer/songwriter Paul Westerberg. Stinson has also been the bass-player-of-record for Guns n’ Roses since 1998 and is also considered a member of Soul Asylum. Somehow, the perennial sideman has found the time to also write and record a couple of solo albums (perhaps while waiting for Axl to take the stage?). His latest, One Man Mutiny says a lot in title alone. This is Stinson, front-and-centre, wearing his influences on his sleeve and taking little pieces of all the bands he’s played in to create a very enjoyable collection of tunes. Many of the tracks on One Many Mutiny wouldn’t be out of place on a record by the Replacements, Soul Asylum or even Guns n’ Roses. There’s a heavy Stones influence and vibe throughout the record and an authenticity that takes you back to the early days of alt rock. Must-have track: It’s A Drag
Worth another listen…I was shocked to realize that it’s been 18 years since the release of Counting Crows’ debut, August And Everything After. While the band shot to fame on the coattails of the cross-over hit Mr.Jones, Adam Duritz and the boys have delivered consistent Americana on their subsequent releases. This week the Counting Crows released a live recording of August, performed front-to-back in New York in 2007. Live At Town Hall captures the band at their best – in a live setting with an adoring crowd hanging on every word. Must-have track: Rain King with a great extended jam.
Skip It… I really wanted to like the latest offering from Lenny Kravitz, but Black and White In America is another in a series of disappointing albums from Lenny. Truth is I don’t recall a memorable Kravitz tune since the release of 1993’s Are You Gonna Go My Way and his divorce from Denise Huxtable (Lisa Bonet) that same year. Black and White is too long (63 minutes) and tries to be all things to all people. I get it; Lenny likes blues, funk, disco, rock, reggae, hip hop and a dozen other types of music. That’s cool. But the genre jumping creates a disjointed listening experience. Prince is as diverse at it gets, but his best albums have an underlying funkiness or soul that unites the collection of songs. The album is also terribly overproduced giving it an overall unauthentic sound. Time to go back to ‘live off the floor’ for the next one Lenny.