Things bringing joy to Mudville since Casey has struck out:
1. Super Furry Animals
Q: How have I completely missed the recorded output of these Welshmen? A: The Manic Street Preacher's The Holy Bible turned me off 90s rock from Wales entirely, it being overhyped, generic post-grunge guitar rock that made me long for Bush and Candlebox. Listening to Songbook Vol. 1 makes me think pop music could have been so much more interesting if SFA were huge in the place of other UK bands - namely Oasis, Blur & Radiohead. Though all of these band did some great stuff, "The Man Don't Give A Fuck" is just masterful.
2. The National
I thought their last album(Alligator) was boring, generic, and entirely wasteful of my time and attention. Their upcoming release Boxer is none of those things. Though my first impression was a little "meh", further listening has really opened it up for me. It is an understated grower, mellow but not sleepy, orchestral without being twee or precious.
How many unreleased albums can one legend accumulate before his label puts something out? I've mentioned Kamaal The Abstract before; now I have a copy of Open which was supposed to be out in 2005. He was even giving interviews and making the press rounds before it was shelved. Not as experimental or as steeped in the 70s as Kamaal, it is instead a melding of the neo-soul sound that peaked around the centuries turn and classic hip-hop beats. Reportedly, Q-Tip is reworking some of this material for his yet untitled 2007 release. Expect it to be shelved once recording is completed.
4. The Rub
Brooklynradio.net hosts The Rub radio broadcasts as downloads. DJ Ayres, DJ Eleven and Cosmo Baker have been doing shows entitled "The History of Hip-Hop", and thus far have done eleven volumes covering 1979-1989, with one show dedicated to each year. Great way to either remember the songs of your youth or get a lesson in the roots (or a little of both, as has been the case for me).
5. Frank Zappa
I'm a Zappa fan but not a fanatic, and I greet each new release from the vaults with a bit of skepticism. The latest "new" Zappa release, Buffalo (a show from the 1980 band, wherein the band rock the crap out of upstate New York), shows Frank and co. at their most powerful and technically adept. Whether tearing through an incredibly fast version of "Keep It Greasy" that highlights Arthur Barrow's bass-playing ability (imagine the speed of the solo from Rancid's "Maxwell Murder" as the backbone of an entire track) or nearing a metal version of Steely Dan with Steve Vai's guitar work on "City Of Tiny Lites", this latest bit of Barko-Swill is a keeper.