In last weeks Top Ten list I made the assertion that Chris Isaak’s 1995 album, Forever Blue, is one of the most underrated albums of the 90′s. Known best for 1989 smash hit “Wicked Games”, Isaak has had a surprisingly enduring career in making quality music, even if he is less and less recognized. It is certainly time for Chris Isaak to get more recognition of LxL, rather than just a passing reference in a Top Ten list.
Sunday night, at the same time of all the tomfoolery of the VMAs, Minneapolis rock legends the Replacements returned to the stage for the first time in 22 years with a straight-up workmanlike attitude. Rather than twerking it for the boys and girls like Miley Cyrus, the Replacements busted out 23 songs at Toronto’s Riot Fest, including music spanning their whole career. Based on the videos I’ve seen, it looks like Paul Westerberg and the gang didn’t miss a hitch after the 22 year hiatus.
Half Way Home
It’s usually pretty unlikely that video of a live show catches my eye online, as most video footage fails to capture the fullness of the live experience. But Angel Olsen has proved one of the exceptions, the St. Louis born but Chicago-based singer/songwriter has a voice and the songwriting chops to knock you out, even through the doldrums of Youtube. Not only that, but being associated with folk troubadour Will Oldham (aka Bonnie Prince Billy) and sounding a bit like Joanna Newsom, Olsen sounds like she was pretty much made to make fellow LxLer Austin cry tears of joy. I went back this weekend to check out her 2012 sophomore album Half Way Home, and find it, and her, to be a clear, simple beautiful voice amidst a sea of gimmicks and irony that fill the current music scene.
I am without a computer for the short term, and therefore am unable to download new music. So, from me, you will get retro reviews and other posts that don’t require me having the pulse on all the new releases. Hopefully, in the meantime, you can stick with me and enjoy what I have to offer. My first offering along these lines is Titus’ Andronicus’ 2010 masterstroke The Monitor, which I admittedly never came to fully appreciate until the release of their 2012 album, Local Business. In preparation for the release of Local Business, I decided I needed to dig back into The Monitor as research. What I found was at that particular point in my life, The Monitor struck a very different chord with me than it did in 2010. In short, with all the the great releases of 2012 and all the great pre-2012 music in my iTunes library, The Monitor easily my most listened to album of 2012.
The Cold Vein
In 2010, I spent a very solitary week alone during Thanksgiving break. I was studying for law school finals and decided to focus on that rather than make the trip home to spend the holiday with my family. All my roommates were gone, as well as pretty much all my other friends from law school. So there I was, studying about 8-10 hours per day in the law school library, with ample time left to my own devices. What did I decide to do? Download every album off of a “Top 100 Hip-Hop Albums of All-Time” list that I stumbled upon. It wasn’t a perfect list, leaning heavily toward very old school albums, which I generally find to be hit or miss.
But near the top of the list (which I can’t find), in the 3-5 range was this 2001 album by a rap duo called Cannibal Ox: The Cold Vein. Most of the stuff I was unfamiliar with on the list up to this point was a product of the late-80′s or early-90′s, so I was intrigued. Upon first listen, I fell in love. The Cold Vein perfectly melds a couple emcees with old-school lyrical proclivities with a hybrid old school/hyper alternative production suite. When mostly mediocre hip-hop was rocking the charts in 2001, Cannibal Ox struck gold with an off-kilter, but still very focused classic, and I hope everyone can join me in discovering/re-discovering this crowned jewel.