Sir Paul got lambasted last year on this blog for his dreadful valentine album, Kisses On The Bottom, landing as our biggest disappointment of 2012. But the most enduring singer rock history doesn’t rest on his laurels, but instead hit the road last year, with fellow LxLer Todd and I seeing a show of a lifetime this summer as MACCA headlined Bonnaroo. Now, the legendary Beatle releases New, an album giving new modern twists on McCartney’s tried and true musical strengths, my favorite album from Paul since the early 70’s (not that I was alive then, or have heard every album in between).
What makes New so fresh is a combination of Paul playing to his strengths and challenging himself with new sounds. With the help of Mark Ronson, title track “New” toys around with jaunty Beatles sounds from songs like “Penny Lane” and “We Can Work It Out” with a little more buzz and reverb to make this a fresh take on a nostalgic sound. “Queenie Eye” takes Paul’s famous sound of heavily punctuated piano pop and adds an air of mystery and a growing symphony of sound. On songs like “I Can Bet” and “Everybody Out There”, Sir Paul sounds 40 years younger, full of energy swinging along some folk-tinged pop with a funky edge. “Turned Out” is reminiscent of the best Traveling Wilbury’s tunes, except Paul doesn’t need three other legends: his charismatic presence fills the room plenty. “Get Me Out Of Here” is Paul doing his old playful lonely dog blues.
Giles Martin, longstanding Beatles producer George Martin’s son, produced the lion’s share of these songs, and it’s clear that he understands what it takes to Paul to step out of his shell but still get the most of what has made him the most enduring artist of all-time. Remove “On My To Work” and “Road” which are minor letdowns, this album his remarkably consistent and memorable for a 71 year old, or even a 31 year old for that matter. For a guy that has accomplished everything under the sun, it’s wonderful to see such a legend continue to push himself artistically.
One of our biggest pet peeves at LxL is the mid-career self-titled reinvention album: the one last gasp at pretending to start over. Many times it is when a band joins a major label and hopes to start anew or when the band has been falling apart and hopes for a fresh start, but either way, the mid-career self-titled album usually spells trouble. MGMT this week joins the ranks of mid-career self-titled albums, and from early returns, it sounds like this album won’t necessarily be a return to form. So in order to get our minds off the ugly self-titled trend, we have decided to give you the 10 best self-titled (or eponymous) albums of all time.
Album covers are an interesting thing. Some artists choose to not put a lot of time into them and just throw any old picture of themselves on there (Bob Dylan). Others try and go for the shock factor by being wildly offensive (Death Grips), while others either hire an artist or come up with a concept themselves. Storm Thorgerson was a graphic design artist responsible for some of the most legendary album covers of all time, including ones for Led Zeppelin, The Muse, Mars Volta, Black Sabbath, Peter Gabriel and most all of Pink Floyd’s album covers (yes, including the infamous prism cover for Dark Side of the Moon) as well as many more. Sadly, Storm passed away last week, and in his honor we bring you the following list. And no, our #1 has nothing to do with the fact that Storm designed it, we just love it that much. This list was fun because there are so many album covers we loved and wanted to include, but also hard because there are many albums we left off but wanted to include. I guess we will just have to do a sequel to this one some day. Onto the list:
10. The Strokes – Is This It
One of the sexiest album covers of all time was actually banned in America soon after the albums release. Stupid American censorship laws really know how to put a damper on a good thing.
With the music trend increasingly shifting back to psychedelic rock lately, we decided to put our heads together to come up with our favorite psychedelic rock albums of ever. Surprisingly enough, every album on our list was released pre-1979 except Wes’ miss. I guess 60′s and 70′s were just a bit more focused on keeping their listeners really high … high on serotonin levels that is … because everyone of these albums will keep you happy as a clam. Many modern psychedelic albums were considered; Black Mountain, Foxygen, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Tame Impala. In fact, Flaming Lips and Kurt Vile’s new albums were actually the inspiration. Nonetheless, the below are the albums we think best satisfies those moments you really just need a nice hit of psychedelics:
10. Moby Grape – Moby Grape
Moby Grape’s debut album was an early forerunner to the groovy San Francisco vibes that we all came to know and love. Moby Grape is an often overlooked album, especially when considered how many folk psychedelic acts came to follow suite.
We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic
After a barrage of EP’s and one full length album (that was released less than a year ago mind you), Foxygen was seemingly just another good garage/indie band that for the most part, I thought would perpetually be flying under the radar. Well with their sophomore effort We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic that was just released last week, they quickly proved that they offer much more than the “under-the-rader” stigma I tagged them with. Uponst my ears hearing the first few sounds of this wistful album, my brain responded by telling me that I must be listening to a Rolling Stones or Beatles psychedelic era recording. The opening track, “In The Darkness” perfectly collides the two worlds of Beatles-esque harmonies and pop vibes with the gritty garage-rock sound of the early Stones. And strap yourself in, because this trip down memory lane certainly doesn’t end there.
^My brains portrayal of a behind the scenes photo of Foxygen in the recording studio.