"You Could Have it So Much Better"
On sale at All That Jazz for $15.98
From the second my stereo released the first guitar chord of this album to the last track, I was bobbing my head. Not quite toe tapping and not quite head banging, just bobbing.
With engaging lyrics such as, "I want a car / I want a car / I wanna' I wanna' / I want a car," my mind was not spinning, but I could identify. I, too, have wanted a car.
Which is kind of a backhanded way of saying that this second album by the Franz is infinitely better than its first self-titled release.
It's danceable. It's caffeinated. It's skinny ties and tight dress pants that end somewhere between the white socks and pointy black shoes.
It's that dance in which you pump your arms in front of you and act like you're running in place.
It's equal parts familiar (in an eighties British New Wave kind of way) and fresh (in a "who is that cutie?" kind of way).
Rated: Worth buying just so you can play it loud in your car at a stoplight.
Echo and the Bunnymen
Available at All That Jazz for $16.98
I haven't listened to Echo and the Bunnymen in more than a decade, and I can't tell you how relieved I was when I heard that first track. Except for the occasional guitar whine, it sounds nothing like the Bunnies of my youth.
And nothing makes you like a band better than to watch them grow and change.
Honestly, I used to really like this band in the eighties, but my days of listening to bands such as the Psychedelic Furs, the Connells and, well, the Bunnymen ended sometime in the summer after high school.
Nostalgia is always flavored with pinch of shame, making it impossible to really enjoy the music you did when you were still sleeping on a canopy bed.
Fortunately, the Bunnymen transformed into something that sounds uncannily like U2, and that was a band I never liked as a teenager. So I didn't get the same embarrassed-for-both-of-us feeling that I did when I heard The Cure's or even Nine Inch Nails' new release.
But not feeling ashamed is not the same thing as being proud.
Rated: Emo was never a word in the eighties, but it is now.
My Morning Jacket
Available at All That Jazz for $14.98
If you've watched Justin Timberlake perform, you already know how much influence artists such as Stevie Wonder had on the current generation of musicians.
And even though I've fully comprehended that there's a whole pod of people out there trying to re-create that corner of the 1970s, it still catches me off guard every time I hear a new band heading that direction.
In the age of guitar-led music, this is a keyboard-driven album much like the ones recorded in the golden era when records such as "Songs in the Key of Life" were pressed.
For its fourth album, My Morning Jacket mixes influences from Motown and psychedelia, pulling from the greatest stops on the musical road from Marvin Gaye to The Who.
What I predict will be the most talked-about track on this album, "Gideon," has an ascending rapturous quality reminiscent of the end of "Tommy," but though "Tommy" had a "find your own way" message, this song has more of a traditional "Jesus is all right with me" theme.
Rated: Why did we ever abandon you, synthesizer?
-- Autumn Phillips