Spring 2010 Review Roundup

New records are blooming like crazy this spring. Jim and Greg catch up on new releases from MGMT, LCD Soundsystem, Hole and more.

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Music News

First in the news, the state of Illinois may impose a tax on digital music and film downloads in order to help bail out its $13 billion deficit. If the legislature approves Governor Quinn's proposal, Illinois would join 19 other states that currently have such a tax and be able to get $10 million revenues annually. Per usual, this has prompted partisan debate, but Jim and Greg doubt either party is much concerned with the music fan's perspective.

One of rock's biggest stars, Paul McCartney, is going indie. The former Beatle has announced a plan to take his solo catalog from major label EMI and move it to the independent Concord label. McCartney previously worked with Concord as part of his now defunct Starbucks Hear Music deal. EMI is one of 4 big music companies dominating the industry these days, and as Jim and Greg explain, these labels depend on back catalog revenue. It takes little overhead to repackage an album from an artist like McCartney, and they can reissue it over and over again to new consumers.

Jim and Greg next discuss rapper Guru who died last week. The hip hop artist moved to New York City just in time for the genre's golden age. He developed alongside Public Enemy, Run DMC and Tribe Called Quest, to name a few. Guru joined up with DJ Premier to form Gang Starr, a duo with a revolutionary sound fusing rap with jazz. This, along with his fluid vocal style, made Gang Starr one of hip hop's most influential acts. To honor the late artist, Jim and Greg play "Jazz Thing," a track from the Mo' Better Blues soundtrack featuring jazz musician Branford Marsalis.

reviewThis Is Happening (Deluxe Edition)This Is Happening available on iTunes

LCD Soundsystem This Is Happening

During the next segment Jim and Greg review this season's big new releases. First up, This Is Happening by LCD Soundsystem. LCD Soundsystem began as a pet project for DFA co-founder James Murphy. He's been instrumental in establishing the dance-punk sound of the past decade. Jim thinks Murphy is going for a Roxy Music vocal style. He explains that Murphy is saying this record will be his last, but notes that it's not his best. Greg agrees, adding that the bar was set very high with the previous two releases. There was much more honest emotion. But that said, it's still worth your money: a double Buy It.

reviewTrue Love Cast Out All Evil (with Okkervil River)True Love Cast Out All Evil available on iTunes

Roky Erickson True Love Cast Out All Evil

Psychedelic rock pioneer Roky Erickson has an album out called True Love Cast Out All Evil. Since fronting the 13th Floor Elevators, Erickson has been in heavy decline, dealing with mental illness and drug abuse. He was nursed back to health by his brother and, in part, the Austin community. So this record, which was produced by Will Scheff of Okkervill River, is a personal as well as a professional achievement. Greg describes this record as reflective rather than howling. But, it's beautiful to hear his voice, which is still intact. He gives it a Buy It. Jim wishes that Erickson had collaborated with someone like Billy Gibbons, who could‘ve brought out the acid rock side of the singer. He doesn’t recommend this if it's your first foray into Erickson's music, but gives it a Buy It.

reviewSnakes for the Divine (Bonus Track Edition)Snakes for the Divine available on iTunes

High on Fire Snakes for the Divine

Heavy metal group High on Fire also has a new album out called Snakes for the Divine. The band's guitarist, Matt Pike, began as a member of the legendary stoner rock group Sleep. As Greg explains, you can hear their influence on Pike's playing today, which sounds like three guitars rolled into one. And, he‘d rank Snakes for the Divine as one of High on Fire’s best. Jim admits there's some silliness with regards to the lyrics, but also calls Pike one of the most inventive guitarists in the last two decades. It's a pummeling record that gets a double Buy It.

reviewCongratulations (Remixes) - EPOracular Spectacular available on iTunes

MGMT Oracular Spectacular

After gaining attention with their 2007 debut Oracular Spectacular, Brooklyn duo MGMT are back with Congratulations. They've expanded their synth pop sound and have looked to Jim's hero Brian Eno for inspiration. So, he wonders why he doesn't like their music more. He finds their vocal style irritating and the subject matter flimsy and can only give Congratulations a Burn It. Greg is impressed with what producer Pete Kember of Spaceman 3 has brought to the table, as well as their darker lyrics and gives the album a Buy It rating.

reviewNobody's Daughter (Bonus Track Version)Nobody's Daughter available on iTunes

Hole Nobody's Daughter

The final review is of Nobody's Daughter, the reunion effort from Courtney Love and Hole. Love is one of rock's most famous widows…and also train wrecks. So, it was a surprise to Jim and Greg that she paired up with slick Hollywood songwriter Linda Perry. The last thing they want to hear is a professional Courtney Love, except maybe an immature, ranting Courtney Love. Both are on Nobody's Daughter in full effect, and it's a Trash It.



“It's Oh So Quiet”Björk

Jim has spent the last week looking at images of the volcanic eruption in Iceland and thinking about a way to honor the European nation. Arguably its biggest musical export is Björk. Jim hasn't loved her sparse, robotic sound in recent years, but will always remember songs like "It's Oh So Quiet" fondly. So, he adds his favorite Björk track to the Desert Island Jukebox.

Featured Songs

  1. Cheap Trick, Taxman Mr. Thief, Cheap Trick, Epic/Legacy, 1977
  2. Paul McCartney, Band On The Run, Band on the Run, Parlophone, 1973
  3. Gang Starr, Take It Personal, Daily Operation, Alliance, 1992
  4. Gang Starr, Jazz Music, No More Mr. Nice Guy, Wild Pitch, 1989
  5. LCD Soundsystem, Drunk Girls, This is Happening, Virgin Records, 2010
  6. LCD Soundsystem, All I Want, This is Happening, Virgin Records, 2010
  7. LCD Soundsystem, Home, This is Happening, Virgin Records, 2010
  8. LCD Soundsystem, One Touch, This is Happening, Virgin Records, 2010
  9. Roky Erickson, John Lawman, True Love Cast Out All Evil, Anti, 2010
  10. Roky Erickson, Please Judge, True Love Cast Out All Evil, Anti, 2010
  11. High on Fire, Fire, Flood and Plague, Snakes for the Divine, E1, 2010
  12. MGMT, Flash Delirium, Congratulations, Columbia, 2010
  13. MGMT, Brian Eno, Congratulations, Columbia, 2010
  14. Brian Eno, The Big Ship, Another Green World, EMI, 1975
  15. Hole, Pacific Coast Highway, Nobody's Daughter, Mercury, 2010
  16. Hole, Samantha, Nobody's Daughter, Mercury, 2010
  17. Bjork, It's Oh So Quiet, Post, Elektra, 1995
  18. Johnny Thunders, Get Off the Phone, L.A.M.F. Revisited, Receiver, 1984
  19. Soul Coughing, Is Chicago Is Not Chicago, Ruby Vroom, Warner Bros., 1994
  20. The Clash, Brand New Cadillac, London Calling, Epic/Legacy, 1979

Footnotes Paul McCartney's Strikes Deal with Concord Guru Dies LCD Soundsystem Roky Erickson High on Fire MGMT Hole High On Fire MGMT Hole