Music News

Robyn Hitchcock, Avi Buffalo, Kaki King, RJD2, Scorpions, and More: Nothing Not New Odds 'n' Sods


The new releases are coming in fast and furious at the Nothing Not New global headquarters in downtown Phoenix. I've got so many CDs sitting here that I could never write full blog posts about all of them -- not that I won't try my damnedest to do just that.

In the upcoming weeks, I'll be writing about some higher-profile releases by indie-rock acts like MGMT, Cornershop, Coheed & Cambria, New Pornographers, Apples in Stereo, Dead Weather, and many, many more. But let me use today to plow through some of the stuff released earlier this year that I never got around to writing about.

Robyn Hitchcock and the Venus 3 -- Propellor Time: For better or worse, this sounds like every other RHV3 record of the past few years. The only surprise? Johnny Marr co-wrote and played guitar on "Ordinary Millionaire," the clear standout song on a solid but predictable collection of songs. Recommendation: Download "Ordinary Millionaire," and pass on the rest.

Miracle Condition -- Miracle Condition: I popped this in with absolutely no knowledge of this band and correctly predicted that they were from Chicago. When I lived in Chicago in the early Aughts, this sort of intricate but sleepy math/prog rock was as prevalent as giant rats and Italian beef joints. Guess it still is. Turns out one of the dudes was in U.S. Maple, for what that's worth.

Kaki King -- Junior: Fans of female guitar heroes are still an under-served demographic. Let's blame that on the neo-cons, too. Kaki King may be best known as the woman who performed the score of the Into the Wild soundtrack. The guitar wizardry on this disc far overshadows King's serviceable voice. The natural edges unfortunately have been sanded down to the point that these alt-ish rock tunes went in one ear and out the other.

Mason Reed -- You Can't Come Back from Heaven: Funked-up roadhouse country by a froggy-voiced dude who apparently used to live in Phoenix. Reed gets points for his unconventional, smoky voice, and the songs are by-the-book laments about loneliness and heartbreak. Country fans who hate the pop-country heard on the radio will probably dig this.

Avi Buffalo -- Avi Buffalo: Quirky, confident indie pop from the once-reliable rock-music label Sub Pop. High voices and fragile boy-girl singing abounds. If you like twee, you'll probably find something to like from these Adorably Scruffy undergrads.

Seasick Steve -- Man From Another Time: Oddball stripped-down country blues played on cheap guitars by an old guy in a baseball cap and bushy white beard. Good voice, good playing, easy to buy into. Check it out the title track. If you like it, you'll like the whole record. Fun fact: Wikipedia tells me Seasick Steve was friends with Kurt Cobain.

The Scorpions: The first line of the first song: "I was born in a hurricane." That's in case you need help remembering the The Scorps' biggest hit, which you surely don't need any help remembering. The Scorpions' new album, Sting in the Tail (reportedly their last), will please die-hard fans and bring no new fans to the fold. But that's okay, these guys are still counting their "Rock You Like a Hurricane" money.

RJD2: The guy who wrote the Mad Men theme has a new record called The Colussus. The instrumentals are pretty cool. They sound like they would fit in any '70s blaxploitation movie and would be good background music for your next cocktail party. Anything with vocals on this record is totally skip-worthy. Check out the opening track, "Let Their Be Horns."

"Nothing Not New" is a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 40-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment here.

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