Friday, April 01, 2011
New releases keep me listening: The Submarines, Ron Sexsmith, Colin Hay, Duran Duran
When it comes to keeping up - make that "catching up" - with all the latest releases, it is impossible to listen to it all.
But there are four new discs I want to write about that truly have arrived a bit under the radar but have found repeated spins in my CD player.
Indie pop duo The Submarines will release their third full-length album, the aptly-titled Love Notes/Letter Bombs, on April 5 (Nettwerk Productions). I've listening to this tuneful and delightful disc a number of times and it showcases the growing songcraft of Blake Hazard and John Dragonetti in spades (or should I say "hearts"). The couple artfully and intelligently chronicle the complex nature of a relationship like only a real life husband-and-wife can.
And while the self-produced disc has plenty to say about the power of love, it is ultimately the zealous melodies, winning performances and accessible songs (including the wistful "Ivaloo" and sweet electronica-tinged "Tigers") that will have listeners making Love Notes/Letter Bombs their own.
For more information on The Submarines, visit:
Why isn't Ron Sexsmith a household name among modern music lovers? Like the extremely-talented likes of dada, Aimee Mann and his fellow Canadian master Bruce Cockburn, there are some artists who are truly original while releasing music that fully delivers on the promise of glowing reviews from discerning critics.
Sexsmith's latest full-length studio disc, Long Player Late Bloomer, is the latest in a line of wonderful albums released by the Toronto-based singer-songwriter since the early 1990s.
Sentimental without sap, melodic without a trace of bubble gum, Sexsmith's superb voice and confessional gems play out one after another across the 13 fantastic tracks on Long Player Late Bloomer. From the infectious folk rock of "The Reason Why" to the George Harrison-mining "Believe It When I See It" to the upbeat neo soul-tinged "Middle of Love" and affecting "Late Bloomer," there is nothing but magic on this release.
When your fan base includes notables such as Elvis Costello, the Kinks' Ray Davies and Sir Paul McCartney, shouldn't your songs fill the radio airwaves? Sexsmith's songs certainly should.
Men At Work was then, Colin Hay is now.
Indeed, the native of Scotland who found fame as the lead singer of Australia's favorite musical export in the early 1980s is now firmly based in Topanga Canyon in Southern California and is at the forefront of confessional singer-songwriters who translate their own journey through life into song.
On his latest disc, Gathering Mercury, Hay provides a poignant sonic portrait of the recent death of his father (the acoustically-beautiful "Dear Father"), his own place in the world ("Invisible") and the alienation that has come to personify the digital age (the folk rock standout "Send Somebody"). While Gathering Mercury pulls in many sounds (rock, folk, Latin, reggae), it is Hay's emotive tenor that is the perfect glue to bring it all together.
While the abovementioned Hay has moved far beyond his roots with Men At Work, the four original members of Duran Duran (bassist John Taylor, drummer Roger Taylor, keyboardist Nick Rhodes and singer Simon Le Bon) have put new life into the synthpop sound they pioneered in the early 1980s.
On the band's newly-issued All You Need Is Now, driving rhythms, inventive keyboard textures and Le Bon's far-reaching pipes conjure up some of the band's best material from 1982's Rio. Songs such as the propulsive "Blame the Machines" and dynamic "Other People's Lives," as well as the beautiful electronic ballad "Leave a Light On" are among the highlights on the Birmingham-bred group's best disc since 2004's wonderful Astronaut.