Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Recommended Releases: Crowded House, Mumps, Wolf Alice, Richard Blade's 'Imposters'

Three fantastic new audio titles and a must-read music-minded tale from famed DJ/author Richard Blade are featured in my column this week. 

Crowded House
Title: Dreamers Are Waiting (BMG)
You might like if you enjoy: Crowded House, Del Amitri, Paul McCartney, Neil Finn
Tell me more: One of rock's great genuine treasures, Crowded House is back with Dreamers Are Waiting. The Australian outfit's first new album since 2010's Intriguer, the new 12-track collection equals the strength of their previous recordings stretching back to their 1986 eponymous-titled debut. Singer-songwriter Neil Finn and company have crafted a collection that is as tuneful as it is impactful. The driving electronica-tinged "Whatever You Want" tackles human nature with the precision of a surgeon's knife; the melodic bounce comes in the service of Finn's wit: "The people will tell you whatever you want...Every night and every day / Some will fall upon their swords in order that / They might serve the greater good / But don't believe a word of it." The yearning melodic rocker "Playing With Fire" is infectious to be sure, but it is Finn's soulful lead vocals, the surrounding Burt Bacharach-mining harmony touches and bold horn section-bolstered arrangement that collectively make for something extra special. The dreamy expanse of "Bad Times Good," "Show Me The Way" and "Goodnight Everyone" reveal the rich diversity of Crowded House's approach. The lovely "Start of Something"  with its rich harmonies  recalls the magic of the Beach Boys' late-60s discography but laced with a modern touch. The soulful "Real Life Woman," animated "Love Isn't Hard At All" and mischievous "To The Island" are among the other gems on the essential set. Information:

Title: Rock & Roll This, Rock & Roll That: Best Case Scenario, You've Got Mumps (Omnivore Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: '70s punk and glam rock, Sparks, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" soundtrack
Tell me more: Led by front man Lance Loud, Mumps were a cutting edge 1970s punk rock band that was among the first to play at the legendary CBGB in New York City. Also regulars at Max's Kansas City, Mumps shared the bill with Talking Heads, the Ramones, Television, Cheap Trick, The Cramps, Blondie and even Van Halen (the latter at the Whisky-a-Go-Go in West Hollywood) during the band's seven-year run. Sadly, Mumps only released two singles before disbanding (1977's "I Like To Be Clean" on Bomp! Records and "Rock & Roll This, Rock & Roll That" on Perfect Records in 1978). The legacy of Mumps gets a well-deserved boost courtesy of Omnivore Recordings on the excellent Rock & Roll This, Rock & Roll That: Best Case Scenario, You've Got Mumps; the 23-track collection includes two previously unissued tracks and a number of bonus tracks (notably two previously-unissued songs from the pre-Mumps band Loud). Mumps' infectious sound and spirited approach shines brightly on the set; the ska-tinged "Just Look, Don't Touch," crunchy "Crocodile Tears," punk rocker "We Ended Up" and lively "Rock & Roll This, Rock & Roll That" are among my faves. The package includes a 16-page illustrated booklet featuring liner notes from Mumps members Kristian Hoffman (keyboards), Joe Katz (bass) and Paul Rutner (drums) as well as Lance Loud's mother Pat Loud. Information:

Wolf Alice
Title: Blue Weekend (Dirty Hit/RCA Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Chvrches, Billie Eilish, Florence + The Machine
Tell me more: London quartet Wolf Alice are back with Blue Weekend, their third full-length LP and a strong follow-up to their acclaimed 2017 disc Visions of a Life (which won the prestigious Mercury Prize in 2018). The vast soundscape includes the arresting opener "The Beach," expansive dream pop of Delicious Things," luxurious "Lipstick On The Glass" driving modern rocker "Smile," lovely "Safe From Heartbreak (if you never fall in love)" and punk rocker "Play The Greatest Hits." Ellie Rowsell's affecting vocals are particularly dynamic on the genre-blending "The Last Man On Earth," unguarded "How Can I Make It Ok?" and electronic foray "Feeling Myself." In addition to Rowsell (vocals, guitar), Wolf Alice includes Joff Oddie (guitar, vocals), Theo Ellis (bass) and Joel Amey (drums, vocals). Wolf Alice will be headlining a U.S. tour in fall of 2021, including several dates in Los Angeles in late October. Information:

Imposters: Two Boys Who Fooled America
Author: Richard Blade
Publisher: BladeRocker Books
Details: 298 pages
Tell me more: Audiences know him best for his work on radio, television and in movies, but Richard Blade is also a talented author who has penned an acclaimed best-selling autobiography (2017's "World In My Eyes") and several successful novels (2019's "SPQR" and 2020's "Birthright"). Now comes "Imposters: Two Boys Who Fooled America," a fast-paced real life yarn that fuses the excitement of '60s rock and roll with the political turmoil of that decade into a captivating story this reader couldn't put down. In 1966, two teenage boys from Southern California suddenly became the target of an unwarranted manhunt by the FBI. They successfully eluded the law by assuming the identity of a best-selling duo from the 1950s and embarked on the adventure of a lifetime. Although the story is true, Blade embellishes the saga and characters in ways that appear fully authentic while fully immersing the reader in a myriad of unlikely situations where the protagonists find themselves across their three-year adventure. Blade's lively writing style coupled with a truly incredible story of teens forced to grow into men while on the run plays out amidst the backdrop of the Vietnam War, political assassinations, protests and some of the greatest rock music of all time. Information:

Robert Kinsler

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