By Tyler Hodg
Since the release of his debut album Empty Sky in 1969, Elton John’s career and personal life have reached the highest of highs, and lowest of the lows. One month shy of his 69th birthday, John has long been settled in all aspects of his life, including his music style. He is comfortable no longer being the rocket man.
Wonderful Crazy Night is the latest release from the icon, and a comprehensive fit within the discography of an aging (but not fleeting) musical genius. While the album is far from his greatest composition, a few surprises and the absence of any career-tarnishing aspects make it a decent addition to his extensive discography.
The third of Omnivore’s expanded reissues of JD Souther’s criminally overlooked solo albums, Home By Dawn, is an unusual album. The things that make his previous albums, John David Souther and Black Rose work are there: his incredible lyricism, gift for melody, and warm vocals. These things have to share space with a particularly 1980s sounding production. Songs are slicker than they need be, and while the writing is, as always, brilliant, they suffer. A bit. But keep in mind, this is JD Souther we’re talking about, and he’s got this.
A Brilliant Young Mind, sadly changed from its far-superior UK title, X + Y, is a film that shows how much a fairly overdone concept can be elevated with outstanding performances, very thoughtful casting, and an intriguing directorial vision. It’s not the most innovative piece in the world, but for the kind of sentimental comfort food it’s aiming to be, it’s satisfying and even moving. Should you watch this movie? I think you should.
At this point, we can safely state that the 1980s musical revival is in full flower. New Romantic, Goth, New Wave, Industrial, Shoegaze, Dance Pop… some version of all of these can be found in nearly everyone’s Spotify playlist. What of those other subgenres from the ‘80s, those bands who didn’t really fit into any category? That’s where Field Music comes in.
After a seven-year hiatus, Denver-based Dressy Bessy have returned with the sugary popified, jittery delicious Kingsized. Joined by a who’s who of the what-used-to-be-college-radio stalwarts (but is surely called something else now), Kingsized is a return to form with an added grittiness. Guitars are fuzzy and heavy, providing a smart counterpoint to meringue light, sunshiny melodies and Tammy Ealom’s distinctive vocals (think: the sound of the Shangri-La’s smoking under the bleachers with the Slits).
Thank you, Omnivore Records, for reissuing JD Souther’s albums. The recent reissue of Souther’s debut, John David Souther, was like reading a blueprint for Americana music. Souther’s follow up album, Black Rose, shows an artist broadening his horizons, marrying jazz with rock and coming up with something unexpected but very effective.
There’s a joke: Old Goths never die, and if they did, how could you tell?
While Robert Smith is arguably the queen of the Old Goths, their king is certainly Peter Murphy, the former lead singer of Bauhaus, who has found himself in the strange position of Gothic Tom Jones, selling out shows filled with swooning plus-sized women wearing the same black dresses they wore in 1985, while their husbands huffily cross their arms and wonder when Anthrax will tour again.
Some of the best episodes of The X-Files were the Monster of the Week shows, where the mythology is forgotten about for a moment and we get to focus on a separate case. It makes sense that we would get one of those episodes in the mini-series, and here it is.
Mulder and Scully investigate a case with multiple victims, and those who survive claim the perpetrator is a monster. It’s a typical X-Files setup, with a creature living in the woods of the Pacific Northwest, but there are a couple of differences. It’s not a werewolf. It may not really be human at all.
Since its release and quick deletion, Game Theory’s third official LP, Lolita Nation, has carried with it a mystique. Is it because it’s the third album, as producer Mitch Easter has suggested, or because it’s been impossible to find and prohibitively expensive for so long? Now that Scott Miller’s magnum opus is widely available, will we discover that this is actually an average album for the era and subgenre? Happily, Omnivore’s long-awaited reissue reveals an idiosyncratic and breathtakingly ambitious release by a cult-favorite songwriter and band who deserved a greater place in the 1980s college-rock firmament.