Thursday, October 23, 2014 · 9:03 a.m.
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This past week was a fairly light week for new releases. With the exception of a strange new album from David Lynch (what did you expect?) and a surprisingly good album from the English pop duo Pet Shop Boys, new releases were scattershot, at best.

Have you made love to your significant other while "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke and Pharrell blares in the background? If not, you should probably get on that.

Some notable items:

David Bowie’s "Life on Mars" single is getting a special 7-inch picture disc for the 40th anniversary of the song.

Comedy albums can be difficult listens, but I’m interested to check out an archival release from the late absurdist comedian Andy Kaufman called "Andy & His Grandmother." The album is snippets from microcassette recordings made between 1977 and 1979. It features the comedian with his grandmother doing various skits, and I cannot wait to give it a listen.

"Axis"

Eighties post-punk band The Cult sees the reissue of their "Electric Peace" album from 1987, which marked a change for the band into a more hard rock sound. Here’s a video of the band performing "Wildflower" from the album.

New releases this week:

Frank Black (of the Pixies), "Oddballs"

Gauntlet Hair, "Stills"

Robert Randolph & the Family Band, "Lickety Split"

Soft Metals, "Lenses"

Sara Bareilles, "The Blessed Unrest"

Matt Nathanson, "Last of the Great Pretenders"

Notable albums next week:

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros (self-titled)

F*%& Buttons, "Slow Focus"

Jackson Scott, "Melbourne"

Aidan Knight, "Small Reveal"

Pet Shop Boys, "Electric"

"A dozen records into a 30-plus-year career and the British synth pop duo Pet Shop Boys sounds as vital, catchy and frustrated as ever."—Los Angeles Times

Many a comparison will be made to the Pet Shop Boys’ new release, "Electric," and this year’s dance sensation "Random Access Memories" from Daft Punk. The comparison is fair considering how catchy and rhythmic both albums are. But where "Random Access Memories" paid homage to the disco ‘70s, the album "Electric" is unabashedly ‘80s. Keeping in mind that Pet Shop Boys is the band that brought us the song "West End Girls," it’s not difficult to imagine the band crafting some great modern synth tunes. It’s so refreshing to hear an album from aging musicians that is so filled with enthusiasm and passion. The critics agree, giving "Electric" rave reviews across the board. All Music Guide calls the album "an excellent, unexpected and infectious triumph." Music OMH says of the album, "Electric finds Pet Shop Boys more daring and accomplished than most pop stars half their age." When making the record, the band emphasized to producer Stuart Price that this was to be a "dance record." Ultimately, they succeeded beyond just a "dance record," creating what will be remembered as one of the best dance albums of the year.

David Lynch, "The Big Dream"

" ... Hearing Lynch sing a thumping dance track called 'Good Day Today' was as jarring as any subplot in 'Mulholland Drive'—his new sophomore album carefully builds a cohesive mood that carries throughout."—Boston Globe

David Foster Wallace, a favorite author of mine, wrote an excellent article that shed some light on exactly how weird, lovable and strange filmmaker (and now musical performer) David Lynch is. He writes, "The first time I lay actual eyes on the real David Lynch on the set of his movie, he's peeing on a tree." Wallace then goes on to describe the term "Lynchian," a now popular term to describe what he calls "a particular kind of irony where the very macabre and the very mundane combine in such a way as to reveal the former's perpetual containment within the latter." Huh? In layman’s terms, "Ted Bundy wasn't particularly Lynchian, but good old Jeffrey Dahmer, with his victims' various anatomies neatly separated and stored in his fridge alongside his chocolate milk and Shedd Spread, was thoroughgoingly Lynchian." OK, I think we’ve got this down. As for the new album, "The Big Dream" is decidedly the most "Lynchian" of his albums to date. When asked by a reporter what type of music he enjoyed, Lynch responded with "modern blues"—though this is a tad more complicated than Jonny Lang. Lynch’s voice is so strange and affecting. He has this high-pitched whine that producers set off-kilter with an underwater reverb. The whole album, probably not unintentionally, sounds like a big dream. But isn’t that the case with everything Lynch touches? It’s very difficult to recommend an album like this to the masses. I love him, but even his most accessible work is just barely so. I will say this: If you’re a fan of David Lynch, you might (MIGHT) enjoy listening to "The Big Dream." To use a phrase from "no mind" meditation—something that Lynch is a huge proponent of—it’s best to approach this album with zero expectations and a clear mind. Regardless, this is far from a nightmare.

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