January is a decidedly sub-optimal time to start a blog focused on reviewing new music, as during the winter album releases are few and far between. Artists tend to release music and tour in support of it during the spring and summer, while spending the winter either in the studio or on the couch like the rest of us. Alas, with no noteworthy new albums released last week, I will instead look at a few singles that were unleashed upon the world over the last several days.
Thankfully, there are at least some albums scheduled to be released over the next couple weeks…
DRAM (feat. Neil Young) – “Campfire”
This song is featured in the new Netflix Will Smith project, Bright. It’s a pretty solid DRAM song, but it is unique in that it features a 72 year old Rock and Roll Hall of Fame artist on the chorus. That’s right, that is Neil Young you hear saying “Never let ‘em tell you no”. Whoever pitched this idea to Neil, thank you. And God bless you Neil for agreeing to it. One of the reasons this man is my favorite artist of all time is that he follows his own muse, even though that is sometimes to his detriment. He always does what he wants to do, and apparently that was to close out 2017 by busting out a few bars with DRAM.
Does Neil rapping sound about like you would expect? Yes, it pretty much does. Which is to say, it is as awesome as it is hokey. He even refers to a “brother from another mother” without a twinge of irony. I’ll leave it at that as I don’t want to spoil this for you, just go check it out right now, and thank me later. Don’t ever change, Neil. And don’t ever stop.
A Perfect Circle – “Disillusioned”
The second single from their long-promised fourth album, this one has Maynard lamenting modern society’s fascination with the trivial and unimportant. There are no references to politics or our current administration, but it is hard to not catch the connection as he describes things falling apart. We are told more than once that it is “time to put our silicon obsession down, and take a look around”.
Definitely on the slow side for these guys, this 6-minute song never really rocks, but it does carry a deep and heavy message. This album is one of the most anticipated of 2018, along with the announced Tool record. Could this be the year of Maynard? It surely will be for his millions of devoted fans, myself included.
Anderson East – “Girlfriend”
On the third single from his sophomore record Encore (due out next week), Anderson gives us a light-hearted song in which he tells his buddy about how he is in love with the guy’s girlfriend. The sound is classic Anderson with his usual blend of soulful vocals, a catchy beat, and copious horns in the mix. This guy seems about ready for a breakout year… If you haven’t heard his 2015 debut album Delilah, give it a spin. “Find “Em, Fool ‘Em, Forget ‘Em” is a highlight.
Also, Mr. East will be performing at The Olympic Venue March 13th. If you go, look for me, I should be at my usual spot up front.
Keb’ Mo’ – “Look on Yonder Wall”
Keb’ Mo’ has been performing the blues for over twenty years, frequently playing covers of the old blues standards. He is a pro, and when he releases music, you know what you are getting. Having said that, this one is a bit of a curveball. Don’t get me wrong, it’s your basic blues song, complete with the lyric “Oh I love you baby, but you just don’t treat me right. Spend all my money, walk the streets at night”. However, this one is mellow and has a strange, almost waltz-y vibe.