The Smashing Pumpkins - "Oceania": Although "Oceania" will be plagued with comparisons of past efforts - a fair tactic given the Smashing Pumpkins' relevance in the rock scene and unabashed public disbanding and rebanding - Billy Corgan is impressively pulling this "new" version of the Pumpkins into an interesting direction. "Oceania" is definitely not without its faults, but with repeated listens and an honest approach to the metrics and themes Corgan's hitting, this rhizomed Pumpkins reboot will dispel your notions that the Pumpkins can't exist without its other three founding members. - Enio Chiola
Fiona Apple - "The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw ": It's hard to make a way into a record that works so hard to keep you out. Apple's records have always required a handful of listens in order to become engulfed in her thick molasses-like wondrousness, however, "The Idler Wheel" seems to require far too many listens to really reach that 'viola!' moment - is sure to result in exhausted listeners who try desperately to love the record as much as they think they should, or as much as critics are telling them they should. There simply isn't enough variation on the record to grasp on to those tracks that leave the listener unsettled. And while half the album is quite inspired, the other half is just too bizarre and atypical to warm up to. It's a shame, really. - Enio Chiola
Can - "Lost Tapes": Can came at music with a serious intellectual bent, but it wasn't all in the head. They thumped with life and brought energy to their sound. Theirs was as funky as any music that came out of Europe, and they've got a slew of classic records - especially their run from 1971's "Tago Mago" to 1973's "Future Days" - to prove it. Now Can fans, and really anyone who has still only heard about Can's influence without ever actually having heard the band, are being treated to over three hours of new material. "The Lost Tapes" is a huge swath of recordings culled from over 50 hours of tape salvaged from the band's old studio in Weilerswist. It includes unreleased tracks, unreleased music from soundtracks, and some live tracks. It offers an interesting alternative history to the band, one the albums never quite told. - Matthew Fiander
Neneh Cherry & The Thing - "Cherry Thing": "The Cherry Thing" is a marvelous album. This isn't some sort of vanity project or nostalgia trip. Neneh Cherry remains a vital presence in popular music judging by this release. Going back to those early days of Rip Rig + Panic and the years of living with, and listening to, her stepdad (legendary jazz musician Don Cherry) and his mates is now paying dividends with this collaboration with the majestic, innovative and forward thinking The Thing, who it's hoped many more people will now go and seek out. The Thing (one Swede and two Norwegians) formed in Sweden and is a free jazz trio, named after a Don Cherry track, and who openly state the influence of the great man on their music. Some things are meant to be. This is one of them. This is vital. - Jez Collins
Other notable releases this week:
Gerald Albright and Norman Brown - "24/ 7"
Justin Bieber - "Believe"
Kenny Chesney - "Welcome to the Fishbowl"
Ravi Coltrane - "Spirit Fiction"
Del the Funky Homosapien and Parallel Thought - "Attractive Sin"
Delta Rae - "Carry the Fire"
Glen Hansard - "Rhythm and Repose"
Sophie B. Hawkins - "The Crossing"
Lostprophets - "Weapons"
Kylie Minogue - "The Best of Kylie Minogue"
Return to Forever - "The Mothership Returns"
Mike Stern - "All Over the Place"
Don Williams - "And So It Goes"
TUNES ON THE TUBE ... MUSIC ON TV THIS WEEK
"Jimmy Kimmel Live" (ABC): Waka Flocka Flame (T), Goodie Mob (W), Metric (Th).
"Late Show with David Letterman" (CBS): Walk the Moon (T), Michael Kiwanuka (W), Justin Bieber (Th), Gossip (F).
"The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" (NBC): Grouplove (T), Joe Henry (W), Needtobreathe (Th), Everclear (F).
"Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" (NBC): Dirty Projectors (T), Robert Glasper (W), Kenny Chesney (Th), Fun. (F).
"Last Call With Carson Daly" (NBC): Young the Giant (T), M83 (W), Kasabian (Th), Bomba Estéreo (F).
"Saturday Night Live" (NBC): The Shins (Sa).
"Austin City Limits" (PBS): Lyle Lovett and Bob Schneider (Sa).
"Conan" (TBS): Shinedown (W), The Avett Brothers (Th).
YOU SAY IT'S YOUR BIRTHDAY
Seven of Paul McCartney's Most Underrated Songs
- Jessy Krupa
Since Paul McCartney's 70th birthday is this week, most of the major media will be focusing on his most popular moments. His iconic Beatles anthems, beloved Wings singles and No. 1 solo hits will be on everybody's radar. But instead of praising "Let It Be," "Band on the Run" or "Hey Jude," let's put the spotlight on the lesser-known songs in McCartney's catalogue. Despite the fact that the following songs were either never released as singles or just aren't played on the radio enough, they reveal the talent and personality behind one of the most successful and influential musicians of all time.
The epitome of underrated, "Cage" didn't even make it onto an album. But the neglected Wings' castoff has worked its way into the hearts of die-hard McCartney fans thanks to a few bootlegs. Wikipedia calls it "exquisite." I call it a catchy little number with a surprisingly heartfelt bridge. A novel side note: the songs chords are C, A, G, and E. Get it?
Paul has experimented with virtually every genre of music, including country, as "Sally G" proves. This 1974 B-side to Wings' "Junior's Farm" (which is another underappreciated track) is better than rest of what the Nashville music scene was cooking up at the time. As crazy as it sounds, if it was released as a single itself at the time, it might have given McCartney his first No.1 hit on the country & western charts.
Have you ever noticed just how many different kinds of birds appear in various Paul McCartney songs? "Blackbird," "Bluebird," and "Jenny Wren" come off the top of my head, but you can add "Single Pigeon" to that excellent playlist. Appearing on "Red Rose Speedway," this short and simple piano tune gets lost in the larger showy numbers it shares album space with, but that makes it all the more special. Not to mention, it gives you the great mental image of Paul talking to a pigeon and a seagull out on the street somewhere.
There are two different types of people in the world. Those who think "Morse Moose & The Grey Goose" is a completely silly mess, and those who love it. I happen to belong to the latter group, and I saw we're a lot more fun! I mean, how can anyone hate this? Equivalent to an ambitious sequel of "Yellow Submarine" with echoes of "Uncle Albert/ Admiral Halsey," the song details a really rocking radio conversation between a warplane (Grey Goose) and a sub (Morse Moose).
McCartney is responsible for two of the most epic anthems that will go down into mass-sing-along history: "Let It Be" and, if you live in the UK, "Mull of Kintyre." "Tug of War" was destined to be one of those songs, but somehow most people only remember the entire album it appears upon for "Ebony & Ivory" and "Here Today." Detested by those hard-core fans that think that he hit his creative peak with "Helter Skelter" and don't care to hear anything else from him, this would have been the perfect song for those "Glee" kids to cover. (Instead, they opted for a horn-free version of "Silly Love Songs." Go figure.)
Paul reportedly made up "Darkroom" as he was recording it, but it manages to be one of the best tracks on the techno-inspiring, digitally pioneering "McCartney II" album. A recent deluxe remastered edition of the album gave us an extended version, but even his biggest fans often overlook this atmospherically seductive song.
Originally intended for the "Flowers in the Dirt" album, "The Lovers That Never Were" was re-recorded and released several years later on "Off the Ground." Co-written by Elvis Costello (and I'd love to know who specifically wrote each lyric), it's a shame that it was never released as a single. It's unique to hear McCartney sing so convincingly about unrequited love, and a fine example of why those two should work together more often.
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