Alejandro Escovedo, Pale Waves, and Lyrics Born
Wow, so many fun things to enjoy this week! Let’s get some honorable mentions out of the way because this week was tough to limit to three. Yes, I realize I’ve done more than three before, but I didn’t feel like I had the time to really dive into those. The honorable mentions this week come from: Low, Guerilla Toss, Orbital, We Were Promised Jetpacks, and Johan Johannsson.
Alejandro Escovedo: The Crossing
Longtime veteran from the punk rock, roots rock, and alt country scenes, Alejandro Escovedo just released The Crossing. He’s released 16 albums dating back to 1992 and I’ve never heard one of them. The only reason I recognized him was because of his distinct vocals that I remembered from the Veronica Mars movie. He did a version of The Dandy Warhols’ We Used To Be Friends.
Back to his vocals and, I suppose, his songwriting. I swear he’s the Latin-American Warren Zevon. The way he phrases his lyrics reminds me so much of Zevon. Anyway, The Crossing is a Texas-sized (17 tracks) trek through rollicking stompers (like Footsteps in the Shadows) and slower, more somber tracks (like Silver City and Flying). The immigration theme stands out clearly on the album as tracks address the perils of the journey or life inside the US. The primary instruments on the album are guitar, bass, and drums. Don’t be surprised, though, if he sneaks in some strings or a sad saxophone here and there.
Those familiar with Escovedo’s work likely recall that he learned George W. Bush included his song Castanets on an iPod playlist. He famously vowed to stop playing the song until either it was removed from Bush’s playlist or until he left office. That lasted a couple years. Oh, also he’s percussionist Sheila E’s uncle. [insert The More You Know animated gif]
Pale Waves: My Mind Makes Noises
My Mind Makes Noises is the debut album by Pale Waves. They answer the question Can you make a darker-themed album that’s also upbeat? Pale Waves exude Prince’s pop-craftsmanship and sexuality while mixing in The Cure’s dark moodiness. They throw in some teen/early-20s angst for good measure. I suppose that’s why they’re considered Goth-Pop.
Tracks like There’s A Honey and She dive into the trepidatious waters of first-time intimacy and betrayal. One More Time continues the theme into longing and regret. More tracks than not address a variation of a sexual theme either as a conscious choice or through imbibing too much and getting caught in a surprising or possibly unwanted situation.
While I liked those tracks, I enjoyed what I call the palate cleansers as much or more. Listening to the closing track Karl (I Wonder What It’s Like To Die) has me intrigued. I want to know if that’s based on real events.
Lyrics Born: Quite A Life
Remember awhile back when I said I didn’t like including rap albums in these posts? Lyrics Born provides another exception with his latest album, Quite A Life. If this album can’t put a smile on your face, you’re either in denial or you’re dead. If you’re not smiling, check your pulse to be sure.
The album starts off with Chocolate Cake, a song that mixes funky beats, James Brown-like horns, and a drizzle of Barry White-like innuendo. The next track, When I Get My Check ($, $, $) (feat. Chali 2na, The Gift of Gab and Joyo Velarde), is just… silly fun. A lyrical sample:
My bath will be a large round pool
My martial arts instructor will be Ra’s al Ghul
My doorbell will ring like a large cow’s moo
With a sound engineer to make it all sound cool
When played live, I can’t imagine the track Clap Your Hands (If U Know You’re Beautiful) is anything but deafening. With the chorus being:
Clap your hands if U know you’re beautiful (clap clap clap…
clap clap clap)
Clap your hands if you know you’re fine (clap clap clap…
clap clap clap)
How could it not be? Seriously, listen to the album and tell me it doesn’t put you in a good mood.