Mitchell: Much to mull over on Bowie’s long-awaited album
David Bowie: The Next Day (Iso/Columbia)
This is the influential superstar’s first new studio album in 10 years and it’s been highly anticipated.
As a fan, I like it.
The songs, 17 of them on the Bonus Edition, are:
1. The Next Day—spare b/d/g with a wordy sense of urgency like a garage Talking Heads
2. Dirty Boys—alt-funk where Bowie channels his inner Jim Morrison
3. The Stars (Are Out Tonight)—spoken word on paparazzi as if he has been listening to punk poet John Cooper Clarke
4. Love Is Lost—foreboding synth rock on the insecurities of being age 22
5. Where Are We Now?—first released on the Internet to so-so notices, a ballad with Bowie sounding vulnerable
6. Valentines Day—arty Ziggy-ish “I am the spirit of greed and Lord of theft”
7. If You Can See Me—nervy alt rock on Big Brother with odd time signatures and guitar arabesques
8. I’d Rather Be High—a soldier’s topical tale of war and woe to a military beat
9. Boss Of Me—spare rock with a Mark Sandman/Morphine-like sax
10. Dancing Out In Space—dance rock a tad more accessible
11. How Does The Grass Grow—a dash of Iggy Pop and remembrance of dead soldiers of yore
12. (You Will) Set The World On Fire—arena rock guitar dynamics where Bowie name drops idealistic folkies Baez, Ochs, Seeger in context of an undermining music biz
13. You Feel So Lonely You Could Die—references Heartbreak Hotel on a moody love lost ballad
14. Heat—airy, arty, eerie “I don’t know who I am…my father ran the prison” mentions Mishima’s dog
15. So She—lighter dream pop love song with hints of Ruby & The Romantics
16. Plan—short instrumental with guitar karrang a la Link Wray
17. I’ll Take You There—solid riff rocker revisits Iggy.
Lots to mull over on this eclectic album
Wild Belle: Isles (Columbia)
Wild Belle are the sibling duo of Natalie and Elliot Bergman from Chicago who offer up their debut album Isles.
They are much admired for their warm and easy flowing indie pop that sometimes includes rootsy and folky rhythms from the Caribbean and hence their first full-length CD title.
The two lead off songs: Keep You It’s and Too Late, feature ’70s styled reggae ‘riddims’ where the latter title interprets sounds from the overlooked roots reggae luminary Jackie Mittoo.
There have been a myriad of acts that have explored this early blend of home grown retro reggae but Wild Belle also throw in healthy doses of first generation tech with casio, electric kalimba, Chamberlain, clavinet, moog and some uncomplicated sax.
There is a certain charm to the duo’s low-fi indie folk pop and singer Natalie has a simple Betty Boop-like appeal.
The low tech groove makes for some beguiling tracks but near the end of the disc, Wild Belle seem to run out of new ideas. Most of the lyrics are on relationships while the tempos rarely alter, making things come out a tad monochromatic.
One deep album cut Another Girl, toys with some ’60s girl group backing vocals but Isles remains a pleasant and light affair with the promise of better things.
Megan Hilty: It Happens All The Time (Columbia)
Megan Hilty is better known for her exploits on stage and the small screen with Broadway productions 9 to 5 and Wicked plus the TV series Smash.
She is now hoping to branch out with her debut album It Happens All The Time which may not be an accurate title for this so-so first effort.
Hilty is not a songwriter but proves to be a serviceable singer on these tunes of lesser known songs, although some were written by big stars Carrie Underwood, Ne-Yo, Taylor Swift,
Damien Rice and Russ Ballard (of Alanis Morissette fame).
This album of all ballads features spare backdrops for this disc of adult contemporary songs.
The feature tracks include the sensuous opener No Cure, the R&B-styled Be A Man and the melancholy pop of No Cure that are all pleasant enough but hardly very stirring.
Hilty does tackle a couple of better known songs with a mellow version of the Don Henley hit The Heart Of The Matter and the Aimee Mann song Wise Up that was used prominently in the films Jerry Maguire and Magnolia.
Although Hilty is best known right now for her turn in Smash, there are no Marilyn Monroe references here while Hilty is trying to breakout as a singer away from her current projects.
Mellow with an uncertain crossover and probably best for fans.