25. Johnette Napolitano-Scarred
27. Stephen Marley-Mind Control
29. Soulsavers-It’s Not How Far You Fall, It’s How You Land (review)
Three major label albums that seem disparate, but actually make for a nice shuffle playlist. Or, to say it another way: Three great tastes that go great together. First, Johnette Napolitano’s new album is as dark and depressing as you’d expect from the former frontwoman of L.A.’s semi-underground alt-rock cult “Concrete Blonde.” I saw CB in concert three times back in the day, and few bands could get a crowd as whipped up as them (at least without having a mosh pit). Napolitano has mellowed a bit, eschewing some of the rancor of her older material (see: God is a Bullet, Still In Hollywood) for a softer dark vision of the world, offering a phenomenal cover of Velvet Underground’s “All Tomorrow’s Parties.” But she can still kick it up on tunes like, “Save Me” and “Scarred.” And her cover of Coldplay’s “The Scientist” blows away any other cover of that tune.
But after hearing this record, you’ll probably be drained and disillusioned, so turn right to the latest offspring of the Legend himself. Stephen Marley’s new one is nowhere near as good as Jr. Gong’s, “Welcome to Jamrock,” but it’s still a very-much slept-on release. The title track and single is unsurprising but catchy, but deeper cuts like “Hey Baby,” featuring Mos Def, and “Iron Bars,” with brother Julian, are great examples of modern hip-hop/reggae.
Looking to come down after the party? Turn to Soulsavers. Mark Lanegan is all over this record, with his deep rich voice, doing originals and covers in the Southern gospel style. Not to be missed: The closing, extended cover of “No Expectations” by The Rolling Stones.
Note: These are all major label releases.
No Expectations (Rolling Stones)-Soulsavers
All Tomorrow’s Parties (VU cover)-Johnette Napolitano