So: is Randy Newman sending Jackson Browne a shout-out, or a put-down? I think it's the former, while John Mellencamp gets the latter (although Newman doth protest). Me, I like 'em both, in no small part because they're lamenting the same decline of national character that Newman does. Mellencamp and Browne are selling their latest on eMusic, and I was quick to hit "download." Neither disc is likely to win new fans for either artist, and it's conceivable that in Mellencamp's case he might just lose a few for sticking with a stripped-down acoustic aesthetic.
T Bone Burnett is the knob-fiddler for Mellencamp (e), and I'm told he utilized a "new technology" that makes it sound like Mellencamp and his crew are in my living room. That isn't quite the effect I'm getting with the eMusic mp3 files, but it hardly matters. Even if I had the DVD it wouldn't help: I'm one of those dinosaurs who hasn't invested in SurroundSound because I haven't invested in a large-screen TV. I'm also keen to retain good relations with my neighbors. But getting back to Mellencamp, there is an intimacy to this recording that adds weight to some already very melancholy songs, and it is receiving a fair bit of play in this house.
Although not quite as much as Mr. Browne (e). There's very little for me to say regarding his latest offering: he's not breaking new ground, and you either like Jackson Browne or you don't. Mr. Newman likes Jackson, and so do I.
Other Tunes: this is the first I've consciously tuned-in to Eagles Of Death Metal (e), who are anything but a death metal act. I wasn't aware of their commercial background, or their being on the receiving end of some typical Axlrosean abuse (wiki), but their on-stage pairing with Guns 'n Roses strikes me as being as boneheaded a mis-match as Joe Jackson's early pairing with the Rolling Stones. Personally, I'd love nothing more than to see Peachfuzz open for EODM at House of Blues. EODM are more in sync with the nouveau-retro stylings of the Dandy Warhols, Marah, My Morning Jacket or The Kings of Leon. Quite a swath, wouldn't you say? I think EODM are a pleasant kick, however -- the songs are all catchy, and remind me of Tones On Tail at their most mischievous, or early INXS at their snappiest. Lyrically, the songs are as prurient as the album-title suggests. I suppose it's possible the material is strictly the by-product of feverish speculation; if not, there are probably one or two band-members who might want to talk to a professional about obsessive-compulsive behavior before it runs away with them, or they convert into Jehovah's Witnesses. Not that the latter is a bad thing.
Finally, there's Mark Farina, another first for me. I may not know from "funky instrumental Hip-Hop, downtempo, Soul and blunted beats" but I know what I like. And this is likable, but probably fated for a short shelf-life on my 'pod. When it comes to atmospheric music, I'm just not that kinda guy. The Grails' Doomsdayers' Holiday (MC) is a little more my speed, but even so, if you're using electricity to make all the noise, I almost always need some vocals to pull me completely in. Otherwise, it's just something that papers the wall -- and in my house, that is quickly disposed of.