Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Tom Waits for no one (and he won't wait for me)

Can you believe it?!? Tom Waits released a new set o' songs!! Reviewing the first big song off his latest album (plus two more songs) today!! Enjoy!

"Back In the Crowd" by Tom Waits: Truly one of the most eclectic musicians of all time, Tom Waits is like David Bowie's lesser known, more growl-y voiced, jazzier musical cousin for his ability to leap from melancholy lounge music ("The Heart of Saturday Night"), to some of the most earnest, non-commercial rock ballads ever ("Downtown Train"), to some of the spookiest re-workings of beloved Disney songs (check out his very warped version of "Snow White"'s "Heigh Ho" if you don't believe me), to lovelorn piano ballads ("Ol' 55" and "Grapefruit Moon"), to plaintive folk-rock ("Hold On"), and so on and so forth. So what is it this time, Mr. Waits?!? It appears as though Waits has gone for a unique style of breezy Hawaiian influenced music with his latest tune, "Back In the Crowd". His trademark raspy, "Cookie Monster" vocals are still there, but they are used here to express a feeling of yearning, as opposed to how menacingly he uses it on other tunes of his. Reviewing this song on a rainy day like today only makes this song seem more special to me! Truly a stunning song to add to the already riveting repertoire of Waits' material!!

"Born Alone" by Wilco: Jeff Tweedy and co continue to explore their inner Velvet Underground on "Born Alone", a song with equal parts skilled guitar playing and druggy, hazy musical atmosphere. Perhaps they are taking poetic cues as well as musical ones from Lou Reed (whose latest project is with heavy metal legends, Metallica, of all people), as the lyrics for "Born Alone" were supposedly based on bits and pieces of various Emily Dickinson poems. Both the music and lyrics (i.e. "born to die alone"), suggest a sense of urgency, almost as though the music starts at a high point, and descends progressively lower as the song goes on. What can I say, Wilco's music never ceases to amaze me!!

"Whatever's On Your Mind" by Gomez: Gomez seem to have set up a pattern from which songs have gotten released during which time of the year for their last two albums. On 2009's "A New Tide", the bouncy, somewhat rockin' "Airstream Driver" got airplay first, followed by the more introspective "Little Pieces". For 2011, the bright, optimistic sounding "Options" came first (and was quite successful on adult alt radio stations), and after that, we appear to have stumbled upon the slower, more sentimental, piano-and-strings dominated title track of "Whatever's On Your Mind". The slower songs of Gomez' catalog, like "Whatever's On Your Mind" make for great songs to listen to during a rainy day (like today), or after a bad day, but personally, I think Gomez sound best when they stick to catchy, sunny music like "Options", "Airstream Driver", and "See the World" (of which only the latter song has the same vocalist as the one I'm reviewing now).