[The Low Anthem at the Paradise, Boston, MA 4/20/10. Photo by Michael Piantigini.]
BE PREPARED: Rhode Island's soul-piercing, magic-conjuring, Americana (in the purest sense) purveyors The Low Anthem have just announced Smart Flesh, the follow up to the widely acclaimed Oh My God Charlie Darwin, which topped my 2009 favorites list. Recorded in what appears to be a cavernous, haunting (if not haunted) space in an old pasta sauce factory, the handful of tracks that the band has played live or teased online (see below) hint at further exploration the quieter parts of the landscape.
Smart Flesh is out February 22nd on Nonesuch, there's no single just yet, but "Ghost Woman" is a strong contender. And there's lots more fun in-the studio stuff here, here, here, here, and here.
The Low Anthem: Intertubes | Facebook | Twitter
THE PARTING GIFTS are the the latest project from Oblivian and Reigning Sound frontman Greg Cartwright, this time in collaboration with the Ettes' Coco Hames along with Raconteur Patrick Keeler, Black Key Dan Auerbach. The result is their cool new LP Strychnine Dandelion (In The Red) that doesn't stray so far out of their comfort zone, and ours: these are just great strummy garage poppers (along with a few rockers) that are worthy of both of their main gigs.
Parting Gifts: Facebook
Reigning Sound: MySpace
The Ettes: Intertubes | MySpace | Facebook | Twitter
HOT APPLE-ON-APPLE ACTION: The sort-of big music news of the day was that The Beatles are finally on iTunes. Big whoop, right? There was a lot of backlash on my social networking platforms - and it's true that it's hard to believe that anyone who wanted Beatle music was seriously waiting around for this to happen. But, it had to happen eventually, especially since we seem to be in the waning days of physical media (resurgent vinyl notwithstanding). Hard to blame Apple (both of them) for trumpeting the news. Now, with the complete catalog "Box Set" going for $150 on iTunes, I feel a little bad for people who shelled out $280 for this, since they've essentially paid $130 for a plastic apple. On the other hand, both the stereo and mono box sets are going for $129 on a major online retailer, so why wouldn't you do that? Those box sets are pretty sweet.
Anyway, the big Apple news by my reckoning, though, was the reissuing of a chunk of Apple Records' non-Beatles catalog. Which has been out of print and pretty scarce since their last early 90's reissue. Remastered by the same team that did all The Beatles campaign, the handful of Badfinger and Billy Preston titles I've heard all sound as great as those of their label bosses'. The easy must-gets: Badfinger's pop classic Straight Up and Billy Preston's soulful Encouraging Words. The label-wide compilation Come And Get It: The Best of Apple Records, is a great primer and an interesting peek into what was going on in that universe at the time.
Apple Records has a slick new website too.
In other Beatle news, while I'm at it:
Paul McCartney's new reissue campaign (on his new coffee-fueled label) kicked off with multiple configurations of Band On The Run. The album sounds as great as ever, again remastered by the above team, but the DVD's inclusion of a period TV special One Hand Clapping with it's live-in-the-studio performances was the big draw for me.
The post-Thanksgiving "Black Friday" holiday shopping kickoff is a little less soul crushing this year thanks to the full on deluxe vinyl replica reissue of George Harrison's masterpiece All Things Must Pass on the 40th anniversary (minus a day!) of it's original issue. The original 3-LP boxed set isn't too terribly difficult to find used, though they're usually a bit beat up. So, mastered from the original analog master tapes, getting a clean copy of this sounds like a good 'un to me.