Friday, April 14, 2006

Friday 5 + 5: Music Notes + What This is Not

New records sneak up on me. I don't know why. It should be fairly obvious that bands who release albums in 2004 or 2005 are obligated to follow with a new release sometime around this year. This rule doesn't always apply (David Gilmour took two decades between solo releases), but it generally works. So why, then, was I stunned when I heard about the new Drive-by Truckers release, "A Blessing and a Curse?" They were due. Their last record came out in mid-2004. What's the shock?

Ditto for Public Enemy's new release. PE, actually, has been recording like gangbusters, but every time I hear of a new album, I'm taken by surprise. Their new record, Rebirth of a Nation, is a fascinating project. The entire album's lyrics are written by Paris, who made my "Best of the '90s" list with his landmark "The Devil Made Me Do It." (Then he got the CIA on his back when he released "Bush Killa" about the first George Bush.) I'm not sure it always works, but it's sure an interesting concept.

So, I'm going to attempt to prepare myself for the new releases from a few artists that I love. These are the records I'm most looking forward to... eventually:

5 Albums Worth Looking Forward to:

1. Sleater-Kinney's follow-up to "The Woods." This is what I said about their last record:
This will be one of the albums they talk about in twenty years, along with "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" and "Kid A" and the other great albums of the early 21st century. This is an unbelievably great album. Stop reading this. Go get it.

For their last record, they moved to a studio on the East Coast, hired Dave Fridmann, and blew up the original mold of S-K. The guitars were explosive, the vocals were full-on ferocious, and everything sounded grittier and sloppier. It was great. Here's hoping they can pull more surprises next time.

2. Hem's next studio record. I loved their first two albums, "Rabbitsongs" and "Eveningland." Their latest record, "No Word from Tom," is a collection of live tracks, odd covers, and unreleased tracks. The covers are intriguing, but in the live songs, you can hear that the band has found its heart as an actual band. Sally Ellyson's mystical voice sounds steadier and more grounded now, and the band spins new melodies and new takes on already-familiar tracks. "Eveningland" was a more confident record than the first, and the next album may be something amazing.

3. Kanye West's follow-up to "Late Registration." "The College Dropout" was brilliant. "Late Registration" was the multi-platinum hiphop record of the year. What's he going to do next?

4. The Go! Team's next record. Their first record was a revelation of frantic guitar, multilayered samples, and radical-cheerleader vocals. Can't wait to see what's up their sleeve next time.

5. Anything new, anything at all, by MF Doom. Yeah, I'm hooked. I have no idea what he's talking about half the time, but his flow is hypnotic and his musical choices are always surprising. After the madly inspired "Mouse and the Mask" collaboration with DJ Dangermouse, he is quite literally capable of doing anything.

Just because I've always wanted to do this, I'm now going to answer the inevitable question. The concept of a Friday 5 + 5 list is my own invention. Friday 5 + 5 is not a tribute to:

1. Faith, the evil slayer on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," who often said "five by five" as an expression that all was well.

2. Chuck Woolery, who went to commercials on "Love Connection" by saying he'd be back in "two and two."

3. David Letterman's top ten lists.

4. Any am radio station that does traffic and weather on the fives.

5. The numerologically significant 5. Although I was born in May (5th month) on the 25th day (5 X 5), and you can add up the numbers of the year I was born to get 25 (still 5 x 5.) But no, it's not that.

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