Wednesday, May 10, 2006

In between days

On things musical, I was saddened to see the passing of Grant McLennan, founder and lead singer of the Australian band The Go-Betweens at only 48. Although the band had been inactive for several years, they had recently reformed and released Oceans Apart last fall to renewed acclaim. Sort of an R.E.M. but with even stranger, more poetic lyrics (if it can be believed), I first got into The Go-Betweens back in the late-80s with their album Tallulah. And even dusted the old cassette off to revisit on my drive across country. If you enjoy melodic pop with obscure literary references -- and really, who doesn't? -- then check them out.

Also flashing back to the 80's after picking up St. Elsewhere by Gnarls Barkley. Although having nothing to do with the best t.v. drama ever, the album pairs Danger Mouse (the beatmaker behind Gorillaz) with Cee-lo Green (from the Goodie MOb). At their best, Gnarls Barkley fuse the dirty beats and samplecentric production of the 21st century with the timeless soul sounds of 20th-century Motown. And they throw a cover of "Gone Daddy Gone" by the Violent Femmes in the mix just for fun. Some tracks work better than others -- "Crazy" became the first song in the U.K. to top the pop charts on the sole basis of online downloads -- but there's enough good stuff in there to make it well worth picking up.

And across the pond, Fundamental, the latest album from Pet Shop Boys, gets a U.K. release on May 22. Q's early review says:

"Fundamental is much like 1987's Actually or 1990's Behaviour (i.e. it sits right alongside the duo's very best work) . . . Britain's great pop group? Absolutely."

To be followed on June 20 by Under the Iron Sea, the new album from piano-rockers Keane. The former available only on import initially, while the latter to be released domestically in the States. Tours apparently to follow as well. Yippee.


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