Cake: Showroom of Compassion
I’ve been listening to Cake’s older records a lot lately in anticipation of theirconcert next weekend at the Sunset Cove
Amphitheater in Boca. The result has been a bit like a rekindling a relationship with an old friend, making me wonder why I left their most essential work – 1996’s “Fashion Nugget” and 2001’s “Comfort Eagle” to collect dust on my Ikea shelf for so many years. I have high hopes for “Showroom of Compassion,” even though it follows the band’s weakest release, “Pressure Chief.” “Showroom”is Cake’s first studio album in seven years, so the band had plenty of time to make it great. The album’s first single, “Sick of You,” has been making mainstream rock radio sound slightly tolerable lately.
Wire: Red Barked Tree
In the late 1970s, at the height of post-punk experimentation, UK act Wire’s first three albums showed us that punk rock and art rock were not mutually exclusive subgenres, and that blistering, rip-roaring music could have its own measure of jagged angles, offbeat time signatures and dynamic surprises. An ill-fated respite in trendy, moody synthpop followed in the late ’80s and ’90s, but a reunited and reconnected Wire has been returning to its old, innovative sound from the 2000s onward. Judging by the free samples on Wire’s website, “Red Barked Tree” is an exciting, inspired and mature follow-up to 2008’s outstanding “Object 47” – as much a throwback to its self-created sound as it is the next step in the band’s unpredictable forward trajectory.
The Decemberists: The King is Dead
My Sirius radio has been playing the bejesus out of the Decemberists’ new single, “Down by the Water,” for what seems
like so many months now that the song feels like an old favorite from the band’s back catalog, not the first track from their yet-to-be-released new album. The vibe of vintage Decemberists is a good one, considering that their last couple of records were turgid, overlong and pretentious. “Down by the Water” is such a killer track, eternally hummable and timelessly catchy, that I wait with bated breath to hear the rest of the album from these stalwarts of encyclopedic lit-rock. The Decemberists’website offers a number of mouthwatering package deals for deep-pocketed indie rockers, including the $165 “Deluxe Box Edition,” featuring a white vinyl LP, the CD, the digital download, a 72-page hardcover book, a one-of-a-kind Polaroid (remember those?) and other exclusive items. Why couldn’t Christmas be in January?
Robert Pollard: Space City Kicks
Pollard, the frontman of briefly reunited lo-fi indie-pop legends Guided by Voices (they played a sold-out New Year’s Eve show at Irving Plaza in New York City), releases more products than Wal-Mart; it seems that every time you visit his site, he has another record to hawk, under at least one is numerous monikers. His prolificacy is astounding, but the news of yet another new Pollard LP (“Space City Kicks” follows exactly six months after his acclaimed “Moses on a Snail”) wouldn’t hit my inbox with such anticipation if his music were not so consistently extraordinary. While he has flirted with concept albums, longer songs and more intricate structures, each Pollard record is more similar than different, but in a comfortable way. You know what you’re getting with a Bob Pollard album, and if you like Pollard, you know you want this record, sound unheard.