This installment of Weekly Release is full of deception! We’ve got new albums from Oasis and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, except not really! Oasis isn’t Oasis anymore because Noel Gallagher left so now the remnants of the band are calling themselves Beady Eye. And Edward Sharpe isn’t even named Edward Sharpe. His real name is Alexander Ebert and he’s just released a solo album.
Shenanigans! Let’s get to it! Here’s your Weekly Release for the first week of March, 2011…
Dropkick Murphys – Going Out In Style
There’s only one founding member left, but damn if the Dropkick Murphys aren’t still a band worth listening to. If the name isn’t ringing any bells, think about the epic Scorsese flick The Departed and then listen to this.
See? You’ve heard the Dropkick Murphys before. And if you have even a shred of punk in your bones, you should hear them again on Going Out In Style, which hits stores today. There’s not much to say about it other than, well, it’s a Dropkick Murphys album. There’s a screaming, there’s bagpipes, there’s a banjo… it’s fucking great. Oh! And they managed to snag Bruce Springsteen for lead vocal duties on “Peg O’ My Heart.”
If the Boss approves, you should too.
Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes
Lykke Li has a strong showing on her debut album thanks in large part to the singles “Little Bit” and “I’m Good I’m Gone.” On her follow-up, Wounded Rhymes, it’s pretty clear that she’s doing her best to channel Ronnie Spector. She doesn’t really have the voice for a job like that, but somehow, it works anyway.
Wounded Rhymes is definitely a departure from her debut, but it’s far from a disappointing change in direction.
Lucinda Williams – Blessed
Lucinda Williams has been one of the most consistently great songwriters of her generation for decades now. She doesn’t really put up the record sales that she deserves to, but it’s no matter. She’s not going anywhere anytime soon, and thank God for that.
It’s almost pointless to try and spell out how strong this album is. Even at her worst, Lucinda Williams is better than 98% of her peers in the country blues world. But Blessed finds her at the height of her powers.
If you’re planning to pick this album up, don’t half-ass it. Shell out the extra cash for the deluxe version. It includes a second disc called The Kitchen Tapes which consists of the home demos for every song on Blessed, presented in the same order as the studio version of the album. Honestly, we’re still on the fence as to which disc is better. The fully realized studio version is great, but Lucinda Williams alone in her kitchen with just an acoustic guitar is nothing short of magic.
Alexander Ebert – Alexander
Whether you realize it or not, you’ve heard at least one song by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros before. Be it in the handful of commercials their songs have been featured in or be it in a wildly popular YouTube video that we featured in a previous article, you’ve definitely heard them before.
This isn’t an Edward Sharpe album though. Edward Sharpe isn’t even a real person. The actual lead singer of the band is named Alexander Ebert, and Alexander is the name of his appropriately titled solo album.
Some of the charm is lost when he’s not surrounded by the countless instruments at work on an Edward Sharpe album, but just some, not much. Alexander Ebert still cranks out music that sounds like nobody else, even when his name is the only one on the album cover. We’re still dying for a new Magnetic Zeros record, but Alexander will hold us over nicely until that happens.
Beady Eye – Different Gear, Still Speeding
Oasis is a lot like soccer. The United States might not be so into them, but they’re still pretty huge everywhere else. So, while most of you reading this might not even know that Oasis lead guitarist and main songwriter Noel Gallagher left the band last year, rest assured, it was big news.
Being that he handled the bulk of the songwriting duties (not the lead vocals though, that’s his brother, Liam) for most of the band’s existence, it was anyone’s guess as to how to things would unfold when he split. One answer came in short order when the rest of the band (Liam Gallagher, Gem Archer and Andy Bell) announced that they would soldier on, albeit with a different name, Beady Eye. But that still left one more huge question unanswered. Would they be any good without Noel?
With the release of their debut album, Different Gear, Still Speeding, the band has answered that question and, somewhat surprisingly, the answer is a resounding “yes!” In fact, they almost sound re-energized now that the ever present Gallagher brother tension is no longer in the mix. It’s not an Oasis album, but if it was, this would be among one of the band’s best.
Latter day Oasis albums strayed pretty far from the sound that made them one of the biggest bands in the world on their first two albums. This record makes it pretty clear who the experimental Gallagher brother was (hint, he’s not in the band anymore). Noel Gallagher’s distinctive guitar work is sorely missed, but that’s about it. Overall, this is a damn impressive debut from a band that most people likely assumed wouldn’t amount to much.