As the album creeps ever closer to technical extinction as an ongoing artform, I remain profoundly moved by the sight and sound of so many sparks of musical life to be heard all along the watchtower. Here then are five new albums that I have in my collection that I feel you should probably have too. And while I'm here in digital space, offering unsolicited advice, you also might want to consider lifting your personal debt ceiling and investing in 40 Odd Years, the altogether brilliant box set covering the career to date of Loudon Wainwright III, with liner notes by Loudon, Judd Apatow and, somewhat less impressively, me too.
Please feel -- as always --to join in below and tell everybody in Huff Po land about any other recent albums out there that you believe no home should be without.
THE KING OF IN BETWEEN - Garland Jeffreys
Back in 1977, the great Garland Jeffreys released one of my favorite songs of all time - "New York Skyline," a soulful salute to the Big Apple that was so totally boss that Bruce Springsteen himself has sung its praises. Nearly thirty-five years later, Jeffreys proves that he remains a singer-songwriter of extraordinary soul and grace with King of In Between, a powerful song cycle artfully co-produced by Larry Campbell that finds Jeffreys sizing up the modern skyline on standout tracks like "Coney Island Winter," "I'm Alive" and "The Contortionist," which features some backing vocals by another enduring New York man, Lou Reed. Whether you know it or not, Garland Jeffreys is musical royalty, so all hail The King of In Between.
I met And Richards -- in a digital sense -- when he started following me on Twitter @wildaboutmusic, but when I sat down to write these words today, I realized I know virtually nothing about him -- except I gather his name is Andrew W. Richards. Thankfully, even one listen to this subtle, haunting album makes for one hell of an impressive introduction. The titles alone -- "Dull Glow Morning" and "Evil Angels" and "Sleep In My Car" - suggest that this is a pretty dark ride, but it's clearly one well worth taking anyway. As Paul Westerberg once sang, sadly beautiful.
BLACKBIRD DIARIES - Dave Stewart
Like God and Elvis, Dave Stewart is everywhere - or so it seems today. He produced In Your Dreams, arguably the best solo album of Stevie Nicks' career. And he's also teamed up with Joss Stone (whose new album he also produced), Damian Marley, A.R. Rahman and some guy named Mick Jagger in a new, left-field supergroup called Superheavy. Still, don't miss "Blackbird Diaries," the formery Eurythmic's best solo effort yet -- and one that came in a typically mad rush in Nashville. Featuring appearances by Stevie Nicks and Martina McBride, as well as a previously unheard songwriting collaboration with some guy named Bob Dylan, Stewart's Diaries - already out as an import - are well worth searching out.
SKY FULL OF HOLES - Fountain of Wayne
If you think that Fountains of Wayne is just some pop band that once scored with "Stacy's Mom," the time has come for you to think again. And if you don't have time to think, then just go out and buy absolutely everything that the brilliantly talented Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood have ever done, including with 2003's masterful Welcome Interstate Managers. Their latest gem, Sky Full Of Holes, is wonderful, grown up power pop created by men who seem increasingly aware of the limitations of their own power in the universe, but who capture a lifetime of mixed feelings in great songs like "Action Hero."
SOLID STATE: SONGS FROM THE LONG PLAY - Sam Phillips
I've been in love with Sam Phillips -- artistically speaking -- for decades now, and the sonic romance continues now with Solid State, the first physical release for what samphillips.com describes as her "web-based music and art installation called The Long Play. If you only know Sam Phillips as the woman who wrote "Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us" -- famously covered by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss -- or if you don't know her at all, then you're missing out.