Spring is trying to spring here in Manhattan and I'm walking the streets listening to a selection of three very cool new projects from three very different artists. I'm sure as I look back on these days this music will begin to define early spring 2009 in New York.
Morrissey has returned with Years Of Refusal--a collection of wonderful songs and clever songwriting. It's also a bit harder than a lot of his previous works, but still features some of the same typical Morrissey songs about love and loss. It begins with the hard edged "Something Is Squeezing My Skull" and careens it's way through "I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris", "That's How People Grow Up" and the very funny "It's Not Your Birthday Anymore." He sounds better than ever and this album is a worthy addition to his catalog.
I saw Ray LaMontagne perform on Saturday Night Live a few weeks ago and was really impressed and inspired. I watched him perform "You Are The Best Thing" and immediately had to go get his album Gossip In The Grain. You can hear so many influences in his work--from James Taylor to Joe Cocker to Cats Stevens. It has a very 70s singer songwriter vibe that sounds really updated and new. A real stand out on the album is the track "Meg White" which sounds fantastic blasting through my headphones on my way down 23rd street.
Ben Lee has always been a favorite of mine and his latest release The Rebirth Of Venus does not disappoint. It begins with the catchy "What's So Bad (About Feeling Good)" and continues on with some great pop songs like "Wake Up To America", "Sing", "Yoko Ono", "Bad Poetry" and the sing along anthem "Surrender". "I Love Pop Music" takes on the medium itself and our need for pop music that makes us feel better in such uncertain times.
With all the crap that's going on around us right now slipping on my headphones and listening to these three troubadours continues to be a great escape from a chilly spring in New York.
Gossip In The Grain and Years Of Refusal are out now. The Rebirth Of Venus comes out on April 28.