New Releases: Aug. 3: Arcade Fire, Los Lobos, Katie Melua, more
Arcade Fire, "The Suburbs" (Merge)
Glowing reviews have been streaming in for Win Butler & Co.'s third album, so rather than refer to record-company hype, we're stealing a good idea from an old blog and providing the final paragraphs of a few reviews.
Spin: "Radiant with apocalyptic tension and grasping to sustain real bonds, 'The Suburbs' extends hungrily outward, recalling the dystopic miasma of William Gibson's sci-fi novels and Sonic Youth's guitar odysseys. Desperate to elude its own corrosive dread, it keeps moving, asking, looking, and making the promise that hope isn't just another spiritual cul-de-sac. After all, you never know who might be coming in the next car."
Entertainment Weekly: "At 60-plus minutes, 'Suburbs' could use an edit, but it seems churlish to begrudge them a little indulgence when there is so much here to savor. Aâ€""
New York Times: (penultimate graph actually): "The music too overlays old and new. It harks back to styles that shook up the late 1970s and early 1980s -- new wave, David Bowieâ€™s avant-glam-rock, synth-pop -- but shapes them with the Arcade Fire's own sense of structure and timing. Songs rarely end as they began. Cozy acoustic arrangements take on eerie shadows, snappy rockers make tricky turns, wistfulness expands to grandeur. The album doesn't resolve its own questions; it expands their mystery."
The Guardian: "You wait expectantly for them go the whole nostalgic hog and hit you with a novelty dance track along the lines of 'Agadoo,' but, alas they don't: instead it ends with a reprise of the title track, and a satisfying sense of having accomplished what they set out to achieve."
And for folks who care about sound quality, Arcade Fire posted this reassuring note on their website: "We had each of the 16 tracks mastered to a 12-inch lacquer and then transferred back to digital format so that the CD and digital version of the record sound just like the vinyl." Sweet.
Los Lobos, "Tin Can Trust" (Shout! Factory)
Los Lobosâ€™ first collection of new original material in four years includes seven songs penned by the team of David Hidalgo and Louie Perez, two Spanish-language numbers (the cumbia "Yo Canto" and the norteno "Mujer Ingrata") from Cesar Rosas and a cover of the Grateful Dead's "West L.A. Fadeaway."
Katie Melua, "The House" (Dramatico)
According to her publicity materials, between 2002 and 2008, Georgia-born Katie Melua became the biggest-selling U.K.-based, female artist in the world despite not having a breakthrough in the United States. That claim sounds a bit suspicious -- not Dusty Springfield? Annie Lennox? -- but perhaps they're leaving out the words "this century" or "since the implementation of SoundScan" or some other caveat. Regardless, her accomplishments are numerous: playing with Queen for Nelson Mandela, dining at Buckingham Palace with the real Queen, performing at the bottom of the North Sea and so on. Her fourth album, "The House," already released overseas, will receive a healthy amount of televised support from the rather photogenic Melua: She's booked for "Good Morning America" on Aug. 3; "Good Day New York" on Aug. 5; and "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" on Aug. 6.
Dr. John, "Tribal" (429 Records)
Recorded with his band the Lower 911, "Tribal" is being billed as Dr. John's funkiest album since 1968's "Gris Gris," a return to his Night Tripper persona with some humor, political observations and the spirits of Professor Longhair and James Booker thrown in on the piano. Allen Toussaint contributes two songs, three songs were co-written with the late Bobby Charles and guest stars include slide guitarist Derek Trucks and Donald Harrison on alto sax.
The Magic Numbers, The Runaway (Heavenly)
The British band of brothers and sisters return with their third full-length, "The Runaway," their first album in four years. Available only as an import, the album includes the final string arrangements of the late Robert Kirby, renowned for his work with Nick Drake. The song "Hurts So Good" has been made available as a freebie; the first single is "The Pulse."
Other albums of note:
Secondhand Serenade, "Hear me Now" (Glassnote)
Squeeze, Spot the Difference (XOXO)
Wavves, King of the Beach (Fat Possum)
Various Artists, "Next Stop Soweto Vol. 3: Giants, Ministers and Makers" (!K7)
Original soundtrack, "The Kids are All Right" (Lakeshore)
Lady Gaga, The Remix (Interscope)
Black Crowes, Croweology (Megaforce)
Gov't Mule, Mulennium (Evil Teen)