Today, two very different albums by artists with very different approaches to their craft.
First, Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians, with their first album in a dog’s age–perhaps that’s why it’s called “Hunter and the Dog Star.”
Brickell rose to fame on a single propelled by the late, great Jerry Garcia, which immediately enamored her to the Dead Head crowd–despite the fact that her music is now and has always been grounded pop. The opposite of the free-flowing, abstract music-and-lyrics of the Dead.
The new album is even more of the same. In fact, the first song, “Sleeve,” is about getting a lot of tattoos. Seriously. It sounds silly. It is silly. But it’s FUN. Sure, some of the other songs have a little more weight. Like “Stubborn Love,” about letting go of someone after a divorce. But even then, the music is light and full of hope.
EB&tNB’s music has evolved: There’s a lot more switching between country-and-folk (“Rough Beginnings” and “Horse’s Mouth”) and the kind of funkpop we’ve come to expect from them. And Brickell’s voice has a richer sound now, with age, but she’s certainly more than capable of the pep-filled bounce her fans adore–like on Tripwire, the second single. And the New Bohemians have certainly gained greater control over their instruments–packing a TON of catchy riffs and surprising shifts in this collection of tightly crafted songs.
The last couple years have seen the return of dozens of artists who dominated late ’80s and ’90s AOR, and most of the albums have been okay. This one is better. Much better.
Love this album!
For my second Album of the Week, we’re going to change gears. Where Edie Brickell hasn’t put out an album in three years, Your Old Droog has brought his second in three months. To be fair, both appear to have been from the same sessions, with Tha God Fahim, another rapper who tends to release and album every couple of months.
Appropriately, the first track is “Icee Shop/Entrees.” Icees melt quickly but taste great, giving a hit of cold and sugar, moving us to the next one.
The benefit of releasing albums at this pace is that the artist never disappears. Perhaps no one understood this better than Tekashi 69, a pioneer of the “indundate them” marketing style. The detriment is that the albums feel less special. There are very few songs on this album, and, frankly, on its predecessor Wolf of Wall Street, that are obvious filler or that weren’t good enough to release. Every song is really good. So I’m sure paring them down felt like a Sophie’s Choice to the artists. I get it. And these are two strong albums released in a few short months, showing that Fahim and Droog are two of the best rappers putting out music today. But the problem is that few of the tracks are especially memorable, either, amplified by the fact that almost 30 tracks in 90 days is just too much to get comfortable with.
Am I complaining? I guess I am. But I’m also not. I love Droog and I’m starting to love Fahim as well. And nobody can say that they don’t consistently come up with new, unpredictable rhymes.
So, yeah, another recommendation for 2021. Solid record.