Music of the Week
By Lauren Harris
Secret, Profane and Sugarcane
Declan MacManus has sported quite a few hats in the course of his 35-year career. There was the porkpie of his wired, venomous punk era, the bowler of his late-70's pitch-perfect pop, and the fedora throughout some ill-advised latter-day releases. Now The Other Elvis is donning a cowboy hat with his 36th album, and treading into the rich waters of Americana. The rootsy rock on his latest album comes courtesy of T-Bone Burnett (O Brother, Where Art Thou?), but isn't Costello's first time at the rodeo: hopefully this marks the return to mid-80's heights of King of America. Inexplicably, the same fellow who sang that the music industry was in the hands of people trying to anesthetize the way you feel is releasing Secret through Starbucks.
Hombre Lobo: 12 Songs of Desire
One-man band Mark Oliver Everett would be intolerable for his seeming affectation, were he not so talented. Known mostly by Eels or simply 'E', Everett immersed himself in the palpable, near-painful yearning that comes along with desire for his eighth album, a sort of concept record. Inspired by the dog-faced boy that featured prominently on 2001's Souljacker, this album is an imagining of that character all grown up, and now living as a 'dignified werewolf' (referenced in the album's title). The Beck-infused garage rock and summery pop tunes are an emotional respite following 2005's Blinking Lights and Other Revelations, an exploration of his parents' deaths and his sister's suicide, but his latest still packs the emotional wallops that have become his calling card.
Dave Matthews Band
Big Whiskey and The GrooGrux King
Say what you will about Dave Matthews Band, you've got to give them credit for their staying power. Between the fickleness of frat boys and the engineering advances of the Jetta, Dave Matthews should have been a flash in the pan, post-Spin Doctors, pre-Rusted Root. Their seventh album sees them recording in New Orleans, and its title serves as a nod to saxophonist LeRoi Moore, who died last year in an ATV accident, who's nickname was the GrooGrux King. 'While the band have seemed to peter out over the course of several albums, producer Rob Cavallo (Green Day, My Chemical Romance) has a focusing effect, creating a leaner pop album with elements of jazz, rather than the too-long, kitchen-sink compositions of yore.