Tom Waits – Bad As Me
Tom Waits may pay the mortgage as a musician, but he clearly has the heart of a junkman. With Waits, you get the sense that nothing ever truly gets thrown away—maybe pushed deeper back or buried beneath but never completely discarded or forgotten. On Bad As Me, Waits’ first collection of entirely new material since 2004’s clanging, scraping Real Gone, the once inebriated lounge act turned beatboxing junkman picks through the scrap metal and tire piles of his nearly 40-year career and shows that a shine can be salvaged from even the rustiest pieces. Read the full review on Consequence of Sound
Coldplay – Mylo Xyloto
After a short instrumental intro, Mylo kicks off with “Hurts Like Heaven,” a driving homage to LCD Soundsystem and a nice kick in the formula. (Coldplay’s members are expert formula-repeaters.) But from there, it’s a different recipe, with a series of songs that almost beg for a verse from Jigga. “Paradise” is the biggest, most obvious one, with its saccharine—but somehow acceptable—lyrics (“life goes on, it gets so heavy”) and loping breakbeat. If Martin hasn’t lined somebody up to throw down some rhymes on a remix, he’s missing out on some serious crossover potential. “Princess Of China” serves up a major player, though: Rihanna duets with Martin on a massive bit of pop-ready melancholia that should find a home on about six different radio formats. Read the full review at Chicago Sun Times
Bonnie Prince Billy – Wolfroy Goes To Town
Wolfroy Goes to Town is a hushed, hallowed, humble work; with a reverent air that borders on religious, and a congregation of backing singers —including the glorious warble of Chicago songsmith Angel Olsen— employed like choir to his preachin’. This suits a lyrical motif that is filled with references to the divine.
Early in 2011, the Bonnie “Prince” issued a seven-inch, “There Is No God” b/w “God Is Love,” which at the time seemed like a lark; especially given the giddy, drunk-country ramblin’ of the former jam, which found Oldham caroling “that which puts mouth on cock and vagina” with glee. Here, there’s the same lyrical predisposition —God that is, not genitalia— only delivered with far more gravity and grace.
Just as on Willy O’s first-ever album, the 1993 Palace Brothers LP There is No-One What Will Take Care of You, God is present, in some form, in every song; usually by name, often in spirit; a panoply of perceptions coloring an often-stark set of songs, God rendered various shades of loving, cruel, absent, omnipresent, bearded, feminine. Oldham explores notions of faith and religion, pitting belief in a deity against the way humans force their own narratives, their own agendas, onto some imagined man in the sky. “Good God guides us/Bad God leaves us,” he carols on opener “No Match,” and that mixture of sly humor and solemn profundity holds across the whole album.
As the songs roll out mournful and melancholy, Oldham still can shoehorn in the lyrically bizarre (like: “as boys, we fucked each other/as men, we lie and smile”; or: “fat men smiling, bearded men/with blue eyes shining, light within”), but they don’t play like jokes. The effect is sad, somehow; like back in that old Palace era, when a song called “You Have Cum In Your Hair and Your Dick Is Hanging Out” was so beautiful it could make you cry. Read the full review on AllMusic