Tuesday, January 19, 2010

In Stores Today: January 19, 2010

End Times
Vagrant Records


Eels albums have traditionally been soaked with melancholy and self-pity. End Times is no different in this regard other than the fact that the subtleties here are more pronounced than ever. Self-produced by Mark Everett in his own basement, End Times is grimly cathartic and full of lonely morose, dealing with divorce and the prospects of old age. Emotional but far from emo, E’s lyrics are simple and sometimes even clichĂ©d in a bluesy sense, but the aching delivery of his raspy elegies hit home with emotional honesty and vulnerability. End Times features its fair share of highs and lows from the rockabilly swing of “Gone Man” and “Paradise Blues” to introspective self-reflection on “In My Younger Days” and “I Need a Mother”. The album concludes with the tranquil “On My Feet”, suggesting that there may be a ray of hope on the horizon for the ache-ridden singer-songwriter after all.

The Colossus
RJ’s Electrical Connections


Earlier in the decade, upon the release of his debut album Deadringer, RJD2 was poised to contend with the likes of sonic architects like Dan the Automator, Cut Chemist and DJ Shadow. RJ effectively helped to boost Def Jux’s cred, bringing in a new audience to underground and alternative hip hop. Since his break with the storied indie label, RJD2’s artistry has headed towards a new direction which most would affirmatively pronounce as “south.” In 2007, he released the highly-ridiculed The Third Hand, RJ’s awkward foray into becoming a “performer.” On The Colossus, not much has changed for his second go-round. Providing tiny glimpses of Gnarls Barkley, Gorillaz and even Sgt. Peppers’ soundscapes, The Colossus falls short, accomplishing nothing more but an exercise in laxity and squandered talent. One could compare RJD2’s scenario to Eminem’s mid-decade fall from grace once he dropped the pen and pad and redirected his attention towards the boards instead. Even RJ’s ephemeral moments of catchiness and groove (“The Glow”) amount to nothing more but a second-rate Jason Mraz impersonation. RJD2 was once synonymous with innovation and creative courage. Nowadays, hackneyed lounge music and “playing it safe” come to mind instead.

Also in stores and worthy of mention:

Aziz Ansari - Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening
The Hotrats - Turn Ons
Soundtrack - Crazy Heart
Soundtrack - Hurt Locker
Spoon - Transference
Various Artists - 2010 Grammy Nominees