Old and New

CD: Be My Thrill by The Weepies — Few albums in recent memory have charmed me like this third release from this guy/gal duo. Playing smart and sophisticated yet minimalist pop-rock with a classic grounding yet modern edge, they’ve got a gift for delightful tunefulness and emotionality that hits the heart. Their name isn’t exactly a misnomer, but melancholia rather than any sadness is more what the 14 incredibly catchy tunes here are all about, and rarely has that emotional state sounded so sweet. Desire here is largely unfulfilled yet still feels lovely, even happy. If you’ve ever felt love that’s bittersweet, this is an album for you.

CD: Spot The Difference by Squeeze — This veteran English band that debuted in the late 1970s new wave era whose songwriting principals Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford came as close as anyone to the high standards set by Lennon/McCartney in The Beatles redo 14 of their catalog’s classics. As the title implies, the newly recorded versions measure up to the originals even if longtime listeners like myself can detect the small differences. And what might seem like a retread by most other acts feels as fresh as ever by this still spry band that rock the pop and prove here that their songs stand the test of time. Those that know the music of Squeeze can now happily enjoy two worthy studio versions of these tunes. And for those who don’t know this notable Brit-pop band, or don’t know them well enough yet, this makes a sampler that beats a “greatest hits” hands down, as it shows such life and vitality to hint and more and maybe even better to come from one of the best in its class.

CD: Myth of the Heart by Sahara Smith — Full disclosure: I was hired to write the publicity bio for this Texas-based artist who though young in years (21) shows a full musical and lyrical maturity. But even before that I was duly impressed by this album, which was overseen by roots music guru T-Bone Burnett. Atop musical backing that is rooted yet progressive and sophisticated, Smith sings her lovely poetic lyrics about love and longing with a melodic grace and assurance. An ethereal mesmeric allure suffuses this disc of smart and emotive songs that burrow their way into your consciousness. One of the year’s most impressive debuts from a singer-songwriter sure to make her mark now as well as further in years to come.

From The Progressive Populist, December 1, 2010


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