CD: Babel by Mumford & Sons

This London-based roots music foursome took the United States by surprise and storm on their debut album, Sigh No More, selling some 2.4 million copies in America alone. And did it in a genuinely grassroots way that indicated the ongoing appeal of acoustic and folk-based music to a mainstream audience. Their follow-up has already proven itself 2012’s best first week seller, indicating that the Mumford phenomenon is no fluke. This album may not have as many immediately gripping songs as their first outing and the Mumfords do sometimes substitute energy and effect for emotional content. But as successful pop music for adult and refined tastes is rather rare, this group remains a welcome breath of fresh air on the top of the charts.

CD: A Working Museum by Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby

Englishman Wreckless Eric wrote and recorded one of the lasting standards of the punk/new wave era of the late 1970s with “The Whole Wide World” (and any number of other fine songs) while Rigby articulated the vagaries of modern life, love and marriage for modern grown up girls on a series of solo albums (and. full disclosure, is a longtime friend of this writer) before they united as both husband and wife and a working musical duo. Justly praised by critics on their own, they complement and enhance one other delightfully on this lo-fi home-recorded set of songs written both individually and together that rock with both creative maturity and a sense of extended adolescence. Eloquent yet earthy and real, they make teen music for adults that deserves a far wider hearing.

TV Documentary: Crossfire Hurricane

The Rolling Stones are celebrating their 50th anniversary, and this look at their career is an interesting reflection that focuses largely on the first half of the band’s impressively long run, which is apt, as they haven’t made an album worth a damn in some 30 years. It features some rarely and never-seen footage of the group in their prime well worth seeing, but as an “official” document has a patina of honesty about their at times controversial story that glosses over the true depth and grit of their rather dramatic and decadent run at the apogee of rock’n’roll success, at least for those of us who are devotees. But as someone who continues to listen to and marvel at the raw wonders of their musical legacy on at least a weekly basis I’m happy to watch anything that keeps the Stones in the public eye.

From The Progressive Populist, January 1-15, 2013



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