Playlist October 2013

John Fogerty
Wrote A Song For Everyone
(Vanguard)

Classic Creedence Clearwater Revival songs are recast with the help of numerous current music stars. Unfortunately, the results are mixed. The pairings with country artists are a little tepid and, on the other hand, the collaborations with rockers are a little heavy-handed. Still, it’s hard to argue with personnel like Dawes, My Morning Jacket, Allen Toussaint and the Rebirth Brass Band. Fogerty himself never falters and his gritty swamp-rock still shines.

Flaming Lips
The Terror
(Warner Bros.)

One could call The Terror the Flaming Lips’ Metal Machine Music album, though the former is not quite as sharp-edged as the latter, often considered to be one of the most controversial releases by Lou Reed or any other musician. But it is easily the group’s most challenging listen. The Flaming Lips continue to be inspired by such UK artists’ concept albums as Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, but the group has re-imagined the genre with this daring instrumental-heavy, dissonant exploration of the abyss. The album is surprisingly listenable and will no doubt reach cult status.

Devendra Banhart
Mala
(Nonesuch)

After running the gamut from indie to major label releases, Devendra Banhart returns with his first album in three years on a label that may best serve his eccentric musical vision. Banhart’s indescribable mix of world, folk and hippie rock has fallen under the freak-folk banner. He continues to create childlike, winsome, multi-genre music that would have been perfect for FM radio in 1967. In a cynical music world, it’s refreshing to listen to something so wide-eyed and eclectic.

Frightened Rabbit
Pedestrian Verse
(Atlantic)

With this US debut (on a major label), fans of Snow Patrol will immediately be struck by this 10-year-old Scottish group’s passionate and occasionally ragged songs. No doubt the success of Mumford & Sons cleared the decks for a group whose rousing acoustic music might not have had commercial appeal a few years ago. Yet another great band from over the pond with two brothers to watch.

Over the Rhine
Meet Me At The Edge of The World
(Great Speckled Dog)

After more than twenty years, Ohio-based Over The Rhine may finally get its due with this career-defining double cd release. Disc one, entitled Sacred Ground, features the group’s pastoral, countrified folk-rock and disc two, Blue Jean Sky, is more of a grab-bag of folk, country, blues and a cover of The Band’s “It Makes No Difference.” Recorded in less then a week, the album features super-producer Joe Henry’s most unadorned production in years.