1. Montag – Alone, Not Alone/Morning Recordings – Music For Places (Download Morning Recordings – “Airports“)
Both of these albums are nice little vocal ambient records, smooth enough to not distract and with enough actual songwriting and structure to be interesting when you do start paying attention. At times, Montag sounds like Dntel goes to Paris, whereas Morning Recordings remind me of a less depressed Sparklehorse. Nice stuff.
2. The Carpenters – Close To You
As much as I hate the horrendous production on this album, Karen Carpenter’s voice is undeniable. The problem is all of the other voices layered and harmonized to the point of infinite. When her brother/arranger/cheese-ball songwriter takes a break from getting his wank on, you get classics like “We’ve Only Just Begun” and Bacharach’s “Close To You.”
3. Mike Doughty – Haughty Melodic
We got two copies of this in the office last week. I was pretty excited about it; after all, this was the guy from Soul Coughing, and the demo version was way sick, and DMB totally has a new album out in May! d00d! Sorry. Too much time on the message boards. This sounds like generic mid-90s guitar pop. Think Stew from The Negro Problem fronting Hootie and the Blowfish. So yeah, it sucks, unless you like that sort of thing. I, um, usually do – but apparently not when Mike Doughty does it.
4. Jon Brion – “Dude Looks Like A Lady Is Tramp” (Live)
If only I had a recording of this. After watching JB play two marathon sets at Largo on Friday, I decided that he is, without doubt, the best pop musician on this planet. He’s a virtuousic musician on every instrument, he can play any style, he has an encyclopedic knowledge of popular and classical music, he’s his own band, he’s a phenomenal songwriter in his own right with his own distinct sound, and he’s funny as hell. Getting hit on and being told I was “really cute” by a gay man at the bar before Jon even went on didn’t hurt the mood either.
The Rob Gordon Shuffle is a weekly Sunday rundown of fascinating songs and albums without any particular regard to genre or timeliness. It is absolutely not a top 5.