The Hazards of Love
Capitol / Release: March 24
Sounds like: A wandering-minstrel side project
Short take: If you liked Zep's songs about hobbits, you'll love this
Long ago, Black Sabbath could sing about wizards and Led Zeppelin could discuss Middle Earth, and seem no less badass for doing so. The Decemberists, in their own way, revive that hallowed tradition with a concept that hits like a Norse hammer. Here's the gist: The heroine, Margaret, leaves home for a walk in the coniferous northern taiga and all hell breaks loose. The accordion-aided stroll of "Isn't It a Lovely Night" yields to the harpsichord romp, "The Wanting Comes in Waves," but soon devolves into the Geezer Butler-style guitar riffing that punctuates our protagonist's plight in "A Bower Scene," "The Queen's Rebuke" and "Margaret in Captivity." My Morning Jacket's Jim James, Robyn Hitchcock and others help this lush exercise in artistic hubris become a textbook lesson in epic songwriting. Jason Notte
Rough Trade / Release: March 24
Sounds like: Flight of the 1990s
Short take: Scottish band kicks out clichs
The 1990s' second effort, Kicks, draws equal amounts inspiration and ire through a dozen tracks of cocky power pop and garage-rock guitar. This Glasgow act isn't afraid to travel down clichd boulevards for a snappy hook or pop-ish moment. Leadoff track "Vondelpark" combines plenty of "Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh"s with a Pearl Jam-lite guitar solo, while "Everybody Please Relax" is an annoying, paint-by-numbers, Flight of the Conchords-sounding pop monstrosity. And actually, the comparison of 1990s to the New Zealand comedy duo turns out to be apropos throughout the album. In fact, the best track is the mid-tempo "59," which boasts a jangly Strokes guitar lead with singer Jackie McKeown delivering in a tongue-in-cheek falsetto the memorable lyric "One thing is driving me crazy / Your left eye is kind of lazy." At least Kicks is good for a few chuckles. John Benson
Red River Flower
Sounds like: Indie folk with Southern grooves and a Midwestern heart
Short take: The fourth time's the charm
From out of left field comes a singer-songwriter with the glow of greatness. This is Brigitte DeMeyer's fourth album, but if you haven't been trolling the outskirts of popular music, you've probably missed her. Which is a shame, because her voice is one that sinks straight into your heart the very first time you hear it, and her songs come from the center of her soul, with a haunting hurt that might never heal. DeMeyer has the balls of Bonnie Raitt (but never tries to sound like her), so there's no succumbing to sadness here. Drummer-producer Brady Blade uses ringers like guitarist Buddy Miller and pedal steel player Al Perkins to surround the songs with badass comfort. Red River Flower is ready to be heard, and hopefully will bring this singer-songwriter in from the cold. Bill Bentley
This show at Stargazers with the Charlie Milo Trio will be broadcast live on local…
This is awesome! Excited about the new music and adventures for his year!
Thanks so much!!!