What I'm listening to now

Neko Case - Middle Cyclone

Seeing Neko Case live is a lot like watching one of Shakespeare’s comedies. There are two women (good friends, obviously), who get most of the lines (and definitely all the good ones) and you spend most of your time paying attention to them. Then there are a bunch of men who do things like play drums and bass and guitar and banjo and whatnot. And they’re all very proficient, but also very bland and…interchangeable. What I’m trying to say is that it’s becoming increasingly hard for me to separate how much I like Neko’s live show from her music in general. Case in point: Middle Cyclone. I mean, it’s a good record, and there are a couple of songs on there that are just killer. But on the whole this feels like a step backward from Fox Confessor Brings the Flood. There are plenty of moments that don’t grab me, and call me a nitpicker, but I question the necessity of tacking 31 minutes and 39 seconds of crickets onto the end of what is otherwise a 45 minute album. Still, I like the record, I have listened to it and I’m going to listen to it a lot. Which is not to say it’s great album, but only that I find Neko a compelling person and artist.

Steve Earle - Townes

So let’s say you’re Steve Earle. You love Townes Van Zandt so much that you not only name your son after him, you record an entire album of his songs (which you also name after him)even though you’re way more famous than he’s ever going to be and, let’s face it, people want to hear your songs more than they do his. The thing is, this record turns out to be kind of great because you’re not trying as hard as to be innovative and groundbreaking as when you’re recording your own songs, you’re just sitting in a room and singing songs that you love and have lived inside of for most of your adult life. And to top it all off, you get your kid (yeah, that’s right, the one you named after Townes) to sing “Mr. Mudd and Mr. Gold” with you. That’s what you do if you’re Steve Earle.

David Byrne and Brian Eno - Everything That Happens Will Happen Today

For some reason, this album has really not received much press, probably because it was released independently and all that. But don’t let that fool you - this is a really great record, one of my favorite releases of the last year-plus. Most of the reviews I’ve read make a big deal of how “organic” this record sounds in comparison to “My Life in the Bush of Ghosts,” the last record Byrne and Eno did together, but I don’t really care about that because I’ve never heard that record and besides, like I said before, this is a great record, hands down.