Havoc and Bright Lights
(Collective Sounds/Sony RED)
Alanis Morissette doesn’t really sound like she’s into giving blowjobs in public places these days. In fact, she sounds content to just stay home and enjoy her relative serenity. On her seventh album, and first in four years, she’s fully recovered from the breakup that fueled most of 2008’s Flavors of Entanglement. She’s married and a mom now, and those new life roles inform Havoc and Bright Lights. On the opening “Guardian,” Morissette sings “I’ll be your warrior of care/I’ll be your angel on call” like she’s her family’s knight in shining armour. And on the ballad “’Til You,” she’s the swooning princess: “I’ve been taking notes, nursing the thought of you.” Morissette and producer Guy Sigsworth mostly keep the music on the tougher side, with crunchy-guitar choruses pushed to the red. They stumble a little, but Havoc is filled with some jagged little thrills.
Country & Cold Cans
Appropriately, the four new songs on this five-track EP were fueled by a couple cases of beer in the studio. The titles say it all: “Cold Cans,” “Grab a Beer,” “Tip It on Back” (which originally appeared on the Home album earlier this year). Country & Cold Cans is Bentley’s loosest record, a collection of songs about drinking away long summer days. There’s nothing essential here, but the country star makes you pine for hot Friday nights.
The centerpiece of electronic-music freak Dan Deacon’s first album in three years is a four-song, 22-minute “USA” suite that employs nearly two dozen classical-music players who travel the landscape, sonic and otherwise, with the Baltimore multi-instrumentalist. But first Deacon checks in with smaller-scale, but no less panoramic, snapshots like “True Thrush” and “Lots.” America is deep, dark, and abundantly ambitious.
Paul Simon’s erstwhile partner didn’t have much of a solo career once the duo broke up. And for good reason: Simon wrote all of their greatest songs and provided grounded harmony to Garfunkel’s angelic choirboy voice. That’s not to say that the 34 songs on this two-disc career overview are bad; they just don’t have much force without Simon. The handful of Simon & Garfunkel hits on The Singer are the highlights.
Two years ago, these NYC post-punk heroes returned after a 14-year break with one of their all-time greatest albums, My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky. This follow-up is a bigger, more expansive undertaking. Eleven songs spread out over two discs, with two reaching the 20-minute mark and one even clocking in at more than half an hour. But frontman Michael Gira (with help from Karen O) keeps it all under control, gloriously.