CD Reviews


The New Pornographers Together (Matador)

Well-honed, Beatles-indebted power-pop isn’t as easy as it sounds, which is why a new New Pornographers album is always a pleasure. More upbeat than the Canadian supergroup’s previous outing, 2007’s Challengers, the band’s fifth effort, Together, mines the bubblier, frothier side of songwriters Dan Bejar (Destroyer) and A.C. Newman. Neko Case, meanwhile, absolutely shines on tracks such as bouncy downer “Crash Years” and the sweet, anthemic love song “My Shepherd.” The only moment that may surprise Pornheads is “Valkyrie in the Roller Disco,” which stumbles forward as an awkward, angular piano ballad before evolving into a lovely Byrds-esque number complete with cascading vocal harmonies. Guest spots by indie superstars Will Sheff (Okkervil River) and Annie Clark (St. Vincent) only enhance the experience. Not a masterpiece, but definitely an ideal summer pop disc.  ★★★★☆


Delorean Subiza (True Panther Sounds)

Add Barcelona computer-rock band Delorean to a growing list of kick-ass electronic acts to have released a fiercely compelling album in 2010. Named after a town in Basque, Subiza, the group’s third full-length, incorporates just enough punk elements to draw those of us who’d rather eat broken glass than don shiny shirts. The raucous, beachcombing energy of “Warmer Places” is a thousand times more seductive than a Corona ad, while the spooky nighttime ride of “Infinite Desert” will speak to the hearts of those of us landlocked in Southern Nevada. If harsher electro-bands like Crystal Castles grate your ears, you’ll slip into Subiza like a bath. Should a Vegas club fly these guys in for a set, this writer would die happy. ★★★★☆


Merle Haggard I Am What I Am (Vanguard)

Popeye the Sailor Man? Not quite, since the cartoon spinach fiend is nearly 10 years older. “I seen ’em when they stepped down on the moon,” confirms Haggard, in “I’ve Seen It Go Away,” a song that crystallizes the man’s cantankerous yet soft-hearted approach in his 73rd year. Unlike other music legends (Johnny Cash, Neil Diamond), the Untamed Hawk has zero interest in letting a big-shot producer manipulate his image and style. Indeed, one gets the sense Haggard would perform this material (most of it new originals) the same damn way, whether locked in prison or headlining Texas Station. Some of his wisdom is harsh—“Pretty When It’s New” sums up romance rather darkly. But for every truth, there’s also a hunger for more time, more life, as in the Hispanic appreciation of “Mexican Band.” ★★★★★

Suggested Next Read

The Losers (PG-13)

Movie Review

The Losers (PG-13)

Hot on the trail of Kick-Ass’s experiment in vacant violence, The Losers is equally wrongheaded. A team of U.S. Special Forces, led by Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Clay, gets double-crossed and then joins up with a mercenary named Aisha (Zoe Saldana) who insists they seek revenge against CIA baddie Max (Jason Patric). The film’s politics, like this entire effort, are sketchy. Each character seems to have sauntered in from a different movie.