New Music Tuesday: James Taylor, Buddy Guy and Monster Magnet
Enjoy New Music Tuesday with James Taylor, Buddy Guy and Monster Magnet.
This is one of those weeks in the music industry where most record labels go run and hide. Taylor Swift has her new album out this week and she is no doubt going to dominate the press and crush all the competition at the stores. So most labels will choose to not compete and will just wait a few weeks for the madness to calm down before they get back into a normal release schedule. There are, however, a few brave souls out there and in my mind they represent a clear alternative to Taylor Swift. I have nothing against her and thinks she is talented and worthy of her success, but these albums might interest people in a different way or may even open Taylor’s audience up to a different type of music.
The first new release this week is the digitally remastered version of James Taylor‘s self titled debut record. It is has been completely remastered and includes four previously unreleased bonus tracks. Taylor has had a very interesting and varied life that includes a period time early in his life where he fell into a deep depression and checked himself into a mental hospital. While a patient at the hospital the Vietnam War escalated and he was given a psychological rejection from the selective service system. He stayed in the hospital for nine months where he earned his high school diploma. Two years later this album was released. The record is a classic because it works on several levels. You can listen to it and enjoy it as pure pop honey. Taylor’s voice is smooth and pure and easy on the ears. His soft melodies wrap themselves around you and put you at ease. Never mind that it is the debut album of a guy who would go on to be an icon. Or you can really dig into it and find lines in the songs and deeper meanings in the songs that reflect his varied childhood and his battle with depression. When you look at it as a record about depression it give it a whole new meaning.
Another veteran with a new release this week is blues icon Buddy Guy. Buddy Guy’s Living Proof is his 63rd album (there might be more I’m unaware of) and it finds him in tiptop shape. Guy is now 76 and has stood on stage with everyone from Muddy Waters to Led Zeppelin. His anarchic style of playing has made his live shows legendary and the struggles of his life run deep in his music giving it soul and flavor few can touch. His newest album finds him looking back on his life, wondering about his mortality and even looking forward to what the future brings. It is touching, intense and a great achievement. For those who are unfamiliar with Buddy Guy, this isn’t a bad place to start. You can hear where he is now as he looks back upon the path he walked to get here then you can dig deeper into his catalog and find more about the stories he is telling now.
The third album on this week’s list is Monster Magnet‘s Mastermind. Mastermind is the veteran heavy metal band’s first studio record since 2007’s 4-Way Diablo. While it was 4-Way Diablo that got pushed back because of lead singer Dave Wyndorf‘s overdoes and troubles with prescription drugs, Mastermind seems like it deals heavily with those demons. Wyndorf growls and spits, showing his teeth and breathing lyrics that are insightful and often mention his wrestling with his inner demons. While those problems are sure to be a personal hell, they make for great art. Mastermind is melodic, yet filthy and filled with the dirty and grinding sound that made the band famous. I get the feeling as I listen to the record that the band is happy to be recording and still making music, but they want to make it very clear that they are still doing it on their terms and will kick your teeth in if you try to stop them. I don’t want to call this a rehab album, it is more of an document of Wyndorf’s struggles and desire to remain himself in the face of hard times. More importantly, it is balls out heavy metal at its finest.
So there you have it. Three very different options, but all are very good records that hopefully will provide you with a little bit of choice for this week. Whether you choose to rediscover James Taylor‘s debut, check out Buddy Guy still holding it down or Monster Magnet exploring their inner demons, I think you will enjoy what you find.
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