by John M. Borack
Heading into the home stretch...
THE MUFFS - Happy Birthday to Me
The Muffs’ Happy Birthday to Me has received the deluxe reissue treatment from Omnivore Recordings on the occasion of the album’s 20th anniversary, and it includes seven bonus tracks, typically hilarious liner note commentary from Ronnie Barnett and Kim Shattuck (and some serious-by-comparison musings from drummer Roy McDonald), and a gaggle of great Shattuck songs. I’ve always been partial to “Is It All Okay?” and the snotty-and-loving-it “I’m a Dick,” but those two are only the tip of the iceberg on a record that has “more hooks than my daddy’s fishing hat,” according to McDonald. Grade: A-
The Beatles: Fab Finds of the Fab Four by Noah Fleischer
Noah Fleischer is the public relations director of Heritage Auctions, the world’s largest collectibles auction house, and he provides a look at all sorts of Beatles (and solo Beatles) (and Beatles-related) collectible items in this well-designed book. It’s photo heavy, with tons of images of vintage items (courtesy of Heritage and Julien’s Auctions) that take the reader through the days of the struggling, pre-fame Beatles and the heady days of Beatlemania through their psychedelic years and later, their solo careers. There are also interesting background stories regarding many of the items, including the much-coveted ones that Ringo Starr himself put up for auction a few years back. Most interesting are the notes and letters written by the Fabs, as well as the many photos that will most likely be new to even the most ardent Beatles nut. A nicely done book that belongs in every Beatles collector's library. Grade: A-
Two singles to hip you to: Australian power pop legends DM3 have a new one out (“Monsters” b/w “Before You Go”), and it’s as good as one would hope considering DM3 leader Dom Mariani’s outstanding pop pedigree. The a-side features the Hoodoo Gurus’ Brad Shepherd on lead guitar and has a bit of “Won’t Get Fooled Again” keyboards underneath the guitars; the flip is a garden variety DM3 power pop gem. Let’s hear more! Grade: A
Syracuse, New York’s favorite power poppin’ sons the Flashcubes have unleashed their first 45 in nearly 40 (!) years, and it features two smokin’ covers of vintage Chris Spedding tunes (“Boogie City” b/w “Hey Miss Betty”). The band sounds tighter than ever and Arty Lenin, who provides lead vocals on both songs, puts ‘em both across with conviction. Grade: A
KARLA KANE – King's Daughters Home for Incurables
From Karla Kane’s website: “Karla Kane’s debut solo album, King’s Daughters Home for Incurables, leads listeners into an intriguing land of acorns and tea leaves; feminism and fairy tales; pagan pop and pastoral protest songs; whimsical wanderings and sharp observations on the current state of the world. It’s a place for chronic worriers, hopeless romantics, Anglophiles, patriarchy smashers and gentle dreamers, where sunny California indie meets melancholy English folk and the redwood meets the oak.”
Well, yeah, that pretty much sums it up. Do I still have to write a review? Okay, twist my arm.
Kane’s long-player is often as adorable as it is pastoral, and much of it is in a similar vein to her work with the Corner Laughers, although a bit more muted. Her CL bandmates all make appearances here, as does the legendary British folk/pop eccentric, Martin Newell (on “Wishing Tree”). Kane’s sweet vocals glide gracefully atop winning stabs at British folk (the title track), quiet lullabies (“Don’t Hush, Darling”), a moody-sounding, piano-based tune (“Under the Oak in May”), quirky-yet-pretty ukulele-led splendor (“Midsommar”), and an absolutely luverly remake of the Corner Laughers’ “Grasshopper Clock.” Intricate, thoughtful and unique, King’s Daughters Home for Incurables is a delight. Inspirational lyric: “I don’t know if this machine can kill fascists/maybe annoying them’s all right for now.” Grade: A-