New Recordings: Sinéad O'Connor; Dr. John; Literature
I'm Not Bossy, I'm the Boss
It has been a long time since Sinéad O'Connor was both an essential artist and an expert provocateur. Her signature Prince cover, "Nothing Compares 2 U," came out in 1990, and two years later, she ripped up a picture of Pope John Paul II on Saturday Night Live.
Musically, the 12-song set mostly rocks much harder than O'Connor's recent folk and reggae excursions, with aggressive tracks like "Voice of My Doctor" balanced by rewarding experiments like "James Brown," a collaboration with Afrobeat scion Seun Kuti. O'Connor is characteristically forthright about personal drama ("You know I love to make music, but my head got wrecked by the business," she sings
on "8 Good Reasons").
More important, she mostly succeeds in making her travails of concern to the listener as well as herself. The best example of that is "Take Me to Church," a winning anthem in which she still seeks spiritual solace in houses of worship, "but not the ones that hurt."
- Dan DeLuca
Ske-Dat-De-Dat: The Spirit of Satch
Always an enthusiastic ambassador for the music of his native New Orleans, Dr. John here pays tribute to the Crescent City's greatest, Louis Armstrong, with a bevy of guests. As "the spirit of" in the title suggests, this is no hidebound salute, but a chance for Dr. John to interpret in his own freewheeling fashion songs associated with Satchmo.
That's evident right off the bat. "What a Wonderful World" is faster and more ebullient than the somber Satchmo take, further animated by the vocals of the Blind Boys of Alabama and a Nicholas Payton trumpet solo, while "Mack the Knife" is given a funky Big Easy R&B makeover with a rap interlude by Mike Ladd.
Some of the selections take a more vintage approach, as in the finger-popping swing of "I've Got the World on a String" with Bonnie Raitt, or the supper-club elegance of "Memories of You." Fittingly, however, the set concludes with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band joining in on a rambunctious romp through "When You're Smiling (the Whole World Smiles With You)."
- Nick Cristiano
Philadelphia's Literature mines a specific time and place, and the musicians do it so well that Chorus, their second album, sounds fresh and timeless. Like the band Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Literature builds on the revved-up guitar rock that flourished on U.K. indie labels in the mid-'80s in bands like Orange Juice and the Wedding Present. Titles such as "The English Softhearts" and the occasional hints of a faux-British accent declare the members' status as Anglophiles.
Chorus gleefully careens through 12 tracks in less than 29 minutes, and the surface is filled with crisp and jangly guitars that propel bouncy melodies with catchy choruses. This is a gleaming, polished record, and zippy tracks like "The Girl, the Gold Watch, and Everything," "Dance Shoes," and "Kites" contain subtle production touches - reverb and percussion and electronics drop in and out, adding complexity to the simple fun of these compact, immediate songs.
- Steve Klinge
Literature, with the Drums and Beverly, plays Sept. 15 at the First Unitarian Church, 2125 Chestnut St. Tickets: $15. Information: 215-821-7575 or www.r5productions.com.
Top Albums in the Region
This Week Last Week
Locally Nationally Locally
1 1 Various Artists "Guardians of the Galaxy" Soundtrack 1
2 4 Gaslight Anthem Get Hurt -
3 6 5 Seconds of Summer 5 Seconds of Summer 5
4 2 Various Artists Now That's What I Call Music, Vol. 51 2
5 3 Various Artists "Frozen" Soundtrack 7
6 5 Troye Sivan Trxye -
7 10 Luke Bryan Crash My Party 11
8 7 Sam Smith In the Lonely Hour 8
9 13 Tank Stronger -
10 9 Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Hypnotic Eye 4
SOURCE: SoundScan (based on purchase data from Philadelphia and Montgomery, Delaware, Bucks, Chester, Camden, Burlington and Gloucester Counties). Billboard Magazine 8/30/14 © 2014
On Sale Tuesday
New Pornographers, Brill Bruisers;
Ty Segall, Manipulator;
Jill Barber, Fool's Gold;
Robyn Hitchcock, Man Upstairs