What our critics are listening to
12:25 PM, Nov 11, 2013
MATTHEW SWEET AND SUSANNA HOFFS
UNDER THE COVERS, VOL. 3. Always overly concerned with the state of the world, I feel like lightening up this week. Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs have released their third collection of ’80s pop covers. They admit they worship this music, and they were a part of it, Sweet somewhat quietly before taking off in 1992 with the power-pop hit “Girlfriend” and Hoffs with The Bangles. It’s sweet harmonies from start to finish, even if they do confess in the liner notes that they’re not quite sure of all of the words to R.E.M.’s “Sitting Still.” I love how Hoffs takes the lead on Dave Edmunds’ “Girls Talk,” a perfect gender swap. Sweet nails The Bongos’ urgent, ominous “The Bullrushes.” The Go-Go’s “Our Lips Are Sealed” is a pointless joy. You’ll listen to this and shout out suggestions of your own. “Some things you never outgrow,” Hoffs sings on The Pretenders’ “Kid,” and she’s right.
DEVIN THE DUDE
ONE FOR THE ROAD. Houston native Devin the Dude likes to keep his head in the clouds. His comical raps often include an ode to marijuana. But there is more to Devin the Dude than high times at a party. He’s a storyteller and a clever one. He spins yarns over crisp beats and some of his tales are introspective. “Life treasures will pass you up if you’re paddling slow,” he warns on the infectious “Livin’ This Life.” Man’s inhumanity to man is on his mind, too, as he raps about a man on the street: “I could even be his kin that didn’t recognize him walk right past and despise him.” Devin the Dude is not above a little romance, by the way. He sings about the sights and sounds of love in “Hear the Sound.” OK, I admit hearing him sing versus rapping or cracking jokes on a skit does seem a little odd. But I give him an A for throwing in the unexpected.
THE ORIGINAL MONO SESSIONS. This set of Miles Davis’ first Columbia recordings is as essential to the development of the jazz of his generation as the seminal hot fives and hot sevens recordings by Louis Armstrong were to that earlier generation. This box set contains the four great “first quintet” recordings (‘Round About Midnight, Someday My Prince Will Come, Milestones, and Kind of Blue), the three essential Miles Davis-Gil Evans big band collaborations (Sketches of Spain, Miles Ahead, and Porgy and Bess) and two rarities from that period (Jazz Track and Miles & Monk at Newport). For the sake of authenticity, the set has been released, as originally produced, in mono sound.These albums are beautiful, masterfully crafted and trendsetting.