Gotta Lovett: A new album by Lyle |

Gotta Lovett: A new album by Lyle

Daily Staff Report
Special to the Daily

“Natural,” QuarterstickWith fresh outrages over the state of the world appearing in the newspaper every day, you would think that the righteous agitators in the Mekons would be in high dudgeon on “Natural,” the 26th album of the band’s 30-year career. But the album is tinged with more of an air of retreat than of resignation. “Satan’s longing is here to stay,” bemoans Tom Greenhalgh on the opening dirge, “Dark Dark Dark,” as if to throw up his hands and cry, “Don’t say we didn’t warn you!” The album plays like the aging punks decided to turn their backs on the world and enjoy the handbasket trip we seem to be on, thanks to a reliance on acoustic instruments, the rustic back-porch vibe of “The Old Fox,” a portrait of defiant farmers on “Give Me Wine or Money” and the apocalyptic tribal chant “Burning In The Desert Burning,” where the band sings of “martyrs queuing up for heaven.”It may not sound like punk, especially given the twitchy neo-con bashing Sturm und Drang of modern rabble-rousers such as Against Me!, but the Mekons know that nothing is more punk than rejecting modern society.- Stephen Haag

“It’s not Big, It’s Large,” Lost HighwayLyle Lovett is more than 20 years into a career that has combined his wit and rich musicianship into one of the most reliably engaging attractions on country’s fringes. The 49-year-old Texan’s music remains a wellspring of vibrant, roots-infused charm with lyrics founded on pleasantly offbeat insight for his first album in nearly four years, “It’s Not Big, It’s Large,” which nimbly traverses genres across an expanse of top-notch and cerebral songs.The album’s title captures his band’s nature, as the troupe nibbles at big-band swing on the splashy, brassy instrumental workout of Lester Young’s “Tickle Toe,” but also veers into subdued backdrops beneath Lovett’s tantalizing, reflective ballad “The Alley Song.” That versatility complements Lovett’s, whether he simmers on the stark reverie of “This Traveling Around” or prods a spiritual swell from a robust acoustic patchwork in “I Will Rise Up.”Lovett’s quirky approach blossoms in the twangy pulse of “All Downhill” and the intimacy of the jazz-inflected “No Big Deal,” and he sounds equally at home on two versions of the sprightly “Up in Indiana.”- Thomas Kintner

“Hey Hey My My Yo Yo,” RykodiscLucky Europeans and Japanese have been grooving to Junior Senior’s second album for the past two years, and now that the requisite record-label politics have been settled, stateside fans can finally do likewise.This is no small gift, considering the time and energy the Danish duo puts into setting off cranial pleasure sensors.As with its first album, the group herds its various influences into a single bubblegum stampede, lassoing hip-hop, synth-pop, girl-group and even Beatlesque sounds with equal skill and enthusiasm.Happy to (but not beyond) the point of ridiculousness, the new songs fit like silly ironic T-shirts, but Junior Senior doesn’t want you to laugh at its break dance beats or nods to Madonna and Michael Jackson. “I know you want to dance/ so come on and take the chance,” the pair sings on “Can I Get Get Get,” and they mean every word. If you don’t shake something, you will hurt their feelings.That was the gist of their last batch of songs, too, but here, they’ve raised the stakes, inviting members of Le Tigre and the B-52s to sip from the party punchbowl. Whatever the stuff is spiked with, it goes straight to the head.- Kenneth Partridge

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