Vail CD Reviews: Phosphorescent honors Willie Nelson
To Willie Dead Oceans3.5 stars of 5On Phosphorescents tribute to the lesser-known songs of Willie Nelson, you dont get a feeling that Phosphorescents Matthew Houck is any more stable than Nelson was when he originally recorded these songs and thats the way it should be.The album, released Tuesday on Dead Oceans Records, steers well away from the Mamas Dont Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys or the Whiskey Rivers and hits on Nelsons songs that are just as well-written, but not quite as frequently played.Houck doesnt stray too far from the original feel of tunes like I Gotta Get Drunk or The Partys Over, and he brings in a full band for the albums more upbeat tracks.But Houcks most effective covers are the ones he seems to hold most dear the ones that dont necessarily involve getting drunk, though he doesnt leave any doubt that he and Nelson have no problem with drunkenness. On Can I Sleep In Your Arms, Houck leaves the band aside and records himself over and over until he makes a gently broken choir.Its that kind of balance and total lack of polish that sets To Willie apart from a run-of-the-mill tribute record. Margaret Hair, Steamboat Pilot & Today
Pauls Boutique (20th Anniversary Edition) Capitol5 stars of 5Pauls Boutique is easily the Beastie Boys best record the lyrics are funny, but not quite as snotty as those on Licensed to Ill, and the sample-heavy production from The Dust Brothers beats anything that hit the Beastie Boys before or after.The record turns 20 years old this month, and the Beasties have released a digitally re-mastered edition to celebrate complete with a broken-down version of the final track, B-Boy Bouillabaise, and a bunch of packaged deals of music videos, T-shirts, CDs and vinyl through the bands Web site.The re-mastered sound cleans up a few of the late-80s sound splits from the original edition, but mostly the Pauls Boutique re-issue is a reminder that 20 years later, the Beastie Boys formula is as simple and memorable as it ever was. There are three singers, and this is what they do: Solo line, solo line, solo line, unison rhyme. Thats all there is to it, and it never gets old.Thats probably because on Pauls Boutique, those lines include thoughts like Ive never been dumped because Im the most mackinest and Because I be droppin the new science, and I be kickin the new ka-nowledge. The albums production is all over the place, from the farm sounds in the background of The Sounds of Science to the gooey bass beat on the Hello Brooklyn section of B-Boy to the soul intro on Hey Ladies.For anyone whos heard it, Pauls Boutique cant be mistaken for anything else. Thats why 20 years after it came out its still one of hip-hops best records. Margaret Hair, Steamboat Pilot & Today
Years of Refusal Lost HighwayAnother year, another dashed hope for a Smiths reunion at Coachella. But fortunately, ever since 2004s You Are the Quarry, weve had unexpectedly solid Morrissey solo records to salve those wounds. Hes settled nicely into his current role as the hipster Sinatra (equal parts cocky crooner and beleaguered dirty uncle), and Years of Refusal isnt just the loudest thing Morrissey has done in the 00s, its also the best.The record starts off with a wallop: Something Is Squeezing My Skull is bolstered by a nasty, punkish guitar. Its the first hint of the instrumental urgency that runs through Years, as All You Need Is Me and One Day Goodbye Will Be Farewell wouldnt feel too out of place on an Undertones or Stiff Little Fingers album.Divergences like lead single Im Throwing My Arms Around Paris and When I Last Spoke to Carol blow the sound out with widescreen bombast and mariachi horns to great effect, even if the whole operation is hugely self-aware of the necessary tropes of a Great Morrissey Album.His lyrical fangs are sharpened accordingly, and potential Facebook status updates abound on Years. No one else has the mojo to pull off one-liners such as Its not your birthday anymore, theres no need to be kind to you. Fortunately Years backs up the barbs with some real musical muscle. August Brown, L.A. Times-Washington Post
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