Spotify My Soul – February 6

Resurrecting this column after a hiatus when Spotify was giving me trouble, but now all seems well again.  Here’s a few things I’ve been listening to the begin the new year.

  • David Ackles, Subway To The Country.  An artist I read about in Rough Trade’s The Best Music You’ve Never Heard, Ackles was a singer-songwriter who released several albums in the late 60s and early 70s.  A favorite of Elton John, he definitely has some of the theatrical flair of John and a voice that at times reminds me of Neil Diamond, though his subject matter often delved into darker territory than either of those artists.  He goes almost into full-on showtunes in 1972’s American Gothic, which was a little too much for me.  Subway to the Country, the album before Gothic, still has some orchestral moments, but also some countrified tunes with a standout being Main Line Saloon.
  • Dennis Wilson, Pacific Ocean Blues.  Best known for being the drummer in the Beach Boys and introducing Charles Manson to the Hollywood music industry, he should be better known for his really good solo album released in 1977.  A gravelly voice and some beautiful instrumentation that brother Brian would be proud of make for a really good listen from top to bottom.  Opener River Song is as good a place as any to start.
  • Can, Tago Mago.  Having a resurgence in popularity in recent years, this album was recently reissued in a 40th anniversary version with some bonus live material.  If you like sprawling rock music fueled by aggressive drumming, this is an album you’ll want to listen to.  There’s elements at times that presage a lot of noise rock that’s become it’s own genre.  Oh Yeah is my favorite, starting off with the sounds of thunder and rain and then melding into drums, bass and vocals that sound like they’ve been looped backwards.
  • Lana Del Rey, Born to Die.  Lizzy Grant’s transformation to Lana Del Rey started off well; the release of Video Games garnered a lot of well-deserved buzz.  The disaffected vocals bemoaning a lover more interested in video games than her affection along with some trip-hop backing makes for a legit good song.  Leaving aside some of the other reasons she’s gained unpopularity since then (see Pitchfork’s review for a rundown), the reality appears that she’s a one-trick pony.  Only Born to Die, the opener on her debut, catches any of the same magic as Video Games; the rest of the songs are just flat, they have the detached air Lana seems to exude on camera, which makes for a very boring album.

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