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Sound Bites: New LPs from Del Amitri, Dispatch, Dolenz

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This week’s edition of Sound Bites includes new albums from well-known artists, some of whom are releasing their first new music in years.

Del Amitri – “Fatal Mistakes” (Cooking Vinyl)

The Scottish rockers’ first album in nearly 20 years doesn’t contain anything as instantly infectious as their 1995 U.S. breakthrough hit “Roll to Me” but there’s enough song-craft on display here to suggest they’ve still got it. “Fatal Mistakes” fits well within the group’s discography with its blend of dark lyrics, bright melodies and brooding ballads. Still led by Justin Currie and Iain Harvie, the band’s trademark gallows humor is present on “Musicians and Beer” and “Losing the Will to Die” while the closing 7:39 dirge “Nation of Caners” is an indictment of excess that is probably about five minutes too long.

Dispatch – “Break our Fall” (Bomber/AWAL Recordings)

The eighth studio album from this roots rock band is a super-impressive addition to their catalog. Frontman Chad (Stokes) Urmston and Brad Corrigon have crafted a melodically strong collection of 15 meaningful songs spanning folk, rock, and reggae, combined with sharp social commentary and good old-fashioned storytelling. The anthemic ‘90s-ish alt-rocker “May We All” sets the tone with its sing-along chorus. “As Old As I” adopts a Senegal-style rhythm but its buoyant melody masks a dark tale of a couple attempting to escape peril. “The Legend of Connie Hawkins” tells the tale of how the high-flying legend became unjustly blackballed by the NBA. This is a knockout record from a band that nearly always delivers.

k.d. lang – “makeover” (Nonesuch)

Fans anxious for a new studio LP from vocalist k.d. lang will have to wait. This collection of dance remixes from 1992 to 2000 compiles some of the bonus tracks previously issued only to radio, club DJs or as extras on CD singles back in the day. If nothing else, they’re a reminder of the power of Lang’s voice, even dolled up with occasional effects and surrounded by auxiliary rhythms, there’s no denying that remarkable instrument’s way with a melody. Your mileage may vary but the best remixes, personified by the St. Tropez mix for “Miss Chatelaine,” keep her vocals to the fore while minimizing the synthetic percussion.

Micky Dolenz – “Dolenz Sings Nesmith” (7A)

This is an example of a good idea that turned out even better in execution. Mike Nesmith had proven himself a fine composer long before he landed a role on “The Monkees.” Nez’s post-Monkees songwriting output was even more impressive when he bridged rock with country with The First National Band and a series of influential solo albums.

Monkee Micky Dolenz told Variety he’s long wanted to record versions of his favorite Nesmith tunes for a solo project much like his friend Harry Nilsson did with the songs of Randy Newman. Micky chose the songs wisely and tapped Mike’s son, Christian, to produce “Dolenz Sings Nesmith,” 13 vintage Nesmith tracks cast in a new light with distinctly different arrangements and surprising production. Dolenz is in excellent voice throughout.

The best-known track here, “Different Drum,” had been rejected by The Monkees’ producers but became a hit for The Stone Poneys (with Linda Ronstadt). Here it becomes an acoustic power pop gem. The Eastern-arranged version of “Circle Sky,” originally recorded by The Monkees, sounds like it came from the streets of Rishikesh, complete with sitars and tablas. The closing “Only Bound” is a powerhouse of music and emotion, first as a song, and as it appears here with Dolenz’s touching voice embraced with a late ‘60s Beach Boys-esque production. Dolenz and Nesmith will be together this fall for The Monkees’ farewell tour, scheduled to take place between September and November.

Last modified on Tuesday, 01 June 2021 22:55


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