The Silversun Pickups on alienation, aging and angst
SILVERSUN PICKUPS Swoon (Dangerbird)
OK, the Silversun Pickups didn’t snag that best new artist Grammy this year — that went to country rocker Zac Brown – but the fact they were in the running at all underscores the momentum the L.A.-based band has been generating since its 2006 debut, Carnavas.
With last year’s sophomore effort, Swoon, guitarist/singer Brian Aubert and company made good on the promise of their debut, delivering a richly layered sonic attack swirling with symphonic synthesizers and fuzzed-out guitars. Aubert’s boyish voice rides the top of the atmospheric mix as he sings about alienation (“No Secrets This Year,” “Panic Switch”), aging (“Growing Old is Getting Old”) and fragile relationships (“Surrounded (or Spiraling”).
The Silversun Pickups open for Muse at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the 1stBANK Center in Broomfield. Tickets are $39.50 to $49.50.
THE HOLMES BROTHERS Feed My Soul (Alligator)
When Blues Revue magazine polled its editors and contributors to choose the Top 25 blues albums of the past decade, the Holmes Brothers’ Simple Truths was among the chosen few. Feed My Soul is contender for this one and already reached No. 1 album on the Billboard blues album chart.
Reuniting with singer Joan Osborne, who produced 2001’s Speaking in Tongues, guitarist Wendell Holmes, bass player Sherman Holmes and drummer Popsy Dixon deliver the brand of blues, soul, country and rock that has long been their trademark.
With their roots gospel-laced harmonies intact, you wouldn’t know that Wendell Holmes has been battling cancer, though you get a hint of his struggle on “Fair Weather Friend,” a kiss-off to someone he expected would be there for him during his time of need. He also delivers a great anthem for the Great Recession with “Edge of the Ledge.” Brother Sherman shines on “Dark Cloud,” a universal plea for righteousness. Among the handful of covers is a fine version of the Beatles’ “I’ll Be Back.”
Watch a video of Holmes Brothers and Joan Osborne talking about recording the album.
VARIOUS ARTISTS Stax Number Ones (Stax/Concord)
Consider this 15-track collection a Stax Records starter set — a great soundtrack for the road or the party but just a taste of the iconic label’s Southern soul vault. Using the now-commonplace conceit of compiling No. 1 Billboard singles – in this case mostly from the R&B chart – Stax Number Ones presents some of the best-known Stax hits, including Isaac Hayes’ “Theme from Shaft,” Sam and Dave’s “Soul Man,” and Jean Knight’s “Mr. Big Stuff”
Only five of the songs, leading off with Booker T. & the MGs’ instrumental “Green Onions,” come from the label’s mid’60s days when it was associated with Atlantic Records. So the focus is on the late’60s/early ’70s, when Johnnie Taylor racked up three No. 1s, including his biggest hit, “Who’s Making Love,” and the Staples Singers scored two, including “I’ll Take You There.”
Some Stax artists never hit No. 1 so you’ll have to look elsewhere for cuts by William Bell, Carla Thomas or Albert King. (All but one of the songs on Stax Number Ones appeared on the 2007 double-disc Stax 50th Anniversary Collection, a 50-track set that presents a deeper look at the label.)