Two Glasses Of Wine, One For You and One for the Voice coming from your Stereo or Josh Rouse – The Embers Of Time

 

joshembers

There was a point in the early 2000’s that looked like Josh Rouse would become more of a household name. He had released three albums in a row that showed the promise of a great songwriter who was gaining a larger audience and critical praise with each subsequent record. Under Cold Blue Stars, 1972 and Nashville had built a foundation for a promising and what looked like a long career. Then… well, it’s difficult to say. His Brill Building observational song writing just seemed to start blending and newer material started to quickly find a home in the CD collection marked “I’ll listen later.” You know, the albums that eventually find their way into the used bins at the local record store. As a fan, I just couldn’t follow him in his newer direction and I stopped paying attention.

So, a month ago Rouse releases The Embers Of Time and it wasn’t until this week that I finally decided to give it a spin.

WOW!

There it is!

Everything that made me listen before is back plus other influences popping out that I hadn’t seen before. This time, not only has his brand of folksy Americana brought in reminiscences of Carol King and James Taylor, but now you get Paul Simon and Stray Gator era Neil Young added to the mix. Simple observations of a trip to the bar or losing sleep become a musical conversation about how things are going with an old friend. It gets to the point where you pour two glasses of wine, one for yourself and another for the voice coming from your stereo. Sometimes reconnecting leaves you wondering why you ever parted ways in the first place.

The Embers of Time can be found on all the usual music formats including vinyl.

Top Three New Vinyl Releases of 2014 #2 – Brill Bruisers by The New Pornographers

Brill Bruisers

The New Pornographers

Last Gang Records

NP-vinyl-colours-v2_1024x1024

http://lastgang.myshopify.com/collections/music-vinyl/products/brill-bruisers

 

I’ve been a fan for a number of years, but I will admit to not having as much faith in the New Pornographers for a couple records now. So believe me, when Brill Bruisers first started spinning on my turntable, I was ecstatic. There is nothing hit or miss about this album in both the music and presentation. It all out RAWKS!

For lack of better explanation and categorization, I’d call this the best power-pop record I’ve heard by the band yet. The promise of their first three records comes to total fruition with a glorious record that doesn’t lean on any one sound for very long.

In the past it often seemed like some songs would come off as weighing a little too heavily on the sound of one instrument to drive their song while others stayed in the background. It would only be certain songs where the mix encouraged everyone to put it all out at once (think “Mass Romantic”).  Brill Bruisers doesn’t do this. It is playful and gives everyone their due.

Think of this record like the 1970’s Montreal Canadians during their cup wins. The band is loaded with talent and now they’ve learned how to work beyond one or two people carrying the team at a time. Instead they are just one cohesive unit firing on all cylinders.  It is just that frickin’ brilliant

Now don’t ask me why that is, perhaps being apart on other projects has given them a new found joy when they get together. Or maybe they’re letting some ‘nerdier’ 70’s influence seep into their music (think ELO who they have recently been covering, or the obvious reference to the Brill building itself). Whatever the case, it is working for them.

So by itself the music is outstanding on this record… but it didn’t stop there. Having ordered it in advance direct from their website (actually, the same edition is out in your local record stores, you just don’t get your choice of colour), it arrived at my home in a glorious 12” inch cover depicting multi coloured neon fun. Then I rip into it, and find cool 70’s style 3D glasses, a large poster of the album cover. Put on the glasses and the poster shimmers in glorious “ChromaDepth 3D”. Pull the record out of the sleeve and the vinyl is a translucent light blue and just looks damn fine spinning on my stereo. Add to that the down load card and you get one awesome package.

Brill Bruisers is the very definition of why I like my music on vinyl. It isn’t just the songs that stand out, but the entire experience is expanded to be a visual and tactile art as well. Now if only they could have packed a club sandwich in with this and I would really be jumping up and down with joy.