Translator: “Sometimes People Forget”
Remember Translator, the cool San Francisco band behind the 1980s alternative radio hit “Everywhere That I’m Not”? No? Well, maybe this twenty-two track compilation which collects raw demos (all unreleased) from the painfully underrated 415 records band will jog your memory. Unlike a lot of demo compilations that sound like CDs of unfinished works, the tracks here are fresh and vibrant with a punk rock edge.
Alicia Witt: “Revisionary History”
Yes, that Alicia Witt. The actress from “House Of Lies,” “Justified,” “Cybill,” and “Dune.” And no, this is not another vanity CD of piss poor cabaret songs from a beautiful woman. It’s a piano driven rock record along the lines of Billy Joel, Elton John, and Ben Folds. The latter even produced this disc, on which he also sings, plays drums, bass and more. Tracks like the rollicking “About Me” will have you dancing, while the ballads “Theme From Pasadena (You Can Go Home Again”) and “Consolation Prize” will move you to tears. This CD is so good you’ll forget Witt is anything other than an extremely talented musician.
Hall and Oates: “Live In Dublin”
“Kiss On My List,” “Sara Smile,” “She’s Gone,” There’s no denying the four-plus decade run of hit-making duo Daryl Hall and John Oates. This impressive 2 CD and 1 DVD package showcases the group’s first ever live show in Dublin, Ireland. These live takes on their classic catalog allow for the band to really jam and explore the material. Some of the best moments in this much anticipated show come from Hall & Oates ripping through their early material.
Colin Hay: “Next Year People”
Like a fine wine, Colin Hay’s trademark voice gets better with age. The one time leader of eighties hitmakers Men At Work has spent the last fifteen years creating some of the best singer-songwiter albums you’ve never heard. Or maybe you have? His music has been featured on TV and in films. His latest, “Next Year People” is a well-crafted and perfectly executed document of acoustic guitar based quality.
Rick Springfield: “Stripped Down”
A man, his stories, and his electric guitar. That’s what you get on this live and raw album from the man once known as “Dr. Noah Drake.” On it, Springfield dissects and then rebuilds his classic hits including “Don’t Talk To Strangers,” “Human Touch,” and “Jessie’s Girl” with a sense of humor. The result is deeply personal and full of musical joy.
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds: “Chasing Yesterday”
The second CD from former Oasis guitarist/songwriter Gallagher washes over the listener like a psychedelic shower. The guitars are big and mesmerizing, but unlike the tunes he created with his previous band, the songs here don’t have the memorable hooks and sing along choruses you need to turn a good track into a legendary one. A- for effort.
Cassandra Wilson: “Coming Forth By Day”
For her latest document of aural beauty, the chanteuse pays tribute to one of her most obvious influences — Billie Holiday. Teaming up with Nick Cave cohort Nick Launay for an edgy and stunning document to the jazz legend, the result is the perfect Sunday morning soundtrack, packed with sultry takes on Billie’s best. No one does sultry like Cassandra Wilson.
The Pop Group: “Citizen Zombie”
The Pop Group is not pop, but rather an experimental art collective that since the ‘70s has played challenging experimental rock. Hard to describe, impossible to classify, but easy to enjoy, this disc—the band’s first in over three decades—is a crashing pile of noisy brilliance that should help secure the influential band’s rightful place in rock history. Like The Fall, The Pop Group is smarter than your favorite band. Unless your favorite band is The Fall.
Saxon: “Heavy Metal Thunder: Bloodstock Edition”
“Denim and leather brought us together!” So goes the ultimate heavy metal battle cry from these British hard rock stalwarts. This ultimate collection of their greatest hits on 2 CDS, includes all the original head banging studio recordings as well as capturing Biff and the boys live in concert in 2014. Bang your head! Do it now!
Game Theory: “Real Nighttime”
I imagine the conversation. “Budding musical genius, Scott Miller, meet indie rock producer extraordinaire. Now please, go make brilliant music together.” That’s exactly what happened in 1985 when Miller and the band worked with Mitch Easter (R.E.M. / Let’s Active) on Game Theory’s second full length album. The perfect storm of talent and ambition, now lovingly reissued with 13 bonus tracks, the album is a lovely reminder of pure pop perfection. Now, please, bring on the expanded “Lolita Nation!”
Immortal Randy Rhoads: Ultimate Tribute
This CD is exactly what the title describes. A kickass collection of covers made famous by the guitar god during his way too short time on earth. A who’s who of top notch axe men ranging from George Lynch (Dokken) to Dweezil Zappa to Bruce Kulick (Kiss) to Gus G and Doug Aldrich handle the guitar world while Vinny Appice and Rudy Sarzo nail down the rhythms. Toss in vocals by Ripper Owens, Chuck Billy and Serj from System Of a Down and you truly have the ultimate tribute to Rhoades and his six string genius.
Roger Taylor: “Fun In Space” & “Strange Frontier”
Queen drummer’s 1980s era albums get the remastered, reissued treatment here on CD and vinyl, each adding a slew of solid bonus tracks. “Fun In Space” is a underappreciated 1981 gem that now also features Taylor’s 1977 single, “I Want To Testify.” While “Strange Frontier,” recorded during Queen’s “The Works” time period, is a crunchy chunk of eighties rock. Both feature Roger’s more than competent vocals.
Van Halen: “Live From Tokyo Dome.”
Here it is, the first every live Van Halen CD. Wait! Is that really right? Has this legendary band never released a live record in their career? Nope. So Live from Tokyo Dome captures Eddie, Alex, Wolfgang and Diamond Dave blasting through the band’s monster tracks, including “Runnin’ With The Devil,” “Jump” and “Unchained.” Sure, Roth’s voice is rough and falters in some spots, but Eddie’s wailing, Wolfgang’s monster bottom and Alex’s double kick assault make this a must have for your CD collection.
Polaris: “Music from The Adventures Of Pete & Pete”
Who are Polaris? They are three fourths of Miracle Legion including singer Mark J Mulcahey. But you knew that. You loved the oddball cult favorite show from whence they came that aired for three seasons on Nickelodeon. Available exclusively on vinyl for this year’s record store day, the one and only LP from the made for TV band is gangly guitar goodness. With songs like “Hey Sandy,” “Waiting For October,” and “She Is Staggering” you’ll be wondering why you don’t already own this lost gem. Can’t find the LP? I-tunes has the songs for sale.