Richard Thompson compared his bumpy marriage to Linda Thompson to a roller coaster named "the Wall of Death" and Pink picks up this carnivalesque thread, calling her troubled relationship with motocross star Carey Hart a Funhouse on her own entry into a long prestigious line of autobiographical divorce albums that stretches back to Blood on the Tracks. Naturally, Funhouse doesn't have any musical similarities with either Blood or Shoot Out the Lights, but Pink's divorce album is also emotionally different than either of these classics or Marvin Gaye's Here, My Dear…
All the tribute albums in the Magna Carta catalog tread dangerous ground. How can they give the artists room to stretch and still maintain enough of the original spirit to capture the art-rock audience that knows these songs by heart? "Supper's Ready" manages to walk that fine line for the most part, with strong contributions by Annie Haslam, Kevin Gilbert (a trombone solo on "Back in NYC" works impossibly well) and Magna Carta label workhorses Robert Berry, Trent Gardner and Magellan, and Shadow Gallery. On the down side, John Goodsall, guitarist of Phil Collins' jazz offshoot, Brand X, is wasted on "Carpet Crawlers." Matching him with vocalist Michael Zentner is a disservice.
Three albums in the novelty has worn off, but Dengue Fever has smartly chosen to keep evolving. While that means their unquestionably unique offering no longer startles, it's no less riveting – Venus on Earth is at once the band's most accessible and most varied release. A recap: when first heard from in 2003 on their self-titled debut, Dengue Fever was like no other band, a bunch of L.A. hipsters fronted by a Cambodian-born woman, Chhom Nimol, who paid homage to that Asian nation's pre-Pol Pot cheesy psychedelic-cum-lounge-surf-garage pop sound of the '60s/early '70s, music obscure enough that only a tiny handful of Americans could honestly claim to have known the first thing about it – certainly, the source material spun outside of the orbit of the so-called core world music audience.
Dreamlike beautiful music imagery and melodies, embedded in a variety of lyrical soundscapes create moods, which we know from our children's days. The music accompanies us on a meditative journey to unconcern, peace and tranquility, which can inspire our creativity. Let yourself be enchanted by a sea of melodies and embark on a timeless world of dream and fantasy.
There are a number of arguments to be made for and against Maria Muldaur's 2008 antiwar statement Yes We Can! on Telarc (before actually listening to it; remember, we live in a cynical culture). The "perceived" negatives all relate to the intent of the recording and who it's supposed to reach (no doubt an expression of the same set of beliefs rooted in Muldaur's 1960s music), and the fact that it's loaded with guests (in all fairness, these star-studded affairs seldom work). On Yes We Can!, her guests include Muldaur's old friends (Joan Baez, Bonnie Raitt, Phoebe Snow, Jane Fonda, and Holly Near) and influences (Odetta) and new pals (writers/spiritual gurus Anne Lamott and Marianne Williamson, and Indian spiritual teacher Amma). Does it read as if it is yet another exercise in self-referential backslapping? Yep. But don't believe everything you read on the back of a CD jacket. The positives are all musical.