Clearing Out The Mailroom: Monday, May 10, 2010

We've got quite a backlog of CDs we've never gotten around to, so we're going to try to chip away at the pile with this regular feature. The plan: to take a few at a time and play each CD for as long as I can stand it.

Peter Wolf Crier
Inter-Be (Jagjaguwar)

Not to be confused with the excellent new record from former J. Geils Band leader Peter Wolf, this Minneapolis-based duo successfully effervesces a quirkiness that never flutters into the ether of meaningless irony. Setting aside the various other bands they have performed in recently, Peter Pisano (of The Wars of 1812) enlisted the help of Brian Moen to flesh out the ideas that he had already put to paper. This album is a raw, lo-fi, less evolution-intensive alternative to the extremely solid Low Anthem record that captured so many critical hearts last year. Surging from fuzzy to melodic and quiet to loud with a cohesive beauty and ease, Inter-Be is strong enough to make these guys turn Peter Wolf Crier into their prime gigs--instead of something on the side.
I made it: 30 seconds into track 7, "Demo 1."

Infestation (Road Runner)

Thanks to the same label that last week brought us Meat Loaf's unsuccessful trip down memory lane, we see that Ratt is back. Infestation is a decadent and entertaining effort that proves Stephen Pearcy and Warren DeMartini didn't leave any glam or spandex behind at whichever retirement home they've been living at for the last several years. Immediately boasting a return to their early 1980s aerosol-dispensed heyday, the metal forerunners deftly stride a studded and spiked line that lies between revisiting the glory days that have long been gone and reveling unpretentiously in what is seemingly the only thing they really know how to do--play "Round and Round," the song that made them famous, over and over again. Sure, the new songs have different titles and even have different lyrics, but those minor details do little to disguise what's really going on here, even if it is pretty damn entertaining.
I made it: 1:10 into track 4, "Look Out Below."

Mike Stinson
The Jukebox In Your Heart (Stag Records)

Rounding out a rather successful week here in the mailroom, we have the new disc from Houston (by way of SoCal) honky-tonk hero Mike Stinson. Stinson's insanely enjoyable third album was helped along by an insanely talented bunch, including Austin's Jesse Dayton and the criminally underappreciated Jim Laudedale. Stinson has always had a penchant for bringing the neon-lit sounds of the past into the present while maintaining their luster and preventing the retro vibes of each tune from gathering layers of dust. Mixing classic country subject matter like booze and heartache with beautiful, weeping ribbons of pedal steel magic, Stinson has crafted a true, hardwood-tested drinking album here. But, be forewarned, for anyone listening to this record while imbibing and also sharing some of the tragic emotional circumstances as the songs themselves, lock the door and hide the keys. It'll be a long, sad night.
I made it to: Track 8, "Beauty Queen Eyes."

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