New Music – Ludinda Williams, Ray LaMontagne, and Keane

Here’s what I’ve been listening to this week. What non-Idol music has been on your Ipod?

Lucinda Williams – Little Honey – Alt-country queen, Lucinda Williams has been one of my favorites since her 1989 self-titled release.   A gifted songwriter, Williams often pens songs that are dark and wrenching.   But this latest outing finds her in a happier mood.   While the subject matter may be lighter, the music–sh*t kicking blues and rock–is tougher than past outings.   There’s even a cover of an AD/DC song, “Long Way to the Top.” As always, her honey-rough vocals cut right to the heart of her songs. Do I have to pick favorites?   Well, OK:   “Jailhouse Tears” Elvis Costello duets!   The raucous and joyful opening track “Real Love, ”   and the soulful “The Knowing”–which brings Curtis Mayfield to mind. Amazon iTunes

Ray LaMontagne – Gossip in the Grain – Admittedly, I hadn’t heard of the singer-songwriter Ray LaMontagne until Taylor Hicks performed his song “Trouble” during the Season 5 competition.   I know Taylor turned a lot of his fans onto Ray’s music, so I’d be remiss not to include him in my post this week.   And actually, I’ve also come to appreciate the notoriously shy singer/songwriter’s impressive talents. This, his third album, should not disappoint his fans.  Raspy, soulful vocals wrap around songs that hark back to singer/songwriters of the 70’s like Van Morrison and Jackson Browne. Favorites:  “Meg White” an ode to the White Stripes drummer. Seriously!   “Sarah”, which sounds like it belongs on Morrison’s Astral Weeks and the delicate “Winter Birds.” Amazon

Keane – Perfect Symmetry -My first listen through Keane’s latest had me scratching my head, and a tad disappointed.   Synthesizers replacing piano at the center of their sound?   Adding   *gasp* guitars to the mix?   WTF?   If I wanted this shiz,   I’d wipe the dust off my old Talk Talk albums. Or listen to The Killers. Ha ha. But, damn if I wasn’t totally hooked by my third listen.   In fact, I’m completely mesmerized by this record.   It’s still got the big, hooky choruses the band is known for, with the 80’s new wave influences expanding and twisting their sound in a welcome way.   Favorites:   “Better Than This”, “You Haven’t Told Me” and “Playing Along” have ringing choruses that I can’t get out of my head.   I’m going to turn up the volume until I can’t even think.   Amazon iTunes

New Singles:   Those crafters of clever pop songs, The Decemberists, have a new double single available for download.   “Valerie Plame, ” an ode to the outed CIA agent,   boasts banjo and horns around a jaunty melody that ends in a “Hey Jude” like singalong. Love is lost in the less-impressive, “O New England.” Tip: You don’t need tokens on the Blue Line any more!   iTunes

Not So New: Thanks to Cheese and PJ for turning me on to the indie band Ra Ra Riot. Strings, guitars, great hooks = pop songs made of win! Me likey. Amazon iTunes

Videos after the JUMP!!!

Lucinda Williams on David Letterman – Real Love

Ray LaMontagne – Winterbirds (more videos at this page)

Keane – Video for Spiralling

The Decemberists – Valerie Plame

Ra Ra Riot on David Letterman – Can You Sing

Ra Ra Riot – Video for Ghost Under Rocks

About mj santilli 35003 Articles
Founder and editor of, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted. I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!