The Decemberists – The King is Dead

A fine cheese platter that gives a tasteful variety—one song folk rock, the next alternative country and another baroque pop. Though the king may be dead, an allusion I would guess to be about Michael, good music is far from the grave with an album like this. The only anchor that weighed this album down are spots in which the sound became uncomfortably overwhelming from too many clashing instruments. Indie kids, praise your independent God for this blessing.

Cage the Elephant – Thank You, Happy Birthday

“While the world goes down the drain, I eat my popcorn from the bag.” A punk axiom about the world having a problem and a blues statement about how we are insignificant viewers of it all. An odd combination for sure, but it’s a lovely descriptor of CtE’s unique sound. Punk blues could not have been better made than by this young band who are only two albums deep. Open your eyes for this one if you want to see punk go blue.

Cake – Showroom of Compassion

Average voice, average lyrics, average music, average band name and average album—even their standouts are clumsy copies of other good things already done. It was not the worst nor the best but rather like an 8:30 a.m. class: you might be better stimulated by it if you managed to be fully present while lstening. This is the slice of cake that you will not remember; put down this piece and skewer one of today’s better selections.

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