New Releases: Robert Randolph, David Lynch, Andy Kaufman, Frank Black, Pet Shop Boys

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I write a very similar to this column over at Cinema Sentries in which I discuss the new weekly DVD/Blu-ray releases. Two weeks into talking about new CD releases has made me realize how drastically different DVD releases are from music.  With movies I can pretty quickly get an idea of whether or not I'll like the release.  DVDs are usually released after a film has been in the theatres, and many times older films will get some kind of new release as well.  I can glean information about whether or not I'll like a movie based on the director, actors, etc.  I can read about the plot and story.  I can read reviews and listen to the buzz.  All of these things help me decide whether or not I'm interested in a particular movie release or not.

Much of these things are not available to me for new music.  If I've heard previous music by the artist of course I can use that to help me to gauge interest in new music by them.  Ditto for big named producers.  Buzz does grow with certain releases, but each week their are multiple albums coming out from folks who are releasing their very first album, or who have not generated any positive commentary by folks I follow.  I have no doubt there are perfectly wonderful songs that enter into the flow each and every week that I'll simply never know about.  Or that I'll learn about much later.  Such is the nature of music. 

This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it does add an interesting challenge to writing this column.  Bear with me dear reader, I'll try to sort through the releases and talk about at least some of the interesting things headed your way. Please do leave me a comment if you know of something brilliant that I've left out.

  • Lickety Split by Robert Randolph and the Family Band: I'm not ultra familiar with Randolph's music, and I can't say I love everything I've heard, but there is no doubting the dude's talent.  Man plays the pedal steel guitar like a spirit possessed.  New music by crazy talented people is always welcome in my book.
  • The Big Dream by David Lynch: Known more for his surrealist nightmare films David Lynch has recently started creating his own music.  I've not heard a lick of it but word of mouth says it is both as weird and wonderful as his filmic output. This album sees Lynch writing most of his own songs and covering the Bob Dylan track "Ballad of Hollis Brown," which has got to be interesting at the very least.
  • Andy and His Grandmother by Andy Kaufman: Probably best known for his role in the hit television series Taxi, Kaufman was also a strange - no bizarre comedian who played som many surrealistic stunts one is never sure where his act ended and his real life began.  This is an archival release canvassing over 82 hours he recorded on a microcassette that he carried with him at all time.  Who knows what crazy, ridiculous, hilarious things he captures while living his life.
  • Oddballs by Frank Black: Originally a very limited release going out to the few folks who attended his live shows in 2000, this collection of oddities, b-sides and obscure tracks come mostly from Black's mid-'90s albums Teenager of the Year and Cult of Ray.
  • Electric by the Pet Shop Boys: New music from those darling '80s dance boys.