MOST MESSED UP
Old 97’s (Ato)
The new album from the Old 97's shows you don't have to be young and stupid to make great rock and roll. Being middle-aged can work, too.
At 43, frontman Rhett Miller might be old enough to remember Chico Escuela. "Rock 'n' roll's been very, very good to me," he sings. Most Messed Up is a concept album, that rarity in these days of downloads, and Miller's exuberant embrace of excess and escapism makes for 12 terrific tunes. Guitarist Ken Bethea's cheerfully frantic fret work helps establish the mood, and with Tommy Stinson of the Replacements sitting in, several songs sound like 'Mats outtakes.
This is ramshackle rock, but not carefree. Miller sings about oceans of alcohol, mountains of weed, the ups and downs of pill-popping, and the charms of the road, such as motels with free ice. But he has one eye on the clock, noting that life's so short, there's barely time to cry. Make room for at least a few of these three-minute gems.
— STEVEN WINE,
Pixies (Pixies Music)
The odds are stacked against a good reception for the Pixies’ Indie Cindy, the alt-rock pioneers’ first album in 23 years.
First off, the Pixies’ previous four albums, especially 1989’s triumphant Doolittle, are so influential and beloved by generations of indie rockers that trying to compete with those memories would be difficult for anyone. Second, Pixies’ original bassist, Kim Deal, whose distinctive backing vocals and occasional lead vocals were a significant part of the band’s charm, plays no part in the album. And, finally, the bulk of Indie Cindy already has been released in a series of EPs in the past year.
However, singer-mastermind Black Francis, guitarist Joey Santiago, and drummer David Lovering have faced incredible odds before and come out on top. Indie Cindy is actually no different.
The title track pretty much lays out the argument. Francis snarls and sneers about the indie-rock lifestyle, while Santiago’s guitar matches the mood during the verses. But the chorus is completely conciliatory, sweetly requesting, “Be in love with me. I beg for you to carry me.”
While there are plenty of moments to reminisce about past Pixies triumphs — with echoes of Crackity Jones in What Goes Boom, and bits of Monkey Gone to Heaven mixed with Weezer for Jaime Bravo — the point here is to move forward, even if it means trying new things like the Britpop-tinged Ring the Bell or the off-center pop of Bagboy that aren’t as groundbreaking as the risk-taking, rebellious Pixies of old.
Indie Cindy showcases the solid Pixies of today, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
— GLENN GAMBOA,
NADA ES ETERNO
Michael Salgado (Zurdo Records)
Multi-Grammy Award winner Michael Salgado makes a triumphant return with Nada Es Eterno (Nothing is Eternal), one of his strongest, and musically versatile albums in decades.
One of the best-selling Tejano singer/musicians of 1990s and 2000s, most of Salgado’s albums have sounded bland during the past decade, as if the singer was merely going through the motions.
On his latest release, Salgado sings and plays his accordion with the same passion that first made him a superstar. Perhaps that’s due to the inclusion of son Andares “Andy” Salgado, 17, who appears on the uptempo cumbia remake of country artist Jo Dee Messina’s Because You Love Me.
Or, perhaps it’s because he’s updated his sound to include different genres of Latin music such as bachata, norteno, and even the country song Say Something, which is sung in English, a rarity for the native of Barrancos Chihuahua, Mexico.
Salgado will perform at Toledo’s East Side Cantina on Friday.
— FEDERICO MARTINEZ