Monday, November 29, 2010

Record of the Month

I figured I'd do a monthly 'what I'm listening to' kind of thing. This could be viewed as a lame placeholder kind of post. And probably it is. But it's my blog! So there!

How is it that Jenny Lewis has dominated my Record of the Month category in one fashion or the other?

Two have been her solo albums (the first being my first Record of the Month, back in 2006!), a Rilo Kiley disk and now this album: Jenny & Johnny - I'm Having Fun Now.

The disk works much better than Lewis' last solo disk, Acid Tongue or Rilo Kiley's last release. The disk title, I'm Having Fun Now, seems almost telling. It's a lot more approachable and light-hearted than what Lewis has been up to since Rabbit Fur Coat. They actually seems like they are having a good time.

I don't know from Jonathan Rice at all, so I can't comment on if this is more his style or not, but whatever they do together works - for the most part.
I can seemingly tell which songs are mostly Lewis ("While Men are Dreaming", "Straight Edge of the Blade") and not just because of who takes the lead vocal - but just by the writing style.

That being said, I think Rice fares better than Lewis, but she does a pretty good job enhancing his songs with her harmonies ("Scissors Run", "Switchblade", "Animal").

Even better is when they don't have a huge lead vocal presence and share duties equally ("New Yorker Cartoon", "Slavedriver").

In the last few years there has been a lot of these types of disks: She & Him, Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs, etc, so Jenny & Johnny are not anything new or groundbreaking. But it's a nice pop record that doesn't offend and won't get an iota of airplay on non-satellite radio. That's not their fault - commercial radio isn't built for this kind of music anymore. There's no auto-tune.

It's also nice to know that Lewis has some ability that didn't seem to be tossed after her first solo disk, though I'm unsure if that is more Rice's doing or what.

Not 5-star disk, but it's at least above a 3-star one, and that's not too shabby these days.

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