1. The Jayhawks Paging Mr. Proust
This album makes 2011’s Mockingbird Time, which saw the band reunite with Mark Olson, seem like a detour. A pleasant one – Olson and Gary Louris still have a beautiful creative chemistry. But Proust seems like a logical progression from the trajectory set by 2000’s Smile and 2003’s Rainy Day Music. A lot of the songs start with the Rainy Day back-to-basics acoustic approach, but the band builds lush pop orchestrations, a la Smile, on that scaffolding. Louris’s voice is at the center of these tight arrangements, and he doesn’t really start to warm up the ol’ SG until the end of track seven, “Ace,” where he stutters and blisters over a bubbly electric piano. The longtime faithful get a big reward on track eight with “The Devil In Her Eyes,” a throwback to the Hollywood Town Hall and Tomorrow the Green Grass days, with crunchy rhythm guitars, harmonica, and harmonies. It really hits a sweet spot. Proust shows off what this band is capable of, with new fuel in the tank and hopefully more miles to go.
2. Rob Zombie The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration
Ask for it by name! Zombie certainly hasn’t turned the volume down after 30 years of making ass-shaking, power-chord slamming, trippy rock and roll. Probably not stuff you want to listen to at work, especially with titles like “Get High” and “Well Everybody’s Fucking In a UFO.”