After a handful of bum weeks, the new release wall is cookin’ with gas this Tuesday, as pop music’s two strongest songwriters — who, quelle coinky-dink, just happen to be touring together this summer — face off against each other with thrilling new projects. ‘Bout damn time:


Handling the production reins for the first time, the peerless Ray LaMontagne reaches for a looser, more organic groove on his fourth studio album, God Willin’ and the Creek Don’t Rise, out this week. Recorded with his backing band, now coined The Pariah Dogs, Rise continues LaMontagne’s breathtaking knack for crafting quality folk music with a sumptuous modern edge, and he even proclaimed to USA Today last week that these new tunes are among the best songs he has ever written. Pretty bold proclamation, that. (If you’re in the mood for a bit more of the magnificent LaMontagne, you should check out “Do U Wanna” — a buzzworthy track from Mike Posner‘s much-discussed debut album, 31 Minutes to Takeoff — which is built around a frisky sample from LaMontagne’s yearning “You Are the Best Thing.”)

Mr. LaMontagne is on tour this month and next with the divine David Gray, who, not even a full year beyond the release of his last album — the eclectic and defiantly electric Draw the Line — returns this week with his latest project, Foundling, a double-length collection of spare acoustic tunes which were composed and completed during the Draw sessions. Gray is notorious for taking his time between records — the interminable waiting period is usually between three and five years — but it has long been my contention that he is pathologically incapable of turning in subpar work, and if this project’s lead single — the shimmering “A Moment Changes Everything” — is an accurate indicator, it seems a safe bet that his quality streak remains intact.

Also noteworthy this week:


  • Former Beach Boy Brian Wilson sidles up next to one of the
    true masters of the American songbook with his latest project,
    Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin.

  • Heartland rock icon John Mellencamp returns with his
    twenty-first studio album, No Better Than This.

  • A’s favorite crunchy king Trace Adkins has signed with
    Toby Keith’s label Show Dog Records for the release
    of his latest effort, Cowboy’s Back in Town.

  • Sounds like Richard Patrick and the boys of industrial rock band Filter have returned to form with their latest album, The Trouble With Angels.

  • That crackerjack pair of actors Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton both earned richly-deserved Emmy nominations for their ferociously flawless work during the fourth season of what remains the finest series currently on network television, the staggering Friday Night Lights, the most recent thirteen-episode run of which arrives on DVD this week in an economically-priced three-disc set. (Have those hankies ready: one of said episodes — “The Son,” which focuses on a confused, angry, insecure young man coming to grips with the tragic death of his soldier father (and which was, itself, nominated for an Emmy for outstanding writing in a drama series) — stands among the most wrenching,
    riveting, gloriously heartbreaking hours of television I can ever remember bawling my way straight through.)

  • And finally, also making its way to DVD this week: the complete seventh season of Sherry Ann’s all-time fave One Tree Hill, whose ensemble underwent quite the makeover last season, with original cast members Chad Michael Murray and Hilarie Burton hitting the road, but emerged none the worse for wear, thanks in large part to the arrival of that irresistable cutie-pie Robert Buckley, whose perfect dimples gave lots of us a major impetus to keep watching.

1 response to “running parallel to everything that might have been
(or: august 17 — a thumbnail sketch)”

  1. the buzz from Blake Boldt:

    Guess who’s seeing Ray and Mr. Gray in Nashville on Sunday. This guy.