the Buzz for September 2012


Delta Rae — “Morning Comes” (from Carry the Fire) — Morning Comes - Carry the Fire (Deluxe Version)

Not since Kathleen Edwards tore into town with her brilliant breakthrough “Six O’Clock News” — “she says her baby’s a failer / and she don’t want you calling . . .” — nearly a decade ago has anyone dared to put forth such a potently probing, painfully etched trailer trash tragedy. (Also worth checking out: the stunning acoustic mix of “Morning” which appears on Fire‘s digital-exclusive deluxe edition, and which features a bone-chilling four-part harmony that really punches up not only the horror but the hope emanating from the stark story being told here.)


The Lumineers — “Ho Hey” (from The Lumineers) — Ho Hey - The Lumineers

Imagine Dragons — “It’s Time” (from Night Visions) — It's Time - Night Visions

I’ve seen it happen time and again over the course of my lifetime, but I still never fail to be amused whenever the geniuses who program Top 40 radio in this country suddenly wake the hell up and remember that crowd-pleasing, foot-stomping pop music — which is to say, not homogenized hip-hop and not sound-alike alt-rock — is exactly and exclusively what they do best. That Grammy grubber Adele picked the lock last year with her instant classic kiss-off jam “Rolling in the Deep,” and then those box-busting punks fun. and Gotye tore the gate plumb off its hinges with their infectiously brilliant breakthrough smashes’ year-long assault on the airwaves. Upon whom, now, should we look to carry this torch of momentum into the fall? Bet on these two buzzworthy bands, both making some serious noise and itching for a breakout.

Building on the crossover success laid down by Mumford & Sons, The Lumineers’ warm debut record is a rustic, rollicking force, aided mightily by lead singer Wesley Schultz’s raspy ringer of a voice. (Visualize a more refined take on The Avett Brothers, if whichever Avett brother who does the singing in that ramshackle outfit actually had the ability to stay on pitch.) Meanwhile, mainstream radio has thus far been inexplicably slow to hop aboard the Dragons bandwagon, but seeing as how their pounding, frisky lead single (love that mandolin!) just got the Glee treatment (via a wobbly rendition from the usually impeccable Darren Criss in last week’s season premiere), one would think it’s only a matter of, uh, time. (Isn’t it?)


Whitney Houston & Jordin Sparks — “Celebrate”
(from Sparkle [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]) — Celebrate - Sparkle (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

So, sure, you’re likely never gonna hear anyone argue that this is the finest three-and-one-half minutes Miss Whitney ever loaned her pipes to (or, argue that it’s even that great a tune, to boot). But at the end of this scorching summer, in which we mark with a joy that is equal parts bitter and sweet the twenty-fifth anniversary of the release of “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” — which still lands high on my list of the ten best pure pop songs of all time — if this is what I have to sit through to get one last lingering taste of Houston’s magnificently miraculous voice, I consider that a pittance to pay.