Tuesday, September 09, 2008

It's Michael Carpenter's world...

...and all of us power pop fans are just living in it. Two new releases highlight the man who's at the top of the power pop game as a performer and producer.

First is his latest new material, and it's a slight departure from his usual work. He assembled a country band called The Cuban Heels, and they've released a 7-song mini-album titled New Dog - Old Tricks, which was recorded in one day barely over a month ago (August 2 to be precise). It's a fine collection of new material and covers, including the Hank Williams (Sr.) classic "Jambalaya". Carpenter got the inspiration for the band while doing a show with Bryan Estepa, and the opening track on the disc, "The Ballad of Ambivalence", is a country-rock number much in the style of All The Bells and Whistles, the album he produced for Estepa. "Some Days are Worse Than Others" is another quality original, a Band-style midtempo number drenched in pedal steel, and "If You Ask Me" (co-written with Cuban Heel Russell Crawford, for whom Carpenter produced a great EP in 2006) is a high-quality ballad with a strong buildup. This is really a must-get, and a contender for the year-end list (EP or full disc). But if you want it on disc, it's extreeemely limited (100 copies) and Not Lame has 40 of them, so click here and act fast. Otherwise, it's available as a digital download (a redundant phrase as I don't think it's possible to pull off an analog download) from MC at Big Radio.

Meanwhile Carpenter's original band, The Finkers, who put out two discs around the turn of the century, are anthologized in Epilogue, a 2-CD set that collects all of their studio recordings. If you're a fan of Carpenter's solo material, this will be right up your alley, especially if you're like me and only came into MC about four years ago. All of their albums, EPs, and contributions to tribute albums to The Stems, The Replacements, Gene Clark, The Flamin' Groovies, The Real Kids and Radio Birdman are included, and if you missed out on them, it's like getting 2-3 brand new MC albums. I don't do a year-end reissue list, but if I did this would definitely top it.

Not Lame | MySpace

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I caught the Cuban Heels at the Excelsior last week, and they are AMAZING live. The CD's great too... if for no other reason, buy it to hear MC let his inner Garth Brooks off the leash on the stellar Workin' For A Livin'. YeeeeeHAH! Michael Carpenter and the Cuban Heels get five stars from this dedicated powerpop fan.