The original *August...* was perhaps the best thing Counting Crows ever did, really; which is why it makes sense that they‘d want to revitalize the release and send it back out to find itself a new audience. Remastered for a more crisp, dense sound, the extras include several interesting previously-unreleased demos, including the band‘s cover of Woody Guthrie‘s “This Land is Your Land,“ and some other tracks that, while not landmark songs, nicely show the growth of the group. Also included here is a separate disc with an also previously-unreleased Paris concert - actually the last show that the band played in direct promotion of the original *August...* album - a groovy poster, and some surprisingly insightful liner notes via which CC singer Adam Duritz explains the breakup of the band admist tales of lunching with famous friends. Even if you‘ve already got the album, this one‘s almost worth it just for the extras.
Ben Lee - Ripe - New West
Staying in the same vein that made his last set a TV soundtrack staple, Lee doesn‘t grow much here, but he does turn out some decently catchy songs that are, as usual, loaded with his quick arrangements, guitar-and-piano riffs, and emo-pop vocal lines. There are a few steps into more-emotional-than-usual territory here, namely the ballad “Love Me Like the World is Ending,“ “Hungry,“ and “Just Say Yes,“ but overall, it‘s another quirkily-smart collection of indie-pop songs destined to find their way to the One Tree Hill crowd, whether they‘re picking up on “What Would Jay-Z Do?“, “American Television,“ “Is This How Love‘s Supposed To Feel,“ or the title track. A few additionally interesting twists include the unexpected guest appearances, which include Good Charlotte‘s rocker-boy Benji Madden and pop diva-ess-slash-actress Mandy Moore, who duets quite entertainingly with Lee on the almost-corny “Birds and Bees.“
The Proclaimers - Life With You - UMVD
C‘mon, sing along now - “And-da I woulda walk five hun-dred miles, And-da I woulda walk...“ okay, okay, sorry - well, that‘s probably the most familiar way one might know Scottish duo The Proclaimers - by the abpve hit song was made a raging earworm by its appearance on both radio and in the Johnny Depp movie *Benny and Joon.* But we digress, as that was years ago - now that you‘ve figured out who they are, have you ever heard any of their non-hit songs? If not, that‘s a shame, because this is a band who‘s been around 20 years now and have cranked out such well-written, Scottish-tinged rock tracks as “Cap in Hand,“ “Letter from America,“ and “The Joyful Kilmarnock Blues.“ If you‘ve missed all those, at least pick up their latest effort (being this one), on which they collaborate with producer Steve Evans to craft over a dozen new tracks, including the set‘s first single, “Life With You,“ and their standout cover of “Whole Wide World.“
Jamie Cullum - In the Mind of Jamie Cullum - District 6
Back up a few steps, there, rabid Jamie Cullum fans - this isn‘t an album of brand new Jamie Cullum songs, although there are a couple of new compositions by him included here. Nope, instead, it‘s basically a compilation album, hence the title referencing what‘s bouncing around in Cullum‘s mind. The pop-jazzster has a lot in there, apparantly; everything from rock and electronic new wave to blues and hip-hop; and he‘s decided to put it together here just for you. In addition to those two Cullum tracks, namely “After You‘ve Gone“ and “I‘d Probably Do It Again“ (both previously unreleased), you‘ll also get Cullum‘s favorite tunes from the likes of Nina Simone (“I Think it‘s Gonna Rain Today“), Donovan (“Get Thy Bearings“), the legendary Charles Mingus (“Fables of Faustus“), and Herbie Hancock (“Nobu“), plus some newer singles from Cinematic Orchestra (“All Things to All Men“), and Elbow (“Station Approach“). Thanks for the mixtape, Jamie.