Here are the second five albums in the Now I’ve Heard Everything Best of 2014 list; you’ll find the first part here.
Jim Keller – Heaven Can Wait: Jim Keller is known for his soul tinged rock and his full speed ahead shows originally at The Lakeside Lounge and more recently at The Rockwood Music Hall. Heaven Can Wait is a small departure from that; Jim said that these songs were written at 2am. As befits something happening in those early hours, the songs on this collection are more quiet and introspective than those on Jim’s previous records. Standouts include Cali Girl (what seems to be a scene from long ago), Crush on You and Take Me for a Ride.
Leonard Cohen – Popular Problems: Just a few days short of his 80th birthday, Leonard Cohen graced us with this new record. While his voice has grown rougher with age, it still is the perfect vehicle for his work. The batch of songs this time around compare admirably with Leonard’s previous ones. Musically, the instrumentation plus female backup singers that has worked so well with previously are here again.
Puss n Boots – No Fools, No Fun: Puss n Boots consists of Norah Jones, Sasha Dobson and Catherine Popper. They have been around so long that their first website was on My Space. They’ve played small clubs in Manhattan and Brooklyn for years, and this year they finally put out a record so that those of us who have not been able to see them at their gigs can finally get to hear them. What you get is a fine blend of originals (two each from Sasha and Cat and one from Norah) and mostly country covers, although Down By the River and Jesus, Etc., both here, can hardly be called country. Of course, the vocals and harmonies from Norah, Sasha and Cat are all top notch as well.
Ryan Adams – Ryan Adams: After suffering with some health issues over the past few years, Ryan Adams is back and ready to rock. The album’s lead off track, Gimme Something Good, is an insistent rocker which impressed David Letterman so much that he asked Ryan and band to play it twice when they appeared on Letterman’s show. This self-titled album also has a few slower numbers mixed in with the rockers. There is no doubt that with this album Ryan is back and ready to play again.
Sad Bastards of Brooklyn – Volume 1: For quite a while now, Charlene McPherson and Mo Goldner of the hard rocking Spanking Charlene step out of that band and play as The Sad Bastards of Brooklyn. The idea of SBB is that Charlene and Mo will play the most depressing songs they know. The surprising thing is that their gigs have always been a good deal of fun. So about a year ago, they stepped into the studio with Eric “Roscoe” Ambel producing and recorded this record of covers. You’ll be impressed by Charlene’s voice, Mo’s acoustic guitar and the selection of songs here. And although this record may be on the quiet side, it’s impressive, not depressing.