On Our Shelves: New Music for March

Music comes in more flavors than Bernie Bott’s Beans. No matter what your taste or style, there’s always something new being released – even from musicians long-deceased.  Here are a few recent releases on our shelves:

Life, Love, & Hope  by Boston

    Boston’s been around forever, it seems – their first eponymous album debuted in 1976 and reached number 3 on the album charts, and subsequent albums only climbed higher.  With the untimely death of lead singer Brian Delp in 2007, Boston underwent some changes, and to be honest, hearing them live in concert, they didn’t seem to have it anymore.  However, with the release of Life, Love, & Hope, their sixth album, Boston seems to have recovered: not quite the same, but with enough of the old magic to bring back the spark that gave them their identity. The same driving beats, the same luscious harmonies, but a little lighter, a little crisper, a little fresher to attract a new generation.  For a band that’s been around almost 40 years, that’s a difficult – and truly wonderful – thing to do. If you want something new or are longing for some updated nostalgia, this is a great album to try.

High Hopes by Bruce Springsteen

        High Hopes bills itself as a rare, unreleased tracks album, which it may indeed be, but we’ve heard some of these before.  It’s wonderful to hear a non-live version of 41 Shots, but the album doesn’t add any real surprises. There’s not a bad track on it, but nothing particularly stands out. If you love Springsteen (and there’s a lot to love), then this album will give you exactly that – more. Not better, not bad, just more quality music, a long encore to a fabulous concert from a musician who’s as strong as ever.

The Bones of What You Believe by Chvrches

   They pronounce it “churches,” but I pronounce the V anyway.  A synth-pop band from Scotland, Chvrches is a group that bridges a number of different music styles.  Like light modern popular radio music?  This is a great album.  Like a techno electronic sound with actual understandable lyrics to go with it? This is a great album.  Miss some of the 80’s pop from bands like Human League or The Fixx, or the sweet sounds of Sixpence None the Richer?  Then you will love this album.  Light, joyful, and not overpowering, there’s a wide variety of song styles to keep you entertained.  It’s been  a long time since I found a new popular band that has caught my attention this much, and I hope to hear more from them in the future. Give them a try!

Croz by David Crosby

Like Springsteen’s High Hopes, if you like Crosby, Stills, & Nash, you will probably enjoy David Crosby’s new album. Harking back to the band’s late-60’s melodies, this is more of the style you remember, an open, wandering melody with a touch of Eastern feel that could almost be filed under Jazz. Nothing jumps out and grabs you, it’s just a solid continuation of the old-style catalog.

 

 

Music Review: Scratch My Back/ And I’ll Scratch Yours by Peter Gabriel

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Are you more loyal to a particular song, or to the artist who sings it? Does one artist “own” a song, is it destroyed when someone else sings it? Or can a different interpretation make it better – maybe worse – or just ‘different.’

                That’s the question put forth by Peter Gabriel’s pair of albums, Scratch My Back (which was originally released in 2010) and And I’ll Scratch Yours, the just-released companion. In the first release, Gabriel sings the songs of other artists, putting an often-times melancholy spin on popular songs. In the second release, other artists sing songs Gabriel made popular.

                I must say, while I have several collections of a single song done by many artists (I have at least five different major artists singing the Mama’s & the Papa’s California Dreaming, and I love all of them), I’m of the artist-loyal group. Sometimes an artist can really rock a song (can you really say who sings Proud Mary better – Tina Turner or Creedence Clearwater?), other times they destroy it so painfully you want to cry (Willie Nelson, I love you, but please, for the love of Arlo, don’t – just don’t – sing City of New Orleans ever again). Yet, on the two albums combined, there was only one song I did not care for.

                Do not expect this to be an album you will get up and dance to, unless it’s a slow, hypnotic pas de deux. Gabriel’s songs are backed up by full orchestration, with chirping violins beautiful in tone, making the album slide back and forth between the sounds of symphonic Pink Floyd and soft Dire Straits a la Brothers in Arms. The songs are slow, aching, haunting, jazzy, and gorgeous, as if Gabriel had stopped by, started playing around with your piano, and tapped out some random torch songs from the top of his head, and you caught them on tape. No shocking monkeys here. While I still prefer Springsteen, Philadelphia would seem to have been written for this album, this style, and this singer.

                In the second half, And You Scratch Mine, the songs are a bit more upbeat, but still in that somewhat aching, torch-lounge style, while each artist still twists the songs to fit themselves. Arcade Fire’s Games Without Frontiers remains strong, if not particularly inventive. Randy Newman leaves his mark on Big Time, so much that it’s hard to believe he didn’t write it. Paul Simon cannot be anything but mellifluous on Biko. The only song I did not care for was Lou Reed singing Solsbury Hill. I’m all for twisting things up, but it’s a light, sweet bouncy melody; Reed seems to unroll the song, pound it flat, and leave it wounded in the gutter. I tried twice, but could not finish listening to the end of it. If you really like Reed’s style, you may love it, but to me it was a bad fit.

                This was planned and released as a concept album pair; it is a type of experiment, and in all experiments, some things will hit the mark and some won’t. Is it the song that propels a singer to fame, or does a singer pull a particular song into the history books? Would we love Stairway to Heaven as much if it were sung by Britney Spears? Would we even remember Love Me Tender if it were sung by anyone but Elvis? What would The Scream look like if it had been painted by Rembrandt? That’s the question to ponder as you explore this fascinating piece of musical concept art.

On Our Shelves: New Romance

heartHere’s a selection of Romance paperbacks added to our collection this month.

The House On Main Street by Shirlee McCoyInterior designer Tessa McKenzie has built a good lifefar from her Washington hometown. She intends to get back to it – as soon as she sells the cluttered Victorian house and antiques shop she inherited from her sister, Emily. But leaving Apple Valley a second time won’t be so easy. There’s her grieving nephew, Alex, to consider. And there’s Sheriff Cade Cunningham, the adolescent crush who could easily break her heart again if she let him.

Barefoot By The Seaby Roxanne St. Claire – Tessa Galloway is a gifted nurturer-her verdant garden at Barefoot Bay’s new resort is living proof. If only the woman who can grow anything could grow what she wants most: a baby. Her friends think the right guy will come along, but Tessa doesn’t want to wait. All she needs is the perfect donor to make her dream come true. Then John Brown is hired at the resort. If anyone could make beautiful babies, it’s this gorgeous, mysterious man. So why does Tessa suddenly find herself wanting so much more?

If You Were Mineby Andre Bella – The last thing Zach Sullivan wants is to take care of his brother’s new puppy for two weeks. That is, until he meets the dog trainer. Heather is bright, beautiful…and she just might be the only woman on earth who wants nothing to do with him.

Heather Linsey can’t believe she agreed to train Zach’s new pup, especially since his focus seems to be more on winning her heart than training his dog. Having sworn off love, she has vowed never to fall for a charming man. But Heather’s determination to push Zach away only fuels his determination to get closer—and the sensual and emotional connection between them grows more undeniable.

Wild Child by Molly O’Keefe – Monica Appleby is a woman with a reputation. Once she was America’s teenage “Wild Child,” with her own reality TV show. Now she’s a successful author coming home to Bishop, Arkansas, to pen the juicy follow-up to her tell-all autobiography. Problem is, the hottest man in town wants her gone.

Take Me Home For Christmas by Brenda Novak – Everyone in Whiskey Creek remembers Sophia DeBussi as the town’s Mean Girl. Especially Ted Dixon, whose love she once scorned.

But Sophia has paid the price for her youthful transgressions. The man she did marry was rich and powerful but abusive. So when he goes missing, she secretly hopes he’ll never come back—until she learns that he died running from an FBI probe of his investment firm. Not only has he left Sophia penniless, he’s left her to face all the townspeople he cheated.…

Sophia is reduced to looking for any kind of work to pay the bills and support her daughter. With no other options, she becomes housekeeper for none other than Ted, now a successful suspense writer. He can’t bring himself to turn his back on her, not at Christmas, but he refuses to get emotionally involved.

Will the season of love and forgiveness give them both another chance at happiness?

On Our Shelves: New Children’s Fiction

Looking for some newly released fiction to peruse? Here are some of the newest additions to our children’s fiction collection that just might catch your fancy.

Zero tolerance by Claudia Mills
Seventh-grade honor student Sierra Shepard faces expulsion after accidentally bringing a paring knife to school, violating the school’s zero-tolerance policy.

The True Blue Scouts of Sugarman Swamp by Kathi Appelt
Twelve-year-old Chap Brayburn, ancient Sugar Man, and his raccoon-brother Swamp Scouts Bingo and J’miah try to save Bayou Tourterelle from feral pigs Clydine and Buzzie, greedy Sunny Boy Beaucoup, and world-class alligator wrestler and would-be land developer Jaeger Stitch.

Mister Max: the Book of Lost Things by Cynthia Voigt
When Max’s parents leave the country without him, he must rely on his wits to get by, and before long he is running his own–rather unusual–business.

The Truth of Me: About a Boy, His Grandmother, and a Very Good Dog by Patricia MacLachlan
Robbie and his dog, Ellie, spend the summer at his grandmother Maddy’s house, where Robbie learns many things about his emotionally distant parents and himself.

Salt: a Story of Friendship in a Time of War by Helen Frost
Twelve-year-olds Anikwa, of the Miami village of Kekionga, and James, of the trading post outside Fort Wayne, find their friendship threatened by the rising fear and tension brought by the War of 1812.

Still want more? Well here are a few more to help fill your library bag; Zombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Bacigalupi, Ghoulfriends Just Want to Have Fun by Gitty Daneshvari, My Homework Ate My Homework by Patrick Jennings, Gone Fishing: a Novel in Verse by Tamera Will Wissingerl, The Planet Thieves by Dan Krokos, and Write This Book: a Do-it-Yourself Mystery by Pseudonymous Bosch.

On Our Shelves: New Young Adult Fiction

Looking for something new to read, or want to place a hold on the newest books in our young adult collection? Well, you are in luck. Here is a list of some of our most recent additions that just might capture your interest regardless of if you are an adult or young adult.

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1. Playing Tyler by T. L. Costa
Tyler MacCandless is looking at a bleak future. With his father dead and his mother mentally checked out, Tyler is responsible for his older brother Brandon who’s in rehab for heroin abuse–again. With no skills to speak of outside of playing video games, a fast food future is all but a certainty. That is, until the day Tyler’s mentor Rick asks him to test a new video game. A good enough score can earn him a place in flight school. When Brandon goes missing, and Tyler discovers the game is far more than it seems.

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2. Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith
The discovery of a startling family secret leads seventeen-year-old Kiri Byrd from a protected and naive life into a summer of mental illness, first love, and profound self-discovery.

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3. Boy Nobody by Allen Zadoff
Sixteen-year-old Boy Nobody, an assassin controlled by a shadowy government organization, The Program, considers sabotaging his latest mission because his target reminds him of the normal life he craves.

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4. Far Far away by Tom McNeal
When Jeremy Johnson Johnson’s strange ability to speak to the ghost of Jacob Grimm draws the interest of his classmate Ginger Boltinghouse, the two find themselves at the center of a series of disappearances in their hometown.[Cover]

5.Charm & Strange by Stephane Kuehn
A lonely teenager exiled to a remote Vermont boarding school in the wake of a family tragedy must either surrender his sanity to the wild wolves inside his mind or learn that surviving means more than not dying.[Cover]

6. Openly Straight by Bill Koningberg
Tired of being known as “the gay kid”, Rafe Goldberg decides to assume a new persona when he comes east and enters an elite Massachusetts prep school–but trying to deny his identity has both complications and unexpected consequences.

Other new titles include Vortex by S.J. Kincaid, Ship out of Luck by Neal Shusterman, Mortal Fire by Elizabeth Knox, September Girls by Bennett Madison, Spies and Prejudice by Talia Vance, Rules of Summer by Joanna Philbin, How I Lost You by Janet Gurtler, Careful What you Wish For by Shani Petroff, The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp, Golden Boy by Tara Sullivan, I’m with Stupid by Geoff Herbach, Golden Girl by Sarah Zettel, and The Lost Sun by Tessa Gratton.

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I’m With Stupid

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Mortal Fire

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Ship Out of Luck