Gargoyles and Sad Clowns & Hillbillies

Welcome back to another week of recommended albums! This week, the constant rain (in my area at least) has led me to a couple of moodier albums. Still highly recommended, but with the exception of a few songs, not party-starting albums.

Mark Lanegan Band Gargoyles: New album just released from the former Screaming Trees frontman. Mark Lanegan has a pretty long discography on his own, as well as being a part-time member of Queens of the Stone Age. Gargoyles is an atmospheric affair, reliant on electronics to set the mood. This is definitely your whiskey-sipping, late night listen. In all fairness to the reader, I have not listened to a lot of his other work, so I'm not sure if the tinges of electronica are a new element or have been there all along. I was a fan of the Screaming Trees and I love his work with Queens. I have heard a few solo album tracks and liked them - I guess I'll have to do some more digging into his discography. This album grabs me though - his smoky voice suits the songs. I think that the more you immerse yourself in the songs, the more you will get out of this album. At the same time, it makes for good background music that just washes over you. If I have one complaint, it's that a few of the songs feel like they end too quickly. You are getting immersed in this environment and then it seems to be over before you know it. Recommended songs: "Beehive", "Goodbye To Beauty", "Nocturne"

John Mellencamp Sad Clowns & Hillbillies: John Mellencamp has always been an interesting figure in the music world. He is famously (infamously?) difficult to work with, and yet here is an album that finds him collaborating with Carlene Carter on no less than five songs. And it works - their harmonizing on those songs is fantastic. Martina McBride guests on another song ("Grandview") that also features fellow Indiana resident Izzy Stradlin on guitar. This is easily Mellencamp's best album in 15 years. It is a country-tinged affair, and also a bit of a throwback to his late 80's masterpieces The Lonesome Jubilee and Big Daddy. All of the familiar elements of his style (the fiddle, acoustic guitars, raspy cigarette and whiskey soaked voice) are here on this album and to these ears, it is good to hear him engaged in some good music again. That's not to slam the last few records he's released - they had their moments, but none of them seem as cohesive as this record. Maybe that is Carlene Carter's influence. If so, I hope they find a way to continue to collaborate. Recommended songs: "Grandview", "All Night Talk Radio", "Indigo Sunset"

Current Listening: Cock Sparrer Shock Troops ; Thurston Moore Rock N Roll Consciousness ; Descendents Everything Sux ; Afghan Whigs Gentlemen ; The Tarantinos NYC Surfin' The Silver Screen