Charlotte Gainsbourg + Beck = an album I will buy

Charlotte

Beautiful French actress/musician Charlotte Gainsbourg is probably most familiar to American audiences by way of Michel Gondry’s film “The Science of Sleep,” in which she played the female lead. Muisc nerds, film buffs, and all of France, however, knows her as the daughter of Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin. So far, she’s only released two albums in her entire career and they’ve each contained the pop goodness that her father always brought to the table. Having previously worked with Jarvis Cocker and Nigel Godrich, Gainsbourg isn’t done collaborating with qualified musicians as it’s been confirmed that Beck wrote all of the new record’s music, some of the lyrics, and produced and mixed the tracks. Hm, Charlotte’s voice and Beck’s musicianship together? Sign me up.

Daughter of legendary French songwriter Serge Gainsbourg, Charlotte Gainsbourg worked with Air, Jarvis Cocker and The Divine Comedy in the making of her debut album 5:55, and she hasn’t scaled down the contributor notoriety for her forthcoming follow-up LP. On KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic, Beck revealed that he’s currently working on Gainsbourg’s second album in Los Angeles and Paris.

“I was supposed to work on her last album, but I couldn’t get over there,” Beck said. “Now I’m working on her follow-up record.”

The album, entitled IRM (French for MRI), is set for a January release.

Bob Dylan wants you to make a U-turn

Dylan

I have a GPS system. I spent the better part of an afternoon setting it up and figuring out how to operate the thing. Unfortunately, I had lost the mantle that sticks to your windshield, which is the safe and suggested place for the system. As a result, I would hold it up to my ear like a seashell, trying to keep my eyes on road. Still, I’d want to listen to music, thereby drowning out the voice, so I would quickly try to glance at the screen to find out where I would have to turn. Whatever I was doing, I’m sure it was highly illegal, but I can proudly say that I have found the mantle. When I get around to it, I’ll install it.

Anyway, the woman on my system, named “Samantha,” is very robotic. She seems very frigid and often gives the next direction a little too late, as if she wants me to get lost. Thankfully, one of the sharpest and well-traveled individuals alive today, Bob Dylan, is in talks with lending his voice to a GPS system.

You know I don’t usually like to tell people what I’m doing, but I’m talking to a couple of car companies about the possibility of being the voice of their GPS system,” he disclosed.

Motorists who follow Dylan’s directions, however, may take some time to reach their destination. “I think it would be good if you are looking for directions and you heard my voice saying something like, ‘Left at the next street…. No, right… You know what? Just go straight.” He added: “I probably shouldn’t do it because whichever way I go, I always end up at one place – Lonely Avenue.”

Dylan, 66, would not be the first celebrity to lend his voice to a GPS system. TomTom, the sat-nav manufacturer, currently offers the voices of Homer Simpson and John Cleese, while Kim Cattrall, the Sex and the City actress, and The A Team actor Mr T are also popular among British motorists.

How cool would it be if, when you were on specific highway or arriving at a certain city, Dylan would launch into an old story relevant to the location? I doubt I’m the only one who would appreciate this feature. Oh well, maybe in later model.

Kate Earl: Kate Earl

Earl’s 2005 debut, Fate Is the Hunter, came and went with barely a whisper, which might be why her sophomore effort takes no chances: With Earl’s name (and thoroughly enjoyable face) plastered across its garishly bright artwork, Kate Earl would leap off store shelves if there still were any. Musically speaking, these 11 songs cover plenty of bases too, from the moody, vaguely Dido-ish “Nobody” to the charmingly retro “Only in Dreams,” which sounds like Olivia Newton-John recording a Phil Spector tribute with Imogen Heap behind the boards. (In other words, awesome.) After drawing the listener in with a stack of unapologetically (and, it must be said, pleasantly) commercial pop tunes, Earl wisely spends the back half of the album getting deep. Tracks like “Golden Street” lack the bright melodic sparkle of Earl’s earlier cuts, but they also prove she has something more to say than “a love like this is everlasting” (from “Everlasting,” natch). An Alaska native, Earl may have picked the wrong year for her breakout – the poor girl will have to answer as many questions about Sarah Palin as she will about her own music – but she’s still primed for her major-label breakout. Whatever that means in 2009, anyway. For pop fans who can’t stomach Colbie Caillat levels of saccharine sweetness, Kate Earl is one of this year’s better bets. (Universal Republic 2009)

Kate Earl MySpace page

Our Lady Peace: Burn Burn

Canadian rock band Our Lady Peace has been around for a while – seven studio albums now, to be exact, and their latest, Burn Burn, hit streets last month. And while the members of OLP claim to feel great about having more creative control at this point in their career, they have not used that control to do anything earth-shattering here. In fact, the band has regressed a bit, and has begun to gravitate toward the adult contemporary end of the radio dial. Bands like Creed, Nickelback, and the Goo Goo Dolls have lived in radio suburbia for years, and now OLP has entered the neighborhood, as this batch of songs on Burn Burn are at times catchy, but mostly dull and lifeless. Many bands like this that used to be cool and alternative have softened greatly, having succumbed to years of record execs telling them to write “hits.” The first single off of Burn Burn, “All You Did Was Save My Life,” is a prime example, a formulaic track that you will tire of before the song has even played through. “Dreamland” and “The End Is Where We Began” also lean toward sugary pop, though it’s worth pointing out that singer Raine Maida can still bring it. One of the bright spots here is “Never Get Over You,” which may remind you of the Spiritual Machines days, but mostly, as on “Signs of Life,” there just aren’t many on this album. (LABEL: Warner Music Group)

Our Lady Peace MySpace Page

Stardeath and White Dwarfs: The Birth

Can nepotism be a genre? Seriously, these guys are the Flaming Lips Jr. Supposedly frontman Dennis Coyne is Wayne Cone’s nephew, but maybe that’s a cover story (kind of like how Jack Nicholson was led to believe his mother was his sister) and there’s some deep-seated family secrets hiding the truth and he’s actually Wayne’s secret son. Whatever the case, these guys don’t only sound like the Flaming Lips, they even seemed to have employed the same design team, as the cover art and liner notes ofThe Birth look like rejects from the the Yoshimi cover design sessions. Dennis worked as a roadie for his uncle’s band for a few years, so maybe the Flaming Lips are the only band he’s ever heard. It would make sense. Stop me if any of this sounds familiar; Beach Boys-style vocal harmonies, occasional psychedelic freak-outs, oblique lyrics about space, lasers and even a Superman reference. Really? Musically there is nothing wrong with this record, there is even one stand-out track, the bass-heavy “Those Who Are from the Sun Return to the Sun” but…it sounds just like the Flaming Lips! What’s the point? If I wanted to hear the Flaming Lips, I’d listen to The Flaming Lips, not their junior varsity squad. (Warner Bros 2009)

Stardeath and White Dwarfs MySpace Page

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