CDs of the Week

May 7, 2008

Yesterday while I was waiting for my prescriptions to be filled I slipped across the street to the Salvation Army store. There were almost no records (where did they all go? Surely no one bought all those religious records and Reader’s Digest box sets), but there was a nice selection of quirky, fairly recent CDs. At $1.99 per, they’re the same price as LPs at Goodwill and Value Village so I can see myself buying more thrift store CDs as the number of LPs I’m interested in continues to dwindle.

1. Jane Siberry: Shushan the Palace (Hymns of Earth)

I love Jane – so flaky, so insanely talented and creative. Maybe you know by now that she changed her name to Issa and divested herself of most of her possessions (are you there Madonna? That’s reinventing yourself). This 2003 album is Siberry’s last under her old name. A Christmas album of sorts, though I didn’t realize it until I read it somewhere. No Santa or chestnuts roasting on an open fire – instead hymns by Handel, Bach, Mendelssohn, Rossetti, Holst and others. I love Jane’s soaring voice and her slow, wobbly vibrato. After two listens, Jesus Christ The Apple Tree is the track that sticks in my memory: simple and lovely.

Bonus! It’s autographed. If that signature was any more stylized it would be a straight line.

Links: Website, MySpace

2. Various: Christmas Songs

I’ve been searching for this Nettwerk Christmas compilation for years because I need Meryn Cadell’s The Cat Carol for a disc of depressing Christmas tunes I’m putting together for my friends. It may well be the worst tear-jerker of a Christmas song ever: A cat is forgotten outdoors in a blizzard on Christmas Eve. A mouse creeps by, lost in the snow, almost frozen. The cat digs a hole in a snowdrift and curls up with the mouse, keeping it from the cold. Santa comes along and finds the cat frozen to death. He discovers the mouse still alive in the cat’s warm fur. Reindeer weep. Santa commemorates the cat’s sacrifice by turning her into a constellation.

Now I love Meryn Cadell, but I was appalled by this song the first time I heard it on the radio. It’s everything she’s not: mawkish, sentimental, cheap. I think I may be the only person in the world who feels this way – this song is much loved and requested.

Cadell is another peron who has radically reinvented herself; she kept the name but changed genders.

Links: The Cat Carol, blog

3. Aimee Mann: The Forgotten Arm

Aimee Mann is not someone I’ve listened to much (I saw Magnolia, that’s about it). I bought this CD because the packaging is so beautiful (you can do that when CDs are two bucks). Digipacs rule! The booklet looks like a pulp novel from the 40s or 50s with the lyrics of each song laid out like chapters. The gorgeous illustrations are by Owen Smith. It’s a concept album – a musical “novella” about a troubled couple who meet, fall in love and take a road trip across America.

click to enlarge

Also, I was thinking I Was Thinking I Could Clean Up For Christmas sounded like it might be right for my depressing Christmas comp. Aimee has a Christmas CD (who doesn’t?) but it looks too upbeat for my purposes.

Links: Aimee Mann. Owen Smith, more Owen Smith

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3 Responses to “CDs of the Week”

  1. rus heggie Says:

    those are 3 pretty good scores… stumpled upon your page while looking for pix of the friendly giant, loverly stuff…

  2. gary b Says:

    the Aimee Mann CD is really somethin. i’d be curious to hear the Jane, liked her since waaay back…

  3. Jozer Says:

    that’s a nice haul. I used to and still do send js fan letters. Love her still.


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