Gordon Lightfoot Book, Music and More!

The home of music journalist Nicholas Jennings, author of Lightfoot, the definitive new Gordon Lightfoot biography from Penguin Random House.

Gretchen Wilson - One of the Boys

Country music’s redneck woman got all jacked up on her last album, drinkin’ way too much and drivin’ her truck off into the night anyway. On her third release, Wilson balances butt-kickin’ anthems like the title track and the trailer-trashy “There Goes the Neighborhood” with such well-behaved numbers as “Come to Bed,” “Heaven Help Me” and “To Tell the Truth.” Does that make rowdy Gretchen a sensitive redneck now? May 15   

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The View - Hats Off to the Buskers

Aside from Kasabian, the View is the only current band to win Liam Gallagher’s thumbs up. Given the Oasis frontman’s reputation as a yobbo, that endorsement might prove a curse. But the young quartet, led by singer Kyle Falconer, deserves a listen, thanks to tuneful Britpop numbers like “Same Jeans, “Wasted Little DJs,” “Superstar Tradesman” and the giddy “Skag Trendy,” featuring Falconer’s full Scottish brogue. With a bit more piss ’n’ vinegar, the View might even come to rival the U.K.’s fabulous Arctic Monkeys. May 8

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Keren Ann - Keren Ann

Since settling in the Big Apple, the Parisian chanteuse seems to have traded her François Hardy mannerisms for Nico-like Velvet Underground influences. While her previous album, Nolita, featured whispery vocals and sensuous, late-night tones, Keren Ann’s latest boasts a generally tougher sound, from bluesy holler of “It Ain’t No Crime” to the drugged-out experiments of “Caspia.” The new album’s most appealing track is “Lay Your Head Down,” a dreamy rock number featuring cello, handclaps and harmonica. May 8

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Björk -Volta

Björk’s last album, Medulla, was a stunning soundscape of voices. Here, Iceland’s idiosyncratic pop queen delves deep into drumbeats, working with über-producer Timbaland, African collective Konono No. 1 and her own percussionist Chris Corsano on tracks like “Hope,” “Innocence” and the insanely catchy “Earth Intruders.” “Let’s stop all this religious bullshit,” explained Björk recently. “We’re all fucking animals, so let’s just make some universal tribal beat. We’re pagan. Let’s just march.” Who can argue?May 8

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Travis - The Boy with No Name

Huge in Britain, Travis seemed destined to break big in North America—until Coldplay arrived to steal its swoon-pop thunder. The Scottish quartet, led by singer Fran Healy, may do better with its fifth studio album. Produced by Nigel Godrich (Radiohead), with help from Brian Eno, Travis’ latest features such dreamy, melodic numbers as “Closer,” “Colder” and “My Eyes,” about Healy’s now-named son, that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Coldplay album. Even Chris Martin admits that Travis “invented” Coldplay. May 8

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Oh Susanna - Short Stories

There was a time when Oh Susanna, a.k.a. Suzie Ungerleider, sang mostly murder ballads. Her songs still have an old-world luster, like intriguing sepia-toned photos, but now they embrace broader themes. Despite a couple of gunfight ditties, including a Bob Dylan cover, her fourth album is largely a collection of memorable songs about love and lust. And when she sings “Holy Roller,” with its parlor-like piano accompaniment, Ungerleider evokes Stephen Foster, from whose classic ballad she took her stage name.

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Frank Zappa - Apostrophe/Over-Nite Sensation

Fans of Funkadelic, Captain Beefheart and the Residents all point to Zappa as the godfather of eccentric rock. This DVD, the latest in the Classic Albums series, focuses on Zappa’s two breakthrough recordings of the 1970s, featuring hits like “Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow” and contributions from Tina Turner and ex-Cream bassist Jack Bruce. Son Dweezil acts as tour guide, while artists from Alice Cooper and Steve Vai to Billy Bob Thornton all pay tribute to the genius who claimed that “absurdity is the only reality.”

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Blackie & the Rodeo Kings - Let’s Frolic Again

This roots-rock trio formed initially as a tribute to singer-songwriter Willie P. Bennett. But it’s grown to cover other Canadian icons as well as fine originals by members Stephen Fearing, Colin Linden and Tom Wilson. Here, on the companion to last year’s Let’s Frolic, BARK tackles two Willie gems (“Sometimes It Comes So Easy” and “Don’t Blame Your Blues on Me”), one Murray McLauchlan nugget (“Down By the Henry Moore”) and even a Teenage Head classic (“Something on My Mind”). CanCon cool.

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The Killers - Leaving Las Vegas

Billed as an “unathorized [sic] documentary,” this DVD features licensed interviews with Brandon Flowers and rare performance footage (including some shot at Toronto’s Opera House). But, because it was made without approval from the band or its record company, there is no original Killers music—nothing from Hot Fuss or Sam’s Town, just sound-alike tracks from unknown groups. Relying on material from former band members and “friends” of the Killers, it amounts to a bargain-basement bio. To be avoided at all costs.

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Tori Amos - American Doll Posse

Amos has messed with multiple personalities before: Strange Little Girls included a different photographic persona for each cover song. Now the flame-haired diva with the Bösendorfer piano is channeling five female characters, drawn from goddesses in the Greek pantheon, through songs on her latest album. Beyond the brave concept, Posse features some first-rate material, including the honky-tonk stomp of “Big Wheel” and the bright, lush pop of “Bouncing Off Clouds.” And Amos is taking all of the girls on tour.

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