Spin doc­tor

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Iain Shedden

AS men­tioned last week there is a wealth of tasty prospects on the al­bum front over the next few months, not least from a batch of Amer­i­can song­writ­ers who like to spread their tal­ents around and to keep busy. Ru­fus Wain­wright, who’s writ­ing opera one minute and be­ing Judy Gar­land the next, has his new pop solo ef­fort, pro­duced by Mark Ron­son, on the slate for next month. So too Bruce Spring­steen re­leases his lat­est, Wreck­ing Ball. The never-idle Jack White (his work in­cludes pro­duc­ing a song with Australia’s up-and-com­ing rock­a­billy belle, Lanie Lane) is also lay­ing to rest the spec­tre of the White Stripes with his first solo al­bum, Blun­der­buss, due on April 24. The Nashville­based muso says Blun­der­buss has few out­side in­flu­ences. ‘‘I’ve put off mak­ing records un­der my own name for a long time,’’ he says, ‘‘but these songs feel like they could only be pre­sented un­der my name. These songs were writ­ten from scratch, had noth­ing to do with any­one or any­thing else but my own ex­pres­sion, my own colours on my own can­vas.’’ Sched­uled for re­lease next month is the new al­bum by the Shins, from Port­land, Ore­gon. It’s the band’s fourth al­bum and the first in five years, since Winc­ing the Night Away brought its mu­sic to a much larger au­di­ence, in­clud­ing in Australia. In the in­terim singer and chief song­writer James Mercer has dab­bled in act­ing and in 2010 re­leased the al­bum Bro­ken Bells, a side project with pro­ducer Dan­ger Mouse. The new Shins al­bum, Port of Mor­row, is the first to be re­leased on Mercer’s own la­bel, Au­ral Apothe­cary. Fi­nally, but by no means least, is the 11th al­bum by the Mag­netic Fields, the most suc­cess­ful of song­writer Stephin Mer­ritt’s many mu­si­cal en­deav­ours. The al­bum, Love at the Bot­tom of the Sea, has been get­ting a good blast around SDHQ, and boasts some of Mer­ritt’s most en­gag­ingly poppy sin­ga­longs since the Mag­netic Fields’ ground­break­ing 69 Love Songs 13 years ago, among them An­drew in Drag, Goin’ Back to the Coun­try and I Don’t Like Your Tone. Mer­ritt, whose sharp wit is never far away in song or con­ver­sa­tion, says the new ef­fort also boasts his pen­chant for what he calls ‘‘re­venge fan­tasies’’ in the mean-spir­ited but amus­ing open­ing track Your Girl­friend’s Face, in which the dis­grun­tled pro­tag­o­nist hires a hit­man to ‘‘do his worst, af­ter he’s messed up your girl­friend first’’. ‘‘I’m mean enough to think about it,’’ Mer­ritt tells me re­as­sur­ingly, ‘‘but I’m not mean enough to do it.’’ Good to know. The Mag­netic Fields, and pos­si­bly ev­ery­one men­tioned above, will be tour­ing Australia be­fore the year is out. Not all of them will be per­form­ing at the AFL grand final this year, how­ever. The ru­mour mill is still abuzz with Spring­steen for that one, how­ever SD spies tell me footy of­fi­cials are keen to have a trio of per­form­ers to fol­low in the foot­steps of Mr Loaf last year. Could it be that Farn­sie and Madonna are also avail­able? You read it here first.

spin­doc@ theaus­tralian.com.au

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