A.C. Newman - Get Guilty    

It isn’t that Billy Joel can’t write a solid song. The man’s written some of the most melodically inventive pop songs in the latter half of the 20th Century (“Big Shot,” Moving Out,” “Keep the Faith”). And neither is it that he hasn’t got the voice--few vocalists can genuinely metamorphose, within in a single album, from gentle balladeer to brawny chest rocker with the ease and aplomb of Mr. Joel. And it isn’t that he can’t play piano well, or doesn’t arrange his songs properly, or has never worked with the right producer. It’s just that he’s too good. He’s too good, too good to be true, too good at what he does for me to appreciate his big musical notions.

Like Billy Joel, A.C. Newman exhausts himself on being too good. His songs are great and varied, each syllable invigorated with his idiosyncratic bombast, but somehow I just can’t get into them.

Standout track (according to some people): “Thunderbolts”

1,656,249 stars out of 6,757,898 stars.
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Abner Jay: The True Story of Abner Jay

Let’s hear it for the one man band. Despite a mammoth effort to master synchronicity through multi-instrumentation, your average one man band is, at best, a novelty; at worst, they are aural hell. Abner Jay brings the aesthetic of the one man band to this collection of his recordings: the cacophony of a singer trying to outshout the drums that are, in fact, played by his feet, as he strums and electric guitar and pants into a harmonica. Abner Jay’s power is doubtless, though one must have equal power to withstand the onslaught. Never mind, though. One can’t tread lightly over depression, cocaine, hospitalization, and the Vietnam War. 

Standout track: “Cleo,” which allows the listener a few minutes of desperate sweetness before the bombardment anew

3,654,887 stars out of 7,567,554 stars.
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