This Week’s Hit Parade

PICK OF THE WEEK

William Elliott Whitmore. “Animals in the Dark.” (2009, Anti-) Nothing like starting off the new year with an old pick, right? Sorry, I can’t help it. This disc has been sitting around in my stack o’ CDs since late ’08, but for some reason, I just got around to listening to it this week, and I’m truly begoggled. This is soul personified. Acoustic guitar and deep-gut vocals, and yeah, sometimes, not even any guitar. Check out the opening drums ‘n’ vocals call to arms, “Mutiny,” and tell me this ain’t the real thang… Who is this guy? I want more. Right now.

ALSO SPINNING…

The Decemberists. “The King Is Dead” (Rough Trade, 2011) Side-stepping away from the progressive art rock of “The Crane Wife” and “Hazards of Love,” Colin Meloy & Co. embrace their inner R.E.M. – perhaps a bit too slavishly – but that’s not too big a surprise since Peter Buck joins them on three tunes. David Rawlings and Gillian Welch join in on a bunch of tunes, too, to better result.

John Adams’ “Nixon in China.” (Nonesuch, 1995) Prepping for the opera’s overdue arrival at the Metropolitan Opera next month.

Iron and Wine. “The Shepherd’s Dog” (Sub Pop, 2007) On the eve of Sam Beam’s potentially foolhardy leap into Major Label World, I reached back for this lush, cinematic disc that proved once and for all that he’s much more than just one more Lo Fi Lonely Guy Recording in His Bedroom.

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