SP1: Night Ranger — Hole in the Sun (VH1 Classic) :: Oddly enough, their first new studio album in 10 years starts out sounding like a Gary Numan album from 1979 — but don’t worry, Kyoto, ’cause it doesn’t take long for the proceedings to kick into the kind of stereophonic dual-guitar speed-freak flights of fret-finaglin’ fancy that, as much as I hate to admit it, is the very epitome of classic rock incarnate. ¡Mucho recomendado!
SP2: The Great Outdoors — Spring (DDG) :: This three-track EP evokes folksy blues in a simple Beggar’s Banquet slide style that’s sincere enough to make me want to hear a full-length album — and I hate folksy blues almost as much as I hate ballads.
SP3: Ndidi Onukwulu — The Contradictor (Jericho Beach) :: Unlike that shameless Billie Holiday wannabe Amy Winehouse, this is what a real soulstress sounds like. Ndidi’s brand new brass-backed album bubbles with sharp-edged passion and smooth sensual singing that puts everyone else to shame. Even better, she doesn’t look like the ugliest junked-up drag queen in the world — always a bonus in my book.
SP4: Matthew Sweet — Sunshine Lies (Shout! Factory) :: Beginning with the ballsy backwardelic intro, this fuzzy Nazz-fueled album is pure pop incarnate, the likes of which you haven’t heard since the heady heyday of the ’60s and ’70s. If you’re in the market for a very cool aural amalgamation of Todd Rundgren, Brian Wilson and Badfinger, then step right up ’cause this is the best pop album of the year I’ve heard so far — and it’s so good.
SP5: The Browns — The Complete Hits (Collectors’ Choice) :: Lissen, bub, any country song from 1963 called "Looking Back to See" that contains the rhymin’ line: "And the way that she was stacked, I wished I had a Cadillac" deserves to be stashed in your overendowed record rack, alright?