Sean Daly's CD picks

Death Cab for Cutie

Album: Narrow Stairs (Atlantic/WEA)

In stores: Now

Why we care: Not since the Smiths has a band made soul-crushing loneliness sound so appealing. Mr. Misery Ben Gibbard leads this Bellingham, Wash., quartet, which ups the angst, and calms its crescendoes, on its second major-label release.

Why we like it: "I've been slipping through the years …" Guitarist-producer Chris Walla gets credit for the band's soft, churning indie sound. But chubby, bespectacled Gibbard, with his boys-choir voice and poet's pen, is Death Cab's catalyst. He's forever searching for love, which he's not sure exists — and if it does, it just might kill him. Don't expect a happy ending.

Reminds us of: U2 on Xanax

Download these: You Can Do Better Than Me and I Will Possess Your Heart

Grade: B+

Neil Diamond

Album: Home Before Dark

(Columbia)

In stores: Now

Why we care: For the second straight album (both produced by minimalist Rick Rubin), Diamond strips the artifice and delivers sad, spare confessions. It's jarring, and not always pretty, but there's a late-career grace in a famously sequined star telling us how he really feels.

Why we like it: With the somber backing from noted Heartbreakers Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench, the 67-year-old Diamond delivers quietly brutal love songs. If you crave the karaoke charm of You Don't Bring Me Flowers, forget it. A duet with Natalie Maines is bleak and chilly — until the ferocious final minute.

Reminds us of: Neil comes to Tampa Oct. 24.

Download these: If I Don't See You Again and Another Day (That Time Forgot)

Grade: B

Elbow

Album: The Seldom Seen Kid (Geffen)

In stores: Now

Why we care: If Radiohead had followed its melodies instead of fracturing them, they'd sound a lot like fellow U.K. band Elbow. Led by quirkcentric romantic Guy Garvey, the moody quintet works with big voices and distant ones, loud noises and soft regret. These guys have been around for 18 years, and yet they remain a mystery over here.

Why we like it: "I've been working on a cocktail called grounds for divorce." Garvey recently lost a friend but gained a lover, and his emotions drive this melodic roller-coaster. Synths soar, minor keys lament and Garvey seduces with wild wordplay and arena-filling drama.

Reminds us of: OK Computer 2.0

Download these: Weather to Fly and The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver

Grade: A

SONG OF THE WEEK

Frank Sinatra

Song: Summer

Wind

Album: Nothing but the Best (Reprise)

In stores: Now

Why we care:

This month marks the 10th anniversary of Frank Sinatra's death (May 14). So his estate is releasing great gobs of Blue Eyes on DVD and CD. Nothing but the Best collects 22 of his remastered Reprise recordings. And though it's not perfect, it does include Summer Wind, which everyone everywhere should listen to at least once a day.

Why we like it: "The summer wind, came blowin' in, from across the sea." This 1966er could be Frank's top vocal — or at least his coolest three minutes. Johnny Mercer's lyric is vague and syrupy, but Frank turns the tune's fleeting romance into a swaggering end-credits goodbye, defiant but devastating.

Reminds us of: "My fickle friend …"

Song grade: A

Album grade: B

Sean Daly's CD picks 05/24/08 [Last modified: Saturday, May 24, 2008 4:31am]

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