If you watched a sporting event recently — especially the Rays-Rangers five-pack of heartbreak — you've no doubt seen a Corona ad featuring pretty young people gazing at various bodies of water, be they tropical, mountainous or icy. The commercial, part of a campaign called "Find a Beach," is perfectly fine, typical hopsy wanderlust from the Mexican beermakers; the song that plays over it, however, is perfectly perfect, a warm-blanket dream of folk romanticism.
It's called The Secret Sun, and I listened to it about 20 times in a row after downloading it from iTunes. (Yes, underneath this lumberjackian exterior lies a softie. But don't tell anyone . . .)
Written and performed by New York City troubadour Jesse Harris — best known for having co-written Norah Jones' Grammy-winning Don't Know Why — The Secret Sun sounds a little like Paul Simon, maybe a little Jack Johnson, too. Whatever the influence, it's absolutely sublime: "We were once the only ones / Who knew of the secret sun / Shining down where no one goes / In a place that no one knows."
Written in '99 and lasting five or so minutes, The Secret Sun has since been shortened to a tidy three and rereleased as a single to capitalize on the beer ad. But no worries: All versions of the song capture the swoony notion of finding a unique, impenetrable safe haven with the one you love.
To hear The Secret Sun, go to Pop Life online at tampabay.com/blogs/popmusic.
Sugarland muscles up
Looks like someone had their Wheaties, y'all. Sugarland's new album, The Incredible Machine, to be released Tuesday, is a relatively muscular entry from the usually puff-pastry duo of Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush. Opening with All We Are — which blends U2's self-serious grandiosity with Bon Jovi's feathered-hair cheek — the Atlanta band's fourth album is a major bid for crossover bigness, an album as much about pop and rock as it is about country. Every track has been polished (sometimes a little too polished) for maximum saturation on multiple radio formats, including the hooked-out feminism of Every Girl Like Me. But for all the calculation, the percussion has snap and Nettles sings her blond head off, obviously inspired by the arena-stuffing challenge.
'Damn' It All Again
"It's just the normal noises in here!" On Nov. 9, Tom Petty and his venerable Heartbreakers will release a deluxe edition of 1979 classic Damn the Torpedoes, easily my favorite TP album and the one that made the Gainesville Kid an international star. (Torpedoes reached as high as No. 2 on the album charts, just missing the mojo to knock off the No. 1, Pink Floyd's The Wall.) As well as including remastered renditions of Refugee, Here Comes My Girl and Don't Do Me Like That, a two-CD set (about $25) comes with demos, alternate takes and two previously unreleased tracks: the midtempo shouter Nowhere (nice and heavy with Benmont Tench's keys work) and Surrender (which sounds like a harmless alternate of Even the Losers). The deluxe edition will also be available as a double-album on 180-gram vinyl, a Blu-ray disc and an iTunes collection.
SD + TS = 4eva
On Monday's Etc, Page 2B, I'll pick my five most anticipated albums of fall 2010. You just know that Taylor Swift's Speak Now (due Oct. 25) is on there, 'cause this lovesick fool can't stop writing about her.
So how was Vampire Weekend?
To read reviews of Vampire Weekend and the Flaming Lips, both of whom played sparkly Jannus Live in downtown St. Petersburg last week, go to Pop Life online at tampabay.com/blogs/poplife.
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