On the racks: October 10, 2006

From Gothic Archies to Mod Rods to little Lohans
By MATT ASHARE  |  October 10, 2006

HIDE THE BEER: Robert Pollard's touring again.
Stephin Merritt is a man of many, well, projects, perhaps most notably the Magnetic Fields. But there’s also his electro-pop Future Bible Heroes and the bubblegum goth group the Gothic Archies. And, when he was approached about writing a song for each of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, he figured the Gothic Archies would be the best guise, given the nature of creepy children’s stories. Now that all 13 unfortunate events have been published, the Archies, featuring Snicket himself on accordion, have put together an album of all 13 corresponding tunes plus the “We Are the Gothic Archies” anthem and a bonus track titled “Dreary, Dreary, Dreary.” Out on Nonesuch, it’s titled The Tragic Treasury: Songs from a Series of Unfortunate Events.

Guided By Voices may be on the backburner or even defunct. But the band’s frontman Robert Pollard hasn’t slowed down his impressive rate of musical production. The prolific singer-songwriter already has a second solo album, Normal Happiness (Matador) — his second in calendar year 2006. As usual, the songs are short, sweet, catchy as hell — 16 of them in under 40 minutes. And once he gets through touring with Tommy Keene on guitar and our pal Jon Wurster from Superchunk on drums, he’s planning on going right back in the studio to record another one.

Not sure why we’ve got such a soft spot for Rod Stewart considering that, outside of the Beatles, he really was the best voice to come out of that big ’60s British Invasion, and he really did squander it over the years. But there’s also something dignified about the way he’s settled into middle age by recording a series of cover albums instead of hiring a bunch of song doctors to “co-write” middle of the road soccer mom ballads. There are already plenty of those written, and Rod tackles 13 more on Still the Same… Great Rock Classics of Our Time (J), the last of his enormously successful series of all-covers albums. This time we’ve got “Have You Ever Seen the Rain,” “Fooled Around and Fell in Love,” “Love Hurts,” and a bunch more. Sure beats the hell out of Sting’s new indulgence, a collection of 16th-century music performed on the lute and titled Songs from the Labyrinth (Deutsche Grammaphon). Oh, and for some newly reissued classic Rod Stewart, check out Legacy’s two new Jeff Beck Band remasters, Truth and Beck-ola.

And, while we’re on the subject of reissues, Rhino’s added three more titles to its series of deluxe remasters from the Cure camp, including 1984’s The Top, 1984’s The Head on the Door, and the 1987 double album Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me. And one of the indie bands Robert Pollard raved about in the ’90s, the short-lived Chavez, get the royal treatment from Matador in a set that includes both of their studio albums plus rarities and a DVD. It’s title: Better Days Will Haunt You.

But we can’t send you off this week without a quick warning that not only does Lindsey Lohan have a younger sister, but 12-year-old Ali Lohan now has an album of her own. Better yet, it’s a Christmas disc. Look for Lohan Holiday on the aptly named YMC/UME label.

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