The new Alejandro Escovedo album

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A couple of years ago, the man almost dies. He recovers and makes the album of his career with The Boxing Mirror.

Anyone love this as much as I do?

Jeff K (jeff k), Friday, 5 May 2006 21:14 (fifteen years ago) link

Is this the one produced by John Cale? I wanna hear it! Whoop!

Brooker Buckingham (Brooker B), Friday, 5 May 2006 21:44 (fifteen years ago) link

I think Man Under the Influence is superior, but the new one has a distinct intensity. The electro-funk tune isn't holding up for me, and some of the Cale-isms feel forced. But songs like "Notes On Air" and "Break This Time," and just about all the ballads, are pretty great.

Roy Kasten (Roy Kasten), Friday, 5 May 2006 21:50 (fifteen years ago) link

It is very Cale influenced.

Evita's Lullaby is my favorite so far.

Jeff K (jeff k), Friday, 5 May 2006 21:56 (fifteen years ago) link

I have not heard it yet. Chuck Eddy panned it (well, 5 songs worth) on the Rolling Country thread:

"So, speaking of music about deserts, what do people think of Alejandro Escovedo? I'm five songs into his new one, and drawing a blank. Once in a while the guitars will bunch up for dramatic effect, I guess. Mostly it sounds like "mood music to go onto a soundtrack of a romantic indie movie about the desert." Hard to imagine what *purpose* it would serve, beyond a movie soundtrack. The first song, "Arizona," seemed best at this -- sort of like Stan Ridgeway with a less interesting (which maybe just means less off-key) voice, or something. Second song had new wave production touches. But now I'm getting bored. (Do people think of Alejandro as a songwriter? I was under the impression they did, but if so, I'm not hearing why.) (Though as a desert soundtrack, I guess this beats the new Calexico.)
-- xhuxk (xedd...), March 16th, 2006."

curmudgeon (DC Steve), Saturday, 6 May 2006 04:46 (fifteen years ago) link

Chuck is entitled to his opinion, wrong as he may be.

Jim Reckling (Jim Reckling), Saturday, 13 May 2006 23:32 (fifteen years ago) link

I am curious about hearing the cd as I have liked Alejandro alot both live and on cd in the past. But the most recent time I saw him live, I felt like he had gotten stuck in a rut songwriting-wise. The new songs did not seem to be moving in any new directions.

In addition to Chuck's qualms, I have seen other mixed reviews also.

curmudgeon (DC Steve), Sunday, 14 May 2006 01:28 (fifteen years ago) link

I recuse myself from participating on this thread as I used to live in Austin.

Sons Of The Redd Desert (Ken L), Sunday, 14 May 2006 01:45 (fifteen years ago) link

Lots of good reviews according to metacritic.

Jim Reckling (Jim Reckling), Sunday, 14 May 2006 16:56 (fifteen years ago) link

two months pass...
The songs are really strong. I think the cello and violin driven "Deerhead On The Wall" is one of the best songs of the year.

I do think, however, that the album is a bit overproduced. There's such a gloss on it that even the rock songs, like "Deerhead" and "Notes On Air," come off as too polite and mannered. And some of the production sounds very dated, especially the ballads, which sound (to me) like they have the same high-gloss polish as late eighties Billy Joel ballads (e.g., "These Are The Times (To Remember)," although, to be clear, Escovedo's songs are stronger than Joel's).

But it's a minor quibble, especially when the songs are so good. Overall, it's a very good album. I'm unfamiliar with Escovedo's back catalogue. Is The Boxing Mirror better or worse than his earlier work?

Daniel, Esq., Monday, 31 July 2006 00:42 (fifteen years ago) link

one year passes...

The new album, Real Animal, is amazing!! No thread on this? Really?

If Assholes Could Fly This Place Would Be An Airport, Wednesday, 2 July 2008 05:30 (thirteen years ago) link

Someone semi-crapped on it over on Rolling Country, I do believe. Or maybe a different thread a couple weeks ago.

Gorge, Wednesday, 2 July 2008 23:43 (thirteen years ago) link

Might be an outlier, since it's been getting pretty good reviews so far.

Daniel, Esq., Wednesday, 2 July 2008 23:49 (thirteen years ago) link

the voice doesn't quite cut it for me, it's really that simple, when we talk of Alejandro. Overtones of the Boss and "new wave" and so forth and also John Cale, but Escovedo not as good a singer as either one. Apparently, Dave Marsh has said this is the best record of the year, and that says a lot to me right there. That this is for people who still Believe in Rock and Roll....zzz...oh, I'm awake again. Listening to Real Animal (EXCELLENT production) as a matter of fact, right now, "Outside the disco, they wouldn't let me in/Here comes Laurie, she could've been my friend," and damn, man, I know it's been tough all around. Go ahead, get in your licks before the night comes.

whisperineddhurt, Thursday, 3 July 2008 02:28 (thirteen years ago) link

and here's what I said on Rolling Country, for what it's worth...

and I don't get Alejandro Escovedo, or, rather, don't get the love for the guy. new one is a good Tony Visconti production, with echoes of later Bowie throughout, but Real Animal suggests John Cale trying to turn into Bruce Springsteen--kinda like one of the scenes in the '70s remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers where the metamorphosis takes place and you're uneasy. I guess it rocks, but for me, Escovedo simply doesn't have the voice to carry it off, just sounds like another guy with a track record he might or might not think is representative, and another rock and roll "victim" or whatever. Listenable, but to me, real one-dimensional.

-- whisperineddhurt, Friday, June 27, 2008 4:07 AM (6 days ago)

whisperineddhurt, Thursday, 3 July 2008 02:36 (thirteen years ago) link

And of course Dave "Best album of the year" Marsh is married to Alejandro's manager (Barbara Carr, who manages Springsteen, too, with Jon Landau).

I think the new one is a big improvement on "The Boxing Mirror," which has a couple of my favorite Escovedo songs on it but is indeed over-produced. I'm not totally sold on "Real Animal" being on par with "Influence," "Gravity," "With These Hands" or "Thirteen Years" (my favorite), but I'll give the guy the benefit of the doubt. He's been doing this for 30 years and almost died, so let him live out his rock and roll dreams. He still kills live, and if this not so subtle roll-out of Escovedo 2.0 gets a few more people to take notice, all the better.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 3 July 2008 02:51 (thirteen years ago) link

"The Boxing Mirror" . . . has a couple of my favorite Escovedo songs on it but is indeed over-produced.

I was just coming here to post that. Dear Head On The Wall is a great chugging rock song, but the rest of it feels so overcooked that it blunts the impact of the songs themselves (which were pretty good). Also, it was ridiculously over-praised, which set it up to under-impress.

Daniel, Esq., Thursday, 3 July 2008 02:54 (thirteen years ago) link

That's enough. Include me out. A veteran's pain and rock 'n' roll because you're supposed to like it.

Gorge, Thursday, 3 July 2008 05:01 (thirteen years ago) link

Oh, right, Marsh is married to AE's manager. Springsteen. Yeecch.

whisperineddhurt, Friday, 4 July 2008 17:00 (thirteen years ago) link

last year Tony Visconti published his autobiography, Bowie, Bolan and the Brooklyn Boy, which is interesting...

whisperineddhurt, Friday, 4 July 2008 17:05 (thirteen years ago) link

two years pass...

this album is straight flames-left-in-the-wake-of-the-delorean nostalgic fire and if you do not hear that you need to pray to god for real ears

some droopy HOOS in makeup (BIG HOOS aka the steendriver), Saturday, 16 October 2010 04:56 (ten years ago) link

two years pass...

Saw him live tonight with just violinist Susan Voelz. I liked the stripped down dramatics (making his melding of Cale and Springsteen and early 70s Brit-rock and Texas songwriters work better) plus his stories about childhood years in San Antonio, teen years surfing in California, and later hanging with NY Dolls members and Sid n Nancy at the Chelsea Hotel. Alejandro & Susan opened for Shelby Lynne (who was accompanied by just acoustic guitarist and lap steel player Ben Peeler). Alejandro did a bunch of songs from Real Animal ("Chelsea Hotel 78," "Sister Lost Soul," Swallows of San Juan," all which he cowrote with Chuck Prophet, and a bunch he cowrote with Chuck Prophet for his 2012 effort Big Station---"Sally was a Cop," "Bottom of the World," and "Can't Make Me Run". An old fave of mine "More Miles than Money" sounded great as did a couple more whose titles I am forgetting.

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 25 September 2013 03:53 (seven years ago) link

I like him better with just the violin, or as I once saw him---with violin and cello, than with a full rock band.

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 25 September 2013 13:55 (seven years ago) link

I wish Susan Voelz would make a new solo album, the two she put out are hidden gems.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Wednesday, 25 September 2013 20:53 (seven years ago) link

Didn't know about those, will look for 'em.

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 25 September 2013 20:58 (seven years ago) link

I like Al in pretty much all his formulations: band, solo, with strings, band with strings, etc. Not huge on the last couple albums compared to the first three, but now that he's hooked up with the Springsteen camp I hope he's finally getting paid.

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 25 September 2013 22:16 (seven years ago) link

Yeah, his first 3 solo albums are killer, especially the 2cd versions with some amazing live tracks.

I'm also quite fond of the True Believers and Buick MacKane albums.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Wednesday, 25 September 2013 23:37 (seven years ago) link

I even like the Rank + File! He's been around.

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 25 September 2013 23:42 (seven years ago) link

I saw him play with Los Lobos over the summer. Really cool.

ball games w/ james (calibrate), Thursday, 26 September 2013 01:36 (seven years ago) link

but now that he's hooked up with the Springsteen camp I hope he's finally getting paid.

― Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, September 25, 2013 10

Not sure he is getting paid any more than he was 5 years ago, but I'd like to be proven wrong on this

curmudgeon, Thursday, 26 September 2013 16:47 (seven years ago) link

Eh, he's on a bigger label with power management. My guess is he is better off.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 26 September 2013 17:09 (seven years ago) link

I wanted to like this guy, but I bought that Ryko GH back in the day, & the Buick MacKane album (my youth, it was just a passing phase, one of my bad days)...didn't think there were good tunes there. I liked the kinda solo-y "More Miles Than Money", but even that song is pretty monochromatic, like his voice doesn't do much leaping, just stays in one place. think I'd like him as an Emmylou Harris, probably does good harmony.

Euler, Thursday, 26 September 2013 18:59 (seven years ago) link

Guy's got the best wardrobe in town.

LinkedIn Beef (Eazy), Thursday, 26 September 2013 19:06 (seven years ago) link

I like this Mick Jagger cover:

LinkedIn Beef (Eazy), Thursday, 26 September 2013 19:06 (seven years ago) link

He used to tell a funny story about that one, about how a guy in the band kept trying to convince him that Mick Jagger had made a good solo record, and he would not have it, though he eventually came around to this one.

Newcomers and neophytes, I recommend "A Man Under the Influence" to get him at his best, or maybe "Thirteen Years" to get him at his deepest.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 26 September 2013 19:09 (seven years ago) link

Amazing Mick Jagger cover.

ball games w/ james (calibrate), Thursday, 26 September 2013 22:29 (seven years ago) link

three years pass...

Interesting interview about the issues he was dealing with and how he is now doing better with a new album coming soon

The year behind him includes being completely cured after a 20-year battle with deadly hepatitis C; leaving Austin, his home of 35 years that claims him as its native son; and the couple surviving a hurricane on their honeymoon. Both of them were later diagnosed with with post-traumatic stress disorder. Escovedo also had to come to terms with blackouts and bizarre behavior as well as a canceled tour that threatened to put the brakes on his career.

...Escovedo’s band on the album includes guitarist Kurt Bloch of the Fastbacks, drummer John Moen of the Decemberists and vocalists Corin Tucker of Sleater-Kinney and Kelly Hogan of Neko Case’s band, as well as an appearance by Los Lobos saxophonist Steve Berlin.

curmudgeon, Thursday, 13 October 2016 19:40 (four years ago) link

And co-written/produced with Peter Buck, right?

I find it strange that such an esteemed, storied songwriter has been teaming up wth ringers, however much I like Buck and Chuck Prophet. I'd love to know why he needs their help, though perhaps that article answers the question.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 13 October 2016 20:57 (four years ago) link

article says in part:

After a few false starts and near misses, Burn Something Beautiful was recorded in Portland in April 2016.

“We rehearsed for maybe two or three days and went in and made the record,” Escovedo said. “And truly [it was] one of my favorite recording experiences I’ve ever had. And I think Scott and Pete did a job that took me to a place that was outside of my comfort zone, and yet was very much in the field that I love so much.”

In addition to the inspired songwriting partnership with McCaughey and Buck, collaborating with so many artists was a real turn-on for Escovedo and a signature of the best days of his career.

curmudgeon, Friday, 14 October 2016 14:35 (four years ago) link

Yeah, I still don't quite get it. Escovedo's first several albums are brilliant, and beautifully written. When he came back from his illness and started writing with Chuck Prophet, the results were Ok but generic enough that I'm not sure why he needed the assist, especially from such a prominent singer/songwriter in his own right. Whatever works, I guess.

Josh in Chicago, Friday, 14 October 2016 14:44 (four years ago) link

Actually, I should give the last couple another listen. At the time I was not a fan of "Real Animal."

Josh in Chicago, Friday, 14 October 2016 14:47 (four years ago) link

I agree with you. But I chalk it up more to him just getting older. That creative songwriting spark musicians have when they are young, for whatever reason, is less powerful when they get older (for most musicians). Combine that with his health woes, the more recent PTSD, etc., and I understand why he is working with others on songwriting.

curmudgeon, Friday, 14 October 2016 15:13 (four years ago) link

Haven't paid attention to him in years, had consigned him to the Talented Journeyman category I'm afraid. But just had an algorithm recommend a tune called "Anchor" that I kind of dug.

Digable Planet Waves (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 14 October 2016 16:44 (four years ago) link

one month passes...

Really like the new one. Buck as producer keeps things really raw, which is cool, and enhances the echoes of Stones, Stooges, Dolls, Lou Reed, etc.

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 29 November 2016 23:33 (four years ago) link

four years pass...

I haven't listened to "With These Hands" in ages, such a cracking album. He takes his roots rock approach and adds strings and other sounds to push the genre in interesting ways.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Tuesday, 14 September 2021 14:25 (four days ago) link

I should listen to that one again

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 15 September 2021 04:01 (three days ago) link

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