Summer Listening List

Don't dog our dog-day favorites, dig?

Eels

Shootenanny (Dreamworks)

You can count on every Eels record containing a good song or two, and Shootenanny is no exception. The fifth outing from Mark Oliver Everett, a.k.a. "The Man Called E," is manic-depressive in the extreme, with pedal steel guitars gently (and not so gently) weeping all over the place. The sad 'n' lonesome piano line in "Numbered Days" places a cloud in front of the sun until the string-laden finale, "Somebody Loves You," comes along and dries the rain.

Guided by Voices

Earthquake Glue (Matador)

The same day the new Guided by Voices album came in the mail, it was followed by something new from the Who: Live at the Royal Albert Hall, a three-disc package featuring all kinds of cameo appearances from guests like Eddie Vedder, Noel Gallagher, and Bryan Adams. Of course, Guided by Voices' short shrunken-down stadium songs are often compared to the big-league anthems of the Who. Whatever -- on Earthquake Glue, the 14th GBV album, the band sticks to its lo-fi guns, clever song titles ("A Trophy Mule in Particular" and "I'll Replace You with Machines," for example), and the brevity of wit. Making a choice between the two discs in terms of appropriate summer companionship was simple: With apologies to Robert Frost, I took the one less traveled by Bryan Adams, and that has made all the difference.

Steve Hackett

To Watch the Storms (Camino)

Guitarist Hackett remains the most prolific ex-Genesis member, releasing an album a year since he quit the group in 1978. His newest is full of 12-string madrigals, big crashing crescendos, gratuitously bombastic instrumental passages, and quaint Canterbury tales -- no doubt about it, this is progressive rock. But while bands like Yes and King Crimson never displayed a whit of a sense of humor to match all that instrumental skill, Hackett easily excels at both. A nice accompaniment to those afternoon thunderclaps.

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