I've had Alela Diane in the car for about the last week (and I've been driving every day - I know, boo-driving) and I'm wondering whether I might actually like her better than Jenny Lewis/Neko Case/amIforgettingsomeoneelsehere? I'm not sure this comparison is entirely unreasonable, so, let's make the comparison (shall we?) and see how ridiculous it sounds...
Alela Diane: To Be Still has got some very good reviews on Metacritic (so I'm not completely alone in liking this) and would be dramatically higher if it wasn't for a couple of reviews that absolutely ripped the album. My feeling = if you don't like folk/country/singer-songwriter don't write a review about it... I mean, I'm not going to write about how stupid I think... say, Oprah is. At any rate, the (4) user reviews total a 9.5, so what this suggests to me is that if you like sort of thing (folk/country/singer-songwriter) its an album of the highest caliber.
Lewis/Case: On the other hand, by my count Jenny Lewis - while having a much bigger library - has thrown out a couple of stink bombs lately, namely, Acid Tongue (while the song 'Acid Tongue' is probably my favourite song she's done the album was very, very, bland) and the last Rilo Kiley album was pretty craptacular. Case though, as far as I can remember, has released pretty awesome solo albums (Fox Confessor Brings the Flood and Blacklisted) and the last two New Pornographers were good and excellent (Challengers and Twin Cinema). So, that's going to be tough to top.
The verdict: I've looked at the wiki entries for both Jenny Lewis and Neko Case and they are frighteningly impressive: awards, compilations, and apparently Case's Middle Cyclone just debuted at #3 on Billboard... so, Alela Diane (who is only 25) has some catching up to do, and probably isn't going to be as culturally relevant anytime soon, but, I think To Be Still is pretty close to being in the same league as Rabbit Fur Coat and Fox Confessor Brings the Flood.
That said, as cultural relevance increases so do ticket prices. So, would I rather pay $10 bucks to see Alela Diane from 10ft. or $33.50 (plus $8 - 10) to see Neko Case from 150ft. (with the entire crowd on backing vocals)? I think I'd go see Alela Diane. Part of that, it probably goes without saying, is because I have a negative $15,000 a year income right now, the other part is that I think its just more fun to see music up close - its more personal, you're supporting people who actually need the money/appreciate the attention, plus (as I understand it) you score more cool points when you tell people you're going/have gone to see a band that they've never hear of....
Pick of the Week #1: Ketch Harbour Wolves
Pick of the Week #2: Rah Rah
Pick of the Week #3: Glasvegas/Animal Collective
Pick of the Week #4: Bruce Peninsula
Pick of the Week #5: The Antlers
Pick of the Week #6: The Darcys
Pick of the Week #7: OhbijouPick of the Week #8: Gentlemen Husbands
Pick of the Week #9: Chris Whitley