Tuesday, December 31, 2013

add 0677 Dick Dale (último del 2013)

The big picture on Dick Dale -- the inventor of surf music, the Godfather of Loud, precursor of heavy metal, the first high-energy power guitarist (all titles being proffered from the man himself to describe his contributions) -- gets told in a real fine way on this two-disc, 39-track anthology. Although single-disc best-ofs exist, this is the first one to cross-license from various labels. Dale started as a vocalist who just happened to be able to furnish his own guitar solos, and it's here that the compilation starts. But by track four on the first disc, "Let's Go Trippin'," the Dick Dale story begins in earnest. The sopping-wet surf sound hadn't been invented yet, but the staccato picking, heavy twang, and hard attack were already in place. The outboard Fender reverb tank that became part of Dale's signature found its first workout on "Miserlou" (although Dale claims otherwise), and what followed was the beginning of surf music, pure and simple. Most of the groundbreaking recordings were featured on Dale's debut disc, Surfer's Choice, hands down the surf album that started it all. From this classic comes "Shake-N-Stomp," "Take It Off," and the one that made him a California legend, "Surf Beat." The rest of the first disc carries you through his later Capitol recordings while the second starts with the second half of Dale's career in 1983 with live tracks from his The Tigers Loose album and steers you through duets with Stevie Ray Vaughan, tributes to Hendrix, and best of all, documenting his own resurrection in the '90s, totally viable and still his own man. Transfers sound a bit buzzier in an over-EQ'd way on some of the early tracks, but overall, this is one really great tribute to an original pioneer.


add 0676 charlie Haden

The second recording by Charlie Haden's Quartet West is similar to the music that the group (bassist Haden, tenor saxophonist Ernie Watts, pianist Alan Broadbent, and drummer Larance Marable) would play for the next decade. Among the highlights of this well-rounded set (one of the band's most definitive releases) is "First Song" (Haden's most memorable composition), Miles Davis' "Blue in Green," and a lengthy exploration of Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman." An excellent showcase for Haden in a straight-ahead setting and for Watts, whose passionate sound perfectly fits the band. Highly recommended.


add 0675 Isaac Hayes

Released at the tail end of the '60s, Hot Buttered Soul set the precedent for how soul would evolve in the early '70s, simultaneously establishing Isaac Hayes and the Bar-Kays as major forces within black music. Though not quite as definitive as Black Moses or as well-known as Shaft, Hot Buttered Soul remains an undeniably seminal record; it stretched its songs far beyond the traditional three-to-four-minute industry norm, featured long instrumental stretches where the Bar-Kays stole the spotlight, and it introduced a new, iconic persona for soul with Hayes' tough yet sensual image. With the release of this album, Motown suddenly seemed manufactured and James Brown a bit too theatrical. Surprising many, the album features only four songs. The first, "Walk on By," is an epic 12-minute moment of true perfection, its trademark string-laden intro just dripping with syrupy sentiment, and the thumping mid-tempo drum beat and accompanying bassline instilling a complementary sense of nasty funk to the song; if that isn't enough to make it an amazing song, Hayes' almost painful performance brings yet more feeling to the song, with the guitar's heavy vibrato and the female background singers taking the song to even further heights. The following three songs aren't quite as stunning but are still no doubt impressive: "Hyperbolicsyllabicsequedalymistic" trades in sappy sentiment for straight-ahead funk, highlighted by a stomping piano halfway through the song; "One Woman" is the least epic moment, clocking in at only five minutes, but stands as a straightforward, well-executed love ballad; and finally, there's the infamous 18-minute "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" and its lengthy monologue which slowly eases you toward the climactic, almost-orchestral finale, a beautiful way to end one of soul's timeless, landmark albums, the album that transformed Hayes into a lifelong icon.


Sunday, December 29, 2013

add 0673 Elmore James

A good 16-song compilation, but a puzzling one. It essentially duplicates The Sky Is Crying: The History of Elmore James, but must be judged as slightly inferior, as that other compilation has 21 tracks. The puzzle is that The Sky Is Crying, like The Very Best Of, is also on Rhino, and was still in print when this compilation was released in 2000. True, this does have a couple of songs not on The Sky Is Crying ("Wild About You Baby" and "Coming Home"), and presents the tracks in chronological order, whereas The Sky Is Crying does not. Are these reasons to merit a second compilation in the same label's catalog? One would think not. However, if you could care less about such fine distinctions, this is as good a James anthology as any. And the expected classics are here, including "Shake Your Moneymaker," "The Sky Is Crying," "Dust My Broom," "Madison Blues," "It Hurts Me Too," and "The Sun Is Shining."


add 0672 santana-Laswell

If there were ever a golden opportunity for Bill Laswell, doing his trademark remixing style on Carlos Santana's works was it. Here he chooses two of the guitarist's most spiritual works, one the enduring and profoundly influential Love, Devotion & Surrender featuring John McLaughlin, and the other a more obscure but no less regarded album called Illuminations, recorded with Alice Coltrane, among others. Laswell takes segments from each recording, alternates them, and attempts two things: to reconcile them to one another, and to create an entirely new work from the pair. By remixing the individual tunes, he creates a new vista to look at. His emphasis on bridging the gaps between Santana's more restrained style on Illuminations and his rollicking, screaming-into-the-heavens assault featured on Love, Devotion & Surrender presents an intriguing, but problematic, situation. Given the radically different emotions expressed on these records, it's impossible to equate the tenor of Santana's sound across the spectrum -- even by adding and deleting effects. For one, the material on Illuminations doesn't hold up as well. It was as much Coltrane's date as it was Santana's, and it wasn't one of her best periods. An example of this is on "Angel of Air," which opens the album. With overly lush string arrangements and crowded middle ranges where Jules Brossard's hopelessly hackneyed soprano saxophone playing crowds the guitar space, Santana's one moment of glorious fury in the entire 11 minutes is lost in the mix. Despite a rhythm section that included Dave Holland, Don Alias, and Jack DeJohnette, the tune fails to light. As the grooves give way to "A Love Supreme" by John Coltrane, with Larry Young's organ ushering in the melody before the guitars enter, the overly packed notion opens into spaciousness. Here, despite the familiarity Santana fans have with the material, in this context it comes off as something new, removed from its original space and placed in amore urgent body. And it's true: The material from this album is weighted with the burden of transcendence where the Illuminations tracks are merely fodder for added sound effects and deeper sounding rhythm tracks. They float where the Love, Devotion & Surrender material soars, punches a hole in the sky, and carries the listener into an entirely new hearing space. The lone exception from the Illuminations material in terms of its ability to transcend Alice Coltrane's string strangulation is "Angel of Sunlight," which Santana co-wrote with Tom Coster. Here, the entire band -- especially the rhythm section -- breaks loose of the lurid fetters and pushes Santana...hard. Listeners can hear the struggle as he tried to come up with ideas to engage the rhythm section. Laswell's attention to detail here is admirable. He pumps up Holland's bass in the mix and adds a shimmery tone to DeJohnette's cymbal work that gives the piece an urgency it doesn't possess on the original album. Unfortunately, he didn't mix Brossard's cheesy "I wish I was Coltrane" solo right out of the tune. Alas. Divine Light is a pleasant enough listen, one that provides enough depth and interesting pockets to keep one interested in the project. Musically, the majority of the album holds together. But the rough spots and black holes -- and there are more than a few -- mar the proceedings in such a way that is discouraging. Given that this is not Stevie Ray Vaughan but the king of spiritual six-string transcendence, it is not remiss to have expected more of Laswell -- especially given his wondrous treatments of Bob Marley and Miles Davis in the recent past. A near miss, but a miss nonetheless..


add 0672 lindsfarne

Easily the best album the group ever recorded, Nicely Out Of Tune is one of the prettiest folk-rock albums of the late 1960s. If Lindisfarne had never recorded anything else, they'd be one of the most fondly remembered acts of their era just for this album. "Lady Eleanor" is a very pretty tune that manages to incorporate elegant mandolin over some heavy rock riffing. "Road To Kingdom Come" is closer in spirit to the group's usual pub-rock sound, a singalong-type number with lots of really crunchy harmonica, mandolin, and fiddle, and a really catchy chorus -- "Jackhammer Blues" is pretty nearly as good a rocker. But "Winter Song" is one of the gentlest, most haunting folk ballads of its period, almost too pretty to have come from a rock band, and "Alan In The River With Flowers" isn't far behind. The rest is in the same class and league, and as a bonus the CD contains two lost B-sides, "Knackers Yard Blues" and "Nothing But The Marvelous Is Beautiful" -- they're not bad, either.


Saturday, December 28, 2013

add 0371 Sugar blue


add 0670 Ursula Rucker

Silver or Lead makes it more than apparent that Ursula Rucker still has a lot to say -- and she's getting her points across better than ever, with the type of control over delivery that can convey the deepest pain and the most boiled-over rage in a confident whisper. On "Untitled Flow," she takes aim at gangsta rappers: "Ain't gotta spit no gun click sh*t, 'cause life is hardcore 'nuff." On "What a Woman Must Do," she conveys the frustrations of the contradictions in the ways that women are treated and viewed: "Be called a muse, which is just a synonym for use/Put upon pedestals, dainty and protected/And because of that disrespected, Victorianized." Some of the productions that back Rucker (from the likes of 4heroMasters at Work's Lil Louie Vegathe Roots, and King Britt) are so strong that they're deserving of being heard as instrumentals. Even when her voice is at its most relaxed, the listening is intense as hell -- it's not the kind of album you'd put on before going out, unless going out involves a rally or a march. So it'd be nice to be able to focus on the sounds a little more (most especially the delirious edits of the Jazzanova-produced "This"), making them all the more versatile in the process.


add 0669 Rufus Thomas


Thursday, December 26, 2013

add 0668 Bill Evans

This CD reissue contains a Canadian concert by the Bill Evans Trio. Pianist Evans, bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Marty Morell had been playing regularly together since 1969 (Gomez had joined the group back in 1966). The tight and almost telepathic musical communication between the musicians, the strong repertoire (six Evansoriginals, a pair of ballads and "So What") and the appreciative audience make this a fairly definitive recording by this classic unit.


add 0667 Neko Case

Neko Case hasn't had much need to prove her credentials as a major artist since making her solo debut with 1997'sThe Virginian, but she's been refining her skills in the recording studio on each subsequent release, and with 2006'sFox Confessor Brings the Flood she's fashioned an album that can cautiously be called a masterpiece. As always,Case's voice, an instrument of impressive strength, grace, and expressive power, is the star of this show, and she's never sounded better than she does here, but what sets this apart from her other fine work is her growth as a songwriter and producer. Case wrote or co-wrote all 12 tracks on Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, and her tales of failed friendship, faith stretched to the breaking point, and love that causes as much ache as comfort are subtle and expressionistic but deeply evocative, conjuring images and feelings that linger long after the album has ended, especially the spectral "Star Witness," the moody yet romantic "That Teenage Feeling" and "Hold on, Hold On," and the darkly beautiful closer, "The Needle Has Landed." And Case and her co-producer, Darryl Neudorf, have assembled a superb cast of musicians to accompany these songs, among them members of the Sadies and Calexico as well asGarth Hudson of the BandHowe Gelb from Giant Sand, and Kelly Hogan. Together they've sculpted a dozen elegant sonic landscapes that are beautiful and richly detailed while meshing with the moody textures of the songs in their open space and unwillingness to crowd either the singer or the other players. The cumulative effect mirrors both the beauty and the sadness that lurks within the human heart, and Fox Confessor Brings the Flood is a rich, mature, and deeply satisfying piece of music that deserves and demands attention -- if this isn't Album of the Year material, it's hard to say what is.


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

add 0666 Micah P. Hinson

Despite being involved in so many projects -- which include the expansive psych pop of the Earlies, the Americana-tronica of the Late Cord, and his work under his own name -- Micah P. Hinson crafts a distinctive sound for each of his musical outlets. Hinson's solo work is rootsier and a little more straightforwardly singer/songwriter than that of the Earlies or the Late Cord, but only just. Micah P. Hinson and the Opera Circuit, his second Jade Tree release of 2006, spans ballads that blossom into guitar epics ("You're Only Lonely"), drunken waltzes ("It's Been So Long"), and lonesome, late-night songs ("Drift Off to Sleep") that are held together by Hinson's ancient-sounding voice, which seems to hold within it an entire dust bowl of yearning and a whole lifetime of experiences. His vocals lend themselves especially well to his ballads, giving a sepia-toned warmth to "Seems Almost Impossible," "Little Boy's Dream," which also showcases the beautiful string arrangements throughout the album, and "She Don't Own Me," a song that sounds so timeless that it's easy to mistake it for a cover of some long-forgotten tune. However, Micah P. Hinson and the Opera Circuit is far from bleak. There's a black-hearted gypsy glee to "Diggin' a Grave," which features sardonic lyrics like "I'm hopin' the sun will never come up/And there'll be no compromise again," while the brass that peppers "Jackeyed" and "Letter to Huntsville" helps make those songs downright cheery. A quietly compelling album, this will please not only fans of Hinson's other solo work, but those who were introduced to him through the Earlies and the Late Cord as well.


add 0665 Tom Brosseau

It's nice to know that you don't have to be tough to be a rock star. Not that what Tom Brosseau is playing on Empty Houses Are Lonely, or any of his records for that matter, is rock music, but the fact that Brosseau can sing songs of heartbreak and love in his fragile, whispering falsetto and sound completely legitimate is still pretty impressive. In fact,Brosseau's strength is that he willingly explores and admits his weaknesses, nearly exploiting them and himself so as to bring emotion, and maybe even catharsis, to his audience. "Heart of Mine" is inconsolably tragic and depressing, with Brosseau's quavering voice singing "heart of mine you stole from me, didn't you?/I don't want it back where it don't belong, it's not my property." He's utterly miserable, and everyone knows it. At the same time, however, Brosseaumanages to retain a bit of dignity, or at least irony: he's not completely pathetic. "Soon my heart will whither and die/what will you do with it then my dear?" he affirms at the end of the song, coming close to kind of self-deprecating last laugh. Brosseau's sincerity and his ability to describe a situation with small details work well with his simple guitar chords and melodic lines. He's clearly inspired by the storytellers of old-timey and traditional country music, and though his own stories can be a little more abstract than "Your Cheatin' Heart" or "Daddy Sang Bass" (the wonderfully dark "How to Grow a Woman from the Ground," for example, where his conversations with himself and an invented woman are interspersed with death imagery), he has that same knack for using a single line to tell an entire life. In "Dark Garage," though he doesn't say much more about Missy than that she has "cherry lips/and I can taste it when we kiss/she always has a brand-new coat of paint at her fingertips," that's enough to understand exactly who she is. The main problem on Empty Houses Are Lonely, whose tracks were all taken from earlier recordings made mainly between 2001 and 2003, when Brosseau was just starting out his career, is that the songs, most with similar melodies, instrumentation, and dynamics, have a tendency to blend too well into one another. Yes, it provides a nice consistency, but since Brosseau also makes very infrequent use of the chorus, it can make discerning the differences in the pieces a little difficult. Still, it's a good record, and highlights the maturity, sensitivity, and introspection of this young singer.


add 0664 gypsy swing

Gypsy swing is one of those beautiful styles of music that's played little enough in the grand scheme of things that nearly all performers of the form can be traced musically (or genetically) to one or two prototypical performers that set the stage for all that followed. Here, the influence of Django Reinhardt is all-encompassing (as it should be, really). Using Django as the source for the vast majority of this album makes description seemingly simpler, but nonetheless there's a wide variety of music to be heard here. Django performs on some five or six works here specifically, showcasing his early years, his masterful time with the Hot Club, as well as his later years of musical exploration (as well as some futuristic compositions played out by Romane in honor of Django). Surprisingly, Stephane Grappelli shows up only in combination with the Hot Club here. Masterful followers of Django's guitar lineage include Romane and his various groups and collaborations, as well as the young Bireli Lagrene. The connections to the bal musette genre are detailed a bit by accordion-heavy works from Gus Viseur and Serge Desaunay. The more tenuous ends of the gypsy swing repertoire are hit by the contemporary group Swing Gadjé, who mix the Eastern European and Oriental influences ably, including a bit of a hip-hop breakbeat (allowed by some clever string-scraping on the guitar), though largely ignoring the swing end. Featuring heavily throughout all of the performances is the unavoidable focus on virtuosity that pervades the majority of gypsy-influenced music. Everyone that plays here has thoroughly earned their wings and is worth hearing a couple of times beyond the album as well. The key here is in the mix of gypsy virtuosity and the basics of American jazz concepts. Incidentally, the album holds a special little treat for the listener with an outstanding Hot Club rendition of "La Marseillaise" that was banned for some time for its patriotic blasphemy.


add 0663 Folk OFF

So the new wave of folk has come to this? A folk-off, a battle between the Brits and North America, a two-hour rumble to establish the pecking order, refereed by Rob Da Bank’s Sunday Best label. Fifteen representatives from each camp line up atop each hill, the British camp led by Vashti Bunyan, clutching their Korgs, stringed weapons and a copy of Silent Alarm, whilst their Sufjan-fronted Stateside foes come brandishing the time-honoured folk guitar, ready to charge into the valley beyond. Or at least, that’s what it would be like if it was a real fight, and just not a decent double-CD celebration of the new wave of folk music which has swept these shores.
It may not be a serious contest, but compilations always provide a chance for unknown parties to overthrow their contemporaries, and Folk Off is no exception. Notably, veteran folk songwriter Vashti Bunyan’s effort is dwarfed by that which precedes it, This Is The Kit’s ‘2 Wooden Spoons’. With no notable production values, the dry female vocals recount a tale of soul mates, companionship and dependency, the feel enhanced by her occasional wavering and the fluttering between notes strewn over a single, plucked guitar. A perfect range here would only leave it feeling cold and clinical, and its personal touch is largely what makes it the British highlight, not to mention that of the CD as a whole.
The best song from the States comes from a more expected source, as Sufjan Stevens’ spectacularly-titled ‘Decatur, or, Round of Applause For Your Step-Mother!’ from Illinois steals the show, spinning an accordion-toting, banjo-laden yarn from Stevens’ front porch. Slowly growing from a two-part harmony into a multi-layered vocal round, ‘Decatur’ becomes a celebratory chorus, standing out for its sheer beauty, infectiously encouraging all to sing along where '2 Wooden Spoons' merited complete silence.
Folk Off might not be much of a battle, but some still bear the scars. Listen With Sarah’s seven-minute opus ‘Blue Parsley’ barely changes for the first three-and-a-half minutes, and when it does, the light, industrial drum beat that is introduced amongst the tin whistles leaves the whole thing clunky and cumbersome amidst the free-flowing other material. Elsewhere, Eighteenth Day Of May’s acoustic instrumental piece ‘Dawn’ fails to ignite during its two and a half minute duration, whilst Same Actor’s ‘Nothing Yet’ is unusual with its sitar samples, dub bassline and variously interspersed clicks and beeps, but fades quickly from memory.
This aside, the general standard is above average. Folk Off is helped along by the Super Furry Animals-offshoot Acid Casuals, whose reclined ‘Bowl Me Over’ sounds like it has been lifted straight from Rings Around The World, whilst Tunng’s erratic cover of Bloc Party’s ‘Pioneers', Dr Dog’s Beatles-esque ‘The World Will Never Know’ and the Dntel-meets-Reindeer Section sound of James Yorkston’s collaboration with Reporter all deserve a special mention. There’s not enough time nor space to get into every reason that Folk Off should be part of your collection, but for a cross-section of folk’s newest incarnation, you might not need to look any further.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

add 0662 dixie dreggs

Dregs of the Earth

Studio Album, released in 1980

Songs / Tracks Listing
1. Road Expense (3:24)
2. Pride O' The Farm (3:40)
3. Twiggs Approved (4:29)
4. Hereafter (6:21)
5. The Great Spectacular (3:20)
6. Broad Street Strut (3:54)
7. I'm Freaking Out (9:06)
8. Old World (2:00)

Total Time: 36:14
This album received a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Instrumental Performance.
Music tabs (tablatures)
Line-up / Musicians
- Steve Morse / acoustic and electric guitars, banjo, pedal steel
- Andy West / fretted and fretless bass
- Allen Sloan / acoustic and electric violins, viola
- Rod Morgenstein / drums and percussion
- T Lavitz / acoustic and electric piano, organ, synthesizer, clavinet

add 0661 Explosions in the sky

There is little middle ground for an instrumental post-rock band like the Austin, TX-based Explosions in the Sky. Endlessly compared to Mogwai -- who can make aggressively angry music when they want to -- this quartet consciously seeks what is meandering and beautiful. If there is a strategy behind their music as revealed by 2001's Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever and 2003's The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place, it's that beauty seeks tension to resolve itself and find itself even in seeming chaos. This music featuring layered guitars, piano, bass, and drums begins with melody and more often than not ends with it, no matter how far from the quiet and even halting lyricism the band wandered into at the beginning. Which raises two questions. First, is All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone different from the other pair of records on Temporary Residence? And, of course, since one must confront the seemingly eternal academically trained analysis and cynicism of the indie world, "Is it necessary?" The answer to both questions is "yes." While the surface of Explosions in the Sky's sonic sense of labyrinthine adventure is similar, the manner in which they get to the center of each piece is not. On "The Birth and Death of the Day," which opens the set, violence and noise are threatened from the beginning with distorted chords, feedback, and big crescendos. Space enters before lyricism here, though harmonically everything resonates as one, and for a moment one thinks that this is a forgotten intro to some lost and found U2 song of yore, but they quickly pass that mark and dig inside the chaos for its roots and branches. "It's Natural to Be Afraid" begins with subtle dissonance and the guitars emerging out of quiet chaos with sounds and pianos playing slowly and contrapuntally. It takes over 13 minutes to wind up, down, and around again, but it's an exercise that is rewarding for a patient listener -- or if you simply want to close your eyes and go with it. "So Long, Lonesome," at under four minutes, closes the set. Its piano lines take a front seat as guitars provide counterpoint and a sonic backdrop, and the tension force field never rises above a four. It's almost a chamber piece. Ultimately, there is real growth here, subtle and unpretentious as it is. All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone is another gorgeous exercise byExplosions in the Sky. How can listeners not need more music by a band that seeks beauty over everything else in its subtly expanding sonic universe?


Monday, December 23, 2013

add 0650 gogol bordelllo

These "gypsy punks," as the band jubilantly describes itself, were once precisely that, a spectacular clash of cultures that smashed the exuberance of Ukrainian gypsy music and the pounding rhythms and exhilarating fire of Slavic folk, with the roar of punk rock. That was then, but now globalization has got them in its grip, and Gogol Bordello set about crashing through national boundaries, reconnecting the cultural links borders have severed. If a fire and fury for life fed the soul of the gypsy, the Slav, and the punk, it also lay at the heart of hard rock and heavy metal, and so into the meat grinder goes incendiary lead guitar. Flamenco's fire lies in its emotive rhythms and dangerous atmospheres, both of which seep into the set as well. You can hear it on "60 Revolutions," and even more magnificently on the stomping "Think Locally Fuck Globally," whose rhythms subtly quicken into a furious flamingo fire, before sweeping into a tribal tattoo, finally flinging itself out in a gypsy swirl. "Not a Crime" careens into Arabesque, "Immigrant Punk" skanks straight into reggae, while "Underdog World Strike" heads underground, interweaving hip-hop, punk, and reggae to gypsy's own roots. Frontman/lyricist Eugene Hütz explains how his own history drives him on the autobiographical "Undestructable," accompanied by a cheery punky reggae backing that defies one not to sing along. And it's not the only one for much of the set is spectacularly anthemic, from the fist-in-the-air fervor of the Oi!-esque "Not a Crime," the fashion-fling command chorus of "Start Wearing Purple," to the life-affirming "Undestructable." One may even start phonetically parroting the lyrics of "Santa Marinella." That latter song is not sung in English, and there's foreign lyrics sprinkled about the set, but the emotional meaning is always clear. A truly universal album that encompasses America's eternal immigrant story, urban living, and a love of life and music that translates into every language on earth. It's the fire in not just the gypsy soul, but the soul of everyone, and Bordello ignite it into a blaze as bright as life itself.


add o650 Gogol bordello

The idea of colliding Romany music with punk may at first seem bizarre, but there's more common ground to be found than one might first suspect, not the least of which involves the rejection of authority and dominant cultural norms. Musically, the Romanies' exuberant celebration of life may appear the antithesis of punk's original nihilism, but both are kindled by a sense of immediacy, a "no future, let's play for today" atmosphere that fires every song. And so Gogol Bordello, while certainly unique, is not as odd as it may seem. The group long ago left the concept of borders, musical or otherwise, behind. The members may have met in New York City, but bar one, all traveled far to get there, arriving from Israel and a variety of Eastern European nations. Singer/lyricist Eugene Hutz brought with him his rich Ukrainian heritage, a gift for storytelling, a twisted sense of humor, and a sharp sense of irony. The bandmembers brought their excellent musicianship, a love of their own cultural sounds, and a magpie's delight in plundering from others. The group's name pays tribute to Ukraine's most feted author, Nikolai Gogol, whose distinctive style and leitmotif provide inspiration for Hutz's lyrics. Skipping stealthily from the real world to the surreal, the pugnacious to the paranoid, the singer spins out his tales of wonder and woe, commonplace occurrences and counterintuitive events. Behind him, the band lets loose with an accompaniment that makes a nonsense of genres, a storming backing awash in melody that pushes toward pop, but cries out to the vast Eurasian steppes. Incredibly anthemic, Multi Kontra Culti will set your head spinning and your body with it, your blood racing to the rhythms, and your spirit soaring with the wildness of the untamed sounds within.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

add 0649 Jing Chi

No, this isn't a sister project to Wang Chung, it's actually a blistering and very trippy jazz fusion blast by three old vets who've been shedding over the years in Robben Ford's band. The cover of the disc features psychedelic art and the trio's names -- drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, guitarist Ford, and bassist Jimmy Haslip -- in alphabetical order so that listeners don't mistake any one of them for the leader. It's just an intense ensemble disc that draws from feisty blues-rock (dig the blistering free-for-all opener, "The Hong Kong Incident") to cooler atmospheric experiments (the seductive, laid-back "Stan Key.") There are a lot of influences from '60s rock, cult music, Miles Davis' Bitches Brew, down-home funky Delta blues, and a little James Brown kickin' soul as well. The wah-wah-driven, floating atmospheres of "Tengoku" lets listeners know that while these cats can blow heavy, they're happy at times just to kick back and get deep into nostalgia. Ford's balance of intense playing and strong melodicism is effective in keeping people who like good songwriting in the loop at times when it would be just as easy to just jam and forget about any structure. He also adds a decent vocal to "Going Nowhere," which is anchored in Haslip's hypnotic lines. Less effective is Haslip's robotic attempt to be like Sting on the vocal part of the all-atmospheric "In My Dream." That tune is the only real drawback to a very inventive disc of so many moods and such powerful playing.


add 0648 wilco

Only the music


Saturday, December 21, 2013

add 0647 godspeed you black emperor

2001-09-28.Palais Royale

 The instrumental, multimedia Montreal group Godspeed You! Black Emperorcreates extended, repetition-oriented chamber rock. The minimal and patient builds-to-crescendo of the group's compositions results in a meditative and hypnotic listen that becomes almost narrative when combined with found-sound splices and the films of their visual collaborators. GY!BE formed in 1994, and that year self-released a limited-run (33 copies) cassette entitled All Lights Fucked on the Hairy Amp Drooling. The band's next recording, F#A#(Infinity), was initially a limited-run release of 550 LPs on the Canadian label Constellation, but was picked up by Kranky and released on CD as well. Early 1999 brought the EP Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada (released by both labels) and increased recognition for a band intent on retaining anonymity. Nevertheless, interest in GY!BE only continued to grow among new music fans with much positive attention from The Wire magazine, the band's participation in the John Peel-produced Peel Session for the London BBC, and the group's consistently impressive live shows, including their performance at Quebec's 1999 new music festival FIMAV and the tour with Labradford later that year. GY!BE performances generally include at least nine or more musicians and a projectionist. The instrumentation consists of three guitars, two basses, French horn, violin, viola, cello, and percussion. 2000 brought about the release of Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven, pushing their diverse orchestral rock sound even further into the universe. Yanqui U.X.O. followed 2002. Godspeed You! Black Emperorremained in absentia until they reassembled for a tour in 2011. Another tour commenced in September of 2012. In October, the band announced 'ALLELUJAH! DON'T BEND! ASCEND!, their first recording in a decade, a mere two weeks before it was released


add 0646 Duke Robilliard

This unassuming and delightful little album visits a time when jazz and blues were still directly entwined, drawing on the ghosts of guitarists like Charlie ChristianEddie DurhamBill JenningsTiny GrimesBarney Kessel, and Kenny Burrell, guitarists who used the blues to enrich the jazz pieces they played on, a kind of ensemble contribution that is all too frequently missing on the contemporary blues scene. Duke RobillardJay Geils, and Gerry Beaudoin are all gifted guitar players, each with his own career, but as a trio working three-part harmony lines around each other, they bring a stately ensemble grace to the tracks on New Guitar Summit (the trio also appears under that name when they do live shows). This is not a speaker-shattering blues-rock outing, and although everything here is informed by the blues, it is front and center a jazz album. Wonderful old chestnuts like "Perdido," the melody line of which was written by Juan TizolDuke Ellington's longtime valve trombonist, are given respectful, lightly swinging arrangements, and the three independent guitar lines work in easy harmonies with each other. When the solos come, they feel like perfect little waves breaking against a beach, wave after wave, one after another. Working with a rhythm section of John Turner on bass and Gordon Grottenthaler on drums, the three guitarists bring an interesting new perspective to Billie Holiday's "'Tain't Nobody's Bizness if I Do," which includes a tentative yet poignant vocal by Beaudoin, who also wrote two of the best pieces here, the gypsy blues "Azzure Mineur" and the album's defining track, the perfectly swinging "Just Among Friends." Robillard takes a vocal turn on saxophonist Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson's "Backdoor Blues," but this is primarily an instrumental CD, with wonderfully nuanced guitar lines taking center stage. Charming, calm, and frequently beautiful, New Guitar Summit won't stir the beer-and-a-shot crowd, but it is a welcome exploration of a place and a time when jazz and blues were not yet estranged.