Tuesday, September 23, 2014

add 1125 moon & moon

On its 2008 debut, VII ACTS OF AN IRON KING, the Brooklyn-based indie ensemble Moon & Moon presents an avant-rock epic. Gilded by various horns, woodwinds, and strings, the album melds freak folk with Wagnerian opera, as best revealed on “Act IV: Come Down Like a Man,” which features oddball troubadour Devendra Banhart.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

1124 Steely Dan

Building from the jazz fusion foundation of Pretzel Logic, Steely Dan created an alluringly sophisticated album of jazzy pop with Katy Lied. With this record, Walter Becker and Donald Fagen began relying solely on studio musicians, which is evident from the immaculate sound of the album. Usually, such a studied recording method would drain the life out of each song, but that's not the case with Katy Lied, which actually benefits from the duo's perfectionist tendencies. Each song is given a glossy sheen, one that accentuates not only the stronger pop hooks, but also the precise technical skill of the professional musicians drafted to play the solos. Essentially, Katy Lied is a smoother version of Pretzel Logic, featuring the same cross-section of jazz-pop and blues-rock. The lack of innovations doesn't hurt the record, since the songs are uniformly brilliant. Less overtly cynical than previous Dan albums, the album still has its share of lyrical stingers, but what's really notable are the melodies, from the seductive jazzy soul of "Doctor Wu" and the lazy blues of "Chain Lightning" to the terse "Black Friday" and mock calypso of "Everyone's Gone to the Movies." It's another excellent record in one of the most distinguished rock & roll catalogs of the '70s.


add 1125 Steely Dan

Countdown to Ecstasy wasn't half the hit that Can't Buy a Thrill was, and Steely Dan responded by trimming the lengthy instrumental jams that were scattered across Countdown and concentrating on concise songs for Pretzel Logic. While the shorter songs usually indicate a tendency toward pop conventions, that's not the case with Pretzel Logic. Instead of relying on easy hooks, Walter Becker and Donald Fagen assembled their most complex and cynical set of songs to date. Dense with harmonics, countermelodies, and bop phrasing, Pretzel Logic is vibrant with unpredictable musical juxtapositions and snide, but very funny, wordplay. Listen to how the album's hit single, "Rikki Don't Lose That Number," opens with a syncopated piano line that evolves into a graceful pop melody, or how the title track winds from a blues to a jazzy chorus -- Becker and Fagen's craft has become seamless while remaining idiosyncratic and thrillingly accessible. Since the songs are now paramount, it makes sense that Pretzel Logic is less of a band-oriented album than Countdown to Ecstasy, yet it is the richest album in their catalog, one where the backhanded Dylan tribute "Barrytown" can sit comfortably next to the gorgeous "Any Major Dude Will Tell You." Steely Dan made more accomplished albums than Pretzel Logic, but they never made a better one.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

add 1123 bambi molesters

Not many acts that continue for a few albums get a chance to go back and take care of what they might see in retrospect as mistakes or tentative starts. But there are always glorious exceptions -- thus, the course of events that led to the Croatian surf-rock quartet the Bambi Molesters re-recording their 1997 debut, Dumb Loud Hollow Twang, in a "Deluxe" edition, with special guests, bonus tracks, and more besides. What might have seemed a quixotic exercise gets explained in the liner notes -- Dumb Loud Hollow Twang's original run, though popular in surf-rock obsessive circles, had not resulted in a reprint, while the group's growing popularity resulted in further demand and attention for the album. The bandmembers themselves felt the debut was far too rushed -- it was literally recorded in three hours as a one-take rip with instrument leakage and bad mixing ruining the impact -- so with more time to spare and a chance to flesh out the sound, the result was 2003's Deluxe. The quartet's command of the surf vernacular is unparalleled -- guitarists Dalibor Pavicic and Dinko Tomljanovic have the reverb down and rhythm section Lada and Hrvoje Zaborac shift between mania and mood-out with ease. The guest musicians add just the right touches -- keep an ear out for Neven Franges' piano on the late-night menace of "Pearl Divin'," as well as on the smoky Euro-spy vibe of "Sun Stroke" and a trumpet/sax duo on a variety of songs adding some further sting. If the overall effect is pleasantly reverential rather than a striking new reworking of surf and garage roots, it's still a solid result that works beyond being a mere genre exercise. The bonus tracks are all covers, and winners they are -- the Molesters' collaborator in the Strange project, Chris Eckman, adds whispering menace to "Restless," the album's sole vocal track. Best song title of the bunch -- "Beach Murder Mystery."


Saturday, September 13, 2014

add 1122 Jackson - Trane

Vibraphonist Milt Jackson and tenor saxophonist John Coltrane make for a surprisingly complementary team on this 1959 studio session, their only joint recording. With fine backup by pianist Hank Jones, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Connie Kay, Bags and Trane stretch out on two of Jackson's originals (including "The Late Late Blues") and three standards: a romping "Three Little Words," "The Night We Called It a Day," and the rapid "Be-Bop." This enjoyable music has been included as part of Rhino's Heavyweight Champion: The Complete Atlantic Recordings box.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

add 1120 Walking papers

Walking Papers is a bluesy post-grunge rock band formed by Jeff Angell and Barrett Martin, two long-serving veterans of the Seattle music scene. Jeff sang and played guitar for the bands Post Stardom Depression and The Missionary Position, and Barrett, a drummer and multi-instrumentalist, played for grunge pioneers Skin Yard and Screaming Trees, as well as the super groups Mad Season and Tuatara. This debut album features a stellar cast of musicians who have each added their unique musical voice to the album: The rumbling bass lines of Duff McKagan (Guns N' Roses, Velvet Revolver), the blistering guitar work of Mike McCready (Pearl Jam, Mad Season), the elegant keyboard stylings of Benjamin Anderson, and the soulful horn arrangements of Dave Carter, Dan Spalding, and Ed Ulman. The album was recorded by Catherine Ferrante at Avast Studios in Seattle, and mixed by Jack Endino at Soundhouse in Seattle. Album mastering was done by Chris Hanzsek at Hanzsek Audio.
Walking Papers show that a great song can be conveyed with thundering drums, rumbling bass, and a howling guitar just as easily as it can with percolating marimbas and shimmering vibraphone. The songs on this album can stand alone as individual stories, but taken together as a whole, they convey a much larger narrative with tales of wandering souls, the collisions of will, and the dark beauty of the American heart.

01 Already Dead  3:59 
02 The Whole World's Watching  3:50 
03 Your Secret's Safe With Me  4:13 
04 Red Envelopes  3:41 
05 Leave Me In The Dark  4:19 
06 The Butcher  2:51 
07 Two Tickets  5:05 
08 I'll Stick Around  4:41 
09 Capital T  4:55 
10 A Place Like This  4:29 
11 Independence Day  5:09 

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

add 1120 Nels Cline

Nels Cline & Thurston Moore ‎– Pillow Wand

Skycap ‎– cap001, Little Brother Records ‎– LB011
CD, Album


1 Burnt Klubgirl Lid Tone 9:43
2 Blues For Helen Burns 15:46
3 Tommy Hall Dragnet 10:56
4 We Love Our Blood 13:30
5 I Inhale You 15:59

Companies etc



Recorded 12/30/96 at New Zone Studio.
Mastered at A&M.


add 1119 Nels Cline

Those who find avant-garde jazz and free improvisation to be too abrasive are advised to check out this album, on which guitarist Nels Cline is joined by bass wizard Mark Dresser, drummer Billy Mintz, and downtown legend Zeena Parkins on electric and acoustic harp. Make no mistake about it, this music (some of which is composed and some improvised) is definitely challenging: tonal centers, when they exist, shift unpredictably, and Dresser and Parkins in particular make almost constant use of extended techniques that allow them to pull otherworldly sounds from their instruments. But the musical textures are generally quite delicate, and even when the music is atonal it's often very beautiful, even by conventional measures. "Alstromeria," in particular, features some lovely passages on which interlocked harp and guitar arpeggios march gently beneath Dresser's quietly wailing line of artificial harmonics, and the startlingly tortured sounds that Parkins elicits from her electric harp on "Spider Wisdom" (one of the more difficult pieces on this album) are lots of fun. Melodically, Cline is clearly influenced by Derek Bailey, but his tone and execution are all his, and his compositions reward the effort it sometimes takes to follow them. Recommended.


Saturday, September 06, 2014

add 1118 John García


add 1117 Kyuss

With Josh Homme's guitar tuned down two whole steps to C, and plugged into a bass amp for maximum distortion, stoner metal pioneers Kyuss achieve a major milestone in heavy music with their second album, 1992's Blues for the Red Sun. Producer Chris Goss masterfully captures the band's unique heavy/light formula, which becomes apparent as soon as the gentle but sinister intro melody gives way to the chugging main riff in the opener, "Thumb." This segues immediately into the galloping "Green Machine," which pummels forward inexorably and even features that rarest rock & roll moment: a bass solo. "Thong Song" alternates rumbling guitar explosions with almost complete silence, and "Mondo Generator" plays like an extended acid trip. The slow build of the epic "Freedom Run" and the driving "Allen's Wrench" are also highlights, and though the album is heavy on instrumentals, these actually provide a seamless transition from song to song.


Friday, September 05, 2014

add 1116 Blackberry Smoke

Building on the Lynyrd Skynyrd Southern rock template, with a good dose of outlaw honky tonk country and a little bit of bluegrass, gospel, and R&B mixed in, Blackberry Smoke (singer/guitarist Charlie Starr, guitarist/singer Paul Jackson, bassist/singer Richard Turner, keyboardist Brandon Still, and drummer Brit Turner) formed in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2000 and quickly built a loyal fan base on the Southern tour circuit, opening for top-tier acts like Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top, the Zac Brown Band, George Jones, and others. The group released a debut album, Bad Luck Ain't No Crime, in 2004 on Cock of the Walk Records


add 1117 Blackberry Smoke

On their sophomore full-length CD, Little Piece of Dixie, the five members of Blackberry Smoke (singer/guitarist Charlie Starr, guitarist/singer Paul Jackson, bassist/singer Richard Turner, keyboardist Brandon Still, and drummer Brit Turner) play Southern rock in the Lynyrd Skynyrd tradition. Starr has a strong, twangy voice, and he and Jackson keep the heavy riffs coming in country-rock songs extolling the virtues of a Southern, blue-collar man's blowing off steam by drinking, driving around, and maybe enjoying a little female companionship. Typical of the material is "Bottom of This," in which a man gets home from work and asks to be allowed to at least have one beer before he has to engage domestic problems or talk politics. Although the band is much closer to rock than outlaw country, the album has a clear Nashville leaning, produced by Dann Huff and Justin Niebank, and featuring some formula Music City songwriting. At the end, Blackberry Smoke try for an anthem with "Freedom Song," another paean to hitting the road in the pickup truck and putting a cowboy boot to the gas pedal in search of escape from a workingman's troubles. But when Starr declares his desire to "sing along to my freedom song" on the radio as the guitars play a familiar twin-lead part, it seems likely that the song he really has in mind is Skynyrd's "Free Bird," not something by his own band.


Monday, September 01, 2014

add 1115 John McLaughlin

John McLaughlin toured the U.S. during the summer of 2013 with his multi-cultural band the 4th Dimension, which included Gary Husband on keyboards and drums, Etienne Mbappe on bass, and Ranjit Barot on drums. The final concert in Boston, held at the Berklee College of Music, was recorded for live release. This fiery set features pieces from McLaughlin's then-recent albums Now Here This and To the One, but also sees him revisiting one of his classic Mahavishnu Orchestra songs, "You Know, You Know."


add 1114 John Mclaughlin

For anyone who's paid attention to John McLaughlin's recorded output since the turn of the century, it's obvious that he's been on a creative streak unequaled since his days as a Miles Davis sideman and his early Mahavishnu Orchestra recordings. Whether it's his two Remember Shakti sets, or the guitar-and-strings offering that was Thieves and Poets, the Indian carnatic intensity of his Floating Point band, or his forays into fiery, improvisational jazz-rock terrain on Industrial Zen, the evidence is clear. With his latest band, the 4th Dimension, McLaughlin has been on a tear. The band's first offering, To the One, is a direct jazz-rock investigation of John Coltrane's influence on McLaughlin's musical thinking. Now Here This is a knottier jazz-rock fusion offering -- with all the positive connotations of that word and none of the negative. Keyboardist Gary Husband and Cameroonian über-bassist Etienne M'Bappé are holdovers from To the One, while drummer Mark Mondesir has been replaced by Ranjit Barot, who helmed the kit on Floating Point. McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension marry propulsive prog rock to Indian modalities to serious grooves (thanks in no small part to M'Bappé's wildly funky, virtuosic bass playing and Barot's triple-timed breaks and fills). Check opener "Trancefusion" for evidence of kinetic, infectious stop-and-start fusion that keeps rock and jazz in dynamic tension. "Riff Raff" careens with funky bass and keyboard interplay and massive guitar and drum kit grooves. "Echoes from Then" showcases McLaughlin's frenetically rhythmic rock soloing on an extended bass and keyboard vamp, while "Call and Answer" allows Husband to show off his post-bop chops in fluid right-hand flourishes. For balance, there are a couple of mellower cut such as "Wonderfall" (with lovely, languid bass work from M'Bappé) and "Not Here, Not There," a more R&B-oriented, midtempo, jazz-funk vamp that features lyric, emotive playing from McLaughlin. "Guitar Love" is a more rock-based jam, while closer "Take It or Leave It" mines Indian harmony, complex syncopation, and spacey funk with intuitive guitar and keyboard exchanges. Now Here This not only continues the excellent run of albums McLaughlin's amassed in the 21st century, it also displays the 4th Dimension not as a group of sidemen, but as an exciting working band which possesses depth, breadth, and imagination.