April 2014 Comics, Poetry, and Reviews from aka
|After The Dark
babysue comix #192
babysue comix #193
babysue comix #194
babysue comix #195
Michael G. Cunningham
Douglas Detrick's AnyWhen Ensemble
The Forty Nineteens
Man With A Mission
Miss Quincy and the Showdown
Music For Hard Times*
Nurse With Wound / Aranos*
|Pacific Mean Time
Peter, Paul and Mary
The Size Queens*
Twilight Circus Meets Edward Ka-Spel*
Additional Items Received
After The Dark - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack: Music by Nicholas
O'Toole and Jonathan Davis (CD, Varese
The film After The Dark (also known as The Philosophers) tells the story of a philosophy teacher who challenges his students to determine which ten (out of twenty) would be best suited to take shelter underground so that they could later restart the human race. An interesting heavy topic for a film to be certain...and the music mirrors the weighty subject matter. The original score for the film was written by Nicholas O'Toole (who also created music for the films Nothing Left To Fear and How To Be A Serial Killer) and Jonathan Davis (who is best known as the vocalist and bagpipe player in the band Korn). Plus some additional music was created by Glen Phillips (who is in the band Toad The Wet Sprocket). This thirty-one track album features music that steps beyond what one normally hears in film soundtracks. Some of the compositions have an ambient feel while others tread into moody technological territory. Threads of darkness are woven into these tracks, giving them a somewhat foreboding sound and feel. This could easily be appreciated by folks who enjoy the film as well as anyone who loves modern mood music. Slightly creepy and surreal at times.
Asai - French Trio, Vol. 1 (CD, De
Trois Cities, Jazz)
New York City's Takeshi Asai is a very busy, productive, focused man these days. He has been presenting his unique style of jazz piano to the world for many years and has gained quite a bit of critical acclaim along the way. In 2013 Asai assembled his French Trio that (in addition to himself) includes Pascal Combeau on bass and Maxime Legrand on drums. Asai has a wonderfully fluid sound on the keys that is sometimes reminiscent of babysue favorite Vince Guaraldi. Unlike most modern day musicians, Takeshi keeps things simple...always managing to get the most out of his well-chosen notes. Or in other words...you won't hear any of the usual overplaying here. This is the first album from Asai's new trio and it's bound to please his fans as well as bring in legions more. Eight captivating cuts here that are relaxing, inventive, and ultimately quite infectious. Our favorite tracks include "A Beginning," "I Remember The Castle," and "Fleurette."
Auburn - Nashville (Independently released CD, Pop)
After a ten year hiatus, the folks in the band Auburn got back together in 2011 and have once again been captivating audiences with their interesting brand of moody pop. The band's sound is driven by the intriguing vocal talents of Liz Lenten, who has an unusual warbly vocal style that truly sets her apart from others. Liz and her bandmates are off and running this time around. Just before releasing Nashville (which, by the way, was recorded in Nashville) the band opened up for Jefferson Starship on their recent tour of the United Kingdom. Folks in the United States should be immediately drawn to these tracks. The songs have a sound that incorporates elements of Americana, folk, and blues...all swirled up together in a strangely inviting mix that is simultaneously familiar sounding and unique. Twelve well-crafted cuts here including "Sitia Bay," "Hurting," "I Would Fall Down," and "I'm Lost."
Everyone is in a band
And they all sound
Brown - Almost There (Independently
released CD, Pop)
Nashville, Tennessee's Suzie Brown may not be a professional musician yet...but she's already a professional..doctor (!). Yup, Ms. Brown is a Harvard-trained cardiologist who writes, records, and performs music on the side. Produced by Oliver Wood (of The Wood Brothers) and recorded in just seven days, Almost There is a smooth and resilient collection of mid-tempo pop tracks just brimming over with sincerity and cool melodies. Nashville sure does have its share of processed cheese artists these days, many of whom sound like carbon copies of one another. Ms. Brown is in a different league because she concentrates on melodies and lyrics. These songs sound very much like real musicians playing real music rather than digital tracks that have been tweaked to perfection. Suzie's got a great subdued soulful voice that comes across strong. Her words and messages are positive, and the overall vibe here is upbeat and effective. Eleven cool cuts including "Almost There," "Our Own Little Show," "Everywhere I Go," and "Space Between."
Budjana with Jimmy Johnson and Vinnie Colaiuta
- Surya Namaskar (CD, Moonjune,
The seventh album from Indonesia's Dewa Budjana. If you've never heard this guy's fingers streaming up and down the guitar, you're in for a treat. Budjana is one of those musicians out there who actually becomes one with his instrument. When you hear him play, you can tell the guy goes into some kind of stream-of-consciousness mode where the notes come from some other universe. Backing Dewa on this album are Jimmy Johnson on bass guitar and Vinnie Colaiuta on drums...as well as a few other friends lending their talents. Budjana has already proven in the past that he is one of the guitar greats of the twenty-first century. Here he continues to solidify his position in the world of music. Eight mentally challenging cuts including "Fifty," "Kalingga," "Surya Namaskar," and "Damel Waterenggong."
Interesting how things seem to happen at the most curious moments. Just about a month ago we were browsing through the cheapie bins (one of our favorite activities...second to yard sailing) and came across a copy of Kate Bush's 50 Words For Snow album for a dollar. Released in 2011, we weren't even aware of the fact that Kate had released anything since Aerial and Director's Cut. We bought the disc, of course, and we weren't too surprised to discover how different it is from everything else happening in the world of music. Ms. Bush is no longer interested in recording pop music, instead opting to record pensive moody pieces that can be listened to on a variety of different levels. Snow is a curious spin to be sure. But it almost prompted us to go back in time and listen to some of Kate's earlier music and watch some of her earlier videos. Wow. We've known for a very long time that Ms. Bush is probably the most single influential woman in the world of music. And that could never ever be more obvious than it is now. So we then set about turning other friends onto Ms. Bush, starting with The Kick Inside so that they wouldn't be frightened off by some of the more bizarre and intense stuff that came later. So anyway...for a few weeks we were riding high on our rediscovery of Ms. Bush's greatest recordings (her first four albums)...when out of the blue we heard that she will be touring England this year (her first tour in 35 years). Double wow. We couldn't be more surprised. The great news is that the buzz surrounding these shows is already swelling to gigantic levels. Kate has apparently been happy to stay out of the spotlight over the past few years. We can certainly appreciate that. But we also sure as heck appreciate the fact that she has chosen to once again play live for all the thousands upon thousands of folks who see her as one of the most incredible musical artists of all time. So...this review is a review of the artist herself...a woman with integrity...guts...skill..a truly amazing voice...and precise views and morals of herself and the world. There are few artists we admire as much as this incredibly gifted lady. Anything/everything Ms. Bush does is highly recommended. TOP PICK.
G. Cunningham - Sonic Flight (CD, Navona, Classical)
We've mentioned this before but because many may still not be aware of it, we want to remind listeners that the Navona and Ravello labels are providing a great service in the world of music. Like most pop music fans who only want to hear well-known bands like The Beatles, most classical music fans only want to hear the same old great masters from the past like Bach and Beethoven. We love the well-known bands and composers from the past, no doubt...so we're not trying to slam them here. But unfortunately the emphasis on the same old well-known artists means that present day composers often get overlooked or ignored. The Navona and Ravello labels are shedding light on the wealth of great present day classical composers...a group of people who tirelessly work at their craft and are usually never properly rewarded for all their hard work. Born in 1937, Michael G. Cunningham has music degrees from Wayne State University, the University of Michigan, and Indiana University. He is now a composer and author whose music and books are highly regarded among classical music aficionados. This 2014 reissue of Cunningham's Sonic Flight album features six smooth and compelling compositions: "Violin Concerto," "Dialogue for Orchestra and Wind Trio," "Diaphony For Orchestra and Wind Trio," "Wakefield Autumn," "Kaleidoscope," and "Venus & Adonis." If you think all the great classical composers were born hundreds of years ago, think again. Modern day composers like Michael G. Cunningham are living proof that classical music is indeed alive and well in 2014.
Detrick's AnyWhen Ensemble - The Bright
And Rushing World (CD, Navona,
If you're a member of the club who thinks that all trumpets sound the same, think again. Although they're often used as blaring instruments, Douglas Detrick proves that the instrument can be played in more subtle, moody ways. His AnyWhen Ensemble is comprised of Hashem Assadullahi on alto and soprano saxophone, Shirley Hunt on cello, Steve Vacchi on bassoon, and Ryan Biesack on drums. Commissioned by Chamber Music America, The Bright and Rushing World suite is presented in ten movements. According to the press release that accompanied this album, the music was inspired by artists like Duke Ellington, Gil Evans, Benjamin Britten, and Igor Stravinsky. Listeners will hear tidbits of all of these artists and more on these smooth and sometimes perplexing compositions. The versatility of the players here is hypnotic and intriguing. Compelling tracks include "The Door Is Open," "You Never Thought To Give A Name," and "On The Wind Of His Leaving."
England - Paths We Have Worn (Independently
released CD, Modern folky pop)
San Francisco's Frances England writes and records pensive modern folky pop that reminds us very much of babysue favorite Linda Draper. So if you're a fan of Ms. Draper's music it is very likely you will also appreciate the cool subdued sound of Ms. England's music. This young lady's career had an interesting beginning--she originally wrote and recorded children's music (her first album was a home recording made to raise funds for her son's school). Word soon spread about her talents and before she knew it Frances was playing Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits. Considering how she began, it's interesting how mature the songs on Paths We Have Worn are. The album features keen observations on life and people and is decidedly optimistic. England's vocals are fragile but focused, and her songs feature nice sparse arrangements that allow the listener to focus on the lyrics and vocal melodies. Eleven strangely hypnotic folky pop tracks here including "Fall Out of the Sky," "Good Friends," and "Light Brings Color."
Forty Nineteens - Spin It (CD, Heyday
/ Rock Ranch, Pop/rock)
Short and sweet. This Detroit-based band plays catchy guitar driven pop/rock that could easily appeal to millions. The guys in The Forty Nineteens offer punchy music that fits somewhere in that territory in between Elvis Costello and The Replacements. The band is comprised of John Pozza (vocals, bass), Chuck Gorian (guitar), Chris Whelton (guitar), and Nick Zeigler (drums, vocals). This is a short little album that clocks in at just over twenty-three minutes. But in that amount of time these guys more than make their point. Cool rhythm-driven cuts include "Falling Down," "Pink '55 Bel Air," and "Dead Flowers." Good solid stuff delivered straight from the hip.
Hell - Ascent From Hell (CD, Scourge, Heavy metal)
The press release that accompanied this album describes the band as "a new horror concept heavy metal band." This is an all-star band made up of members of other bands. From Hell is comprised of Paul Bostaph on drums (Slayer), Damien Sisson on bass (Death Angel), Steve Smyth on lead guitar (Nevermore, Testament, One Machine), and George Anderson on lead guitars and vocals (Down Factor). If you've heard any of these guys' other bands you probably have a good idea of what to expect here. The tracks on Ascent From Hell are super hard and loud and feature pummeling rhythms and vocals that sound as if they came straight out of Hell. These guys are playing for a very specific audience...that segment of the population that gets off on loud, angry, frenzied heavy/death metal played at high volume. Ten intense tracks here including "Standing At The Mouth Of Hell," "Eyes Of My Dead," and "Ascent From Hell." Reminiscent of the 1990s when bands were really pushing the boundaries of what metal could and should sound like...
Wands - Glass Wands (CD, Esperanza Plantation, Instrumental)
Glass Wands is the new instrumental project created by Brooks Tipton. Before starting this band, Tipton played keyboards in the bands Secret Sisters, Colour Revolt, Thursday, Unwed Sailor, and Bear Colony. After serving as a backing musician in so many other bands, our guess is that Brooks was probably bursting at the seams to create his own project. This self-titled album is a wonderfully satisfying debut. Brooks' songs are subtle and soothing, somewhat dreamy, and ultimately quite melodic. These songs don't sound very much like any other bands we've heard of late and that is, of course, quite a feat in and of itself. These compositions set a definite mood so...if you need some cool reflective music for that perfect evening, this could be the perfect choice. Thirteen tracks that clock in at just under forty-four minutes. Precisely executed cuts include "Silverleaf," "Anchor," "Black Pond," "We Were Fine," and "Figures."
Harris - Only The Mighty (Independently
released CD, Pop)
The world is chock full of so many talented people...most of whom will never receive the recognition or success that they deserve. Canada's Kim Harris is yet another remarkable up-and-coming singer/songwriter whose music could easily catch on with millions of listeners. This would already be a stunning and impressive collection of tunes. But it is even more so when you consider the fact that this is Kim's debut album. What a debut. While the songs on Only The Mighty might remind listeners of a host of other modern classic singer/songwriters, there's heart and soul here that is sadly missing in the content provided by most artists. And in terms of lyrics, Harris is truly exceptional. To quote directly from the press release about the album title Kim says, "The Mighty are the smallest parts of ourselves, as strong as diamonds, that show themselves when they are needed most." The vocals here are way, way, way beyond what we normally hear. This young lady sings in such a way that you actually believe the words she sings. Ten lovely cuts including "In The Woods," "Poet Hearts," "Parliaments," and "Feast For The Mighty." This young artist is clearly starting out on the right path by doing everything...right. Top pick.
Honeyblood - Live performance, March 11, 2014 at Rhythm
& Brews, Chattanooga, TN
Honeyblood is the duo of Stina Tweeddale (vocals, guitar) and Shona McViccar (vocals, drums). These two talented ladies have quickly become quite popular with the hipster circuit in their hometown of Glasgow, Scotland. Stina and Shona have just recorded their first self-titled album which is being released this spring on Great Britain's FatCat label. The album features slightly grungy modern pop with a heavy emphasis on melodies and lyrics. In advance of the album's release, the band toured the United States to give folks here a sample of what they're all about. Their show at Rhythm & Brews (which is certainly one of THE best clubs in the city) featured the band playing on the last night of their tour. Honeyblood was the opening act for the band We Were Promised Jetpacks who are also from Scotland. We wish we had been able to stay for their show but other commitment prevented this from happening. Opening up for a band on a Tuesday night isn't the easiest thing for any band. But on this particular evening Tweeddale and McViccar seemed to magically keep an audience entertained with their instantly friendly brand of fuzzy guitar pop. Playing nothing but an electric guitar and a drum set, the sound was amazingly full. They certainly did not need any backing musicians. Tweeddale was dressed in black while McViccar was wearing a white t-shirt...both of which seemed appropriate for their direct stripped down musical approach. The two played most of the songs from the new album, all of which seemed to appeal to the audience that continued to grow during the concert. After getting past the first few songs Stina and Shona started chatting with the crowd which certainly helped to draw listeners into their musical world. For us, the highlight of the show was hearing "Super Rat," a tune that--in a perfect world--would already be an underground hit. Other standout performances included cool rendition of "Fall Forever" (another great tune) and "Bud." These two ladies were totally in synch with one another during the entire show. The drumming was totally infectious and the vocals were right on target. The band didn't have any copies of their new album on hand. But if they had...they would have sold several because the audience was obviously in love. Watch for big things in the very near future from these talented young ladies. They're on the verge of taking off. If you like getting in on the ground floor of something special, you will definitely want to check out Honeyblood. Way cool.
JIP - Last Call (Independently released CD, Rock)
If you loved alternative rock bands from the 1990s you're likely to get a major charge out of the tracks on Last Call. On this album the guys in JIP play straight from the hip using only the basic ingredients. The band is comprised of Jim Gwynn (vocals, guitar), Spencer Watson (guitar, vocals), and Mike Charbonneau (drums, percussion, vocals) with Andy Gerber on bass and additional lead guitar. Last Call presents thirteen cool rockers that feature driving rhythms, big overdriven guitars, throbbing bass lines, and vocals delivered with proper intensity. At a point in time when there are so many limp wristed bands on the planet, the guys in JIP are a nice refreshing blast of cold water in the face. Cool rockers include "Can't Say No," "Rock Hard Soul," "Last Call," and "Unknowns."
Lynn - A Beautiful Life (Independently
released CD, Pop)
The sophomore album from Sherry Lynn. This young lady has a sound and presence that should immediately hit the target with country music fans around the world. Rather than tackle heavy topics, she keeps things light and easy on A Beautiful Life...and that just might be what makes the album such a pleasant spin. At a time when most people need some form of escape, these upbeat uplifting tracks ought to provide that. We were already enjoying the listener-friendly tracks on this album. But when we went to Ms. Lynn's web site and saw the live video of "Girls Will Be Girls"...well, we pretty much fell in love. Lynn has a great presence. She's a real beauty. And she has a voice that is resonant and real. Pretty much all of the tracks on this album sound like potential hits. The album closes with the title track which features a duet with country superstar Crystal Gayle. A Beautiful Life will be welcomed with open arms by music fans everywhere. In addition to the previously mentioned cuts, our favorite songs include "I Like 'Em Like That," "So Much More," and "I Could Get Used To This." Resilient and refreshing. Top pick.
- Zeroth (Czech Republic import CD, Indies
Scope, Progressive pop)
Begun in 2009, the Czech band Luno is comprised of Ema Brabcova , Martin Chmatal, Jan Janecka, and Martyn Stary. The band refers to their own music as psych pop, but it's actually more complex than such a descriptive term might suggest. Luno has had quite a bit of success in their own country. Their debut album was named the ninth best Czech album of 2011 by the web magazine Musicserver. The band now seems poised to transfer some of that success to other parts of the globe. Zeroth is a curious collection of technology based pop/rock tunes with the heavy emphasis on rhythms and Brabcova's seductive voice. With just a bit of luck, these folks could easily find themselves the next up-and-coming ultra-hip underground band. They've got the songs and the sound to go all the way with this one. Cool perplexing tracks include "Wrong Start," "This Is The Fake," "Zeroth," and "Sizrhen."
With A Mission - Don't Feel The Distance
E.P. (CD EP, Sony, Pop/rock)
This EP reminds us of the glory days of the 1990s when industrial rock was pushing music to another level. The first thing that will catch your attention about the guys in Man With A Mission is the image. All four members wear wolf heads which entirely cover their faces...which reminds us of The Residents. But that's where the similarities end. This four song EP hits hard and fast and features one remix ("Distance") by Sid Wilson of Slipknot. If you like thick, fast, complex technology-driven modern pop, give this one a spin. It's a short disc. But it delivers one mighty big punch.
Band - So Much Imagine (Independently
released CD-R / Download / Vinyl, Pop)
Remarkably bright, resilient, and intelligent modern pop from Sweden's Marching Band. The band is the duo of Erik Sunbring and Jacob Lind, two clever fellows with enough smarts and imagination to run circles around most other twenty-first century pop songwriters. Sunbring and Lind write inventive technology-driven pop that reminds us in many ways of the criminally overlooked 1970s band 10CC. We're reviewing a CD-R that was sent our way, but this release is actually only being made available as a download and as a vinyl LP. There's an incredible amount of material to take in here. These guys offer a whopping twenty-one tracks that clock in at nearly seventy-one minutes (!). For most artists, this would be the ultimate kiss of death. After all, who can come up with that much credible original material...? Well, believe it or not...every single track has something substantial to offer and during all seventy-one minutes we never once felt bored or disinterested. This album is going to be an instant hit among serious fans of underground pop. There are so many killer tracks here that you are certain to be blown away. Erik and Jacob hit the target dead center here in babysueland. We love this stuff...!!! Highly recommended for Spring 2014... TOP PICK.
Martin - Silky Smooth Moments (CD, Angel Air, Pop)
We only became aware of Great Britain's David Martin over the past few years by way of several reissues released by the Angel Air label. Although Martin has been very active over the years and has certainly entered your consciousness in one form or another without your knowing it, he still remains somewhat obscure perhaps because he has been involved with so many other bands and artists over the years (as a singer, songwriter, and musician). Silky Smooth Moments is decidedly overdue, and will hopefully give this man more of the credit he so obviously deserves. The album begins with the Martin original "Silky Smooth Moments" before presenting David's interpretations of ten songs written by other classic artists including Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, George Gershwin, and more. In some ways this album reminds us of Harry Nilsson's A Little Schmillson In The Night...except the overall sound is much more subdued and sparse. Accompanied by the Terry Coffey Trio, Martin is sounding mighty focused and sincere here. In addition to the title track, our favorite cuts include "Almost Like Being In Love," "Just One Of Those Things," and "Let's Face The Music And Dance." Let's hope this is the beginning of a long string of solo releases from this ultra-talented musical icon.
Maynon - Download Jesus (Independently
released CD EP, Pop)
Marc Maynon is an up-and-coming singer/songwriter in San Francisco who describes his sound as "a hybridization of Robbie Williams and The Sleepy Jackson." Mixed by Adam Munoz and mastered by Ken Lee, this self-produced EP presents four smart solid songs with intelligent lyrics. All of these cuts sound like potential hits. Marc has a great knack for creating memorable winding melodies and words that you won't soon forget ("I am a man of many faces. Be sure you know which one you kiss.") If you appreciate pop artists like Ben Folds and The Pearlfishers there's a good chance you'll totally get what Maynon is all about. Our favorites here are "Man of Many Faces" and "Challenge of Extremes." This young fellow is heading in the right direction with a super bright future ahead of him.
Quincy and the Showdown - Roadside Recovery
(Independently released CD, Rock/pop)
Hard kickin' ballsy rock from three Canadian ladies who know how to turn up and let loose. This band is the trio comprised of Jody Peck (vocals, electric guitar), Shari Rae (upright bass), and Joy Mullen (drums). These girls aren't playing the traditional female role in the world of music. Like 1970s groundbreakers Fanny, they play it tight and loud. And they're not afraid to let their aggressive sides show. The first Miss Quincy album was released in 2010 (Mama Don't Like Me) and that was followed up with The Devil Does in 2012. After becoming a permanent three piece the band began touring heavily and has played live with furious intent. And after hearing the hot tracks on Roadside Recovery we'd be willing to bet these girls put on quite a show. Ten gutsy tracks here including "Bad Love," "Making Money," "Rush Hour Traffic With A Hangover," and "Water Tower." Gritty explosive stuff with balls.
Muppets - Most Wanted (CD, Disney, Pop)
Whenever Jim Henson's puppets combine with the professional production talents at Disney, parents and children are sure to be entertained. This soundtrack to the new Muppets film features no less than twenty-five new pop recordings from the puppets who changed puppet history. Songs feature solo vocals in some cases while other tracks feature the Muppet members singing with some big name celebrities including Lady Gaga, Tony Bennett, Josh Groban, Celine Dion, and more. This album features songs by Oscar-winner Bret McKenzie so you know they are an exact fit for the target audience. Plenty of goofy and silly tracks here including "We're Doing A Sequel," "I'll Get You What You Want (Cockatoo In Malibu)," "Together Again," and "Working In The Coal Mine." This film obviously relies heavily on songs and is bound to be an instant Springtime hit.
For Hard Times - City of Cardboard (CD,
Public Eyesore, Sound/improvisation)
Ahhhhhh...sound as music. There are very few things that cause as many debates as artists who create peculiar audio explorations that few can comprehend and/or understand because the usual elements in music have been discarded. Music For Hard Times is the duo of Tom Nunn and Paul Winstanley. Using various instruments and effects, these guys use sound like paint...creating abstractions that are curious, sometimes spooky, and ultimately difficult experiences for the casual listener. The folks at Public Eyesore have very quickly made quite a name for themselves by being brave and adventurous enough to release these kinds of albums, knowing very well that they will only reach a very limited audience. City of Cardboard features seven improvisational tracks. These pieces are bound to confuse and confound even the most ardent music fans. If you're looking for something cute, catchy, and comfortable...this is not the place to find it. Nunn and Winstanley are creating pure art here. And although some would question whether or not it really is music...in our minds this form of sound is just as valid as any other. Mind bending cuts include "Obstacle Coarse," "Augury Spirit," and "Map of the Alleys." Strange and unpredictable. Top pick.
With Wound / Aranos - Santoor Lena Bicycle (Double vinyl LP, Tourette,
What an incredibly cool package... This double album is a collaboration between Nurse With Wound and Aranos. Each disc was pressed on beautiful clear vinyl and the set includes an ultra cool booklet featuring art that the two created for this project. An interesting story we found on the Aranos (link above) web site. Steven Stapleton (the man who is Nurse With Wound) and Aranos simultaneously created eighteen large paintings that were exhibited for one day only at Town Hall Studio in Galway, Ireland. The music on this album was played during the exhibit. The next day the two artists cut the paintings into 1000 pieces which were used to create 500 individual covers for the Santoor Lena Bicycle CD. How cool is that? Well if that doesn't intrigue you...the music on this album certainly will. We received the double vinyl LP version of Bicycle which makes the music available to more people (the original run of CDs has already sold out) as well as those who prefer vinyl. So...what about the music? Well...we can only recommend this album for folks who like experimental sound pieces. Folks who want easy familiar music should consider themselves forewarned. This album presents eleven curious tracks...some of which are more musical than others. But all are strange and unpredictable, each in their own way. Stapleton and Aranos are making music as a pure form of artistic expression. As such, you won't be hearing tracks like "Marbles" or "Bathing In Air" in the background of any of your favorite cable television programs. These strange pieces set a definite mood and have a peculiar way of altering consciousness. One thing is certain...you either love this kinda thing or you don't. Here in the le land de la suebaby...we just could never get enough. Love it. TOP PICK.
Smokey - Wester Easter (CD, Cloud Recordings, Eclectic)
It's probably easier for most folks to listen to artists and bands who sound similar to other artists and bands. And that's kinda unfortunate, because it means that the folks who are truly doing something different tend to get overlooked in the big scheme of things. The guys in Old Smokey are dabbling in a variety of musical styles that makes it very difficult trying to describe their overall sound. You'd think with the multitude of styles happening on Wester Easter that the album would have a schizophrenic sound....but instead the exact opposite is true. On their debut full-length release, these guys prove that they can effortlessly fall into various genres without ever losing their own unique sound. The band members have previously played with The Olivia Tremor Control, Circulatory System, Vic Chesnutt, Ham1, Moths, Madeline, The Good Ship, and The New Sound of Numbers. So perhaps their varied experiences have contributed to their genre-bending approach. Wester Easter is a genuinely great spin. These tracks are ultimately melodic and memorable, and they were crafted with precise skill and attention to detail. Instead of trying to come up with a hit, our guess is that these guys are simply following their own muse and allowing their music to take them wherever it may. Intriguing and sincerely...different.
Mean Time - Pacific Mean Time (Independently
released CD, Progressive pop)
Pacific Mean Time is the new band created by previous members of the band Little Beirut. The band enjoyed a good bit of success with underground music fans. But over time the band members began to feel as if they had hit a brick wall and considered quitting making music altogether. But when a wave of creativity hit which produced a new round of songs the decision was made to continue forging ahead but with a new name, image, and sound. Pacific Mean Time will appeal to fans of Little Beirut as well as anyone who loves well produced modern progressive pop. The songs are smart and dreamy, the arrangements intelligent and precise, and the vocals are always right on target. Some of the cuts on this album remind us of Starflyer 59 but only slightly. Coming up with other possible comparisons and/of influences is difficult. We'll be spinning this one over and over and over this Spring. These cool drifting melodies are just what the doctor ordered...
Pearlfishers - Open Up Your Colouring Book
(CD, Marina, Pop)
Okay, so we have to admit here that we're approaching this one from a biased perspective. We've been big fans of The Pearlfishers for quite some time and wanted to jump out of our socks when we received this one in the mail. David Scott (the driving force behind the band) has been making music for many years now and has somehow managed to always write surprisingly upbeat and optimistic tunes. If you've never heard Scott's songs before, his compositions sound something like The Carpenters and/or Burt Bacharach...except much more poppy, upbeat, and current. Open Up Your Colouring Book is yet another riveting addition to the Pearlfishers catalogue. The melodies glide by effortlessly while intelligent lyrical observations are presented...and everything is supported by wonderfully magical arrangements that fit each song to a T. Folks who only like dark noisy music will probably despise this album...but folks who appreciate the more uplifting side of music should be totally knocked out. As much Pearlfishers music as we've heard (and we've heard a lot...), we could never ever get enough. Sixteen perfectly crafted cuts here including "Diamonds," "The Way May Father Talked About Vincent," "Silly Bird," and "A Christmas Tree In A Hurricane." We'll be spinning this one into the ground. Perfectly driving music for Spring 2014. Can't say enough good things about this one... TOP PICK.
Paul and Mary - Peter, Paul and Mary
(Limited Edition CD, Audio Fidelity,
Limited edition SACD/CD reissue of the debut album from the folk trio of Peter, Paul and Mary. The folks at the Audio Fidelity label are reissuing classic albums from the past that listeners know and love all too well. So there will be those who love and welcome the reissues...as well as those who find fault with the newly remastered tracks. To our ears, this disc sounds as good or better than previous releases although one contact informed us there are some minor flaws with a track or two here. Whether you're a diehard fan or a casual listener, there's no denying the impact these three individuals had on the world of music in the early to mid-1960s. These songs still have an intriguing innocence that is sadly missing in much of today's far-too-aware music scene. Twelve classic cuts from the past here including "Early In The Morning," "This Train," "If I Had A Hammer," and of course the 1960s mantra everyone remembers..."Where Have All The Flowers Gone."
Polarities - Exploring The Contemporary Expanse (CD, Navona,
The idea for this album was to expose listeners to new classical music compositions that express "the emotions, feelings, and scenes associated with opposites." In order to achieve this goal, this CD presents five creations from four modern composers: Mathew Fuerst, Katherine Saxon, Chi-Hin Leung, and Alex Freeman. Fuerst's "Symphony," presented in three sections, is moody, sometimes sparse, sometimes light, and sometimes spooky. Approximately nineteen minutes of challenging music that shifts in terms of moods and styles. Saxon's "East of the Sun/West of the Moon" is very intriguing. Divided into eleven sections, these tracks feature the talents of Jessica Lizak on flute, Peter Sulski on viola, and Karolina Rojahn on piano. Because of the strange nature of these pieces they could easily fit in the category of modern/avant garde. Next up, also from Saxon, is "Vox Dilecti Mei." This piece stands out on the album because it is the only composition that features a vocalist (Amanda Kohl). Leung's "Afterimage: The Dreamy Butterfly" jumps all over the place in terms of sounds and moods, coming across something like the soundtrack to a cool underground suspense film. The album closes with Freeman's "Blueshift," which is based on astronomical phenomenon. Featuring Lisa Hennessy on flute, Jan Halloran on clarinet, Peter Sulski on violin, Leo Eguchim on cello, Karolina Rojahn on piano, and Robert Schkulz on percussion, the composition allows the album to close on a more serene and peaceful note. True to it's title, Polarities does present the emotions associated with opposites. Challenging modern music that fits comfortable outside the box.
Never ever use a period.
Could you please refrain from using question marks?
Exclamation points are the absolute worst!
And never ever end a sentence with a semi-colon;
Reija - Resolution (CD, Moonjune, Progressive jazz)
This album just goes to show what can be done with the basics...if you know how to use the basics, that is. Rarely do we see/hear releases from drummers and percussionists, thus this one immediately caught our attention. Xavi Reija is a drummer. And here he is supported by Bernat Hernandez on bass guitar and Dusan Jevtovic on guitar. In an earlier incarnation of the band Reija also incorporated keyboards and saxophone into the sound. The new stripped-down sounds exceedingly groovy and hypnotic. Rhythms are, not surprisingly, the driving force here. All three individuals are so focused on their individual instruments that the overall sound is remarkably thick and full. Hernandez plays bass with confidence...providing the heavy bass lines that drive the music. Jevtovic is a guitarist extraordinaire, going all over the place in terms of styles and sounds. And Reija, of course, provides the driving beat that holds everything together. These guys let loose with some spacey spontaneous stuff here. Very cerebral and mind altering music. Eleven kickass tracks and they're all keepers. Our favorites include "Flying To Nowhere," "Dreamer," "John's Song," and "Welcome To The End." Top pick.
- The Great Pretend (CD, Words
On Music, Progressive pop)
The band Should has had a long and unorthodox career. The band originally began in Austin, Texas using the name shiFt. Inspired by early recordings from Lilys Marc Ostermeier then formed Should along with Tanya Maus and his brother Eric Ostermeier. The band recorded a couple of albums before going into hibernation. Thirteen years later they released the well-received Like A Fire Without Sound album. And now three years later comes the fourth full-length release. This band's music has never been driven by a desire for fame, money, or success. Instead, the main emphasis is on creative freedom and creating music with substance. And these ideas ring loud and true on the beautifully dreamy The Great Pretend. The tracks on this album fit somewhere in that territory where dream pop meets shoegaze. The music is soothing and cerebral and the vocals delivered with appropriate restraint. If you're looking for easy catchy pop you won't find it here. But if you're in the moody for heavy progressive dreaming...then prepare to be hypnotized. Eleven imaginative cuts including "Don't Send Me Your Regrets," "Everybody Knows," "Amends," and "Don't Get To Know Me."
Size Queens - Save The Plant! (Independently
released CD, Pop)
A band name like this undoubtedly conjures up all kinds of ideas in the minds of music fans. But ultimately they would be wrong because The Size Queens aren't anything like you think they might be. The band is driven by the songwriting skills of Adam Klein and Michael Mullen, two fellows who have somehow managed to carve their own unique niche in the cluttered world of modern music. Save The Plant! is a bit different from previous Size Queens albums in that it seems more subdued and mellow. Where Klein and Mullen really excel is in writing substantial words and melodies...and this album contains plenty of both. These guys are probably our favorite modern lyricists. The words are sometimes serious and sometimes goofy...but there are always plenty of cool observations lurking beneath the surface. "Spinning World" features some of the coolest lyrics we've ever heard. The song presents ideas that most folks simply don't want to hear...that in reality we don't have that much control over things that happen out there in the real world. The slightly moody pop songs on this album are resilient and often times brilliant. Our guess is that over time this band will end up being credited as one of the truly great bands of the early twenty-first century. We can't get enough of Adam and Michael's ultra-intelligent brand of pensive modern pop. Highly recommended. TOP PICK.
And it will go
Stone - Draws Blood (CD, GroundSwell
Music, Soulful folky pop)
Nice smooth melodic pop from Canada's Carleton Stone. This young fellow has a sound that is immediately familiar. The songs on Draws Blood have a great deal of commercial potential so if all the pieces fall into place...Mr. Stone could end up being hugely successful. Instead of sounding like a new studio album, this disc sounds more like a best of collection because virtually every one of these ten tracks sounds like a hit single. Carleton dedicated this album to his fellow musician/friend/mentor Jay Smith who passed away shortly before this album was recorded. Thus, subjects dealing with the loss of his friend are threaded into some of these tracks. Fans of classic radio pop will find a lot to love here. Songs that initially stand out for us are "Blood Is Thicker Than Water," "Signs of Life" (which features a truly beautiful melody and great lyrics), "What I Want," and "Pick Me Up, Dust Me Off."
Swans - To Be Kind (Advance Double CD, Young
With the release of To Be Kind, Swans once again prove to be a magical and vital musical force that continues well into the twenty-first century. For this album the band is comprised of Michael Gira, Norman Westberg, Christoph Hahn, Phil Puleo, Thor Harris, and Christopher Pravdica. If you loved previous releases from this band, chances are you will also love this one. If previous Swans albums didn't make sense to you, then this one probably won't either. Fortunately we belong in the former group of listeners who enjoy being challenged by Gira and his associates. How many bands can you think of that began in the early 1980s and are still credible and relevant today? One reason Swans have managed to survive is that their releases always tend to remain in the underground and are usually only appreciated by a core group of listeners. As we all know, too much success can cause way too much damage to the average musician and/or band. And financial success usually means death to the creative process. This band is still all about creating music out of the pure desire to do so. And that is obvious from hearing these latest recordings. So...who does To Be Kind sound like? Well...Swans, of course...who else? This band truly has carved out their own unique niche in the world of music so it is difficult trying to compare them to anyone else. This is being offered as a double CD, triple vinyl LP, and as a download. So take your choice. More highly inventive stuff from Swans...created with true focus and imagination. TOP PICK.
Circus Meets Edward
Ka-Spel - 800 Saints In A Day (CD, Tourette, Experimental)
Although most folks would never know it from the title, this disc is a Legendary Pink Dots reunion album of sorts. Ryan Moore (of Twilight Circus) was once in the Dots while Edward Ka-Spel is currently in the Dots. Though Moore left the band years ago the two have remained in touch. In the summer of 2012 the two decided to once again work together...and thus the seeds for 800 Saints In A Day were spread. Ryan recorded the initial tracks for this album and then handed them over to Edward who extended and finished recording them. Anyone who is familiar with either of these artists already knows that these guys aren't the ones to deliver this month's temporary brand of cute and catchy techno dance pop. These two guys operate on the fringes of the musical universe, recording whatever and however they please...with little or no regard for any sort of commercial appeal. Describing this album is difficult. Some of the cuts are more musical than we were expecting...while others sound very much like tailored accidents. We love the space where these guys dare to go...mainly because they always manage to challenge and captivate. Eight trippy tracks here...and they all work. Highly recommended. TOP PICK.
Have a heart.
Have half a heart.
Have three hearts.
Have fifteen thousand six hundred and seventy-seven
White - Can't Get Enough (Limited Edition
Vinyl LP, Audio Fidelity,
This release will appeal to two great big legions of fans...vinyl lovers...and seriously passionate Barry White fans. This limited edition numbered vinyl album features all the tracks from the original album that have been specially remastered for this disc. For many people, Barry's music is the best time capsule of 1970s soul on the planet. Though this album was reissued on CD years ago, this vinyl reissue will delight fans who want that wonderful deep bass sound that can only be provided by an analog source. This is one super package...the album sleeve is the original foldout type that fans will remember from long ago. Seven infectious cuts here including "You're My First, The Last, My Everything," "I Can't Believe You Love Me," "Oh Love, Well We Finally Made It," and "I Love You More Than Anything (In This World Girl)." Groovy seventies memories revisited.
Ash - Blue Horizon (German import CD,
Rock Solid House, Pop)
We were surprised to receive this disc in the mail because we have to admit that we were not aware of the fact that the guys in Wishbone Ash were still making music...and have been doing so continuously now for about 45 years (!). Just goes to show that in the twenty-first century there are so many artists out there that there's no way of keeping track of them all at any given time. Considering how long the band has been making music, most music fans will probably be surprised that Blue Horizon has a rather fresh sound and feel. Instead of sounding like a tired war horse, these guys still manage to inject their music with plenty of spirit and cool energy. Originally formed in 1969, Wishbone Ash has released 24 studio albums, 10 live albums, 4 live DVDs, and were also the subject of a rockumentary (This Is Wishbone Ash). Horizon features the cool grooves that band's fans have come to know and love. And those groovy guitars sound just as cool as ever. These guys deserve credit not only for keeping the flame going...but also for continuing to be a credible force in the world of music. Well-crafted tracks include "Take It Back," "Deep Blues," "Way Down South," and "All There Is To Say."
Wolfe - Numbskull (Independently released
We're not normally influenced much by a bunch of press quotes. But we have to admit that the particular quotes on the press release (from folks whose opinions matter) that accompanied this album caught our attention. And it only took a matter of minutes for us to realize why so many writers shower Wesley Wolfe with so much praise. This guy is good. He's been making music for about twenty years now but you'd never know it judging by the songs on Numbskull. This album has all the cool puzzle pieces that make great pop great. There's a heavy emphasis on lyrics...and the vocal melodies are absolutely out of sight. Wesley's voice is a perfect fit for his style of underground pop. He never oversings or pushes things too hard...but always manages to get the most out of every note and syllable. In some ways the tunes on Numbskull remind us of Robert Pollard (Guided By Voices) but only slightly because Wolfe definitely has his own sound and style. Plenty of ultra catchy cuts here that will grab you on the very first spin. Our initial favorites include "Lost In My Daydreams," "Cloud Cuckoo," "Deathrow," and "All That Matters."
Additional Items Received:
Activator - Activator
Seth Adam - Steel tempered pride
Amen Ittys - Pliers
Alana Amram & The Rogh Gems - Spring river
Amigo - Might coulc
Annette - Dream with me
Apollo Chamber Players - European folkscapes
Arrested Development - At long last...music ans songs from Arrested Development
August: Osage Countyk - Original motion picture soundtrack
Auris + Gino - Rub
Baby Baby - Big boy baller club
Sherman Baker - Sherman Baker
Brian Baugus - Actor songster sage
Bee Bee Bee Bee - Eee Eee Eee Eee
Bezobratri - Bezobratri
Bim Skala Bim - Chet's last call
Erica Blinn - Lovers in the dust
Sam Boshnack Quintet - Exploding syndrome
Roger Bourland - Four quartets of songs and arias
Bowed Piano Ensemble - Ice and fire
Brushfire Stankgrass - Micro climntes
Ellen Burr / Michael Unruh - Where am i from, where am i going
Rosemary Butler - You just watch me
Azure Carter & Alan Sondheim - Avator woman
Che Prasad - Christmastime in the apocalypse
Che Prasad - Shiva me timbers
Susan Clynes - Life is...
David G. Cortes - Time away but home again
Cosmic Punlch - FM stereo
Crap Detectors - On the psycho path of life
Keith Davis Trio - Still
Matija Dedic, Antonio Sanchez, Scott Colley - Sentiana
Frank Dibussolo Group - Songs to write home about
Doors - A psyche tribute to The Doors
Bob Dorough - Bob Dorough
Doug Richards Trio - Jazz in the living room
Drockulette - Smock
Dave Ellis - Everything in between
Jace Everett - Terra rosa
Jace Everett Bad things
Ezzeethere - Not so...
Fair Ophelia - 2
Fankhauser Cassidy Band - On the blue road
Far West - Any day now
Fearing & White - Tea and confidences
Footnotes - Comin' home
Foundations - Modern works in the clasical tradition
Carl Franklin - Been a while
Morgan Frazier - Morgan Frazier
Frozen - Original soundtrack
Nick Gallant - Wanderlust
Glass House - Long way down
Global Unified - Global Unified
Good Grief / Eureka California - Rusty nail & another round b/w Turn on autopilot, DC sniper
Goodnight Tonight - Watch the rain
Matt Hannah - Let the lonely fade
Hard Soul - Seize the year
Dave & Emma Hart - Hold on
Heavy Glow - Pearls & swine and everything fine
Amanda Homi - Till I reach Bombay
Kandia Crazy Horse - Stampede
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! - The musical
Il Rumore Bianco - Mediocrazia
Indies Scope - 2013
Intimate Dream - Wonderful thing
The JAC - Love dumb
Noel Johnston - Salted coffee
Jokeless - Smoke free
Carolyn Lee Jones - The performer
Nate Jones Band - EP
Just A Machine - Piqured jacks
Just A Season - Just A Season
Just A Tarzan - Just A Tarzan
Just A Zoo - Just A Zoo
Kaak - Licked and licker
Kelly's Lot - Live in Brussels
Elly Kouri - I love you too much
Adrian Krygowski - Roam
Daniela Kuri - Sway
Lalama Brothers - Erie Ave.
Jacob Latham - Midnight train
Jackie Lomax - Against all odds
Michelle Langara - Songs of blue
Lowman - Garden of rainbows
Lucky Bone - Borderline
Machine Don't Lie - Nobody panic
Magnolia - Magnolia
Ray Majors - The 7% solution
Dan Masterson - Learn to live
Josh Matthews - A sides
Josh Matthews - Co-patriot
McCormick Percussion Group - Soli for soprano with percussion orchestra
Moistboyz - 5
Monuments Men - Original motion picture soundtrack
Ken Will Morton - Slow burn
Mud - Original motion picture soundtrack: Score by David Wingo
My Education - 5 popes
Namb - Namb
Nine Times Blue - Matter of time
Nissy - Program the hissing thing
Noisy Noses - Noisy Noses
Brian Noyes - Journeys after...
Nylon Jail - My heart soars like a hawk
Oak Street Blues - Calico
Old Cabin - Old Cabin
One Chance - Original motion picture soundtrack
Oooooo - Noooooo
Orchestra of Spheres - Vibration animal sex brain music
Charlie Parr - Hollandale
Troy Petty - Fairy tale pen
Steve Picataggio - Two feet on the ground
Aaron Poehler & Ryan Tullyt-Doyle - Dietrich
Reacta - Refraction
James Tristan Redding - Walking into Brooklyn
Marty Regan - Scattering light, scattering flowers
Royal Oui - Royal Oui
Sarah - Featuring Bruce Barth
Scan Hopper - Mariana bridges
Scattered Bodies - Talking songs
David Serby and the Latest Scam - David Serby and the Latest Scamd
Sherlock - Original television soundtrack
Herb Silverstein - Monday morning: 10 original tunes
Sine Qua Non - Simple pleasures
Spell Kasters - Kastin' the spell
Spycker - Voted away
Richard Stoltzman - Resolve
Stray - Life in Japan 2013
Joe Sullivan - Whiskey jack waltz
Mason Summit - Absentee
Sweet - Sweetlife
That Awkward Moment - Original motion picture soundtrack
Beth Thornley - Septagon
Dinah Thorpe - Lullabies & walke up calls
Tippy - Getting Tippy
Alex Tjoland Band - Silent revelry
Ugly Quartet - Mars needs Maurice
Unrepeatable Quartet - Edmonton 2012
The Use - What's the use?
Vices - Vices
Vinny Vegas - The big white whale
Week of Wonders - Piggybacks b/w The end of the day
Stan Wells - High tide
Jeremy Wilms - Diamond people
Winter Pale - Red sun
Woodshedders - Wildfire
Rik Wright - Fundamental forces
Yippee - A, D, and U
Frank Zappa - Everyone hates my wife now
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