March 2014 Comics, Poetry, and Reviews from aka
|Tetuzi Akiyama & Anla Courtis
A Night With Janis Joplin
babysue comix #190
babysue comix #191
B Is For C
The Bremen Riot*
Eddie Brnabic & The Cosmic Fellowship
The Cold And Lovely
Death of Samantha
F. Gerard Errante
The Grip Weeds
Tom Griesgraber & Bert Lams*
Jesus comic #41
Jesus comic #42
King of Prussia
Knights of Badassdom
|The New Mendicants*
The Olympic Symposium*
Rabbit and the Hare
The Soft White Sixties
Spottiswoode & His Enemies
The Wet Secrets
Additional Items Received
Tetuzi Akiyama & Anla Courtis
- Naranja Songs (CD, Public
The guitar is one of the most abused and overplayed instruments on the planet. Most guitarists use so many notes when so few are actually necessary. That is perhaps why Naranja Songs sounds so completely and totally out of place. Although this is a guitar album, it presents the instrument in a way in which it is rarely heard. The instrument is played very methodically and slowly with more of an emphasis on individual sounds and notes than melodies. These compositions sound something like a cross between modern jazz, minimalist noise, ambient, and modern classical. These two musicians play the guitar in ways that we've never heard it played before...and that is really saying something. Four puzzling pieces here: "Mind Mochileros," "Springs & Strings," "The Citrico Vibe," and "Los Frets Nomades." Bizarre and sometimes chilling. You can always expect the unexpected from the folks at Public Eyesore.
A Night With Janis Joplin - Original Broadway Cast Recording (CD, Broadway,
Broadway cast recording)
If you're a Janis Joplin fan you're almost certain to be blown away by Mary Bridget Davies' performance in this Broadway show...because she sounds almost exactly like Janis. The phrasing is the same...the tonal qualities are the same...even her overall vibe is the same. This show and cast recording was presented in association with The Estate of Janis Joplin and Jeffrey Jampol for Jam, Inc....so you know this is the real deal. During the course of the show Davies belts out credible renditions of classics like "Summertime," "Try (Just A Little Bit Harder)," "Cry Baby," "Ball and Chain," "Stay With Me" and more. One of the real treasures here is the inclusion of the song "I'm Gonna Rock My Way To Heaven" which was written by Jerry Ragovoy for Joplin just prior to her death. The backing band sounds fantastic. Here's hoping they make this one into a film so we can all enjoy the show (!)...
Decade - Art Decade (Independently released
This is a very impressive independently recorded and released album from the guys in Art Decade. So many folks record and release their own music these days but few do it with as much style and finesse as this band. This self-titled album presents ten wonderfully dreamy melodic progressive pop cuts that have their own unique sound. This disc arrived in our trusty mailbox without any accompanying information. And when we went to the web site (link above) to find out more about the band all we found were social network links and a cool music video for the sixth track ("Numberless Dreams") on this album. We can't come up with any obvious comparisons or possible influences here...although these songs seem to incorporate sounds and ideas from a countless number of other classic artists from the past and present. These tracks are smart and intricate and they feature some absolutely beautiful vocals. The more we spin this album the better it sounds. Kickass cuts include "No One's Waiting," "Walking Together," "Numberless Dreams," and "All That's Left." Totally satisfying from start to finish. TOP PICK.
Barry-Rec - Continuum (Independently
released CD, Instrumental)
This is one you probably won't pick up on unless someone else turns you onto it. Not because the music isn't beautiful or enticing...but because the artist is not choosing to use the usual methods of marketing in order to sell the music. This album doesn't feature fancy artwork. The artist isn't playing the artist/superstar role here, there are no photos of him on the cover. There are no trendy tie-ins, no technological gimmicks...actually, there are no gimmicks at all here. Just pure good music from a man who knows what he's doing. Continuum is the third full-length release from North Carolina's Michael Barry-Rec. Michael plays various instruments but is probably best known for playing the lap steel guitar. This guy is good. This thirteen track album features compositions that flow by like a cool mountain stream. The overall sound is relaxed and organic...very somber and soothing. Interestingly, George Winston plays piano on one track ("Sanctum"). This disc features music that is resilient and moving. Perfect reflective music. Simply...beautiful.
B IS FOR C
B is for Bunny.
B is for Bash.
B is for Bouncy.
C is for Cash.
Sails - A Starz Original Series Soundtrack:
Music by Bear McCreary
(CD, Sparks and Shadows,
Yet another great soundtrack recording by one of the busiest men in the universe...Mr. Bear McCreary. Not only is McCreary one of the most productive people in the world of soundtrack composition, but he has also recently started his own label called Sparks and Shadows. The soundtrack to the film Black Sails presented a new challenge...to create stripped down gritty music appropriate for a pirate film set in 1715. In creating music for this film, Bear says that his "goal was to create music that sounds improvised by an exhausted crew aboard a ship navigating choppy waters" and that he "had to rethink [his] entire creative process and unlearn the results of a lifetime of classical music study." Not surprisingly, once again he has succeeded admirably. We love McCreary's soundtracks that feature plenty of big orchestral bursts...but we equally appreciate his more subdued and creative form of composition. This twenty-one track album clocks in at almost 80 minutes (!)...and during the course of those 80 minutes these tracks slide and swerve all over the place and back. McCreary's creative genius can be heard on clever inventive cuts like "Theme From Black Sails," "Wondrous Love," "Clamanda," and "Pieces of Eight." Top notch stuff from one of the great masters of twenty-first century film music.
Bremen Riot - PM Magazine (Independently
released vinyl LP, Pop/rock)
The Bremen Riot is the Austin, Texas-based band comprised of Michael Crow (guitar, vocals), Channing Lewis (guitar, vocals), Alex Livingstone (bass, vocals), Mike Nicolai (vocals), and Ned Stewart (drums). Nicolai is also a solo artist and the rest of the guys are in another band called Grand Champeen. These guys have a really cool and direct rockin' sound that reminds us very much of very early recordings by Seattle, Washington's Young Fresh Fellows. At a point in time when so many artists and bands are getting caught up in the glut of sound that technology breeds, the guys in The Bremen Riot have the good common sense to keep things simple. And of course all you really need are the basics...when you've got great songs. And great songs are what make PM Magazine such a killer spin. These songs are simple, fresh, and catchy as Hell. This is just the jolt we needed this month to remind us why we started writing about music in the first place. Exciting stuff here, played with enthusiasm and balls. Killer cuts include "Hey Joe!", "Alibi Bros.", "Keep Your Head," and "Eyeroller." We'll be spinning this one into the ground this spring and summer... Top pick.
Brnabic & The Cosmic Fellowship - Subtle
Realms (Independently released CD-R, Rock/progressive/psychedelia)
The first two minute track on this album ("Voice of the Spirits") gave us the impression we were in for a New Age experience...when in actuality nothing could be further from the truth. This album is a collaboration between Canada's Eddie Brnabic and The Cosmic Fellowship. And after you get past that first track, the album explodes into a progressive psychedelic rock experience. Yessssssss.... We're mighty big fans of some of the more adventurous trippy British bands from the 1970s (stuff like Steve Hillage, Gong, Clearlight Symphony). If you're like us and dig that kinda sound, you'll find a lot to love on Subtle Realms. The players on this album are Eddie Brnabic (guitars, keys, percussion), Gregos Major (bass), Steven Rubio (drums), Stephan Cameron (winds), and Dario Lapoma (keys). These guys play really cool progressive psychedelic rock like there's no tomorrow. We can hear traces of stoner rock threaded through these tracks as well. This is one of those cases where the players are doing everything right. Nine groovy tracks to expand your mind to the fullest. We'd be willing to bet these folks put on a killer concert (at least that's what it looks like after viewing them live on YouTube). Wildly provocative stuff.
Gold - Residency At Hundo Beach (CD
EP, End Sounds, Rock/pop)
Loud fuzzy abrasive modern rock/pop played at full volume. The Austin, Texas-based band Broken Gold began back in 2008 when they released a 7" vinyl single on the Good Friends label. The band's career was off to a great start when lead vocalist Ian MacDougall (who was formerly in the band Riverboat Gamblers) was involved in a terrible accident in which his bike crashed into a truck. After surviving and recovering, Ian picked up the ball and continued with the band but this time with a slightly different overall sound. The tunes on Residency At Hundo Beach sound something like a cross between shoegazer rock and modern fuzz pop. More than any other band, these tracks remind us very much of 1990s rockers Swervedriver. This EP is bound to ignite renewed interest in this ultra cool band. Six nifty rockers here that feature great vocals and way cool guitars...
Childree - Above The Norm (Independently
released CD, Pop)
Nice smooth melodic underground pop presented with style. Atlanta, Georgia's Aaron Childree is yet another example of how far Atlanta-based musicians have come in the past few decades. Whereas the city was once only known for Southern rock and boogie bands, there's now a wealth of credible talent all over the place. And Aaron Childree is a good example of the new sound of Atlanta. Above The Norm features ten intelligent tracks that sound something like a more subdued and accessible Guided By Voices. These songs feature smart lyrics, catchy melodies, and arrangements that are a perfect fit for each track. From the sounds we're hearing on this album, we'd guess that this guy is off and running on what will be a long and rewarding career. Smooth reflective cuts include "It Starts With A Spark," "All Of Us Can Rise," and "Dare To Be."
Cold And Lovely - Ellis Bell (Independently
released CD EP, Pop)
Intriguing modern pop from the all female quartet The Cold And Lovely. These enchanting ladies write and record music that has more in common with artistic groups in Europe than their home base of Los Angeles, California. The band is driven by the songwriting skills of Meghan Toohey who was previously in The Weepies, Lenka, and Schuyler Fisk. Mixed and mastered by Dave Cooley (who has worked with Silversun Pickups and M83), the Ellis Bell EP presents six groovy tracks that combine the pop sensibilities of the 1980s with the shoegazer sound of the 1990s. This is a very strong EP that features great gliding melodies and superb reverb-drenched vocals. All six songs are way cool but our initial favorites are "Doll," "Red Eye," and "Repetition." Love it.
Davis - Goin' In Hot (CD, Crow Town, Country/pop)
Groovy upbeat boot tappin' music from Moot Davis. This guy's got a slick sound that should appeal to music fans all over the world...and he's got the looks and presence to go all the way. Moot's career seems to be on a permanent rise to the top lately, but it wasn't always that way. After recording two albums that were released on the Little Dog label, Davis ended up in what the press release calls "label limbo." During that period he considered giving up music entirely. But it wasn't long before he was released from his contract with Little Dog and he celebrated by recording Man About Town. That album received a great deal of attention and praise which gave Davis the momentum and support he needed. But the problems didn't end there. Just after Goin' In Hot was mixed down the studio where it was recorded burned down. Incredibly, an engineer extracted the mixes from the hard drive of his damaged computer and the album was salvaged. Interestingly, the album had already been given its title (?!!). This CD should appeal to folks who love honky tonk, rock, country, blues, and pop. Moot's got a great voice and his songs are gripping and upbeat. Thirteen solid cuts here including "Goin' In Hot," "Used To Call It Love," "The Reason," and "Lights."
of Samantha - If Memory Serves Us Well
(CD, St. Valentine, Rock)
At the risk of admitting how truly unhip we are (and always have been), we don't mind stating here that until now we have never properly been introduced to the music of Death of Samantha. Considering how popular the band was among ultra-hipsters in the 1980s that seems peculiar. But for some reason either no one gave us any of the band's releases or we never happened upon it in our yard sale buying sprees. Though this album presents material that the band recorded in their heyday, these are not the original recordings. Before playing a reunion concert in December 2011 the band went into a studio and recorded new versions of their old songs. The album actually provides an answer to the title If Memory Serves Us Well. Apparently the band members remember the material very well because this is a gripping recollection of eighteen rockers. We can't compare and contrast to the originals because...we never actually heard them. We'd be willing to bet that the band's original fans are happy as heck that these guys are playing together again. For folks like us who were never initiated...well then, this just might serve as the perfect introduction. If you like killer guitars, you'll find plenty of 'em here. Meaty, rough, and raw.
Who - The 50th Anniversary Collection: Original
Television Soundtrack (Double CD, Silva
The is a somewhat different collection of music from the popular Doctor Who television series. Rather than feature music by one composer from one season, this double disc set focuses on music that is associated with the eleven doctors that were featured on the show from 1963 to 2013. Composers featured here include Tristram Cary, Brian Hodgson, Dudley Simpson, Geoffrey Burgon, Paddy Kingsland, Roger Limb, Malcolm Clarke, Keff McCulloch, Dominic Glynn, John Debney, and more. Fourty-five tracks in all and the package includes a nifty thick booklet with photos of the doctors. The folks at Silva Screen really outdid themselves this time. This package will not only please fans of the television series...but also just about anyone else who loves exciting and provocative soundtrack music. Disc One covers the period from 1963 to 1986 while Disc Two covers 1986 to 2013. Very cool.
Easterling - Goodbye-Hello (CD, Phoenix
Rising, Soft pop)
You might not recognize Wyatt Easterling by name but you've certainly heard his influence in the world of music. He released his first album way back in 1981 on the Moonlight/Warner Bros. label. In 1990 he was hired as the head of the A&R department for Atlantic Records in Nashville. He then became involved with the Bugie Publishing Group (with Miles Copeland) and Firstars Management before once again devoting his time to songwriting. Over the years Easterling has been involved with a whole slew of well-known artists including Dierks Bentley, Joe Diffie, Billy Joe Royal, Robbie Hecht, and many more. But, just as is the case with most songwriters, his real passion is most likely recording his own songs. Goodbye-Hello recalls the heyday of 1970s soft radio pop that was heard on FM stations across the country. These mid-tempo tracks are easy on the ears and have a nice laidback feel. Wyatt has a sound and style that could easily appeal to millions upon millions of listeners. These songs are instantly familiar and yet they resonate with the sound and energy of a man who loves what he's doing. He's got a great smooth soulful voice that is perfectly suited for the kind of songs he writes. Eleven well-crafted tunes here including "Why Did It Take So Long?", "Right Before My Eyes," and "A Soldier Comes Home."
Gerard Errante - The Lyric Clarinet
(CD, Ravello, Classical)
Two instruments we love individually...but rarely hear enough of together...are the piano and the clarinet. On this album the clarinet is expertly combined with the piano to create some absolutely beautiful music. Jointed by Philip Fortenberry, Voltaire Verzosa, and D. Gause on the piano, clarinet player F. Gerard Errante proves that the instrument can indeed provide the perfect focal point. The twenty-one selections on this album cover a lot of ground. The disc includes pieces written by German, French, and North and South American composers. These compositions are rather sparse in overall sound, using only the essentials in order to get the point across. Errante was a Professor of Music at Norfolk State University for three decades, has been an Artist-in-Residence at the Sydney Conservatorium, and received the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005 from the International Clarinet Association. F. Gerard is on top of his game here, playing with fluid confidence. This album is smooth, provocative, and intricate. If you love classical duos, this is a must have...
Falascone - Variazioni
Mumacs: 32 Short Mu-Pieces About Macs (CD, Public
Massimo Falascone is part of the experimental underground in the world of music. He has played and recorded with a whole slew of artists around the globe and has recorded numerous albums. Falascone plays saxophones, composes electroacoustic music, writes music for the theater, documentaries, and installations. He also teaches, conducts workshops, and classes. And yet...his name is probably only known to a relatively small segment of the population most likely due to the fact that he chooses to focus on strange experimental stuff instead of commercial music. Thus, as you might expect, Variazioni Mumacs: 32 Short Mu-Pieces About Macs is a strange and curious spin. This album does indeed feature 32 compositions...all of which would be far too peculiar and abstract for the casual listener. It's almost impossible to really describe these pieces, you just have to hear them and draw your own conclusions. Folks who only like catchy hits are warned to stay away...far away. Folks who appreciate the stranger side of music...will find a wealth of material to appreciate here. Truly mind expanding and slightly surreal.
Lane - Fathom Lane (CD, Longplayer,
The second full-length release from Fathom Lane. Recorded at The Pearl Recording Studio in Minneapolis, Minnesota, this self-titled album features smart, well-arranged, modern moody pop with a difference. We liked the band's debut album (Down By Half)...but this one's even more entertaining and satisfying. This band is driven by the songwriting skills of a young fellow named Michael Ferrier. This guy has a great knack for coming up with friendly sincere tunes and he has a voice that really adds magical qualities. Ten tracks that clock in at just over forty-three minutes...and there's not a bad track to be heard. The more we spin this disc the better these tracks sound. Initial favorites include "Lazy," "Sugardown," "Waltzing Blue Jesus," and "Golden Delicious." Great driving music for spring. Top pick.
Grip Weeds - Inner Grooves (Rare and Under-Released
Tracks) (CD, Ground Up, Pop)
New Jersey's Grip Weeds have certainly captured their intended share of the marketplace. For folks who love the British Invasion of the 1960s, the poppier side of Utopia, and The Beatles, there's no group who effectively captures the sound of all three as well as these folks. For any other band, Inner Grooves would be the album they'd been hoping to record for decades. But for the folks in The Grip Weeds, the album is simply a collection of unreleased tracks that are only now being made available to the public. Rarely have we heard a collection of rare and unreleased tracks that so closely simulates the sound of a brand new album. The mastering on these tracks is so slick and exceptional that you don't even get the impression that there are any time lapses between recording sessions. These tracks shine and shimmer with the chiming guitars and vocal harmonies that the band's fans have come to know and love. If you love The Grip Weeds, you're sure to love this album. If you've never heard the band, well...this will serve as a great introduction. Killer cuts include "Nothing Lasts," "She Don't Care About Time," "Sight Unseen," and "Sun Ra Ga." We've yet to hear anything by this band that we didn't love.
Griesgraber & Bert Lams - Unnamed Lands (Independently released CD, Instrumental/guitar)
If you love tasty intricate stringed instruments you're gonna love this. These two fellows have been playing music together since 2004. Tom Griesgraber plays an instrument called the Chapman Stick. In case you're not familiar with this (we weren't until now), this is a twelve string guitar and bass hybrid that is played like a piano in which the fingers of both hands are used to sound notes. Not only does Tom play the instrument but he is also one of the few folks on the planet who actually composes music for it. Bert Lams is best known as a member of the California Guitar Trio. In 1980 Lams was the first laureate for the National Music Contest for Youth in Brussels and later taught at the Brussels Academy of Music. He also studied guitar with Robert Fripp before co-founding the California Guitar Trio. So, as you may have already guessed, this is not an amateur home recording by folks who have just learned how to play. Unnamed Lands features fourteen precisely crafted instrumentals. Griesgraber and Lams play together with exquisite skill. And the results are ultimately beautiful and resilient. It is rare that we hear an independent release this perfectly executed. This will easily end up being one of our top favorite instrumental albums of 2014. Killer tracks include "Unnamed Lands," "A Letter Home," "Smoke Signals," and "Pacific." Top pick.
Heavy Jelly - Heavy Jelly (CD, Angel
Yet another cool gem unearthed by the folks at Great Britain's Angel Air label. After being the first artist ever signed to The Beatles' Apple label in the late 1960s, Jackie Lomax joined the band Heavy Jelly. In addition to Lomax, the band was comprised of Alex Dmochowski (bass), Barry Jenkins (drums), and John Morshead (lead guitar, vocals). Because of contractual problems this album was never properly released. Thus, until now, the music was only available as a bootleg recording. These bluesy pop/rock tracks have held up surprisingly well over the years and will likely now find an entirely new audience. Interestingly, one track on the album features Pete Ham and Tom Evans (of Badfinger) on harmony vocals while another includes Bobby Keys and Jim Price (the wind section for The Rolling Stones). It seems incredible that music like this could be held up for so long in contractual limbo. In any event, it's finally available...much to the delight of music fans around the world..
of Prussia - Zonian Girls (Independently
released CD, Pop)
We were pleased to receive this one because we've enjoyed prior releases from King of Prussia. The band is the project driven by the creative skills of Brandon Hanick, a fellow who seems driven to continually create and make credible connections in the world of music. This time around, Hanick has recorded a concept album dealing with the lighter and darker sides of the human psyche. The album features over twenty guest musicians and songs that go all over the map and back. This is, perhaps, the most mature and well-realized King of Prussia release to date. Brandon has focused and fine-tuned his craft over the years and all that hard work and dedication are obvious here. Twenty songs that generally fit into the progressive pop/rock category. These smart cuts feature nice winding melodies and exceptional vocals...and virtually every one has something substantial to offer. Hanick has really outdone himself this time around. Intriguing.
of Badassdom - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack:
Music by Bear McCreary
(CD, Sparks & Shadows,
Yet another soundtrack from the ultimately prolific composer Bear McCreary. Knights of Badassdom is a modern day Medieval comedy with some gore thrown in for good measure. We just finished watching the trailer for this film and...it appears that this one will provide plenty of laughs. The dialogue alone sounds kinda hilarious. We've heard McCreary's soundtracks for plenty of films but this is the first time we've heard him compose for a comedy. It's also the first soundtrack we've heard that incorporates vocals from Bear's brother Brendan McCreary. This album features instrumental medieval-influenced cuts as well as rockers. This is a different sort of soundtrack album for music lovers...as well as a different sort of comedy for film goers. Seventeen cuts here including "The Kingdom of Eliphaz," "Your Heart Sucks My Soul," "Earn Our Valor," and "At The Gates."
Minces and pieces
From honesty stems.
The nurses and snickers
Pick holiday pins.
Mass Featuring Dave Liebman - Inti (CD,
Fluid and mentally challenging progressive instrumentals from the trio of Dave Liebman, Tony Bianco, and Michel Delville. You might not recognize these men by their names but you've surely heard them before. Liebman has played saxophone for Miles Davis, Elvin Jones, and more. Bianco has played drums for Elton Dean, Paul Dunmall, Evan Parker, and douBt and Delville has played wuitar with The Wrong Ojbect and douBt. Inti is a free-flowing exploration into free-form improvisation. All three of these guys are hot as heck on their respective instruments. And on these lengthy tracks they feed off one another as if they've played together since birth. This album sounds something like a cross between progressive rock bands from the 1970s mixed with twenty-first century modern jazz. Truly creative stuff here played with focused confidence. This hour long album features nine tracks including "Inti," "Centipede," "A Sight," "The Secret Place," and "Voice." Captivating and unusual. Bound to be on many "best of" lists for 2014...
Mahayla - Electricspaceagesweetheart (CD, Serial
We're not exactly sure why...but we rarely hear underground bands from New Orleans, Louisiana. Mahayla is an up-and-coming underground pop band based in New Orleans. They have a sound that is totally upbeat and instantly appealing. No harsh underground noise here and no gothic or shoegazer tendencies whatsoever. The songs on Electricspaceagesweetheart are pure pop compositions where lyrics and melodies are the kings for a day. Mahayla is driven by the songwriting skills of David Fera was was previously in the band Big Blue Marble. Rounding out the band are Ike Aguilar (guitar, keyboards, mandolin, vocals), Chris Johnson (bass), Mark Davis (drums), and Yanti Turang (vocals, keyboards). If you dig the sound of underground guitar pop bands from the 1990s you'll find a lot to appreciate here. Eleven nifty cuts including "Bestie," Just Call," "Sitting At The Table," "Good Old Days," and "End of Your Creation."
Mattson - Someday, The Moon Will Be Gold
(CD, Parliament of Trees,
Smart lyric-driven pop from Canada's Kalle Mattson. The first track on Someday, The Moon Will Be Gold is a bit heavy on the cymbals at times which had us concerned. But as soon as the second cut began we knew there was more here than first met the ears. Mattson writes and records songs that are basically pop in overall sound and scope but the lyrics push the music into a much higher arena. Fortunately, there's a cool lyric booklet included with this album which makes it easier to discern the words. Who does Kalle sound like? Hard to say really. In some ways his approach reminds us of Bright Eyes...but that doesn't really give a good indication of what's going on here. Mattson's songs are personal and intelligent and he knows the use of restraint. Twelve imaginative cuts here including "Darkness," "The Moon Is Gold," "Pick Me Up," and "Amelie." This is the kinda stuff that might not sink in on the first spin...it kinda grows on you the more you hear it...
Mulvey - Akanos & Other Works (CD,
This is easily one of the strangest albums we've heard from the folks at Navona...and that's saying something (!). Ireland's Grainne Mulvey composes music that is odd, perplexing, and spooky. Her compositions fit somewhere in that space where classical meets avante garde. Unlike some modern classical composers whose music is all but unlistenable, Mulvey incorporates enough melodic elements into her pieces to make them inviting while always pushing things into the next unusual universe. Akanos & Other Works presents seven of Mulvey's works. This music is not recommended for fans of traditional classical music. These pieces sound something like the more experimental classical side of Frank Zappa (think 200 Motels)...while also sounding something like the soundtrack to an Alfred Hitchcock film that was never made. The bizarre nature of this music makes it quite difficult to describe. Suffice to say...if you appreciate music that goes outside the borders of familiarity...there's a good chance you'll find this album exciting and unusual. This may be too far out for folks who like their music safe and familiar. But those who appreciate music that expands minds...will absolutely fall in love with this one. Magical and truly different. Top pick.
Nelson - Getting The Holy Ghost Across
(Double CD, Cocteau
Discs, Progressive pop)
We've been fans of Bill Nelson for a very long time. We went nuts over his 1970s band Be Bop Deluxe and have been impressed with anything/everything that the man has produced since. This is a newly remastered reissue of Bill's 1986 album Getting The Holy Ghost Across that has been expanded to a double disc set that includes the complete recordings he made for the Portrait Records label (the second disc contains the Portrait singles and EPs, three cuts being offered here for the first time on CD). While Bill continues to receive well-deserved recognition and admiration in Great Britain for his massive output over the years (he has released a staggering amount of material), he has been--for the most part--criminally overlooked in the United States. Considering how much great music this man has recorded, this seems insane. Folks in America will support and worship the worst of the worst (just look at what people are supporting and buying in America in 2014...eeeeeeeeyuccccCCCHHHH...). If you're already a Bill Nelson fan then you probably either already have this or it's on your want list. If you've never heard Nelson...any of his numerous albums will serve as an excellent introduction. Getting The Holy Ghost Across was recorded during a particularly fertile period in Bill's career. These songs will probably remind many listeners of David Bowie (who he has been compared to countless times over the years even though the similarities are only slight). But in reality the music is so much more depthy than such a comparison mighty imply. This set features twenty-one tracks and a beautifully designed lyric booklet. Anyone who loves great moody modern pop needs to hear this. Highly recommended... TOP PICK.
New Mendicants - Into The Lime (CD,
The guys in The New Mendicants have an instant built-in audience. The band is the trio comprise of Joe Pernice (The Pernice Brothers), Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub), and Mike Belisky (The Sadies). So...if you love any of these guys' previous bands, there's a good chance you're gonna dig Into The Lime. As you might guess, the songs on this album are pure upbeat melodic guitar pop with great melodies and heavenly harmonies. All of these songs were co-written by all three band members...and they're all super smooth and cool. If you're a fan of 1990s pop, this may be one of your favorite albums of the year. All of the tracks hit the target but our initial favorites include ""Sarasota," "Cruel Annette," "If You Only Knew Her," and "Out of the Lime." Top pick.
There never has been any
O'Beirne - Glasswork (Independently
released CD, Jazz)
The debut full-length release from Philadelphia's Ian O'Beirne. Ian is a saxophonist, woodwind doubler, composer, and educator. He also plays with the Glenn Miller Orchestra and the ten-piece ensemble Slowburn. With the release of Glasswork, O'Beirne steps into the spotlight as a solo artist and the music is pure magic. Backing Ian on this album are Tim Wendel on guitar, Tim Brey on Fender Rhodes, Kurt Kotheimer on upright bass, and Matt Scaranao on drums. This album features eleven tracks of smooth pensive jazz that is presented simply without a lot of unnecessary ingredients. O'Beirne plays one mean saxophone. His playing is both focused and spontaneous...providing what just might be the perfect mood music for that special romantic evening at home. Groovy cuts include "Glasswork," "Dreamwake," "Paradigm City," and "Sarah Sings."
Olympic Symphonium - Chance To Fate
(CD, Forward Music Group,
The fourth full-length release from Canada's Olympic Symphonium. Produced by Joshua Van Tassel (who has worked with Great Lake Swimmers and David Myles among others), Chance To Fate presents eleven beautifully crafted moody modern pop compositions. The album isn't easy and simple when it comes to lyrics. Song topics deal with issues like life, loss, religion, and self-doubt. You might think, therefore, that these tunes would have a heavy-handed sound or feel. But instead the opposite is true. These tracks are, for the most part, light and easy on the ears. The songs have cool flowing qualities that make them easy to hear time and time again without ever sounding tired or predictable. Though these guys have toured all over the world in the past, they've stayed close to home for the past couple of years concentrating on writing and recording and curating their Shivering Songs Winter Festival in New Brunswick. Pensive modern folky pop doesn't get much better than this. Killer tracks include "Seize The Day," "Weak At The Knees," "Runner Road," and "Chance To Fate." Great melodies, great arrangements, great vocals, great songwriting...and a great overall vibe. This one's quite a knockout... TOP PICK.
and the Hare - Rabbit and the Hare (Independently
released CD-R, Pop)
Rabbit and the Hare is a band driven by the team of Neill MacCallum and Marisa Duchowny. The pair came into contact with one another through an advertisement Neill put on Craigslist. The band also includes Matt Musty (drums, percussion), Danielle Merlis (cello, piano), Arthur Salwen (bass), and Nick Bockrath (guitar). This self-titled debut features ten smart, smooth, understated pensive pop songs. These cuts are threaded with lots of classic ideas and the main emphasis is on lyrics and vocals. Hard to say exactly who this band sounds like because they incorporate ideas from a whole slew of other artists...but no exact one comes to mind. This cool disc clocks in at just over thirty minutes and gets better the more you spin it. Our favorite cuts include "Roll The Dice," "Fragile Things," "Kissing The Girl," and "In Your Arms." Classy stuff with a timeless classic sound.
Robocop - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack: Music by Pedro Bromfman
(CD, Sony Classical,
We're big fans of the original Robocop film so we were kinda surprised to see that there's a new version of the film. Surprised mainly because the original was so good, how could it possibly be improved upon? Although we haven't yet seen the 2014 Robocop, we did watch the preview and...we have to admit it looks pretty damn slick. Probably the biggest improvement is Robocop himself. Using the latest technology, he has been amped up into a true technological wonder. Although we can't comment on the entire film yet, we can report that we're blown away by the soundtrack featuring music by Pedro Bromfman. We have to hand it to the folks at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM) and Columbia Pictures for choosing Pedro to do the music. Big budget film scores tend to be dominated by a handful of composers. Bromfman is a relative newcomer to the field, having only composed two film scores in the past. In Bromfman's own words, his mission here was to "blend acoustic and electronic instruments. Like RoboCop himself, part man, part machine, the music needed to be a hybrid." Plenty of high tech compositions here where technology is combined with an 80-piece orchestra. After seeing the preview and heaving the soundtrack...we are now looking forward to actually seeing the new film and to see how it compares to the original.
The duck says Meow.
The horse says Meow.
The mouse says Meow.
The grocer says Meow.
The antelope says Meow.
The fluid says Meow.
The flower says Meow.
The computer says Meow.
The cloud says Meow.
The stinky says Meow.
The squirrel says Meow.
The cow says Meow.
The world says Meow.
Slate - Good Fight (CD, Brightlife,
This one came as somewhat of a surprise to us. Housed in a relatively plain and simple cover...is a super hard-hitting batch of modern pop/rock tunes that really pack a punch. Scoti Slate is the duo of Aaron Scoti and Lars Slate. These two guys have a loud gripping sound that is somewhat reminiscent of industrial rock bands from the 1990s. The rhythms are tight and precise...the guitars loud and in-your-face...and the vocals delivered with true intensity. Aaron and Lars wrote all of the songs on this album except one: "Twilight Zone" by Golden Earring (which should give you some idea of where these guys are coming from). There are so many wimpy pop bands in the twenty-first century. Scoti Slate is a refreshing blast of loud crazy energy. Our favorite cuts include "Good Fight," "Sprockets," "Fanatic," and "Magic Number." Good solid stuff with balls.
Soft White Sixties - Get Right (Independently
released CD, Pop)
You may not have heard of The Soft White Sixties. But our guess is that very soon you will be seeing and hearing a great deal about this California-based band. These guys have a sound and image that should instantly appeal to a wide range of music fans. The songs on Get Right immediately reminded us of The Strokes...but with more of a funky soulful sound. A few of the tunes even remind us of mid-period Sparks (?!). We pulled up some of the band's videos only to find they've got the visual image that is a perfect fit for the sound. And, more importantly, they have that certain presence that captures and holds your attention. Get Right is a pure solid jolt of catchy modern pop tunes that, in a perfect world, would be hits. The vocals are prominent in the mix and the songs are driven by steady propulsive beats. There's plenty of commercial potential here but the band's music also has a slight artsy vibe that should appeal to fans of the underground. Plenty of ultra-catchy cuts here. Our initial favorites include "City Lights," "Lemon Squeeze," "Roll Away," and "Tilt-A-Whirl."
Spencer - Coventry Blue (CD, Propelz, Pop)
You might not immediately recognize the name Jeremy Spencer even though he has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But chances are you're very familiar with Fleetwood Mac. If so, then you're also very familiar with Jeremy Spencer. Jeremy made what was probably a smart move artistically even though it meant losing out on a great deal of money. In 1971 after getting a taste of big time success he left Fleetwood Mac. While Spencer hasn't had the huge hit successes of his former band, in real terms he has achieved much greater and lasting success. And that is mainly because he has retained true to his dreams and desires rather than transform into a money pig (which is what happens to most successful musicians). Coventry Blue is yet another resilient collection of cool bluesy pop...and Spencer's cool slide guitar has never sounded better. You won't hear calculated attempts at hit songs here. This album presents smooth mature tracks that glide by like clouds in the sky. Fifteen well-crafted cuts here including "Happy Troubadour," "Sounds Like Paris," "Nightingale's Pledge," and "The World In Her Heart."
& His Enemies - English Dream (CD,
Old Soul, Pop)
More smooth moody smart pop from Spottiswoode & His Enemies. Although not a huge commercial success...yet...Spottiswoode has certainly caught on with a continually growing audience. His last album Wild Goosechase Expedition earned him two independent music awards and his songs have been included in a number of films and television shows. Recorded at Old Soul Studios in Catskill, New York, English Dream offers more cool reflective music with strange calming qualities. These are not catchy pop songs. Rather, they are mature and slightly dreamy stream-of-consciousness compositions with pensive drifting qualities. If you're looking for a quick fix be aware of the fact that these songs get better the more you hear them. There are lots of subtleties in terms of lyrics and sounds that only sink in as you become familiar with the songs. Housed in a beautifully designed tri-fold digipak sleeve, English Dream is yet another excellent addition to the Spottiswoode catalog. Intriguing cuts include "Till My Dying Day," "Genius Flower," "Who Were You, Baby?", and "Melancholy Boy."
Soubrette - Burning City (Independently
released CD, Pop)
Sweet Soubrette is a unique New York City-based band driven by the voice and songwriting skills of a spellbinding young lady named Ellia Bisker. The band released their first album (Siren Song) in 2008 and has been captivating audiences and listeners ever since. According to the band web site, the latest album was "inspired by source material as varied as troubled love, works of literature, extreme weather events, and the promise of new romance, and they range from dark to transcendent, playful to spellbinding." So...as you may be able to guess...this is not simple mindless pop dribble. This is intelligent stuff delivered with pure intent and integrity. If we were to sum up this album with one word that word would probably be...eclectic. Bisker and her associates present well-fleshed out songs that blur in and out of various genres, all the while retaining a solid sense of artistic integrity and skill. Ellia's got a great voice and overall presence. After scanning through the web site we certainly get the impression that the live shows are a feast for the eyes and ears. Ten smart well-crafted tracks here including "Rock Paper Scissors," "Burning City," and "Homing Pigeon."
Turner - Ghosts In The Attic (Independently
released CD, Pop)
Nice smooth smart hummable pop with a slightly moody feel. This Austin, Texas-based singer/songwriter makes music that could be appreciated by millions. Ghosts In The Attic presents ten expertly written pop tunes that are in the same general vein as Leonard Cohen. These songs have a classic sound and feel, using traditional instruments in order to get the point across. Turner has a great voice and knows how to use it. One thing that sets these songs apart is the fact that many of them tell a story. As such, Reed proves he is as good at writing lyrics as he is at crafting melodies. This is a very solid album from start to finish and contains no filler. Our initial favorite cuts include "Modern Man," "Killed That Girl ('Cause She Was Killin' Me)," "Locking Doors," and "The Sculptor & The Stone."
Deem the plow for Waggy McPlease,
Seam all the busters and clusters of now.
Fan up the cow town and dust up the bonnets,
Straw buff the sonnets, for up ton and wow.
Webster - The Point of Pointlessness
(CD, Cat Beach Music,
The debut full-length release from Ryan Webster. There's not a lot of information to be found on the artist web site (link above) other than the fact that the first album has been released (on CD as well as vinyl). So apparently this musician is opting to let the music speak for itself. A good move...because The Point of Pointlessness does that. The album presents ten tracks that teeter in and out of Americana, pop, rock, and folk. The first time we listened to this disc we couldn't determine exactly how we felt about the music. But one thing was and is certain. This guy isn't trying to copy or emulate other artists. Some of these tracks occasionally remind us of Jay Farrar...but only slightly. Some songs are rather moody while others take a more straightforward approach. After several spins the thing that struck us most about this music is that it has staying power. Standout cuts include "Sunrise," "Changes," "I Want It All," and "Run Back Home To Me."
Wet Secrets - Free Candy (CD, Rawlco
This Canadian band describes their sound as "the kind of music you would expect to hear if The Stranglers piggybacked Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass through the Rose Parade." Hmmm...interesting... We would add The Strokes to those comparisons as well. Free Candy is a different sort of album incorporating sounds and ideas from classic artists from the past and present. These tracks should appeal to folks who enjoy moving to music. These cuts have a nice thick sound with plenty of overdubs and feature arrangements that are often complex and intricate. This band's sound could easily catch on with underground hipsters around the globe. Free Candy succeeds on many different labels. It's a great escapist album that allows you to forget about your everyday concerns. Nifty cuts include "Maybe We'll Make A Plan," "Floating In The Sky," and "Death of the Party." Rockin' stuff with balls.
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
Bee Bee Bee Bee - Eee Eee Eee Eee
Erica Blinn - Lovers in the dust
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
Che Prasad - Christmastime in the apocalypse
Che Prasad - Shiva me timbers
Susan Clynes - Life is...
David G. Cortes - Time away but home again
Frank Dibussolo Group - Songs to write home about
Doors - A psyche tribute to The Doors
Bob Dorough - Bob Dorough
Drockulette - Smock
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
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
Hard Soul - Seize the year
Dave & Emma Hart - Hold on
Amanda Homi - Till I reach Bombay
Kandia Crazy Horse - Stampede
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! - The musical
Il Rumore Bianco - Mediocrazia
Intimate Dream - Wonderful thing
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
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
Nissy - Program the hissing thing
Noisy Noses - Noisy Noses
Brian Noyes - Journeys after...
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
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
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
Vices - Vices
Vinny Vegas - The big white whale
Week of Wonders - Piggybacks b/w The end of the day
Stan Wells - High tide
Winter Pale - Red sun
Woodshedders - Wildfire
Yippee - A, D, and U
Frank Zappa - Everyone hates my wife now
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