domingo, 1 de janeiro de 2017

Ray Lema - Nangadeef 1989

If Herbie Hancock's "Rock-It" had been recorded by the Zairian diaspora in Paris, it might have sounded something like this. Though the low spots are pretty generic, the frequent thunderclaps on this forward-looking disc are worthy of Youssou N'Dour at his best. Lema first became involved in music playing church organ for five years. By the time he entered college, he was already playing keyboard in Kinshasa clubs for artists like Kalle, Abeti, M'pongo Love, and Tabu Ley. He worked with the Ballet du Zaire and from 1974 to 1978 toured the country studying folklore. He won a Rockefeller grant for study in the U.S. in 1979. Lema's grounding in folklore and choreography, as well as music, helped him break through in the '80s and maintain a reputation as a soukous musician not content to be pigeonholed in that style. He recently signed with the international label Mango. AMG.

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Sand Reckoner - Haunter 2016

Sand Reckoner is a US psychedelic band from Boston! Interesting band.

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Seun Kuti + Egypt 80 - A Long Way to the Beginning 2014

There isn't a lot of subtlety in the songs on Seun Kuti and Egypt 80's fiercely political third album, A Long Way to the Beginning. That's fine, because to his way of thinking, there isn't anything subtle about neo-liberal capitalism's global attack on the poor, either. Seun is Fela Kuti's youngest son. The vocalist and alto saxophonist has been fronting and leading Egypt 80 since his father's death in 1997 (three-quarters of that band remain) and has issued two previous records; the last, From Africa with Fury: Rise, in 2011, was co-produced by Brian Eno and John Reynolds. In the 21st century, there are literally hundreds of bands throughout the globe playing Afrobeat, with most adding a unique spin to the tradition; Kuti respects that. At seven tracks and 43 minutes, this set is tighter, shorter, and punchier than Fela's or Seun's earlier records, and takes into consideration a new palette of sounds. He enlisted Robert Glasper as co-producer (who also plays keyboards throughout), as well as help from rappers M-1 and Blitz the Ambassador. While Fela brought a certain narrative, hypnotic elegance to his music, Seun has replaced it -- at least here -- with the raw aggression of hip-hop and punk. Opener "I.M.F." is a stomping, jittery, crunching, fat, horn-driven anthem, with funky basslines, choppy guitars, and drums. M-1 delivers a rap that underscores Kuti's Pan-African lyrics with a global street perspective. Glasper's spacy keyboards add just a hint of air to the dense mix. His trancey keyboard atmospherics -- and funky clavinet -- can be heard on the hypno-groove in "Higher Consciousness," with a fine staccato horn chart and tightly woven lead and chorus vocals. "Ohun Riye" is a break from the rage. It's a skittering, Yoruban highlife jam with lyrics that celebrate life's spiritual qualities. Blitz the Ambassador helps out on "African Smoke," with hip-hop rhymes woven into the jazzier side of Afrobeat. The militant message delivered by Kuti is underscored line by line by his female chorus. There's also a fine trumpet solo by Oladimeji Akinyele. Closer "Black Woman" is the set's big surprise. A drifty, jazzy, nocturnal groover with killer lead guitar from David Obanyedo, it features sweet guest vocals from Nneka. Along with Glasper's signature keyboards, it has a winding, breezy horn chart atop multiple layers of drums and guitars. It's a feminist anthem that pays homage to the strength, commitment, courage, and struggle black women experience in everyday life. A Long Way to the Beginning is the most ambitious and angry record in Kuti's catalog. Its Afrobeat attack is hyper aggressive. It hammers the anger home in most tunes, and that's exactly what he feels young people around the world are projecting. He's telling them they're not only heard, but that he feels it too. AMG.

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Redgum - Brown Rice and Kerosene 1981

Redgum are an important band in the history of Australian music, responsible for political folk-rock that had an actual influence on the politics of the time. They are best remembered for their protest song "I Was Only Nineteen (A Walk in the Light Green)," which underwent something of a popular revival during Australia's participation in the second Iraq war. The band formed at Adelaide's Flinders University in 1975 while the members were attending the same politics and art class. The three students, John Schumann (vocals, guitar), Michael Atkinson (guitar, piano, vocals, mandolin), and Verity Truman (flute, saxophone, tin whistle, vocals) volunteered to submit a musical piece for their group assignment. The political songs they performed were so popular with their classmates that they found themselves immediately fielding calls to play at parties, political rallies, and pubs -- though they hadn't even decided on a name yet. Fellow Flinders University student Chris Timms joined them on violin and the then four-piece settled on the name Redgum.
Their first album, If You Don't Fight You Lose, debuted in 1978. It was recorded after a radio station told the band that approximately 200 people were requesting they make copies of the early demo recording they had been broadcasting. Each bandmember continued to work and study while performing on weekends and holidays until after the release of their popular second album, Virgin Ground, in 1981 convinced them to make the band a full-time priority. Tom Stehlik (drums) and Dave Flett (bass) joined the band, while Chris Timms left to be replaced by Hugh McDonald (violin, bass, guitar, vocals). It was their live album Caught in the Act, released in 1983, that made Redgum a national and enduring sensation. Its single, "I Was Only Nineteen (A Walk in the Light Green," went to number one. The song's frank depiction of the experiences of a Vietnam veteran, based on the story of Schumann's brother-in-law, made many Australians rethink their positions and within a year there was a Royal Commission into the use of Agent Orange and other chemicals by the Australian military. Royalties from the song were donated to the Vietnam Veterans of Australia Association.
By 1984 Flett and Stehlik had left the band. Brian Czempinski took over for Stehlik on drums, and Michael Spicer (piano) and Stephen Cooney (didgeridoo, bass, mandolin, banjo) were added to the lineup for their next album, Frontline. In 1986, at the height of their fame, lead singer Schumann left to sign with CBS as a solo act and thereafter enter politics. The group carried on in his absence, releasing the Midnight Sun album later that year. Atkinson left in 1987 and the group disbanded permanently in 1990 without recording anything further. In 2005 Redgum's music became unexpectedly popular and relevant to a new generation when political hip-hop act the Herd began performing their own interpretation of "I Was Only 19" at their concerts, eventually recording an acoustic version featuring Schumann as a guest for the re-release of their album The Sun Never Sets. AMG..

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Ragpicker String Band - The Ragpicker String Band 2015

Mandolinist Rich DelGrosso, Guitarist Mary Flower and multi-instrumentalist Martin Grosswendt have earned streams of praise for their string skills. Combined, they've scored 9 Blues Music Award nominations as well as rave reviews and top festival slots worldwide. They strum, pick and bow up a storm together as the Ragpicker String Band — but it's their tight trio harmonies that especially dazzle.

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Trio Mandili - With Love 2015

Trio Mandili is a Georgian musical group originally consisting of three young women: Anna Chincharauli, Tatia Mgeladze and Shorena Tsiskarauli. Interesting group that embraces the Georgian traditional music with a new sound, give it a listen!

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Chad Smith's Bombastic Meatbats - Meet The Meatbats 2009

Past say, oh, the early to mid-'80s, whenever you heard the phrase "instrumental rock music," it usually meant a group of heavy metallists shredding away on their respective instruments (usually with guitar gymnastics at the forefront). In other words, showing off your chops seemed to win out over the importance of songwriting time and time again. But by the time of the debut album by Chad Smith's Bombastic Meatbats, 2009's Meet the Meatbats, this is thankfully no longer the case. In fact, the group specifically turns the clock back to the '70s, when instrumental rock music was based in funk and fusion styles (Jeff Beck's WiredReturn to Forever's Hymn of the Seventh GalaxyBilly Cobham's Spectrum, etc.). Some mighty fine fusion-y grooves can be detected throughout Meet the Meatbats (and they're very authentic-sounding) -- especially such ditties as "Battle for Ventura Boulevard," "Death Match," and "Need Strange." Smith has long been considered one of rock's top drummers, and the debut album by his Bombastic Meatbats will only strengthen his standing. AMG.

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Butch Morris - Dust To Dust 1990

Lawrence "Butch" Morris' conduction technique, a form of directed improvisation whereby musicians follow a variety of live hand signals by the conductor to shape and reshape both notated and non-notated music, has not taken on the revered status of Ornette Coleman's harmolodic method of free improvisation, but has produced equally exciting music. In fact, mirroring the keen mix of composition and improvisation found in both Anthony Braxton's and John Zorn's work, Morris' relatively structured music at times surpasses Coleman's more free-form output. If his conceptions were amateurish, Morris' "songs" would pale in comparison to any of the high-end work Coleman has produced, but, as is the case with Dust to Dust, the pieces come out sounding whole and refined, enhanced greatly by a variety of impromptu musical twists. Enlisting a stellar cast of 12 musicians including, among others, drummer Andrew Cyrille, pianist Myra Melford, harp player Zeena Parkins, clarinetist Marty Ehrlich, and keyboard player Wayne HorvitzMorris works through a varied program of seven numbers, mixing electronic and acoustic elements to produce constantly shifting ambient soundscapes. The pieces range from the spacious and pastoral-sounding "Via Talciona" and "Othello A" (with the harp parts faintly evoking Japanese koto music) to the more tightly wound, atonal-minimalist "Bartok Comprovisation," which is insistently moved along by repetitive figures played on the piano and a variety of electronic instruments. For the duration of all these cuts, a multitude of sound fragments drift in and out as original themes progressively turn more diffuse, broken up by a variety of rhythmic shifts. Some sound contrivances don't come off, like a few awkward guitar bits on "Via Talciona," but considering the amount of improvisation going on here and the mostly seamless result, these indiscretions end up as attractive aberrations. Taking in Webern's 12-tone brevity, Far Eastern music, jazz, Brian Eno's ambient work, and a load of his own compositional ideas, Morris creates a sophisticated and satisfying mix on Dust to Dust. AMG.

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John Greaves - Songs 1994

John Greaves has always done his best work in collaboration, whether in his early days in the hyper-collaborative collective Henry Cow or later albums with the likes of Pip PyleLisa Herman, and his primary collaborator, Peter Blegvad. On his fifth album, Songs, however, the parade of guest stars occasionally gets a bit overwhelming. It's more like a John Greaves tribute album than anything else! Working with a drummerless acoustic piano/bass/guitar trio starring French pianist Sophia Domancich, along with various guest musicians, Greaves runs through a program of older songs and a few new ones. He does none of the singing, leaving that to friends like Robert Wyatt (who contributes three vocals, including a stunning remake of "Kew. Rhone.") and Kristoffer Blegvad. This isn't a bad thing in itself (Wyatt and Blegvad are both stunning interpreters), but it does mean that some of Greaves' own personality is unfortunately missing from the album. Songs will be a treat for longtime fans, but newcomers are advised to start elsewhere first for the full effect. AMG.

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Chickenfoot - Chickenfoot III - 2011

Maybe the only surprising thing about Chickenfoot's critically dismissed 2009 debut was that anyone should have been surprised at its eventual commercial success. After all, there was just no way that America's average Joe classic rock consumer was going to resist spending all of that disposable beer money on a super-sized union between Sammy HagarJoe SatrianiMichael Anthony, and Chad Smith, no matter how meager its artistic rewards. Temptation embraced, the broth thickens with a second Chickenfoot LP -- cheekily named Chickenfoot III -- that offers much the same in terms of musical and intellectual stimuli (don't laugh) with its rather shameless though surely to-be-expected, exploitation of the vintage Van Hagar aesthetic. Love it or loathe it, said blueprint yields plenty of mainstream rock comfort food in the shape of muscular opener "Last Temptation," the subsequent, irresistible singalong "Alright Alright," and even the bluesier, acoustic-infused "Something Gone Wrong," among other tracks. And while some listeners may understandably take exception with Satriani's occasional overindulgence in EVH's legendary "brown sound" on cuts like "Lighten Up" and "Big Foot," the guitar hero's simultaneous willingness to mask his silver alien fret pyrotechnics for the betterment of simple, anthemic single "Different Devil," or the subdued yacht rocker "Come Closer" is perhaps the biggest endorsement of Chickenfoot's true status as a band, rather than yet another jumble of superstars jamming for their 401ks. Having said that, the ship has unfortunately and unquestionably sailed on Sammy Hagar's ability to convey a serious lyric with believable conviction (way too many waboritas and mas tequilas, Sammy, sorry bro), and so it's hard to reconcile his effort to recite earnest letters written by the down-and-unemployed with shrieks of "I need a job"! on the confusing "Three-Letter Word." Likewise, the sardonic "Dubai Blues" just isn't very funny when spewed through the mouth of a dyed-in-the-wool capitalist millionaire, but maybe we're thinking too hard here… After all, it's already been established that Chickenfoot III is an unapologetic exercise in classic rock nostalgia, take it or leave it, and at least it's honestly so -- unlike the latest Jane's Addiction or Pulp reunions…both of them such anti-corporate, anti-establishment indie rockers, clearly. Not! So judge not, indie rockers and other self-satisfied musical tribes: any way you slice it, the aging rock audience is hungry and, flawed as they may be, Chickenfoot are just the guys to feed them. AMG.

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sábado, 17 de dezembro de 2016

Bonnie Raitt, Lowell George & John Hammond - Ultrasonic Studios 1972 (Live) 2015

The old Ultrasonic Studios sessions curated by the old influential Long Island rock station WLIR-FM continue to provide some of the coolest archival live material in record shops today. And the latest gem mined from the depths of the station’s archives is a “super session” to rival Bloomfield, Stills and Cooper, boasting John Hammond, Bonnie Raitt and Lowell George. Recorded on Oct. 17, 1972, the first half of this largely acoustic 77-minute set spotlights a young Raitt, emanating all sorts of stoned, soulful sexiness as she rolls through easy, mellow versions of tunes by the likes of Chris Smither (“Love Me Like a Man”), Jackson Browne (“Under the Fallling Sky”) and Blind Faith (a heart-stopping take on “Can’t Find My Way Home”). Lowell’s portion of the set is equally sublime, although it would’ve been nice if that annoying tape hiss permeating the performance was mixed down for retail. Nevertheless, once you hear the Little Feat guitar great deliver rolling versions of the old Elmore James favorite “The Sky Is Crying” and Jimmy Reed’s “Honest I Do,” any unwelcome audio imperfections simply fade into the background. But the real treat on Ultrasonic Studios 1972 is when Raitt, George and the perennially underrated Hammond on harp are all locked in together on the Sailin’ Shoes highlight “A Apolitical Blues,” performed in defiance after the show’s host Ken Cole requested they play “Willin’” from the first Little Feat album. There is nothing a little EQ-ing couldn’t fix to get to the pure heart of this long, lost Hempstead hootenanny.

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Johnny Dyani - Mbizo 1981

A live quartet date, Mbizo has the nice, relaxed feel of a warm concert in an intimate setting with the musicians at liberty to stretch out as they please. The final piece is a dedication to Charles Mingus and there's a similar vibe to records like Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus with Eric Dolphy and Ted Curson, albeit perhaps not up to that stellar level. The songs vary from lively burners like "Dorkay House," all township strut, to brooding, gorgeously bitter dirges as etched in the bleakly titled "House Arrest." Dyani was one of the strongest, most purely musical bassists in the music up to his untimely death in 1986, and he grounds his group here with rich, pulsating support and imaginative compositions, as well as offering a lovely solo on "Musician's Musician." Indeed, few musicians played with such a unique combination of scornful bitterness and loving appreciation of small moments of beauty as did Dyani. His stalwart companion, fellow South African expatriate Dudu Pukwana, is in fine form, liquid and fiery, as is the lesser-known Ed Epstein, especially on baritone sax. Mbizo is one of a string of fine albums recorded by Dyani in the several years prior to his death and is well worth hearing by virtually any jazz fan. AMG.

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Frank Zappa - Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch 1982

Released in May 1982, Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch marks Frank Zappa's entrance into the 1980s. From this point on, his rock records would focus on single, simple rock songs (the previous year's You Are What You Is had them organized in interconnecting suites) with occasionally more complex instrumental numbers. The recipe would be extended to The Man From Utopia (1983) and Them or Us (1984). Side one features three studio songs that would never be performed on stage. By 1981, Zappa had become a master at manipulating vocal tracks, a technique featured in each of them, but most successfully in "Valley Girl," where daughter Moon Unit (aged 14 at the time) pastiches rich girls from the San Fernando Valley. Released as a single, it became a novelty hit, climbing into the Top 40 in the U.S., a rare (and not necessarily sought-after) experience for Zappa. Side two presents three live tracks, two of which are difficult rock instrumentals. "Drowning Witch" may be one of his hardest pieces to perform. This album clearly lacks ambition and tends to get lost among the man's humongous discography, but it should not be overlooked. It contains a few good songs ("No Not Now" is quite entertaining), strong guitar work from Zappa and Steve Vai, and it is not defaced by the cold 1980s sound of subsequent albums. AMG.

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Taxiwars - Taxiwars 2015

TaxiWars is the result of a wayward and intensive collaboration between dEUS frontman Tom Barman and saxophone player Robin Verheyen.

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Barbara Hannigan & Reinbert de Leeuw - Erik Satie's Socrate 2016

Erik Satie’s 150th birthday on May 17, 2016 is a perfect opportunity to rediscover the works of this original and unique composer who was a friend of Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Léonide Massine, Man Ray, and a close friend of Jean Cocteau, all important figures of the avant-garde movement in Paris so beautifully captured by Woody Allen’s award-winning film Midnight in Paris.

For this Satie celebration year, Barbara Hannigan and pianist Reinbert de Leeuw recorded a selection of Erik Satie’s works on the Winter & Winter label. Socrate is the central focus of the album, heard alongside Trois Mélodies from 1886, Trois Autres Mélodies from 1886–1906, and Hymne from 1891.

In January 2016, Winter & Winter released Hannigan’s critically-acclaimed, Billboard-charting album let me tell you, composed by Hans Abrahamsen. She is world-renowned for her superb virtuosity and inspired artistry, having earned the highest praise from audiences and critics alike. Reinbert de Leeuw is a renowned interpreter of Erik Satie’s music, known for his unique tempi and timeless sounds. It seems like Erik Satie has written his songs specifically for these two artists!

Erik Satie’s life was full of tribulation, and he struggled with financial worries and health problems. In 1925, he died from prolonged alcohol abuse. But his music lives on, and with this stunning new release Barbara Hannigan and Reinbert de Leeuw allowing us experience the spirit of Erik Satie once again.

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