sexta-feira, 8 de setembro de 2017

Eric Ambel - Roscoe's Gang 1988

In 1986, not long after the Del Lords had completed their third album, the band got word from their manager that their record company was pushing back the record's release date by six months, and the group would essentially have no work until then. Rather than get a part-time job, Eric "Roscoe" Ambelstruck upon the idea of cutting a solo album, and teaming up with Lou Whitney and his band the Morells, he staged a studio version of the jams he'd been staging with various pals at New York's No Se No Club. The result was Roscoe's Gang, which later became the name of Ambel's solo band, and it's the work of a natural-born rock & roller if there's ever been such a thing. With Ambel and the Morellsjoined by a handful of friends and well-wishers -- including Syd Straw and Peter Holsapple, as well as jam partners Jackboy Smead and Mr. Thing -- Roscoe's Gang goes back and forth between well-chosen covers (any album that segues from Bob Dylan's "If You Gotta Go, Go Now" to Swamp Dogg's "Total Destruction to Your Mind" gets this reviewer's full and undivided attention) and like-minded originals from Ambel and his buddies (including the hard-rockin' "Don't Wanna Be Your Friend," the back-porch blues of "30 Days in the Workhouse," and "Next to the Last Waltz"'s affecting country-pop). No matter which way he and the band are headed, though, Ambel's guitar lines and vocals are tough and succinct, while he and Whitney generate a smoky barroom ambience that's comfortable with being sloppy and hard-edged without sounding stiff. Roscoe's Gang captures the sound of a group of friends having a great time rockin' out, and with friends like these, you're pretty much guaranteed a great Saturday night any day of the week you choose to play it. AMG.

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Zeena Parkins - Isabelle 1995

Isabelle is a work from 1993 by the New York avant-garde composer and improviser which utilizes the small ensemble of the composer on sampler and electric harp with sisters Margret Parkins on cello, Sarah Parkins on violin, and Lisa Crowder on piano. Divided into ten parts, the suite draws on the story of the life of Isabelle Eberhardt, an explorer, wanderer, and writer whose diaries of turn-of-the century nomadism in North Africa are the basis for these eloquent musical miniatures. Zeena Parkins took inspiration from her travelogues and transformed the modes of North African traditional folk and religious music fused with European classical and a healthy input of lively avant-garde improvisation. The piece culminates in an outstanding closing section in "Oblivion Seekers" and "The Breath of the Night," an evocative exercise in atmospherics from Zeena Parkins' harp. A second work dating from 1992, Hup!, is a duo of Zeena Parkins on harp and sampler with Ikue Mori on drum machines. What sets out with sparse ambient gestures builds into a fanfare of sampling and tone-bending over the five pieces -- a magnificent work which is entirely complementary to the title piece in its playfulness. AMG.

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William Tyler - Impossible Truth 2013

universe peppered with inventive harmonic and stylistic techniques and odd ambient sounds. He asked musical questions and never expected answers. By contrast, The Impossible Truth evokes a mercurial musical past (the shadows of the '70s singer/songwriter era in Los Angeles and his hometown of Nashville), and an American geography that has been created, unmade and remodeled. Opener "Country of Illusion" (named for a chapter in Marc Reisner's Cadillac Desert about the disappearing nature of the American West) approximates a raga. Tyler's layered, fingerpicked electric guitars are framed by Chris Scruggs' walking bass, Luke Schneider's lonesome pedal steel, and the treated trombones of Roy Agee. The melody is open, spacious, and at times, winsome. 
The solo guitar piece "The Geography of Nowhere" (named after James Howard Kunstler's book) is drenched in reverb and, after an introductory blues theme, directly references "Paint It Black" before spinning back. "Hotel Catatonia," with Scruggs on lap steel, recalls Judee Sill's gorgeous cathedral-like pop melodies and doesn't musically refer to the Eagles' hit. If anything, the title and music pose the conundrum "how did we get there from there?" This is a guitar "song," its structure touching on Nashville and L.A. country with a cavernous, bell-like sound before enveloping itself in bluegrass picking techniques that embed themselves inside a sunny melodic architecture. "Cadillac Desert" finds the guitarist playing vibes and fuzz bass with his guitar, giving the entire piece a lovely, washed-out feel despite its sweetness. Acoustic guitars make their presences felt on the lovely "Portrait of Sarah" and the labyrinthine "We Can't Go Home." "The Last Residents of Westfall"'s title references a small, fallow town in World of Warcraft's imagined universe. Producer Mark Nevers' use of tapes, Schneider's pedal steel and vibes, and Tyler's guitar and vox organ eventually hollow out an initially sprightly melody that offers an expressionist reverie about what can only be an imagined past. Closer "The World Set Free," is a ten-minute opus named after a dystopian collection by H.G. Wells. It adds Scott Martin on drums. It commences as a sun-drenched, hummable progression that eventually turns back on itself and becomes something alien, emerging as an angular, skeletal trace. The Impossible Truth is more accessible than Behold the Spirit, but it is easily as adventurous, taking hold of places, spaces, and sounds, reimagining and altering them just enough to make the entire recording sound familiar and simultaneously other. AMG.

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Mokoomba - Kweseka 2009

The Mokoomba group from Zimbabwe is considered to be one of the most important young bands in Africa. Their success stems from skilful combination of their Tonga tradition with pan-African music, elements of rap, ska, Afro-Cuban sounds or soukous, often referred to as African rumba.

The band was founded in Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. They offer an exciting combination of traditional and modern sounds. Its members started from old local rhythms, and they try to reach the sound that enriches the band’s message through electric instruments and solutions typical for Western music. They draw inspiration mainly from their own Tonga tradition. The band has been present on the world music scene since 2001, and today it is one of the highly regarded and promising bands in southern parts of Africa.
The victory at the 2008 international Music Crossroads festival in Malawi was a turning point in their career. Thanks to this success, the artists visited over 40 countries in the world with their tour, spanning Europe, Australia and America. In 2009, Mokoomba has recorded their first studio album titled Kweseka - Drifting Ahead, featuring one of their biggest hits, Messe Messe, produced by Dutch DJ, Gregor Salto. The album was recorded as part of the campaign against poverty.
Their music will surely delight those who still remember the great Manou Gallo concert from last year. This outstanding artist produced their second album - the 2012 Rising Tide, which garnered great reviews in prestigious media, such as Songlines, fRoots and the Guardian.
The band members also starred in a film titled Mokoomba-From One River Bank To Another by Frank Dalmat and Francis Ducat. The film tells the band’s story in the context of relationship between culture and economic development of southern Africa.
Rick Sanders, a journalist working for the prestigious fRoots Magazine compared the voice and charisma of the singer, Mathias Muzaza, to the most outstanding African artists, such as Geoffrey Oryema, Kanda Bongo Man and Baaba Maal.

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Carla Bley, Steve Swallow, Andy Sheppard - Andando El Tiempo

For over 20 years, the trio of pianist Carla Bley, bassist Steve Swallow, and saxophonist Andy Sheppard have shared each other's creative company. The group's 2016 album, Andando el Tiempo, is a delicately passionate, classically influenced set. A follow-up to 2013's equally compelling TriosAndando el Tiempo is, surprisingly, only the third album from the group after their initial live 1995 album Songs with Legs. Whereas on Trios they delved into various Bley compositions from throughout her career, on Andando el Tiempo they focus on several more recently penned works. "Naked Bridges/Diving Bridges" brings to mind the impressionism of composer Claude Debussy. It's fascinating to hear the trio move from the moody beginning of the song into the more breezy, straight-ahead mid-section where Swallow, playing fluidly on the upper end of his bass, evinces the lyricism of West Coast trumpeter Chet Baker. The West Coast vibe is also palpable on the ruminative, noir-ish "Saints Alive!" However, it's the title track composition "Andando el Tiempo" that takes center stage on the album. With its three movements meant to represent three of the steps to addiction recovery, "Andando el Tiempo" (meaning "with the passing of time") is a restrained, yet nuanced piece that balances the group's knack for tempered chamber work and fluid, in-the-moment improvisation. Anchored at all times by Bley's measured, atmospheric piano, Sheppard and Swallow take turns dancing in the spotlight. The final movement in particular, the Latin-tinged "Camino al Volver," provides plenty of space for each member of the trio to twirl around each other in focused reverie. Ultimately, it's that shared intensity, born out of the trio's decades-long partnership, that makes Andando el Tiempo such an engaging listen. AMG.

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A.J. Croce - Twelve Tales 2014

Twelve Tales is a special achievement. A.J. Croce recorded a dozen new songs with six different producers and six different bands in five cities, using nine engineers in ten studios, then released the resulting tracks one each month, with Twelve Tales assembling all of them. The songs were recorded with an A-list who's who of legendary producers, including Jack ClementAllen ToussaintTony BergMitchell FroomGreg Cohen, and Kevin Killen, each spending about two days in the studio with Croce, with the whole album taking exactly a year to create and complete. AMG.

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Whores of Tijuana - Psycholongevity 2011

In a spirit more akin to elitist cult Norwegian black metal, Orange County, California, rockers Whores of Tijuana claim a lineage that goes back to 1992, but didn’t actually put out their first album, a self-titled, until 2005. The five-year-later follow-up, Psycholongevity (B@1 Records), was also produced by Scott Reeder and falls in line with modern stoner genre self-awareness in displaying a range of heavier influences from noise to biker rock and even some moody elements of grunge creepiness. The nine-track Psycholongevity finds the trio kicking through 39 minutes with a confidence and ease that, though it’s not really highlighted in the overall feel of the record, is actually showing off a variety of sounds and styles.

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Sona Jobarteh - Motherland 2010

Motherland: The Score is Sona Jobarteh’s first body of work as a film-score composer. It is an innovative exploration into the cinematic representation of a classical African sound world. Whilst much of her score draws primarily on the West African Griot tradition which she was born into, she has also had to redefine it to accommodation for the demands of the visual realm.
In order to create this film score Sona has used many instruments that she has explored in different ways to that of their traditional setting. For example she uses the Kora as a bass instrument as well as tuning it to an ‘Arabic’ scale. She uses the guitar to emulate the sound of an African lute, whilst also being influenced by the West African Griot style of playing. Sona invented a new instrument called the ‘Nkoni’ specifically to capture a new sonic for this score. This instrument is a cross between the Kora and the Donso Ngoni from Mali, expanding the tonality and mood of the African musical sonic. Her vocals draw distinctively on the West African Griot style, however there are aspects which also lean towards East African influences.
Factoring into the creation of a unique African aesthetic is the avoidance of two crucial paradigms; firstly the reliance on the cinematic familiarity of western stringed instruments, and secondly the stereotypical predominance of drumming as a signature of African musical representation.
The last 5 tracks of this 15-track album journeys through different musical genres from other contributing artists which includes the reggae fusion of Asheber, the Mozambican flavours of Stewart Sukuma, the smooth should of Ocacia, and the uplifting melodies of Poppy Seed. This collective fusion of influences testifies to the diversity and splendour of the African cultural landscape.

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Live - Mental Jewelry 1991

Live's debut album, Mental Jewelry, is full of Ed Kowalczyk's Eastern philosophical ideologies, based on Jiddu Krishnamurti (going as far as to name one track here after a Krishnamurti book, "You Are the World"). Considering the quartet were twentysomethings questioning their Christian upbringings at this time, it's understandable that they'd sing lines like "I have forever always tried/to stay clean and constantly baptized" and promote brotherhood, world peace, and self-awareness. But too soon Mental Jewelry sounds too idealistic, too preachy, and sometimes silly ("You've got ten fingers, two legs, one nose, like me, just like me," from "Brothers Unaware"). They hit the mark sometimes -- like with the self-questioning "Mirror Song" and the U2-inspired "Pain Lies on the Riverside" -- as well as the minor alt-radio and MTV hit "Operation Spirit (The Tyranny of Tradition)." But overall, Mental Jewelry is a reflection of a spiritually experimental Kowalczyk, and is not really meant for a larger audience. AMG.

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The Steve Miller Trio - Meets Elton Dean 1985

Here's another exercise in musical archaeology from Reel and it is worthy of loud and prolonged applause. British pianist Miller was always a worthwhile player, shaping up here as he often did as the British Mal Waldron in terms of his purged-of-excess approach to the keyboard. He always kept sound musical company and the presence of both Dean and drummer Eddie Prevost testifies to that here.
Made in the moment, "Dedicated To Few" is a highly persuasive manifesto for such an approach. When the music bucks and boils it's only as an outcome of what's gone before, with each musician's powers of response really tested. For the record, none of them are found wanting. Despite the billing, this is music that willfully and indeed joyfully subverts the soloist with accompaniment trope, although anything that might imply that voices are raised in serving the end of empty cacophony doesn't apply here. Instead the optimum term could just be 'organic.'

By comparison, an exercise which all too often yields little in the way of substance for discussion, "Bishop Of Stortford" is a relatively tranquil affair. Dean here pares his lines down to the absolute minimum, his contribution both acerbic and telling. The members of the Miller trio to a man both stimulate and contribute to the many dialogs going on and the very momentum of the music seems to stem from that collective endeavor. It only goes to show how arbitrary the business of capturing 'the music' can be even while in this case listeners can be eternally grateful that it was.

In many respects there was no need for an additional recording on this one, but we get it in the form of "One For Three" with a trio consisting of Miller, Dean, and drummer, Pip Pyle. There's a host of reasons to be grateful that the music was caught, not the least of them being that it captures the two principals in a more reflective frame of mind, with Pyle showing what a good colorrist he was. Again the music has that profoundly in-the-moment feel which elevates it to another plane, and Dean in particular exploits the opportunity to show off his lyrical side. AllAboutJazz.

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The Mavericks - From Hell To Paradise 1992

The Mavericks made their major-label debut with their second album, 1992's From Hell to Paradise, and while co-producer Steve Fishell added a lot more gloss than the band could summon up on their first independently released disc (not all of which works in their favor), overall this set sounds noticeably stronger and more sure-footed than the Mavericks did their first time at bat. The slicker sound certainly makes the most of Paul Deakin's sharp drumming and Robert Reynolds' rock-solid bass, and vocalist Raul Malo gained plenty of control and confidence this time out, with his clear, flexible tenor shining bright on every track, especially the plaintive "This Broken Heart" and the dramatic title song. Between the Farfisa-flavored pop of "I Got You," the rockabilly-accented locomotive charge of "End of the Line," and the Latin accents of "From Hell to Paradise," the broad stylistic range of the group's best work was beginning to make itself felt, as well as intelligent and challenging lyrical themes which set them apart from the average bunch of Nashville cats (significantly, From Hell to Paradise was recorded in that noted country music Mecca of Miami, FL). A few tunes are a bit more formulaic than one might hope for, and while the Hank Williams and Buck Owens covers are fun (and show good taste), they aren't especially enlightening. But there's enough good stuff on From Hell to Paradise to confirm the musical promise of the Mavericks' first album, and pave the way for their breakthrough with What a Crying Shame. AMG.

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Shannon and the Clams - Dreams In The Rat House 2013

Shannon and the Clams' third album, 2013's Dreams in the Rathouse, signals a tiny step forward for the trio. Recorded over the course of a year in cool places like a cabin in the woods and Nobunny's practice space, the album sounds tougher and stronger than previous efforts, Shannon Shaw's vocals have a more powerful presence, and the songs are better overall. Not that there was much wrong with the jumpy, scruffy late-'50s/early-'60s rock & roll-worshiping records they had made in the last couple years. Dreams just seems to put it all together in a way those albums didn't quite accomplish. From the opening "Hey Willy," which gets things started in a happy, bouncy fashion with some excellent guitar and vocal work from Cody Blanchard, to the blown-out girl group in a wind tunnel "I Know," which ends the album with one of Shaw's best vocals, the record is all high points with precious few dips in quality. The album never settles into any one groove, throwing out doo wop dreamers, tender late-night girl group ballads, a few pounding rockers, and a genius stab at garage rock (the ferocious "Bed Rock"). There are a couple times when the band's frenetic playing gets them in trouble and things go off the rails a bit, but mostly they keep things under control and deliver the trashy goods. Blanchard and Shaw's vocal interplay is much improved, too, and while they sound excellent on their own (Blanchard snappy and raw; Shaw with a booming, pushed-close-to-the-breaking-point intensity), they sound made for each other on the songs where they share vocals. The ballads sounds especially good; when the tempo slows and Blanchard's twangy guitar has some space to play, it gives Shaw's heartbroken vocals a chance to truly shine. Check her out on "If I Could Count" or "Unlearn" -- she could have been a Shangri-La, no problem. That she doesn't totally overshadow the rest of the band, and that the songwriting matches her vocal prowess, is a testament to how good Shannon and the Clams are on Dreams in the Rathouse. Quite a few people are doing this kind of music in 2013; precious few are doing it this well. AMG.

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quinta-feira, 31 de agosto de 2017

Naam - Naam 2009

There are very few bands in the known universe that you can say draw upon such varied influences as the StoogesHawkwind, and Can. But the Brooklyn, NY trio, Naam, certainly fits the aforementioned bill. On their self-titled 2009 debut, the group issues a vintage-sounding offering that manages to include elements of stoner rock, garage rock, and psychedelic star-gazing. Think of Monster Magnet's early work, and you're not far off from what these lads sounds like. Like all good stoners, you get an obligatory never-ending, mammoth track -- "Kingdom" -- which in this case kicks off the album (and starts with nearly five minutes of swirling wind sound effects). Elsewhere, you'll find a track that sounds like Mudhoney's Mark Arm fronting the aforementioned Monster Magnet ("Skyling Slip"), while quite a few unmistakably Sabbath-y grooves appear throughout (especially in the middle of "Icy Row"). Unlike other stoner metal acts that appear content to play the same riff for minutes on end through a bong-smoke haze, Naam offers enough twists and turns to keep it interesting. AMG.

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Eurythmics - Be Yourself Tonight 1985

On Be Yourself TonightEurythmics' most commercially successful and hit-laden album, the duo meticulously blended the new wave electronic elements that dominated their previous sets with the harder straight-edged rock and soul that would dominate later sets to come up with a near-perfect pop album. This disc scored no less than four hit singles and kept them a mainstay on MTV's play lists during the channel's heyday. Fusing pop, soul, rock, electronic beats, and even gospel, this is arguably the duo's finest moment. The first hit, "Would I Lie to You," is a straight-forward rocker, complete with great guitar licks, a soulful horn section, and Annie Lennox sounding as vicious and vivacious as ever. The second single, which was a huge chart topper in Europe, "There Must Be an Angel," is nothing short of shimmering beauty, with Lennox providing truly angelic vocals and Stevie Wonder lending an enchanting harmonica solo. Aretha Franklin lends her powerhouse pipes for the duet "Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves," which has gone on to become an immortal feminist anthem. From the soulful electronic beats (a rarity) in "It's Alright (Baby's Coming Back)" to the beauty of the Elvis Costello duet "Adrian" to the pain and longing of the sorrowful rocker "Better to Have Lost in Love (Than Never to Have Loved at All)," this album runs a wide array of musical styles, each song standing tall on its own two feet. This disc is, without a doubt, one of the best rock/pop albums from the 1980s and one of the grandest, most creative albums delivered by the ever-appealing and innovative duo of Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart. A true classic. AMG.

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Cosa Brava - The Letter 2012

Writing at All About Jazz, John Eyles described The Letter as "transcend[ing] genre", and Frith's songs as "melodic ... provid[ing] the group with plenty of scope for embellishment". He said the album "hangs together well", adding that Kihlstedt's violin has "inflections carrying great emotional weight", and Frith's guitar as "fluid [and] interwoven with wordless vocals, to stunning effect" on "Common Sense".

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