New This Week: Bob Dylan, Avett Bros & More

J. Edward Keyes

By J. Edward Keyes

on 09.12.12 in Spotlights

The fall avalanche has begun! After several weeks with only a handful of scraps, we have a veritable embarrassment of riches. So Many Records. So Many Records. Here’s what we like, you tell us what we missed in the comments.

Bob Dylan, Tempest: Bob Dylan’s 35th (!!!) album features the biggest epic of his career – a 14-minute song about the sinking of the Titanic. I have no room in my life for American classic rock pretty much ever, and yet I always make room for Bob Dylan. He remains as punk rock as classic rock can get. I mean that! I can write 5,000 words explaining why, but I’ll spare you. Says Andy Beta of the Recommended new record:

Tempest finds Dylan at his most mortal, both physically – his phlegmatic voice is gritty enough to abrade paint and out-carnie Tom Waits – and lyrically. Hundreds of dead bodies float in the ocean, the gunned-down John Lennon gets remembered on the maudlin “Roll On John,” while the noir of “Tin Angel” ends in a grisly murder-suicide.

The Avett Brothers, The Carpenter: North Carolina darlings follow up their breakthrough with a collection of sad slow-growers. Is it me, or does it kinda feel like Mumford & Sons ate their lunch? Which is lame, because the Avetts rock a lot harder. Jill Mapes says:

On their latest album The Carpenter, the North Carolina group stares down mortality with a frankness not uncommon to country outlaws. Although it is informed in part by the fact that bassist Bob Crawford’s young daughter was diagnosed with a brain tumor, the darkness of the acoustic dirges (“The Once and Future Carpenter,” “Life”) are tempered by poppy, piano-laden songs like “Pretty Girl From Michigan” that hardly qualify as folk or Americana

Raveonettes, The Observator:
GARAGE. It’s a new Raveonettes record! Bill Murphy says:

Observator, their latest, channels that same restless, exploratory energy from their past work into an exquisitely crafted suite of moody pop songs that swing between isolation and ecstasy. It’s a richly textured album that shimmers with shoegaze goth (“The Enemy,” with Foo taking the lead in her wispy tenor), southern Cali psych-pop (“She Owns the Streets”) and even a dab of Nilsson-ish piano whimsy (the meditative single “Observations”).

The Jam, Extras: Well, this seems crucial. 1992 compilation of B-Sides and rarities by one of the greatest British bands of all time. It helps that I am in the middle of a hardcore Jam phase right now. Recommended

The Helio Sequence, Negotiations: The fifth set from Portland indie rockers The Helio Sequence. Michaelangelo Matos says:

Musically, guitarist-singer Brandon Summers and one-time Modest Mouse drummer Benjamin Weikel haven’t changed all that much. They still ache with longing over slow-to-medium-fast tempos, still write glacially pretty guitar parts, and still nail that autumnal sweet spot that a lot of older indie fans like to nestle into deeply.

Gallows, Gallows: The sophomore release from London hardcore punks. I loved loved loved their debut, Orchestra of Wolves, but it’s been a minute since I caught up with them. Says Ian Gittins:

Since their debut, the uncompromising rage-rockers have since lost their talismanic front man, Frank Carter, replacing him with Wade MacNeil of Toronto thrashers Alexisonfire, but neither of these setbacks looks to have dimmed their creative fervor. Back on an indie label where they always belonged, Gallows once again hit us with the sharp end of their visceral, serrated racket.

TOY, TOY: The British indiepop quintet offer up a thrilling debut album. Andrew Perry says:

“Colours Running Out” introduces a sound-palette of heavily-treated shoegaze-y guitars, rooted by quietly metronomic drumming and an irresistibly acidic vocal melody. Through the ensuing tracks, the listener is tossed between poppy bliss and trancey disorientation. “Lose My Way” and “My Heart Skips A Beat” verge on a New Order-esque stateliness, bittersweet reflections on love gone wrong couched in beautiful, ineffably catchy music.

Calexico, Algiers: Calexico relocated to New Orleans for their strong and surprising seventh LP. Says Sharon O’Connell:

Opener “Epic” is swarthy and insistent with a great pop groove and the muscular “Splitter” could well satisfy Springsteen fans, while it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine more adventurous Kings Of Leon devotees warming to “Maybe On Monday.” With an international guest list of empathetic instrumentalists and vocalists, Calexico have delivered a record as strong, soulful and surprising as their adopted city itself. Not bad, 22 years on.

King Cyst, Real Pussy: Underwater Peoples comes through again with another album of loose, wobbling psych-indie, four-track to the core. Sounds taped-together and delightfully shambling. Fans of the uber-avant, this is for you.

Amanda Palmer, Theater is Evil: Everyone’s favorite doyenne of the dark returns with a batch of crowdfunded rock & roll. Rid your mind of the cabaret days of yore – this is taut, tense, guitar-powered rock.

Dan Melchior, The Backward Path: More great experimental folk from DM – lotsa buzzing, lotsa weird noises in between splashes of outre folk music.

Turbo Fruits, Butter: Rip-roaring rock & roll from Turbo Fruits! It finds an unlikely middle ground between motorcycle rock & rollers and scuzzbucket punk rock. Lotsa growl, lotsa sneer. Recommended

Various Artists, ’60s Garage Nuggets: I’m having kind of a retro phase at the moment, so this comp could not possibly arrive at a better time. For me. You can guess from the title what you’ve got here – lotsa incense, lotsa peppermints, lotsa flangey guitars. Recommended

DMX, Undisputed: I’m gonna be honest with you, despite what the title says, I think there might actually be some disputing going on here. X still sounds rip-yer-throat-out fierce, though he’d be better served by some stronger beats.

LifeSavers Underground, PTSD: The first LSU record in God knows how long. Brian Doidge is back in the fold, and Knott billed this as, sonically, the “heaviest” LSU record ever. Which it certainly is. A concept record about the soldiers who are returning from the Iraq war with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I haven’t spend enough time with this to have an opinion of it.

Will Johnson, Scorpion: New solo record from Will from Centr-O-Matic is as arid and spooky and haunted as we’ve come to expect from him. Brittle folk songs topped with Johnson’s parched, crackling voice. Longtime fans will find much to love.

ZZ Top, La Futura: New one from ZZ Top! Growly, greasy, grizzled down-south rock & roll that is everything you’d expect from The Top and more. Do people call them The Top? I just did. Ol’ Double-Z’s. The Top. The Toppers.

Field Report, Field Report: Nice, steady folk-type stuff – gentle melodies, fluttering acoustic guitars and warm, rich pianos. Fans of the National, this might be your jam.

Serpentine Path, Serpentine Path: Unearthly Trance called it quit after a dozen years, a fact that makes me completely miserable. If you haven’t heard V, I would recommend you do so immediately. Fortunately, its members went on to form Serpentine Path. Of their new record, Jon Wiederhorn says:

Serpentine Path is packed with the requisite trudging tempos, stomping beats, down tuned riffs, repetitive rhythms and feral death metal howls that made Unearthly Trance an unsettling treat. Even so, there are a few sonic frills between Serpentine Path ‘s unrelenting showers of sludge.

Seapony, Failing: Lovely, breezey indiepop from these Pacific Northwesterners that sounds like the kind of thing you’d find on 7″ at Rough Trade in the late ’80s. Which is one of the highest compliments I know how to pay!

Tom Tom Club, Downtown Rockers: New one from Tom Tom Club sounds like it picks up right where they left off. Lots of synths and affectless delivery with the occasional neon-blue squiggle of guitar.

Dave Sumner’s Jazz Picks

Nice drop this week, with a variety of sounds from Jazz’s vast breadth of sub-genres. Piano makes the strongest appearance throughout, though it’s the more experimentally inclined recordings that, potentially, could leave the more lasting impression. Overall, a fun week of discovery. Let’s begin…

Michael Feinberg, The Elvin Jones Project: Bassist Michael Feinberg’s inspiration for this album was the result of his observations of the relationships various Coltrane bassists had with drummer Elvin Jones. For this session, he has drummer-extraordinaire Bill Hart sitting in “Elvin’s chair,” and accompanied by George Garzone on sax, Tim Hagans on trumpet, and Leo Genovese on piano (with a guest appearance by Alex Wintz on guitar). A wonderful album of beautifully textured music, and one hundred percent jazz, top-shelf vintage. Pick of the Week.

Samo Salamon, Eleven Stories: Guitarist Salamon has been terrifically productive, putting out an album a year (or more) for the last decade, and it’s been nice to track both the development of his personal sound, as well as his experiments along the way. This album has him in a trio with Michel Godard (tuba, electric bass) and Roberto Dani (drums). It’s got the early Bill Frisell ECM surreality, an introspective deliberate tempo, and moments that flirt with avant-garde and folk. A cerebral album that is great for sitting back on a rainy day and just closing your eyes. Highly Recommended.

Fred Hersch Trio, Alive at the Vanguard: Live date with Fred Hersch on piano, John Hébert on bass, and Eric McPherson: drums. Double-disc release from Hersch’s gig at the Vanguard. Music crackles like a sparkler on a 4th of July evening… beautiful to look at, full of life, and might just singe you a bit if you get too close. A solid album from the jazz vet. Recommended.

The Cloudmakers Trio with Ralph Alessi, Live at the Pizza Express: Featuring a trio of vital participants of the UK jazz scene (Jim Hart on vibes, Michael Janisch on bass, and Dave Smith on drums), and joined by NYC trumpeter Alessi, this is a set of modern jazz recorded live at the Pizza Express, a venue that brings all types of great modern jazz to the public. Lots of stop-and-go motions, angular lines, and wavering interludes. For the most part, sounds more like a studio recording than a live one. Live music energy doesn’t emanate from the speakers, but, conversely, the sound quality is pretty solid.

Flu(o), Encore Remuants: A quintet of trumpet, guitar, drums, bass, and piano. Modern jazz-rock fusion, often heavier on the latter of those two elements. Electronic effects, mostly for the sake of textural dissonance. Some interesting moments. I don’t know if Cuong Vu was the father of this type of jazz-rock fusion, but this album sounds as if inspired by him.

World Kora Trio, Korazon: Folk-jazz album, very cheerful and buoyant. With Eric Longworth on electric cello, Cherif Soumano on the kora, and Jean-Lu di Fraya on percussion (and some vocals). Rustic music that sometimes drifts, sometimes swings. Too pretty. Fans of the Ablaye Cissoko/Volker Goetze collaborations should be downloading this album.

Moskus, Salmesykkel: Young piano trio with a nice take on the Nordic jazz sound, mixing it with some Indie-rock elements. Most tracks are peaceful and serene, others get a little dizzy with allusion to free jazz, and others have a nice steady beat. Just a real nice album, moody, with interludes of rising up and stomping about. Find of the Week.

Antonis Ladopoulos & Sami Amiris, Phos: Pleasant duo of tenor sax and piano. Nothing earth-shattering, but a sax-piano duo album often brings a sublime understatement to the table, and this recording gives plenty of that. Always good to have an album like this for those lazy Sunday afternoons when all you feel like doing is shutting yourself off from the world and drifting quietly in place.

Sam Newsome, The Art Of the Soprano Vol. 1: A solo soprano sax recording, much in the vein of Steve Lacy’s approach to soloing. Former member of Terence Blanchard’s Quintet, Newsome switched from tenor to soprano, then delved into the musics of various geographies, before, now, settling into the role of solo performer. Cerebral music that explores sound and possibilities therein. Good stuff.

Bill Frisell, Solos: The Jazz Sessions: Another in the solos series, this time featuring guitar great Bill Frisell. The solos series come from a dvd that has various musicians alone at their instrument, playing songs from the past as they talk about the music and their past and their theories on music. Part autobiography, part interview, and 100% undiluted Frisell guitar.

Charles Gayle Trio, Look Up: Recorded back in 1994, live, it’s a high energy performance of Charles Gayle on tenor sax and bass clarinet, Michael Bisio on bass, and Michael Wimberley on drums. Gayle’s music is like a conflagration of pure free jazz intensity. Add in a some spoken (shouted?) word action, and the voltage amps up even more. I love that the ESP Disk label is releasing some of these older live recordings.

George Cables, My Muse: Trio date with George Cables on piano, Essiet Essiet on bass, and Victor Lewis on drums. One of the living legends of the jazz scene, Cables brings a sublimely understated piano jazz album. Nothing complicated, just a pianist at home on the instrument he’s spent a lifetime getting to know. Tracks like “But He Knows” make me think I’ll be enjoying this album even more in a couple months… kind of album that accretes goodwill at an imperceptible rate until, suddenly, it never leaves the stereo.

Alexis Cole, I Carry Your Heart: Alexis Cole works with the Jeremy Hahn trio, and along with help from guests Pat Labarbera and Eric Alexander, puts lyrics to the music of Pepper Adams. Nice hop to the music, a classic jazz vocals album sound. Tasteful accompaniment, and easy to like. Very happy with the inclusion of Alexander and Labarbera… this is music they can sink their teeth into.