Dirty Projectors, Swing Lo Magellan â€“ Brooklyn prog-indie powerhouse Dirty Projectors put out a lovely, warm, and emotionally direct record, the first time they’ve been all three of those things at once. It’s their first since Bitte Orca (read Christina Lee’s interview with frontman David Longstreth here) and eMusic’s Barry Walters calls it “immediate and puzzling”:
More than ever, David Longstreth writes accessible pop melodies, but he still puts the accents and the syncopations in unexpected places, like on the otherwise uncharacteristically direct love ballad “Impregnable Question.” His singing evinces both the rawness of indie rock and the heart-on-sleeve emotiveness of mainstream pop, while the accompaniment boasts the bumpy time signatures and wrench-throwing extra measures the bandleader mastered while studying music composition at Yale.
Woody Guthrie, Woody At 100: The Woody Guthrie Centennial Collection – If Woody Guthrie were still alive, he’d be turning 100 this weekend; we’ve got a slew of incredible Woody-related features coming at you tomorrow, but for now you can get started with this three-disc collection of his career highs, history, and previously unreleased recordings. Our Woody expert Peter Blackstocksays:
How to honor Woody Guthrie on the 100th anniversary of his birth? It’s no easy feat finding focus for a subject whose body of work practically defines “iconic.” The depth and range of this three-disc collection seeks not only to hit the highest points in Guthrie’s unparalleled repertoire, but also to present glimpses into his history that shed new light on the man and his music, along with a handful of recordings never before issued to the public.
Holograms, Holograms – Debut from a group of brooding, ferocious Swedes. Marc Hogan says:
On their self-titled debut album, the brooding Swedish hooligans spray-tag late-’70s post-punk turf that’s unavoidably near the bloodied stage-diving grounds of similarly astounding Danish brutes Iceage. As previewed, though, by lead single “ABC City,” a ferocious rebel yell from a drab Stockholm housing project, Holograms has the worn-out synth wobble, scrappy gang-vocal hooks and brusquely sloganeering youth-without-youth perspective to set it apart — both from summer-of-’78 retro pastiche and the group’s contemporaries over in Copenhagen. It’s a triumphant record with scrappy muscles and brittle bones.
Chatham County Line, Sight & Sound – North Carolina’s Chatham County Line release their first official live record. Annie Zaleski says:
Chatham County Line concerts are intimate affairs, mainly because the members of the Raleigh, North Carolina, quartet huddle close together — often around one microphone — as they perform. Being in such close proximity naturally strengthens their multi-part harmonies; however, it also makes their bluegrass/Americana-rooted music feel especially introspective and meaningful. Sight & Sound, Chatham County Line’s first widely available live record, captures the essence of the band’s concerts. It’s also a lovely, career-spanning document full of warmth and exuberance.
Mission of Burma, Unsound – This is Mission of Burma’s fourth release after a 19-year break, and Douglas Wolk argues that their reunion records just keep getting better:
This band was always built around skills that get better with age: idiomatic playing, idiosyncratic ideas about sound, very loud interactions based on very close listening. How they’ve managed to sustain their monumental energy — well, that’s a good question. It might have to do with having three songwriters who keep trying to top each other.
Serj Tankian, Harakiri - System of a Down frontman Serj Tankian lets out his fourth solo album.eMusic’s Jon Wiederhorn says:
Tankian’s fourth and best solo album, Harakiri, includes plenty of political commentary, but Tankian free-associates so wildly that the beauty of his language becomes as appealing as the subject matter. On the Smashing Pumpkins-meets-Pixies lunacy of “Cornucopia” (a song about environmental abuse), Tankian’s emphatically sings the chorus, “I loved you in the sunshine, you chased the moon with a spear/ I pray that you will be all mine, you foam at the mouth and disappear.”
David S. Ware & Planetary Unknown, Live at Jazzfestival Saalfelden 2011 - On this David S. Ware concert recording, Steve Holtje says:
This concert differs from the studio album; rather than seven discrete tracks, we get, in one concentrated hour of three long improvisations, the essence of the interaction between these four free-jazz veterans. It’s especially gratifying to hear Cooper-Moore return to piano with such distinctive imagination. The infinitely inventive, always powerful Ware may seem to dominate (his solo after the six-minute mark of track 3 is especially haunting), but there’s plenty of time for the others to shine.
Deep Time, Deep TimeÂ â€“ Entrancing, elbows-outward indie-pop/post-punk hybrid, with two softly cooing female vocalists breathing interlocking sing-song melodic grace over those spindly guitars.
Dan Deacon, True Thrush â€“ Glittering pinwheel of a new song by Dan Deacon, from his forthcoming America.
Dave Sumner’s Jazz Picks
The pianists carried the day on this collection of Jazz Picks, and the trio format was king. There are, however, plenty of wrinkles to how that music gets presented, and the under-the-radar albums are just as strong as those that have been receiving some pre-acclaim. Let’s begin…
Steve Davis, Gettin’ It Done: Trombonist Davis made a name for himself in the 90s as a sideman in some outstanding ensembles, but really seems to be coming into his own as a session leader. This outing has him fronting a sextette that includes piano great Larry Willis, as well as altoist Mike DiRubbo, whose been contributing to a variety of fine albums lately. This is pure jazz, no fine print needed. Highly Recommended.
Esbjorn Svensson Trio, 301: Posthumous release by the trio, following the tragic death of pianist Esbjorn Svensson. These tracks were culled from the sessions that eventually spawned the release Leucocyte. Different feel from these tracks, more laid back than those chosen for the “original” album, but still all the drama and tension one would expect from the musicians who began the New Piano Trio movement, inspiring a new legion of musicians and listeners alike. Pick of the Week.
Joe Morris, Altitude: Recorded live at the Stone in NY in 2011, it’s a strong album of improvised music featuring Joe Morris on guitar, William Parker on bass, and Gerald Cleaver on drums… all of them giants in the improv music society. Looking back over the last couple of years, Cleaver seems like he’s reached a new plateau on drums, which is a hell of an accomplishment when one consider the elevation he’d already achieved. His album Be It As I See It remains a hidden gem.
4-sided Triangle, 4-sided Triangle: A quartet of Fender, guitar, drums, and bass. Plenty of groove, but doesn’t get bogged down in it. The ballads provide a welcome airiness to the album, not to mention a variety to the overarching sound. According to the band, the compositions were inspired by time spent playing with Chris Potter. Those influences can certainly be heard at times. Neat stuff.
Simcock, Garland & Sirkis, Lighthouse: The trio of Gwilym Simcock (piano), Tim Garland (reeds), and Asaf Sirkis (drums & percussion) reunite for a set of lyricism and bounce. Performing of a balancing act between jazz complexity and pop simplicity, the trio creates an album that is very listenable, while remaining quite at home on the ACT label, which typically doesn’t release music that puts one foot in front of the other. Recommended.
Marc Copland, Some More Love Songs: All-star trio of Copland (piano), Drew Gress (bass), and Jochen Rueckert (drums). A set of ballads, elegantly performed, a celebration of the nuances found in peaceful tunes. Easy to like, lots to enjoy.
Christian Escoude, Plays Brassens Au bois de mon coeur: French guitar veteran offers up a beautiful series of tunes, heavy on the strings, but including a sublime contribution on clarinet. Hot jazz for sitting in the shade down by the waterside.
Benjamin Faugloire Project, Diving: Moody piano trio that gets pretty evocative when it broods. Two feet full in the modern piano trio school. Nice follow-up to their 2008 release Premiere Nouvelle.
Rino Abore Quartet, Suggestions From Space: Fascinating quartet of guitar, trumpet, drums and bass that evokes images of early Bill Frisell and later-period ECM chamber jazz. Quite beautiful when it drifts on a melody, engaging when it gets more of a mind to deconstruct. Find of the Week.
Trio Enchant(i)er, Les Composantes Invisibles: Guitar, drums, and alto/soprano sax trio. Sorta avant-garde, sorta modern jazz, sorta post-rock. Three young musicians experimenting with sound and their own voices in music. It’s a fun listen, and a promising start.
Tomer Bar Trio, Local Groove: Nice straight-forward piano trio album. Light on its feet, with a pleasant bounce. Pianist Bar has a light touch on keys, matched well against some animated drumming.
Trio Sued, Space: Trio of guitar, bass, and sax. Intriguing album. Flurries of notes, interspersing moments of silence infrequently, but in just the right spots. For everything going on here, this still comes off as an introspective album. It’s like a fairy tale about a lonely math equation.
Ferenc Nemeth, Night Songs: This album was released back in 2007, and I’m not sure if it was previously on eMusic or if this is its first appearance, but it’s real good and didn’t want to let it pass without a mention. Drummer Nemeth should be better known than he is, especially having appeared on last year’s excellent Omer Avital album Free Forever. This release has a stellar line-up of Mark Turner, Chris Cheek, Lionel Loueke, Aaron Parks, and John Patitucci.
Aesop Rock and Marina & The Diamonds. Stay tuned.