Hello! Welcome! It starts with a trickle, but always ends in a deluge: there are new records to talk about this week: Kathleen Edwards, Cate Le Bon, Chick Corea, Matthew Dear, Ani DiFranco, new Sleigh Bells, and much, much more after the jump.
Kathleen Edwards, Voyageur: Gorgeous new record from Edwards was co-produced by Justin “Bon Iver”Vernon in the wake of a nasty divorce. Check what Peter Blackstock has to say:
The too-obvious shorthands here – given that this album was produced by her new beau Justin Vernon (aka Bon Iver) in the wake of her marital split from her longtime guitarist Colin Cripps – is that this is Kathleen Edwards’s “indie rock” record and her “divorce” record. Both may be true, but only to a point, and neither gets to the heart of Edwards’s voyage on Voyageur … Edwards and Vernon harmonize exquisitely on the redemptive ballad “A Soft Place To Land,” and on “Sidecar,” co-written with her longtime confidante Jim Bryson, Edwards exults in finding a new companion after “feeling so lost for so long.” With a little help on Voyageur, she finds herself as well.
Cate Le Bon, Cyrk: This breakthrough record from Welsh singer/songwriter Cate Le Bon is marked by Le Bon’s cool, dead-eyed schoolgirl vocals, which uncannily recall Nico’s, and a whimsical, disturbing sound that see-saws sickeningly from psych-rock blurts and airy pastoral folk-rock. RECOMMENDED
Everything Went Black, Cycles of Light : This sounds pretty great. Darkwave synths, pummeling metalcore guitars, and down-tuned, metal-gaze guitars. Heavy, depressing, numb, enveloping — this is hitting all kinds of spots right now.
Matthew Dear, Headcage EP : New EP from cerebral, suave, and sensual electro-pop connoisseur Matthew Dear.
Ani DiFranco, Which Side Are You On? : Ani’s Back! She’s a little more subdued these days, but there is some bite left in the lyrics. More wry-adult smile than nervy twentysomething bared snarl. To celebrate Ani’s legacy and influence, we had our very own Peter Blackstock put together an excellent folk-punk primer. Bash your twelve-string!
Abysmal Dawn, From Ashes (Reissue): Recently reissued high-water mark from excellentL.A. extreme-metal outfit Abysmal Dawn. Double-kicks, harmonized dive-bomb guitar ledes, guttural growling: you get all the basics. Good stuff.
Deerhoof/David Bazan, DeerBazan: Deerhoof + Dave Bazan=YOU DO THE MATH. Sounds more like David Bazan than Deerhoof on first pass, for those interested.
Bill Hicks, The Essential Collection : The bitter, misanthropic, highly influential alt-comedian’s best pits. Bracingly dark stuff, and sometimes so angry and bleak it forgot to be, you know, funny. But essential for any comedy nerds.
Loincloth, Iron Balls of Steel: Imagine slope-browed troglodytes stumbling prog-metal practice session and you’ll maybe hear something of Loincloth in your head. Lurching, maddening, highly unpredictable and deeply original, this cult metal supergroup just popped up outta nowhere with a full-length. Outre, and probably of interest to about 0.0000002 percent fo the folks here, but what the hey, I’ll go out on a limb anyway and Recommend this. Bring all your “good god, man, you have no taste!” complaints over here!
The Rockin’ Berries, They’re In Town : Lovely, lilting British-boy psychedelia – once you go digging, it seems like there are literally hundreds of these bands, and all of them have at least one good song. I’ve never heard of the Rockin’ Berries before today, but I’m intrigued.
Andras Schiff, Robert Schumann: Geistervariationen: Andras Schiff, one of the world’s greatest and most venerated pianists, takes on the fevered Romanticism of Schumann. Worth your download.
Stealing Sheep, Noah and the Paper Moon: Know nothing about this, but it sounds like Fairport Convention poured through promethazine syrup. Anyone? I like. The album cover reminds me a bit of Martha Marcy May Marlene, and the music has a similar dazed, pastoral feeling.
Thieves Like Us, Berlin Alex : This might be one of Captured Tracks rare slighter releases: quietly humming lo-fi electro instrumentals.
Piney Gir, Outta Sight EP : Charming, Lee-and-Nancy style indie-pop from Damaged Goods’ Piney Gir.
Leona Lewis, Hurt EP: Leona Lewis covers Goo Goo Dolls, Counting Crows, Snow Patrol, and, um, Nine Inch Nails. Why does this exist?
–> Jazz Picks by Dave Sumner:
Well, the new year seems to be starting out with lots of straight-ahead jazz recordings, and many with a modern twist. Let’s begin…
Beppe di Benedetto 5tet, See the Sky: Solid date led by di Benedetto’s trombone, rounded off with sax, piano, bass, and drums. Nice mix of up tempo and ballads. This is straight-ahead bop with a modern touch. Benedetto has a graceful touch on trombone, which sometimes can elbow other instruments out of the way, but here, he’s a seamless part of the quintet. Also, the compositions just flat out rock; tunes that soar and tunes that sway. The kind of album I can listen to over and over. <strong>Pick of the Week.</strong>
Mijin Woo, Azure Walk: Nice straight-ahead quartet date with pianist composer Mijin Woo leading an outfit rounded out by sax, drums, and bass. Strong moments when the languor of the sax is juxtaposed against the tension of piano and rhythm section. It’s Woo’s debut recording, which is a promising sign of things to come. <strong>Highly Recommended.</strong>
Diana Tuffin, Stained Glass and Smoky Bars: This is under-the-radar jazz vocalist Diana Tuffin mostly backed by acoustic guitar, though sometimes with electric guitar, sometimes with some odd percussion or wind instrument. There are some stunning moments here. This album sounds like one of those moments when a musician goes into the recording studio and everything falls into place, where they feel so damn comfortable within themselves that they are able to give voice to their creativity like at no other time. I’m not much of a jazz vocals fan myself, but this album has me very excited. On an initial listen, it sounds like a few songs may be weak links, but when compared to how supremely beautiful many of the other songs are, that just feels like nitpicking. Recommended.
Chick Corea, Further Explorations: Always a reason to celebrate when one of the jazz greats puts out a solid new recording. Teamed with fellow great Eddie Gomez on bass and recently departed Paul Motian on drums, the trio delves into the music of jazz piano legend Bill Evans. Thankfully, Corea doesn’t approach it as an opportunity to record a covers album homage, but instead uses it as a springboard to further develop Evans’ ideas with his own voice. Some strong moments, especially on “Laurie” with cycling piano lines creating an inwardly building tension, and “Turn Out The Stars”, which turns a lighthearted tune into a spooky affair.
Clipper Anderson, The Road Home: Jazz vet finally records an album under his own name. Anderson’s bass has been around, especially on the Seattle scene. for some time now, and he leads a trio date (with some guests) for an elegant set of mainstream jazz. Bass, piano, drums, and some guest vocals provide for a warm series of tunes that has everyone sounding confident and professional. Some very nice moments, especially on “Jimnoprodie”, when Anderson does a little bowing on bass, and “Poinciana”, an up-tempo tune that has the trio racing along, but no fast that anybody has to lose their breath trying to keep up. On the Origin label, which is as strong as anybody putting out the jazz of today.
Tom Wetmore, The Desired Effect: Well, this is an interesting album. Pianist Tom Wetmore sticks only to electric keyboards while leading a group that features two alto saxes (including the excellent Jaleel Shaw), a tenor, two guitars, and bass & drums. Despite the electric keys and atypical line-up, it actually is a rather conventional jazz album. Usually when the jazz equation gets tinkered with, it results in a miasma of unclassifiable tunes, and if electric keys are part of the mix, then lots of funk groove. But here, it’s nice straight-ahead jazz, just shown through a very unusual and very satisfying facet. This is a real surprise, leaving me very happy, and making it my Find of the Week.
Stefano Battaglia Trio, The River of Anyder: A nice peaceful piano trio date. On the ECM label, which behaves as if its legally required to release dozens of introspective piano trio records every year. Some aren’t always so successful (unless you measure success by how effectively you fall asleep at night); <em>River of Anyder</em> is, however, one of the good ones. Squeezing plenty of emotion out of a minimalist collection of notes, this trio lays the groundwork for palpable tension over a serene landscape. Nice.
Marlene Rosenberg Quartet, Bassprint: Featuring her Chicago quartet, Marlene Rosenberg brings it with a nice straight-ahead set of tunes. With Geoff Bradfield on tenor & soprano sax, Scott Hesse on guitar, Makaya McCraven on drums, and Rosenberg’s bass, this is undiluted jazz, modern but nothing that’ll get confused with anything but jazz. They do a nice rendition of Kenny Barron’s “Sunshower”, with soprano sax skirting delightfully just over the soil of Rosenberg’s arco. Released on the Origin label, who seem to typically focus on Pacific Northwest artists, but do occasionally dip into the Chicago scene.
Blue Eternity, Live in Philadelphia (2011): An intriguing set of live improv featuring trumpet, bass, and electric slide guitar. Could easily have fit on the roster of the ECM label during the eighties. Jazz in a vague sense, though this might appeal more to fans of guitar effects driven albums by Roy Montgomery and the Robert Fripp/Andy Summers collaborations. In terms of sound, jazz connection via Miles Davis In a Silent Way. The distant call of moody trumpet notes over layers of repeating guitar and bass motifs with some effects mixed in. It’s storming outside, the clouds are thick with ambiance, and this music fits right in. Recommended.
Various Artists, Rollins’ Choice (Blue Note Series): It appears that Blue Note has begun a series of albums where music luminaries create their own compilation of favorite Blue Note tracks. Lots of great tunes included on all of them. The Henry Rollins collection stands out from the rest because, from the looks of the cover, it appears that if you don’t buy this album, Henry Rollins will literally beat you up.
And it seems like I have one of these every week… miscategorized under Jazz, but too nifty not to mention…
Roger Green, Tyler Potts & Anne Angyal, The Way Things Go:
Meandering shoegaze-y electronica, various keyboards, guitars, and effects. This might be an older recording, don’t know, don’t care. Very cool. For fans of (prepare for obscure references) Matthew Tow’s Colorsound or Califone’s Deceleration series.
–> Singles & EPs
Sleigh Bells, Comeback Kid: Sleigh Bells are back, and if this single is any indication, their new record is going to be absolutely killer. The ferociousness of the guitars here is played up, and the double-kick drum reminds us all that dude used to be in a metal band. Alexis Krauss’s melody on here, man – it’s on some Elliott Smith circa-XO shit. This song is awesome.
Feist/Beck, How Come You Never Go There : Beck remix of haunting cut from Feist’s latest record.
Frankie Rose, Know Me: The first taste from Frankie Rose’s watery, upcoming dream-pop missive Interstellar; the record comes out in February, has an incredibly heavy Disintegration-era Cure debt, and is one to most assuredly watch for.
School Of Seven Bells, Lafaye: New single from shoegaze-electronicduoSchool of Seven Bells. Has that same shimmering wash as all of their music, chased by the throaty calm of twin-sister singers Alejandra and Claudia Deheza
Great Lake Swimmers, Easy Come Easy Go: Shimmery, CSNY-like single from the folk-pop outfit.