April 2015 Comics, Poems, and Reviews from
Stream "Watching The Blow"
babysue comix #224
babysue comix #225
babysue comix #226
babysue comix #227
Birds of Night
The Boy Next Door
Jim Ed Brown
Cold and Dead
David Friesen Circle 3 Trio
|Going To The Sun
The Great Invisible*
Jesus comic #46
Kingsman: The Secret Service
The March Divide
McCormick Percussion Group
Merchants of Doubt*
Nick Oliveri's Uncontrollable*
The Orange Peels*
Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band*
Ransom and the Subset*
The Red Telephone*
Regarding Susan Sontag
Anthony W. Rogers
Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Stars of the London Stage
Wake Up Lucid
Zhong Kui: Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal
Additional Items Received
All work together
We can't achieve
of Night - Birds of Night (Independently
released CD, Pop)
The third full-length release from the Denton, Texas-based band Birds of Night. These guys play a hazy somewhat dark brand of modern pop/rock that sometimes reminds us of The Strokes while never quite sounding too similar. If you like groove-oriented rhythms and cool guitars you'll most likely find a lot to appreciate here. This album features seven tracks, all of which comfortably fit within the genre of alternative guitar rock. The band is comprised of Andrew Rothlisberger (vocals, guitar), Brooks Martin (bass), Jon Aisner (drums), and Alex Adams (guitar). Plenty of groovy sounds here. Our favorite cuts include "Dark," "Love Is Stoned," and "Desert Reflections."
Boy Next Door - Original Motion Picture
Soundtrack: Music by Randy Edelman
and Nathan Barr (CD,
Varese Sarabande, Soundtrack)
If you want to see a movie that will have you on the edge of your seat (at least during the second half)...you might want to check out The Boy Next Door. If you've ever dealt with manic psycho crazies in the world, you'll probably get a major jolt out of this one. Starring Jennifer Lopez, the film takes a surprisingly different approach to child molestation. Even though Lopez has a brief sexual encounter with an underaged teenager, the film presents her as the victim and the boy is presented as the evil doer. Music plays a key role in making the intense and sometimes violent scenes work. Composed by Randy Edelman and Nathan Barr, this soundtrack is brooding, creepy, and unsettling...much like the overall tone of this film. We're surprised at how most film critics seem to have slammed this one (?) because we found it thoroughly entertaining. Maybe they didn't like the specifics mentioned above...or maybe they didn't like the fact that this same basic topic has been dealt with so many times in the past. In any event, we would recommend both the film and the soundtrack. Gripping, frightening, and rather intense stuff.
Ed Brown - In Style Again (CD, Plowboy, Country/pop)
Ahhh...the sound of pleasant country pop from a simpler and more genuine period. If you've grown tired of too many brand new country pop artists, all of which have an almost identical look and sound...you may very well be inspired by In Style Again. We had never heard of Jim Ed Brown until last year. We bought a bunch of old albums at a yard sale in Nashville and in the stack were several by Mr. Brown. As we were paying for the records we asked the cool lady why she had so many by this one particular artist. Turns out she was a relative who gave me a quick overview of Brown's career. So when we received Jim's latest CD for review in the mail we already had a slightly personal introduction to the man. Even though Jim had many big hits decades ago (the most well-known probably being "Pop A Top"), he is also instantly recognizable as the commercial spokesman for the Dollar General store chain a few years back. This is Brown's first new solo record in...thirty years. The songs and the overall sound harken back the 1950s and 1960s when country music was a more genuine vehicle for musicians and artists in Tennessee. Jim's voice still sounds great and his overall spirit shines clearly through on all thirteen of these tracks. Lending a helping hand here are Vince Gill, The Whites, and Helen Cornelius. Cool cuts include "When the Sun Says Hello To The Mountain," "I Love It," "Lucky Enough," and "Am I Still Country?" These days Brown can also be heard on his weekly broadcast Country Music Greats Radio Show. Well done, Mr. Brown. It sure is nice to hear the new tunes.
Bunyan - Heartleap (CD, Midheaven, Soft pop)
If you have ever appreciated the look and feel of soft silent snow falling from the sky on a windless day, you may very well get the same sort of feeling while listening to Ashti Bunyan's Heartleap. Recorded over a period of seven years, these ten tracks are extraordinarily soft and subdued. This album has strange fragile qualities that should make it very appealing to folks who appreciate subtlety. It seems peculiar that Vashti has chosen to make this her final album because we feel certain that this is one that will truly resonate with her fans. Perhaps she wants to end her musical career with something that folks will really remember...? In any case, these ten songs are remarkably resilient and intelligent, presenting a woman who truly understands what she's thinking and doing and has that special talent for being able to effectively transmit her thoughts and feelings to others. If you're looking for backbeats and soaring guitar solos, you won't find them here. But if you're looking for thoughtful moody soft pop that exists in its own universe...well then, you've just hit the target. Our favorite compositions include "Across The Water," "Jellyfish," "Gunpowder," and "Heartleap."
- New Love (CD, Indica,
Instantly catchy and upbeat pop/rock threaded with plenty of ultra cool vibes. Some of these songs are totally poppy while others pack more of a rocky punch. New Love was recorded and mixed by Gus Van Go (who has worked with The Stills and Priestess, among others). These songs combine elements of commercial pop from the 1970s right on through to the present. Cafeine is one fellow who prefers to just be known by the single name Cafeine...so perhaps he's a coffee junky or something...dunno? If you dig drinkable caffeine there's a good chance you'll dig audible Cafeine as well because the music definitely wakes you up and delivers a charge. This is the kinda music that demands movement. After spinning this a couple of times we'd be willing to bet that this guy delivers one helluva great show. These are the kind of songs that could really get an audience heated up big time. Cool gripping tracks include "New Love," "Left For Dead," "F*cking Time," and "Sex Beat." This one gets better the more you spin it... NEAT. Top pick.
Callenberg - The Bailout Shop (CD, Bend,
Hmmm...this is a difficult one to describe with words. Callenberg is the lofi recording project created by Anders Callenberg. Unfortunately we did not hear the last Callenberg album Pretentious Bastard (with a title like that we wish we had...). The Bailout Shop is, in a word, peculiar. Not super ultra weird like the kinda thing that slaps you in the face...but the subtle kind of peculiar that is slightly puzzling and strange. The tracks on this album come across sounding very much like stream-of-consciousness pieces. There are definite melodies and lyrics, to be certain...but they're delivered with an almost purposeful disregard for perfection. And that's probably what we like best about this album. Unlike so many modern musicians, Anders isn't trying too hard. This strangely talented man just lets his music speak for itself. The song titles say it all: "Curtain For Me Possibly," "Way To Go Silly Man," It's Over For Me"... This is definitely one that does not sound like all the rest. Interesting in a most pleasant sort of way.
COLD AND DEAD
The reason you feel
Cold and dead
Is because you are
Cold and dead
Corley - Available Light (Independently
released CD, Pop)
We knew there was something slightly different about this album the first time we heard it. But we couldn't pin it down so we listened again...and again. It wasn't until we scanned through David Corley's web site that we discovered what that difference is. His biography reads more like that of an ordinary fellow than a musician. He has lived a life not unlike many of us. But unlike most, he waited until he was 53 to record this, his first album. And we determined that must be what makes this music seem strangely unique. Corley's music combines elements from pop, folk, rock, and Americana. But his approach somehow seems fresh and focused, probably because he hasn't been trudging away at a music career for the past three decades. This guy's got a really cool deep voice that almost sounds a bit like Leonard Cohen if he was doing Americana. Ten resilient tracks here including "Available Light," "Easy Mistake," "Lean," and "The Calm Revolution."
- Brick Factory (Vinyl, Happy
Happy Birthday To Me, Pop/rock)
Ahhhh...the 1990s...a time when underground bands actually sounded like underground bands...and everything in the world of music wasn't processed to death. It's a time gone by for sure with the advent of so many technological choices that now almost everyone wants everything to sound perfect all the time. Too bad...because when everything sounds perfect...then that also means almost everything sounds the same. Which is kinda the main problem with commercial music in 2015. Almost all of it sounds the same. But enough regression, this review is about Crayon. Thus, the previous sentences serve as an introduction of sorts. Released in 1994, this album escaped us at the time so we're only just now being exposed to it courtesy of the fine folks at Athens' Happy Happy Birthday To Me label. This beautifully packaged vinyl release offers the original tracks from the album...but even more exciting is the fact that the download card (included) also gives you access to twenty-one (!!!) bonus tracks. So here you're actually getting a total of thirty-five cuts. Whew...that's a lot. This band's sound and approach reminds us so much those years when everyone was suddenly able to afford a home studio. And, as a result, tons of raw and brand new talent could suddenly be heard without all the cheesy effects. Many consider Brick Factory to be a lost gem. Pick this one up and see why. There's a lot to take in here...but our initial favorites include "The Snap-Tight Wars," "Honey Bunny," "All The Stars," "I Could," "Too Much Sugar," and "Cupid Said."
Doyle - On The Horizon (CD, Totem,
At a point in time when there are so many throwaway singer/songwriters on the planet, TJ Doyle instantly stands out from the pack. On The Horizon presents smooth, pleasant, hummable guitar-driven pop songs delivered with class and style. Doyle has a sound that recalls classic artists from the past like Neil Young and Roy Harper. His slightly fragile vocals instantly reminded us of Young in the very early stages of his career when he was at his peak. Recorded at Studio City Sound with engineer Tom Weir, these songs have a nice solid sound and never come across sounding overproduced. The arrangements are direct and appropriate for each track, allowing the listener to focus on the lyrics and vocal melodies. Smooth, pensive, memorable stuff that obviously comes straight from the heart. Ultra cool tracks include "Change," "Rosemary's Wishes," "Living In Our Dream," and "On The Horizon."
Duthie - Thran (Independently released
CD-R, Progressive pop/rock)
Although entitled Thran...the latest album from Scotland's Gordon Duthie could possibly have more been appropriately titled Gordon Duthie Gets Weird. This young Scottish fellow has impressed us in the past. But with this release he really got our attention. This is a strange album. It begins with the wonderfully bizarre and slightly psychedelic "Green Screen"...a great track with a totally cool video to match (check it out on YouTube.com). We checked out Duthie's web site and we were surprised to find that this fellow is also a comedian. Spinning Thran a couple of times...we couldn't help but wonder if Gordon has been listening to Marmoset lately (some of these songs have that same stream of consciousness effect we've come to expect from Marmoset). The more we see and hear from Mr. Duthie...the more impressed we are. This man is an underground artist who just does not look the part. By all outward appearances, Gordon is an extremely normal looking fellow...who just happens to create some really bizarre stuff. Ten intriguing tracks here including "Green Screen," "Art or Crime," "Alternative Clown," and "Feel Loon Did a Wildpoepen." Do yourself a favor and check out this strange fellow's web site (link above).
Eid - Human (Independently released
CD, Soft pop)
We always love it when an artist comes along who proves commercial sounding pop music doesn't have to sound bad. True, the majority of popular music in 2015 is so bad that it is pretty much unlistenable (for instant proof, refer to the latest performers and winners on the Grammy Awards). It's refreshing then, to hear a new artist like Joseph Eid who makes music that can be appreciated by just about anyone while still being completely credible and sincere. The appropriately titled Human presents songs by a young singer/songwriter who certainly comes across sounding completely...human. Eid's debut album is chock full of hummable melodies, great arrangements, nice smooth vocals, and intelligent lyrics. Mid-tempo pop seemed to reach a peak in the 1970s and 1980s when FM radio was dominated by this style of music. The tracks on this album recall that time period while having a nice slick sound that is decidedly current. Twelve nice intriguing cuts here including "Ready Now," "Hit Me Up," "What Will You Do?" and "It's Only Love."
Fauss - Built To Break (CD, Normaltown, Pop)
Don't you just love it when someone does something really great using only the essential ingredients...? Ronnie Fauss uses the same instruments and same basic musical ideas as thousands of other folks and yet...his music stands out simply because the guy is really good at what he does. This album is all about songs...strong songs that stick with you on the very first listen and remain within the confines of your subconsciousness. There are no gimmicks here. No attempts to create a specific sound or image. No cute or clever song titles. Fauss seems driven mainly by the desire to write good solid songs and present them using only the basics. In some ways this guy's approach reminds us of Alex Chilton (post Big Star)...simply because of the incredible focus and skill involved. Eleven credible tracks from a man whose direct approach just works. Standout tracks include "Another Town," "A Place Out in the Country," "I Can't Make You Happy," and "Come On Down."
Fireworks - Switch Me On (CD, Shelflife, Pop/rock)
Thank God there are still bands on the planet who make music without giving a damn about hit singles and pleasing the mindless majority. The folks in The Fireworks previously released a couple of well-received singles, an EP, and a flexi. Now comes their debut full-length...and it's a direct hit. The band is based in London and Brighton (UK) and is comprised of Emma Hall, Matthew Rimell, Isabel Albiol, and Shaun Charman. The press release that accompanied this disc compared the band's music to other artists like Razorcuts, the Buzzcocks, and Bubblegum Splash. We can hear traces of all of these and more in these gritty rockin' cuts. If you're like us--and easily grow tired of digital perfection in music--Switch Me On may very well switch you on. These recordings have a nice raw sound with much more in common with cool underground bands from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s than groups in the twenty-first century. But the band is by no means going for a retro sound...they're just playing like they mean it. We love the energy here. These folks create an overall sound that makes you want to move and groove their the music. Thirteen kickass cuts. Our initial favorites include "With My Heart," "Switch Me On," "On and On," and "Final Say." Rough, raw, rockin' stuff that'll grab you by the nuts and make you wanna totally ROCK OUT. Top pick.
Fishboy - An Elephant (Independently released CD, Pop)
This band reminds us so much of bands and artists from the 1990s when home recording was just hitting an all-time peak. During that decade, we received so many submissions from artists working out of their homes...writing and recording truly unusual stuff...and presenting it with highly original names, images, and packaging. Fishboy is a Denton, Texas-based band created by Eric Michener which also now includes Scarlett Wright, Grahm Robinson, and Samuel Escalante. This 100% independent band is taking the multi-media approach to marketing...creating music, videos, comics, and even books to get their point across. To quote directly from the band's web site: "In 2014 the band will unveil An Elephant, an album and wordless graphic novel about the ghost of Topsy the elephant who was publicly electrocuted by Thomas Edison in 1903 and her attempts to avenge her death and pass into the afterlife." The album is being released as a vinyl LP, a CD, and as a 160 page read along comic book (also being posted online). The music is much more poppy than one might expect after reading what the album is about. These songs are indie guitar power pop all the way, delivered with enthusiasm and a definite sense of humor. We love the music these folks make and we also love the way they're presenting themselves to the world. We sure wish other bands would take a cue and not take themselves so seriously. Thirteen fun, uplifting tracks here including "Electrical Elephant," "Thomas Alva Waiting," "Dig A Grave," and "When You're Alone."
Friesen Circle 3 Trio - Where the Light
Falls (Double CD, Origin,
Jazz musicians often play covers or throw in compositions by familiar artists in order to snag listeners. Not so here. Bassist David Friesen composed and arranged every single track on this lengthy double disc set. And the great news is...they're all totally credible and completely intriguing. These discs present David and his associates playing live in Tempe, Arizona and Portland, Oregon...plus some recordings from a studio session in Osnabruck, Germany. These cuts have nice, flowing organic qualities...and because you're hearing a trio (and on some tracks a quartet), it's easy to distinguish between instruments. Playing with Friesen are Greg Goebel on piano, Charlie Doggett on drums, and Larry Koonse on electric guitar (on selected tracks). All of these players are true professionals who are masters at releasing their emotions through their respective instruments. This is definitely not atonal modern jazz. These guys play with a particular emphasis on melody and smart grooves. Smooth, provocative, moody...are just some of the words that come to mind here. Nineteen tracks that should please even the most discerning jazz enthusiast. Killer tracks include "Playground," "Sailing," "Reaching For the Stars," "Blue 10," and "Tribute."
George - Dangerous Music II (CD, Angel Air, Pop/rock)
Considering the timing, it seems almost unbelievable that Dangerous Music II was never released...until now (?!!). In 1985 Robin George had just experienced incredible success with the single "Heartline" from his album Dangerous Music. Riding on the crest of that success, George and his band recorded a second album to completion. But the album was doomed from the start because his management company demanded ridiculous advances...and the whole project got shelved. No doubt as a result of these tragic events, Robin and his bandmates chose to break up and he went on to form the band Notorious with Sean Harris (of Diamond Head fame). Hearing this now, the fact that this album was never released seems particularly sad...because there are several songs that could easily have been huge hits. The track that seems like it would have been the perfect hit single is "Heart To Heart"...this one could've been huge. Produced by Gus Dudgeon, these tracks have a great big slick sound. Robin's fans will certainly be pleased that this one has finally resurfaced.
Gibb - 50 St. Catherine's Drive (CD,
Hats off to the folks at Reprise/Warner/Rhino for releasing this, the final solo album from Robin Gibb. As one third of the immensely popular trio The Bee Gees, Robin will forever be remembered by millions. Compiled by Robin's wife Dwina and his son RJ, 50 St. Catherine's Drive presents the final album that was never released until now. Folks wanting the sound of The Bee Gees will not be disappointed. But rather than just offering sounds similar to those folks already know, this album also presents a different side of Mr. Gibb...the more personal and subdued side of a man who we always felt had a great heart and true feelings. He also had a totally killer voice, of course. We've always associated Gibb's voice with a certain strange sadness, probably because his voice will always remind us of songs like "Holiday" and "I Started A Joke" (both true classics in the world of pop). 50 St. Catherine's Drive is a purely delightful spin as well as a reminder of what a great artist Robin was. Even though he is sadly no longer with us, his music will always live on. Seventeen well-conceived compositions here including "Days of Wine and Roses," "Mother of Love," "Don't Cry Alone," and "Sydney." Remarkable stuff. We miss you, Robin... Top pick.
Glowfriends - To Have & To Hold (CD, Jam
Originally the brother and sister duo of Mark Andrew Morris and April Morris, this Kalamazoo, Michigan-based band now also includes Holly Klutts-Morris, J.W. Hendrix, and Jenn Hendrix. To Have & To Hold presents twelve more tracks of smart dreamy modern pop. This is probably the most accessible sounding music we've heard so far from this band. These folks manage to perfectly balance artistic integrity with commercial appeal here, coming up with songs that are familiar and memorable while also creating something tangible and real. All of these cuts sound super smooth and nice. Our initial favorites are "Miraculous," "Go Back To Sleep," "Today Could Be the Day," and "Resolution." In addition to writing, recording, and playing live, the band's founding members are also in charge of presenting the Annual Kalamashoegazer Music Festival.
To The Sun - Going To The Sun (Independently
released CD, Pop)
Going To The Sun is the Minneapolis-based duo of David Young and Zach Young. These guys have an interesting sound that teeters in and out of folk, pop, rock, and alternative. The songs are, for the most part, rather direct and approachable. It's impressive how they can effectively switch from super soft to loud and aggressive, all the while retaining their own sound and style. Housed in a really beautiful tri-fold cardboard sleeve featuring a great photo of a large tree on the front cover, this album is one nice and sincere positive jolt. Nine smart cuts including "New Year," "Never Get Over You," "So Separate," and "Lying in Green Pastures."
The Great Invisible - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack: Music by David Wingo (CD, Lakeshore,
Director Margaret Brown spent four years traveling around the Gulf Coast after the BP oil spill. She then presented her findings in this documentary which explores the financial, emotional, and psychological effects of the disaster. We haven't seen this one yet. It may be one of those that is difficult to watch (like Food, Inc.) because it exposes the really bad side of people and businesses. But here we're only covering the music. And we're pleased to report that David Wingo's soundtrack is...amazing. This is a very subtle and moody collection of tracks that can easily be appreciated on its own, with or without the film. These compositions might be described as atmospheric but they're actually much more than that. Wingo creates moods with his music but there are definite melodies and themes running through these tracks, making this one helluva intelligent spin. This one succeeds on a variety of levels. It's a meticulously crafted soundtrack that is curious, inventive, and just slightly perplexing. Sixteen heady cuts here including "Explosion," "Beach Cleanup," "Executive Trial," and "Somebody Ought To Feel Something." Brilliant in so many ways... TOP PICK.
Hollands - Restless Youth (Independently released CD, Pop)
Hollands is the New York City-based duo of John-Paul Norpoth and Jannina Norpoth. Together, the two are taking a decidedly unorthodox approach to pop music, all the while creating music that is instantly stimulating and inviting. Restless Youth swerves all over the road in terms of sounds and styles. But rather than being an exercise in overkill, these tracks simply combine interesting sounds and ideas from a wide variety of sources...and then deliver them to the listener with a surprisingly friendly and simple overall sound. Even though many of these songs sound strangely familiar, we really can't come up with any obvious comparisons or possible influences. Twelve intelligent dazzling tracks here, and they all hit the target. Our initial favorites include "Always," "Stoner Lawyer," "Good Luck," and "Sugarplums."
Future - Sunlight (Independently released
Nice smooth melodic modern pop. Imaginary Future is Jesse Epstein. He and his wife Kina Grannis were married three months after his debut album (Fire Escape) was released. The appropriately titled Sunlight features songs in which melodies and lyrics are the main ingredients. The album is, in fact (according to the press release), Jesse's love letter to Kina. As such, these songs have a very personal overall sound and vibe. While these songs fit easily into the genre of pop, they aren't the predictable kind of thing you might normally associate with this musical genre. They're much smarter than that. Epstein has a nice smooth voice that really pushes these tracks forward. He never oversings, preferring instead to take the subtle approach. Eleven well-crafted cuts here including "Forever On Your Side," "Better Together," "Real Love," and "Open Up Each Other."
Ishizaka - The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book
1: J.S. Bach (Double CD, Navona,
We were first introduced to these compositions many years ago by way of the groundbreaking electronic recording artist Wendy Carlos. On this deluxe double disc set, Bach's well known compositions are interpreted by Kimiko Ishizaka. This young lady began playing piano at the tender age of four and has been playing ever since. Here she displays her remarkable skills, making these pieces sound completely effortless and easy (although we all know they certainly are not). This beautifully-packaged set presents no less than forty-eight tracks, most of which are between one and three minutes in length. Back in 2012 Kimiko received a great deal of attention for her recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations (which she released herself directly into the public domain). The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1 will no doubt receive the same unanimous praise. These pieces have rarely sounded this good. A wonderful interpretation of some of our favorite Bach compositions. Top pick.
Jammer - Headway (CD, Angel
We're always amazed at the gems unearthed by the folks at Great Britain's Angel Air label. This time they've obtained the rights to Joe Jammer's second album recorded way back in 1974 which was never released...until now. Joe has had a long, lengthy, and varied career. In his early days he was a roadie for Jimi Hendrix and The Who, the roadie/guitar tech for Led Zeppelin, and he played guitar for Supertramp, Screaming Lord Sutch, Paladin, Stealers Wheel, Donna Summer, and Maggie Bell (whew!). As if that weren't enough, he is also the founding member of The Olympic Runners and has been a session guitarist for Mick Jagger, Joe Cocker, Ringo Starr, and Jerry Lee Lewis. In the early 1970s Jimmy Page turned manager Peter Grant onto Joe's music and that pairing resulted in the album Bad News (originally released on the Regal Zonophone label that is famous for signing Tyrannosaurus Rex). Not long afterward Jammer recorded this album at Olympic Studios. The sessions included the talents of heavyweights like Mitch Mitchell, John Gustafson, and Johnny Contardo. But because of immigration problems a third album was never recorded and this was was never released. This album will appeal to a wide range of music fans and it's certainly great that it's finally being made available for all to hear. Nice polished tracks include "Broken Little Pieces," "It Wasn't Meant To Be," and "The Watcher Laments."
Johnson - Rock & Roll I Gave You Songs
(CD, Angel Air, Pop)
One of the reasons we love writing about music is because it makes us aware of so much stuff that we would otherwise probably never even know about. Considering how much he's done over the years, we were kinda baffled that, at least until now, we were not familiar with the music of Australia's Kevin Johnson. Despite the fact that over the years he's had hits in the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Germany, Iceland, Canada, New Zealand, and more...for some reason his music just never reached our ears. It seems appropriate that the Angel Air label would make the wise decision to release this collection of some of Johnson's best known tunes. Included are the original and single version of the title track, "Ready To Roll," "Over the Hills and Far Away," "Lola & Sassy," and "Someday Sam." So much solid hit stuff here and Kevin has a really great deep voice that provides the perfect focal point for these cuts. For more information, visit Kevin's web site (link above)...lots of interesting information about his career from past to present.
Johnston - Shit Sucks (Independently
released CD, Pop)
Canada's BA Johnston is one of those unique crazies out there who has carved out his own unique niche in the world of music. In the 1980s and 1990s Johnston was taking a more conventional approach to music. But as the years passed he chose to strip down his ideas and sound. His songs became more uncommercial...and his sense of humor is now critical to his overall appeal. Lyrics are what probably draw most people to BA's music. He sings about the most average things in the world but his delivery makes just about everything sound rather...goofy. If you really wanna see what this guy is all about, pull up some of his live videos on YouTube. When BA plays everyone pays attention and the audience often becomes part of the show. Shit Sucks is yet another strangely appealing collection of goofy underground songs with strange lyrics. No matter what he does, Johnston always manages to entertain us. Intriguing introspective tracks include "When Is Trash Day?", "Ballad of Wheels," "Old and Lame," and "I Am A Dump Bear."
The Secret Service - Original Motion Picture
Score: Music Composed by Henry Jackman & Matthew Margeson
(CD, La-La Land, Film
We haven't seen this film yet but the trailer looks pretty damn cool. The action/thriller takes place in South London and stars Colin Firth, Samual L. Jackson, Taron Egerton, Michael Caine, and Sofia Boutella. This one looks to be both high tech and fast action with lots of stunning visual effects. The music for this film was composed by Henry Jackman and Matthew Margeson. The tracks on this soundtrack range from moody and subdued to loud and exciting, obviously taking its cues from the visuals that occur on-screen. The orchestra sounds really great on this, making it a soundtrack that could appeal equally to film fans and classical music buffs. Lots of breathtaking stuff that no doubt adds extra zest to this motion picture. Eighteen cuts in all including "Manners Maketh Man," "Drinks with Valentine," "Hand on the Machine," and "Finale."
- Original Motion Picture Soundtrack: Music by John Frizzell
(CD, Varese Sarabande,
The Loft is a film that tells the story of five men who share a penthouse in the city with their main intent being to have a place where they carry out extramarital affairs. But when the body of an unknown woman pops up...things take a turn for the worse. This is apparently the third incarnation of this film. And the unusual thing about this is that most folks seem to agree that the first two films were much better than the third. We haven't seen this one yet. But as we know from experience, you don't have to see or even like a film to appreciate the music. And this is most definitely one of those cases. The soundtrack for The Loft was created by John Frizzell, and it's a knockout. The moody and sometimes slightly creepy compositions on this album sound absolutely great on the home stereo. These tracks are peculiar, strange, and ultimately very exciting. Frizzell's music comes from a different space than the average twenty-first century film composer. Many of these compositions have odd unsettling qualities that are difficult to describe. Twenty-two well-executed cuts here including "Vincent Sees The Body," "Flip Gets A Key," "Luke and Sarah," and "Be A Friend." Totally cool sounding stuff.
Axe - South Dakota (CD, New Granada, Pop/rock)
Totally groovy and instantly infectious pop/rock from Los Angeles, California's Love Axe. This band is the new project created by Chris Hatfield who was previously in the band Those Transatlantics. If classic pop and rock are your things, you'll find a helluva lot to love here. South Dakota is crammed full of ultra catchy upbeat pop/rock tunes, all of which sound like hits. Rounding out the band are guitarist Erik Cline, bass player Joelle Barrios, and drummer Mike Ambs. So many bands rely on gimmicks and technology, often creating throwaway music that sounds dated a year after it was created. The tracks on this album have a truly nice classic sound, most likely because only the basics were involved in recording these tunes. This band is all about melodies, lyrics, and overall great vibes. If you're looking for something to put you in a great mood this Spring and Summer, South Dakota is most definitely the jolt you need. Killer cuts include "Baby To Bed," "Only Gonna Tear You Apart," "Please," "Irresponsible," and "Ghosts." Great stuff that will stand the test of time. Highly recommended. TOP PICK.
Manaf - Tesla Manaf (CD, Moonjune, Progressive)
This self-titled CD includes two albums from guitarist/composer/arranger Tesla Manaf: A Man's Relationship With His Fragile Area (from 2014) and It's All Yours (from 2011). If you think all guitarists sound the same, think again. This incredibly talented Indonesian fellow can make a guitar do things we've never heard before. The press release that accompanied this album compared his playing to Andres Segovia and Django Reinhardt, which gives you an accurate idea of what's going on here. We'd have to add Les Paul to the list as well. In Manaf's own words, his main goal is "to convert spoken words into notes." As such, it seems appropriate that this album should begin with the bizarre short piece "A Man's Relationship With His Fragile Area," in which Tesla emulates the sound of a woman speaking with his guitar. Tesla's playing ranges from moody and peculiar to mind trippingly fast and strange. A host of musician friends lend their help, and the overall results are surprisingly listener friendly. You get a lot of bang for your bucks...this single CD contains over 78 minutes (!) worth of music. Intriguing tracks include "Necrophilia," "Early Years," "Chin Up," and "It's All Yours: Part 6."
March Divide - +1 (Independently released
We've enjoyed previous releases we've heard from The March Divide. This EP provides the most precise and direct punch yet. Singer/songwriter Jared Putnam saved some favorites for this EP...and they're bound to be fan favorites as well. Considering the fact that there are only seven songs here, they're all impressively different from one another. Tunes delve into everything from buzzsaw rock to straightforward pop to alternative rock and even folk. But no matter what the sound or style, Jared's intelligent lyrics and inspired melodies drive the music to the next level. The rockier stuff sometimes reminds us of 1990s bands like Bad Religion or Bracket...while some of the softer stuff occasionally recalls David Bowie or even very early Rick Springfield (!?). Our initial favorites are "Forward Thinking," "Slow Down," "You Save Me," and "Lessons." The super simple cover art is killer.
Marriott - Urban Folklore (CD, Origin, Jazz)
Smooth, perfectly crafted moody jazz with a classic feel. Urban Folklore, the ninth full-length release from Thomas Marriott, "presents a musical collection of personal, yet commonly shared stories of frustrations, fears, hopes and joys" (taken directly from the press release that accompanied this album). Joining Marriott on trumpet are Orrin Evans on piano, Eric Revis on bass, and Donald Edwards on drums. All four musicians here are pros and they all seem to be in perfect synch with one another. So many musicians tend to overplay...so we're particularly pleased to report that is definitely not the case here. These men seem to understand how restraint can be used to push music to a higher level. Marriott composed all nine of these tracks that seamlessly flow from one to the next. Killer cuts include "Apophis," The Tale of Debauchery," "What Emptiness Can Do," and "Washington Generals." Wonderfully provocative and exciting.
Percussion Group - Between Rock & A
Hard Place: Plugged & Unplugged (CD, Ravello,
The McCormick Percussion Group was formed "to explore and record new and unusual works in the percussion ensemble idiom." The group is directed by Robert McCormick who is a Professor of Music at the University of South Florida. This group prefers to have their performances supervised by the composer him or herself, if possible. Between Rock & A Hard Place: Plugged & Unplugged is divided into five sections and features the music of Ciro Scotto, John Cage, and Dan Senn. If you're familiar with any of these artists then you already know this is not standard fare. In terms of sounds and styles this one goes all over the place. These compositions present music that is loud and abrasive, soft and subtle, and sometimes extremely complex. Not your conventional classical or rock release, this album is adventurous, peculiar, and very, very different.
of Doubt - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack:
Music by Mark Adler (CD, Lakeshore,
Wow...we can't wait to see this one (!!!). If you've become jaded by too many films that delve into the same old topics, this one will immediately stand out in your mind. Although described by some as devastating and depressing, this documentary delves into a topic that we've always found fascinating: the manipulation of the masses. Originally a book by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, Merchants of Doubt was transformed into a movie. To quote directly from the book's web site, the book (and thus, the film) explains "how a loose-knit group of high-level scientists, with extensive political connections, ran effective campaigns to mislead the public and deny well-established scientific knowledge over four decades." If that doesn't sound heavy we don't know what does...whew.. It's fascinating how easily the general public can be lead around by their wet little noses. This documentary apparently exposes people for being what they are...unaware, misinformed, and ultimately very much like sheep. Mark Adler created the music for the film. And our guess is that these tracks are a perfect fit for the mental material presented. Subtle and provocative, these instrumentals are well-crafted and smart. Because Adler keeps things rather simple and direct, viewers won't be distracted by what they're hearing in the background. Thirty-two beautiful compositions here including "Merchants of Doubt," "Playbook," "Fire Safety," "Action Derailed," and "Head and Heart." Highly recommended. TOP PICK.
Mind Brains - Mind Brains (CD-R, Orange
Twin, Experimental pop)
An exercise in pure creativity. Notable musicians in Athens, Georgia team up for an offbeat side project...and the resulting music is puzzling, curious, and mentally stimulating. Mind Brains is comprised of Hannah Jones, Kris Deason, Emily Waldron, and Eric Harris along with contributions from Heather Macintosh, John Fernandes, Andy Gonzales, Jim Willingham, Mary Beth Justus, and Molly Waldron (whew!). All of these musicians are involved with other projects as well. These tracks were seemingly recorded without any regard for sales or commercial appeal. You won't hear catchy choruses and familiar passages. These tracks flow by like some sort of strange stream-of-consciousness. This music reminds us of some of the more adventurous underground recording artists in the 1980s before everyone became so focused on digital perfection. Lots of experimentation going on here. Odd cuts include "Happy Stomp," "Strange Remember," "Whistle Tips," and "Bouncy Clock." Interestingly, only the odd numbered tracks have names (!). We sure respect these folks for having the guts to create and distribute something this peculiar... Truly...NEAT.
Morris - Jeremy & Progressor - Searching
For the Son (CD, MALS Ltd,
Pop), Jeremy - Love Explosion (CD, Jam
Recordings / Rock Indiana,
More music from the seemingly endless well of creativity inside the mind of Jeremy Morris. Searching For The Son (released under the band name Jeremy & Progressor) has been released by Germany's MALS Ltd. label. The album presents the more progressive side of Mr. Morris, as most of the songs are rather lengthy. The title track is a real mind bender...over eight minutes of semi-psychedelic pop bliss. The multilayering on this album is particularly impressive. The sounds are trippy and wild and the guitars are, as usual, mindblowing. Jeremy's progressive side may surprise some folks who might think he is just a pure popster. This totally groovy album features eleven killer cuts including the title track, "Distant Light," "Way To Zion," and "The Mirror." Great stuff with a nod to the past and the future. As if that weren't enough, Jeremy has also released Love Explosion (co-released by his own Jam Recordings label and Rock Indiana). This album features songs that fit more comfortably within the classic radio pop genre. More fantastic melodies...cool guitars...gripping rhythms...and fantastic vocals. So many of these songs sound like Top Ten hits... We can only think it will be a matter of time before one of Morris' songs accidentally end up being hugely successful in the world of commercial music. He's long overdue, that's for sure. Twelve wonderfully uplifting pop cuts here including "Love Explosion," "Save Me From Myself," "Breaking Out of This Cage," and "Love Is Alive." If you've never heard Jeremy, either or both of these albums will serve as a perfect introduction. We've loved everything we've heard from Mr. Morris over the years--he is easily one of music's most prolific and talented artists. TOP PICK.
Oliveri's Uncontrollable - Leave Me Alone
(CD, Schnitzel, Hard rock)
For those who can take it, this is one hard and intense album. Hard rock fans are already familiar with Nick Oliveri. He has played in some of the greatest hard rock bands of the past few years including Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age, and The Dwarves. If you loved any of these bands (we sure did and do) then you're almost certain to love Leave Me Alone. Although he's been making music for years, Oliveri shows no signs of softening his sound or trying to appeal to a mass audience. This album is one great big ball of loud angry rock played like there's no tomorrow. This is, for the most part, a solo album on which Nick played just about everything. The only exceptions are the guitar solos played by Phil Campbell, Mickey Melchiondo, Stephen Haas, Mike Pygmie, Marc Diamond, and Bruno Fevery...plus a guest vocal by The Dwarves' Blag Dahlia. Thank God there are still musicians out there in the world who haven't been affected by the twenty-first century wave of lame-ness. Nick has really hit the target with this one. Great loud stuff with BALLS. Gripping cuts include "Human Cannonball Explodes," "Come and You're Gone," and "Death Leads The Way." Top pick.
Orange Peels - Begin the Begone (CD,
Minty Fresh, Pop/rock)
Totally groovy sounding stuff. The folks in The Orange Peels have an instantly appealing sound that combines semi-psychedelics of 1960s pop with underground 1990s sensibilities. We've always been suckers for great guitars and you'll find them in abundance on Begin the Begone. You'll hear traces of a wide array of classic artists in these tunes and yet finding obvious references and/or comparisons isn't so easy. Even though these are pop songs they don't fit easily within the confines of the genre. What probably appeals to us most here is that the songs aren't so obvious. You have to hear them a few times before the nuances of the melodies and lyrics set in. Nine wonderfully warm tracks. Our favorites include "Head Cleaner," "Embers," "Satellite Song," and "Wintergreen." Top pick.
Peyton's Big Damn Band - So Delicious
(CD, Shanachie, Roots rock/pop/blues)
Hmmm... Imagine a band that comes across something like a cross between Southern Culture On The Skids, The Howlin' Brothers, and Billy Mays (note to Rev...just kidding about that last one...). First off we should mention that the Big Damn Band is actually a tiny little band that just happens to have a great big sound. The group is comprised of Reverend Peyton (guitar, vocals), Breezy Peyton (washboard, backing vocals), and Ben Bussell (drums, backing vocals). The song here that totally won us over is "Pot Roast and Kisses"...easily one of the funniest and most infectious songs we've ever heard (do a search for it on YouTube.com...it's fantastic...). We've rarely heard or seen anyone with as much personality and charisma as Reverend Peyton. About as focused and intense as you can get, the guy looks and sounds like he just stepped out of the 1930s or 1940s. And this man has a voice that can cut through steel. The music...is an interesting blend of blues, pop, bluegrass, folk, and roots rock. We've heard tons of roots rock bands before but never any as authentic and focused as this. Our guess is that in a very short time this big damn small band is gonna be huge. Killer tracks include "Let's Jump A Train," "Pot Roast and Kisses," "Front Porch Trained," and "Music and Friends." TOP PICK.
Wows - Broken Curses (CD, Get Hip, Rock)
We never ever tire of the cool rockin' sounds provided by all those ultra hip garage rock bands on Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's Get Hip label. This label has true vision and integrity and they always seem to hit the target with the bands they sign. Pow Wows is yet another rip roarin' helluva band with a loud driving sound that is gripping and intense. This is the second full-length release from this Toronto-based group. Recorded and mixed by Steve Major and mastered by Jim Diamond, Broken Curses has a nice thick direct sound. These tracks sound very much like a live band playing. They capture all the power and intensity of a band that seems to thrive on playing in perpetual overdrive. This short album features ten cool tracks and they're all totally groovy. How could anyone not love far out rockers like "Fire Song," "Car Cemetery," "Going Dark," and "Hidden Future"...? The guitars on this album sound...FANTASTIC. Another direct hit from the fine folks at Get Hip... TOP PICK.
The Primitives - Spin-O-Rama (CD, Elefant,
WOW. This is just the right does of powerful pop we needed this month. This disc immediately grabbed us and didn't let go during all eleven tracks. The folks in Great Britain's The Primitives play power pop that is gripping, catchy, and ultimately very exciting. The band is comprised of Tracy Tracy (vocals), Paul Court (guitar, vocals), Tig Williams (drums, percussion), and Paul Sampson (bass guitar, keyboards). The Primitives got their start way back in 1984 but disbanded in 1992 before eventually making the (wise) decision to reform in 2009. The band is best known up to this point in time for their 1988 hit "Crash," which is still sounding rather incredible in 2015. What is interesting about Spin-O-Rama is that the band seems to have adopted a more raw and rockin' sound these days. And that's just fine with us. Interestingly, these songs sound super fresh and vibrant...you'd never guess these folks have been making music for so long. This album is all about groovy rhythms, killer guitars, and those ultra suave vocals that could only be delivered by Ms. Tracy. This band's current sound reminds us very much of some of the greatest alternative power pop bands from the 1990s. Smart lyrics, killer melodies...and an overall infectious vibe. Our favorite cuts include "Spin-O-Rama," "Wednesday World," "Petals," "Working Isn't Working," and "Let's Go 'Round Again." We're sure hoping this band does a U.S. tour to support this one. Highly recommended. TOP PICK.
and the Subset - No Time To Loose (CD-R,
Tune Stack, Pop)
Loud, gripping, catchy power pop with balls. We don't know anything about this Redmond, Washington-based band except the music that we're hearing on this disc. There was no press release accompanying this album and no publicity photo. Smart move on the band's part because when the music's this good...that's all that matters. No Time To Loose is, in a word, GREAT. The first and most obvious comparison that comes to mind is Fountains of Wayne, but these folks are by no means copycats. These tracks just have that same hooky feelgood kinda sound that makes you want to immediately hit the play button over and over...and OVER. Ransom and the Subset is the trio comprised of RanDair S. Porter (vocals, guitars), Brian E. King (guitars, bass, keys, backing vocals), and Ducky Carlisle (drums, backing vocals). This album is all about super catchy powerful pop songs. Everything here hits the target. Cool driving rhythms...great fuzzy guitars...killer vocals...fantastic melodies...and the overall vibe is simply outta this world. This is easily one of the best pop albums we've heard in months. If we could change one thing here...we wouldn't change a thing. Mindblowing stuff. Our favorites include "Anna," "When Will I See You," "Sticking Onto You," and "We'll Get By." Highly recommended. TOP PICK.
Red Telephone - Places You Return (CD,
Raise Giant Frogs, Pop/rock)
This one's been years in the making. This is the first new album from The Red Telephone since their last which came out in 2001. This Boston-based group started in the late 1990s and were originally signed to Warner Bros. But after one album was released the band decided to part ways with the label. Places You Return finds this band in fine form. These guitar-based pop tunes feature cool chiming guitars, thick production, and vocals that always hit the target dead center. Listening to this, we are sometimes reminded of other cool bands like Dumptruck, Guided By Voices, and Big Star. A lot of time, energy, and thought obviously went into the creation of these meticulously recorded tracks. These twelve cuts have a sound that is instantly familiar, and many of the melodies have that nice timeless quality that makes you want to immediately hear them again. The more we spin this one the more it grows on us. Several of these songs seem to just scream hit single. All the tracks are rather great, but initial standouts include "Come Outside," "Under the Northern Sky," "Another Page," and "Last Night in Amsterdam." Well executed stuff. We love this one... Top pick.
Susan Sontag - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack:
Music by Laura Karpman and Nora Kroll-Rosenbaum (CD, Lakeshore, Soundtrack)
Regarding Susan Sontag is a somewhat controversial HBO documentary that recently aired. Although proclaimed by some to be one of the most influential and provocative thinkers of the twentieth century, Ms. Sontag has also apparently had more than her share of doubters along the way. Susan was a complex personality and, as such, has been the subject of a great deal of discussion and interpretation. If the person or subject matter may seem somewhat heavy and challenging, perhaps more inviting is the soundtrack created by Laura Karpman and Nora Kroll-Rosenbaum. Very much unlike most modern soundtracks where technology and orchestras clobber you over the head with their intensity, this album presents compositions that are subtle and pensive. As unconventional as its subject matter, this soundtrack is an intriguing and perplexing spin from start to finish. Twenty four tracks here including "The Critique of Pure Reason," "Style," "Breakup," and "Death Is The Opposite of Everything."
W. Rogers - Wrong (Vinyl LP, Wildflow
Hmmm...this is an interesting release. If we hadn't read the press release, we would've sworn this was a reissue from the 1990s home recording boom. Underground singer/songwriter Anthony W. Rogers previously played in the Washington, DC-based bands The Now and Ten Below. He even played drums for Eva Cassidy at one point. The tracks on Wrong were recorded between 2011 and 2014...and listeners should note that Rogers purposely records using cheap equipment. So his songs have that true home recorded sound that sometimes seems like a distant echo from decades gone by. Anthony does everything here...he writes all the songs, plays all the instruments, and handles all the vocal duties. These songs sound something like early recordings by Brian Wilson or Todd Rundgren...but not really. The sound quality here is so different that it is difficult to compare Rogers' music to other twenty-first century musicians. One thing is certain, the guy has a great knack for melodies and lyrics. Ten intriguing cuts. Our favorites include "Compromised," "Blown Away," "Crunch (Blues for Mitch)," and "Here Comes The Fire."
Romero - Take The Potion (Independently released CD, Rock)
If you loved the first few albums from Black Sabbath you will likely appreciate the huge ballsy sound of Wisconsin's Romero. The band is comprised of Jeffrey Mundt (ex-Naked Aggression), Josh Stanchik, Ben Brooks, and Steve Stanczyk. We don't hear too many bands from Wisconsin. Our guess is that these guys draw some intense crowds up there in the cheese state. They've got a great big sound and presence...pummeling rhythms...great big thick guitars...and vocals that shatter. If you love the sound of loud metallic bands from the 1970s and 1990s, you'll find a lot to love here. These guys are super solid on their instruments and they write songs that are smart and focused. Seven fast acting cuts here including "Compliments & Cocktails," "One Means Four," "Take The Potion," and "Wheeling Dervish." Totally groovy loud stuff with balls.
About - The Best Laid Plans (Independently
released CD, Pop)
What impresses us most here in babysueland are folks who aren't trying to impress anyone. In the world of commercial music, that's kinda rare. But because we often write about independent and unknown artists, we fortunately do come across bands and musicians whose intent is genuine and real. If you're impressed by those with no intent to impress, you may very well find yourself instantly drawn to the music of Rockville, Maryland's Round About. These four guys make music that is simple, melodic, direct, genuine, and sincere. The group's last album (Hanging By A Thread) really stood out in our minds and The Best Laid Plans has the exact same effect. The focus here is on songs. Nice, smooth, intelligent songs that are never overplayed or oversung. These guys seem to understand the meaning of restraint and how it can be used in their favor. The band is comprised of Patrick Garrity, Aaron Lowenberger, Dave Mehring, and Paul Nicholas...four normal looking guys with a keen talent for delivering good solid tunes that stick. These mid-tempo pop compositions are classic in overall sound and approach. And they also have that amazing quality that makes you want to spin them over and over again. This album contains some of the best pop songs we've heard in months... Recommended.
Rudderless - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (CD, Lakeshore,
This is a different sort of film where music is the main attraction. This is the directorial debut from William H. Macy (he's great...), so we're not surprised that this one's well off the beaten path. Interesting story here. A father's life is suddenly torn to pieces when his son dies suddenly. He reacts by going off on a sailboat, spending his days getting drunk. But then he finds a box filled with his deceased son's music and lyrics. To reconnect with his son he learns the songs and plays them at a local bar where he meets a young musician. The two decide to form a band (called Rudderless)...and the rest is movie history. We've heard of bands formed in order to pay homage to deceased musicians in the past so this story isn't so far outside the boundaries of reality. Interestingly, the songs here are by a handful of different artists: Billy Crudup, Rudderless, Ben Kweller, Selena Gomez, Eef Barzelay, and Ben Limpic. So, unlike most soundtracks, this one consists of a bunch of pop/rock songs that are obviously integral to the overall story. Interesting. We'll be interested to see Macy's debut sometime in the very near future.
Sciflyer - They Only Believe In The Moon (CD, Clairecords,
It's been quite some time since we've heard from the band Sciflyer. The last release we heard was the EP The Age of Lovely, Intimate Things which came out late 2005. So...what happened to the band? Turns out the band recorded tracks in 2006 and 2007 for an album called They Only Believe In The Moon...but because of various obstacles and things, the album was never finished or released. Switch forward to 2011. Guitarist/vocalist Steve Kennedy picked up a copy of Brian Wilson's Smile Sessions...and was inspired to finally finish and release the Sciflyer album from almost a decade ago. Featuring six trippy songs, this album is decidedly uncommercial and unrelenting. This could be termed shoegazer rock, atmospheric pop, progressive rock, psychedelic pop...or any number of things. If you like tripped out guitars and vocals drenched in reverb, there's a good chance you'll appreciate these tracks. Sure is great knowing these almost lost recordings are finally reaching everyones' ears. Makes us wonder if there might be a new album or tour in the near future...? Six groovy tripped out cuts: "Creator," "Goddess," "Slowfire," "The Nation," "So Close To Over," and "Zzyzx."
Second Best Exotic Marigold
Hotel - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack:
Music by Thomas Newman (CD, Sony
It's not surprising that this sequel was created, considering the success of the original Best Exotic Marigold Hotel flick. Here many of the original characters return, including Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel, Celia Imrie, Penelope Wilton, Ronald Pickup, Tina Desai, Diana Hardcastle, and Lillette Dubey. This time around the film also includes the talents of newcomers Tamsin Greig, David Strathairn, and Richard Gere. Initial reviews aren't as positive for this film as the last, but the overall reaction has been good. Also returning for the sequel is composer Thomas Newman, whose music is one of the most critical ingredients in both films. Thus far in his career, Newman has been nominated for twelve Academy Awards and three Golden Globes. Plus he's won two BAFTAs, six Grammys, and even an Emmy Award. Whether or not you prefer the first film over the second, you're sure to love the soundtracks to both. Twenty-eight well-crafted compositions here including "Discretion," "Already Gone," "Bringer of New Things," and "Life Piled On Life."
simakDialog - Live at Orion (Double CD, Moonjune,
If you like complex and unusual modern progressive rock, the guys in Indonesia's simakDialog can provide it in abundance. This striking double disc set captures the group playing live for a small group of folks at Orion Studios in Baltimore, Maryland during their 2013 tour. This double album simply captures the sound of the band playing live to tape (or hard disk). There's a lot to dive into here. These two discs present the band playing nine tracks, most of which last in the ten plus minute range. simakDailog is comprised of Riza Arshad (Fender Rhodes piano), Tohpati (guitar), Rudy Zulkarnaen (bass guitar), Endang Ramdan (Sudanese kendang percussion), Erlan Suwardana (Sudanese kendang percussion), Cucu Kurnia (assorted metal toys, percussion), and special guest Beledo (guitar on two tracks). Trippy instrumentals that bend and weave all over the place. All of these musicians are exceptionally focused and talented. Thus, the overall sound is precise, inspired, and rather meticulous. The folks at MoonJune continue delving out their own unique space in the world of music, continually uncovering some of the best progressive rocks bands from all around the globe.
Spring is when
Stand up for
What you believe in
Stars of the London Stage - The Essential Disney Collection (CD, Silva
This collection of Disney songs takes a different approach from most, concentrating on songs from films from the past 25 years instead of presenting the usual hits from the 1960s and 1970s (although some of those are presented to provide balance). The folks at Silva Screen always come up with quality offerings. Here, they've done it again. This album presents twenty Disney tunes, covered with precise attention to detail. The orchestral arrangements here are impeccable. Tracks are presented from the films Frozen (of course), The Princess and the Frog," Hercules, Pocahontas, Aladdin, Pinocchio, and many more. If you've heard the originals, you'll probably love these well-executed covers. If you never heard some of the originals, then this album will serve as a nice, convenient introduction.
Men - Supercollider: An Anthology 2010-2014
(Double CD, Stickmen / 7D Media,
Stick Men is the superstar trio comprised of Tony Levin (chapman stick, vocals), Markus Reuter (touch guitar, electronics), and Pat Mastelotto (acoustic and electric drums). Anyone who loves progressive music is probably already familiar with these three names. Supercollider: An Anthology 2010-2014 offers a whole lotta bang for your bucks. This nicely packaged double CD set is divided into two parts. The first disc presents fourteen tracks the band recorded over the past four years while the second offers live improvised tracks recorded during the trio's 2013 DEEP tour of the United States. Rarely will you hear a trio with a sound as big as these guys, and that's probably because all three are so focused on what they're doing. This is about as good as progressive rock gets in the second decade of the twenty-first century. Thick mind-altering tunes that leave plenty of room for lengthy instrumental passages and extensive experimentation. Levin, Reuter, and Mastelotto are all three masters of progressive rock. Whether you enjoy Stick Men in the studio or live, you're sure to get way more than you bargained for here. Killer cuts include "Concussion," "Breathless," "Cusp," "Cincinnati," "Bearsville," and "Montreal 2." Top pick.
Tania - Via Tania and the Tomorrow Music
Orchestra (CD, Narooma,
This is a different sort of album which took several years to complete. The tracks on Via Tania and the Tomorrow Music Orchestra are smart, intricate, orchestrated soft pop compositions where the central focus is Via Tania's ultra smooth voice. A whole host of talented musicians lent their talents on this album (the lengthy list is prominently displayed on the back cover). Ms. Tania wrote all ten tracks and they're all rather provocative and intriguing. Potential listeners please note that these are subtle and slow compositions so you may not want to hear this album if you're feeling sleepy. Housed in a truly cool cardboard foldout sleeve, this album is a definite mood creator. Our favorite cuts include "I See You Tiger," "The Future," "After Ever," and "The Ocean She Made." We particularly like the lyrics on this one...
Verheyen - Alone (Independently released
Carl Verheyen is a man who is obviously driven to play, write, and create. He's been playing guitar for over forty years now and always seems to be simultaneously involved in various projects. He's been in the band Supertramp since 1985 and also writes and records solo. He's also one of the most in-demand session players in Los Angeles, writes columns for Guitar Player magazine, and has produced instructional videos. In addition, he has also co-designed a guitar and has worked with Dean Markley to develop a line of signature strings for the electric guitar. Alone is Verheyen's second acoustic solo album. The album features twelve cover tunes plus two originals. Appropriately titled, this album features Carl alone with his guitar. Well-chosen songs include Peter Gabriel's "Mercy Street," John Lennon's "Norwegian Wood," Elton John's "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," and Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg's "Over The Rainbow." Carl's playing is precise and inspired. Beautiful stuff, executed to perfection.
Carl Vollrath - Past Recollections: Music for Clarinet and Piano Vol. 1
(CD, Navona, Classical)
Many classical music fans are so accustomed to hearing full orchestras that they may sometimes forget the innate beauty of simpler more sparse recordings by duos, trios, quartets, and quintets. Past Recollections presents the music of composer Carl Vollrath through the talents of Michael Norsworthy on clarinet and Yoko Hagino on piano. Vollrath often uses the ideas and creations as others as springboards for his own creations. To quote directly from the Navona web site, these recordings "depict his [Vollrath's] interpretations of pasty events and tones of past composers, oftentimes conveying them through ironic and spirited musical themes." Because you're only hearing a single piano and single clarinet, it becomes easier to focus on the compositions themselves rather than complex arrangements. Norsworthy and Hagino perform here using admirable skill and restraint...conjuring up all kinds of ideas and images in the minds of listeners. The album is divided into eight sections, all of which are slightly strange, moody, and soothing. Our favorite tracks include "Coco and Igor," "Copland's Coda," "Delius's Dream," and "Past Recollections" (which is divided into four sections). Beautiful and meticulous.
Up Lucid - Gone With the Night (Independently
released CD, Rock)
Wake Up Lucid is the California trio comprised of cousins Ryan Baca (vocals, guitar), Ian Baca (bass), and Jamie Baca (drums). Gone With the Night is the band's fourth full-length release. And we're pleased to report, this is a very far cry from the world of commercial music in 2015. This disc features six moody tracks that recall the heyday of 1990s underground guitar rock bands. These guys seem much more interested in creating vibes with their music rather than coming up with catchy choruses. These songs have a nice loose fluid feel and there's an immediacy here that is sadly lacking in many modern day rock bands. Not only is the music far from the beaten path, but we also appreciate the fact that these three men haven't been immaculately groomed to look like rock stars. Our guess is that these songs sound very much like the band when they're playing live. Great gritty loud rock that hasn't been watered down. Cool cuts include "White Collar Love," "Let It Roll," and "Gone With the Night."
Zhong Kui: Snow Girl and
the Dark Crystal - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack:
Music by Javier Navarrete (CD, Lakeshore,
This film probably won't be too successful here in the United States because the story takes place in China and the stars are Asian. Strange how most folks seem to always be boasting about how much they love diversity. But when it comes to films, they generally want something very safe and familiar that they can easily relate to. And they usually want the same old tired celebrities in the main roles. Here you get an entirely different slice of the pie from a different universe. And, thankfully, you don't get the same overused actors and actresses. What is particularly interesting here is that the music for Zhong Kui: Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal was created by Spanish composer Javier Navarrete. Also interesting is that the music itself has only subtle threads of traditional Chinese sounds. For the most part, these orchestrated pieces have a great deal in common with many American and European soundtracks we've heard of late. Navarrete is best known for his score for the film Pan's Labyrinth (which was nominated for an Academy Award). This lengthy album (over 70 minutes) has a great big thick sound and features cool compositions like "In Heaven," "The Magic Fan," "The Power Grows," and "Snow Girl Vanishes."
Additional Items Received:
Concettta Abbate - Falling in time
Lee Actor - Piano concerto
James Adler - Introspections
Alarm Clock Conspiracy
Alchemilla - Hearts
Amarachi - All or nothing
Arjun - Core
Aylin - Cloud
Blind Willies - Every day is judgment day
Emilyn Brodsky - Eats her feelings
Leah Capelle - Leah Capelle
Carry Illinois - Alabaster
Climax Blues - Broke heart blues
Phil Cody - Cody sings Zevon
Rodney Cromwell - Age of anxiety
Nicholas David - Make hope
Dandelion War - Opposite shores
Karl W. Davis & The Sweetpeas - It's high time
Debug - Original motion picture soundtrack
Donna Deussen & The Paul Weitz Trio - On the street where you live
Dust on the Radio - Halfway to the stars
Elasticity - Elasticity
Elements Rising - Modern works for chamber ensemble
Farmer Jason - Christmas on the farm with Farmer Jason
Fernando - The dogs
Jamila Ford - The deep end
Furious Seasons - My love is strong
Lee Gallagher and the Hallelujah - Lee Gallagher and the Hallelujah
Rachel Garlin - Wink at july
Get Ahead - Volcano
Good + Kill - Original motion picture soundtrack
Go Time! - Ratsel
Grahams - Glory bound/rattle the rocks
Great Spirit - Front porch to frontier
Gypsy Lumberjacks - Giants of America
Cody Joe Hodges - The good stuff
Tod Hughes Project - Changing gears
Stephen Hunley - The other side of never
Interview - Original motion picture score
Lucas Jack - Before i forget
Jack Kerowax - Jack Kerowax
Jacob and the Good People - Rotten
Heidi Jacob - Beneath winter light
Ethan Jano - I'll be fine
Suzanne Jarvie - Spiral road
Mary Ann Joyce-Walter - Immortal diamond
Mikaela Kahn - Milk & honey
Brian Lisk and the Unfortunates - Curtisinterruptedus
Peter Liu - Bamboo groove
Mike Love - Gypsy man
Lunden Reign - American stranger
Luxury - Bones & beaten heart
Tim Mahoney - Peace of winter
Mantoes - Mangoes
Graig Markel and the 88th St. Band - Graig Markel and the 88th St. Band
Pamela J. Marshall - Through the mist
Medici - Red eye
Mono Pony - Idle beauty
Moors & McCumber - Pandemonium
Zae Munn - They were mysterious guests
Jordan Myers - Ruin me with love
Neighborhood Bullys - Callin' all rockers!
Neu Human - How to stop time
Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb - Original motion picture soundtrack
Gabrielle Papillon - The tempest of old
Playing It Cool - Original motion picture soundtrack
Brad Reiman - Walking in the unknown
Sarah Lou Richards - The woman behind the curtain
Kimm Rogers - Where the pavement grows
Lila Rose - We animals
Shack Band - America
Shae - Can you feel the music
Shams - One and all
Cameron Siegel & Friends - World junk
Siena Root - Pioneers
Ian Sims and Divergent Paths - Conundrum
Soda Pop Sun - Soda Pop Sun
Spuyten Duyvil - The social music hour Vol. 1
Sweet - New York groove plus
32 Below - Every little thing about you
10,000 Maniacs - Twice told tales
Joe Jack Talcum - Home recordings 1993-99
Tripping Souls - Don't waste your life
Trust Fund / Joanna Gruesome - Split vinyl EP
Unfinished Business - Original motion picture soundtrack
Toomas Vanem - Toomas Vanem
Various Artists - Sweet Relief: Love is Everywhere
Michael Vlatkovich Septet - Ask 7
Vogue Dots - Mauka
Wasted Wine vs. The Hypnosis Center - Wasted Wine vs. The Hypnosis Center
Wendy Webb - This is the moment
Megan Wilde - Wildfire EP
Words and Pictures - Original motion picture soundtrack
Wyatt - Here comes everybody
Xraw - Rawx
Yillie Momo - Puckie the minchster
Zallerink - Maller yaller
©2015 LMNOP aka dONW7