01 May 2007

Review: Capsule 2007 CD's Vol. 3

More quickie CD reviews of (relatively) new 2007 releases. All of them quite good, I must say (hey, I'm not looking to buy crap!).

Volume 1
Volume 2

BTW, some upcoming albums, amongst others, I'm really looking forward to: Sea and Cake, The Bad Plus, Marc Ribot's Masada release, Benevento Tonic live... got any recommends for me?

Onto the discs:

Andrew Bird -- Armchair Apocrypha
Early warning -- this will be on all the hipster blog "best of" lists come December and all the praise will be largely deserved. Between the violins and the whistles and the emo leanings is some good music. Really, really good music. It doesn't electrify or sizzle but it does get the job done. Great songs trump all and these are the kind you can listen to over and over again. The first three tracks are all but perfect and the rest ain't too shabby. It's like large, layered orchestral pop without being big or layered or orchestrated at all. Small, honest, excellent. Ned-O-Matic: 6.5

Robert Glasper -- In My Element
Up-and-coming piano trio featuring Glasper front and center. While on first blush, it may not seem as adventurous as, say, The Bad Plus or even Jason Moran, wait until you get to the
"Maiden Voyage/Everything In Its Right Place" medley. Hell, everyone does Radiohead, but I don't know that I've heard anything quite as remarkable as Glasper's atom-smashing of Yorke with Hancock. Words won't do this magic its due. After that, go back and listen to the rest again... and again. It's the kind of playing that leaves you wondering just how many people, hands and pianos are involved in the recording. Fabulous drumming, but, to be honest, below-average bass playing that neither adds nor subtracts from the rest. Ned-O-Matic: 5.5

Jorma Kaukonen -- Stars in my Crown
First Jorma album that really seems to capture the magic of his live shows. Staples from his live shows (including the magical instrumentals "Living in the Moment" and "A Life Well Lived") mix in with an assortment of Jormaesque numbers perfectly. While his guitar playing could always move further to the forefront, his self-styled finger-picking acoustic blues have never sounded so good. Nor has his voice, which is aging to perfection. Throw in the odd mix of accompanying musicians rounding out the ensemble and I'd say this is a must-buy for any Kaukonen fan, and if you're not a Jorma lover, well what the hell is wrong with you? Ned-O-Matic: 7

LCD Soundsytem -- Sound of Silver
Jo, get busy with it. This sounds like your standard dance remix fun, but as you listen more and more, the truly interesting bits are revealed. Electronica pulses underneath a veritable tribute album with dead-eye lifts of the Talking Heads (pulsing afrobeat edition), Warren Zevon (Werewolves) and more. These sly cameos make this a most modernly postmodern knockout. On top of that, the songs are really good, with interesting rewind-to-catch-again lyrics and catchy choruses that go beyond the boy-meets-girl gruel. Yum! Ned-O-Matic: 6.5

Modest Mouse -- We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank
And the winner for the most unnecessarily long album title goes to.... While I promise to never, ever go see these guys live again, their albums are undeniably excellent. The masters of the 3-4 minute rock song, they seem to work against a natural tendency to suck (annoyingly screamed vocals, subpar skill set) and come out kickin' ass. These guys are just comfortable in the space they've created and this set of songs, largely about traveling and moving literally and figuratively, get the job done to a one. Favorite track: "Dashboard." Ned-O-Matic: 6.5

Amy Winehouse -- Back To Black
Groovy mishmash of newfangled dance beats and the old school R&B from which they were cribbed. Winehouse has barely enough soul to pull it off, but for the most part she does indeed make it work. Good voice, catchy tunes, heady samples, and yet.... This music will probably make you happy, maybe make you move a little, but not much else beyond that. Isn't that all it takes, though? Buy it if only so you know what everyone else is talking about. Ned-O-Matic: 5

Neil Young -- Live at Massey Hall
There ain't nothing new about this release other than the new angle on some old classics. It's hard to imagine that songs like "Harvest" and "Old Man" were ever new -- they are so deeply ingrained in the canon today. But once upon a time they were new and this beautiful recording of Neil -- young but polished; solo and bare -- gives us a peek at what it might have been like to witness legendary music in the making. There ain't too much not to like in here. Neil fans rejoice -- and to think this is only the beginning. Ned-O-Matic: 7.5

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Glad to see the Doctor is on board with Robert Glasper. About time!

-Bob Frapples