06 June 2007

Review: Capsule 2007 CD's Vol. 4

No live music in a while and due for a CD review dump, so here you go. Mostly the goods, once again. Got anything?

Volume 1
Volume 2
Volume 3]

Feist -- The Reminder
Third big "related to Broken Social Scene in some way" release of the year (after Apostle of Hustle and Do Make Say Think). Amazing how different all three of them are. This one brings out the basics. Something pure, simple and sweet about Feist that's hard to resist. Anyone that's seen her tear it up with BSS knows that she's got a voice made for this stuff and this album proves it once and for all. Favorite tracks: "1 2 3 4" and "Sea Lion Woman." Ned-O-Matic: 5.5

The Sea and Cake -- Everybody

Listening to the Sea and Cake you get the impression that they could launch into a 8 minute freeform jam at any moment. The fact that they don't underlies a wonderful tension bubbling underneath the surface of what would appear to be a trifle of a sound. These guys are already the band that The Slip is struggling so hard to become. Ethereal guitars and vocals and some unbelievably good drumming make this a summer ready must-have. Ned-O-Matic: 8

Wayne Krantz -- Your Basic Live '06
If there is a sharp corner where live music meets New York City, Wayne Krantz is playing there every Thursday night. No one represents all that is good and pure about music better than Wayne... and thankfully he can really, really play! This is the best representation yet of the magic that Krantz and friends make week in and week out. Call it jazz or rock or freeform freewheeling freak out music, this shit is the best. The brief liner notes with comments from Wayne are a treat as well. Get involved. Ned-O-Matic: 8.5

Blonde Redhead -- 23
There is a great schizophrenia in Blonde Redhead that's present right down to their wonderful name. Are they a male-fronted rock-out band or a female-fronted pop workhorse? This album flips between the two nicely, but as it goes on seems to favor the latter. There is very little not to like about this one, except that fact that it may escape notice by many of you out there. I can't imagine there's anyone that wouldn't enjoy this stuff in large doses. Uptempo, unpretentious... just damn good music through and through. Ned-O-Matic: 7.5

Benzos -- Branches
Speaking of weird tensions, the Benzos new one seems lost for a voice. Listening to it, you can hear the influences shining through a little too brightly. The mix is offbeat and occasionally jarring: faux Pearl Jam meets Explosions in the Sky, for example. If the songwriting seems to be in need of a foothold, the playing is sublime throughout. Nearly every track seems to hit a point, 3 minutes in, where the bridge kicks in and an instrumental band somersaults to center stage, if only for a moment, and truly amazes. If they can match these chops with something worthwhile, the Benzos will be a band to keep your eye on, for sure. Ned-O-Matic: 4.5

Billy Martin & John Medeski -- Mago
Of the three guys in MMW, the one I'd call indispensably my favorite is Chris Wood. Besides that, I've already got an organ-and-drums Duo to call my very own. And yet... and yet... Hey, like those dudes on the PGA: these guys are good. They could have pulled off this duo thing in many directions, but the path they've chosen is pretty much dead center. What's lacking in experimentation and whacked out wowees is more than made up for in luscious grooving and lock-tight instrumental yumminess. Still not sure why they didn't need a bass player, but it's good stuff nonetheless. Ned-O-Matic: 6

Bjork -- Volta
Is Bjork a brilliant pop genius or a truly fucking annoying warbler? No really, can you tell me the answer, because I truly don't know. At times I'm smitten with the off-kilter anti-musical meanderings and at other times I can't hit the skip button fast enough. Her last album had me more toward the former and this one has me more toward the latter. It has its moments, sure, and most of them seem to be dominated by guests: a nice duet with Antony (of & the Johnsons fame) and some Congorificness from Konono No 1. Maybe in time... or maybe not. Ned-O-Matic: 4.0

The Bad Plus -- Prog
Who loves the Bad Plus like OTW? The piano trio for everyone that don't dig on the jazz... and for all those that do as well. Man, this is the album I've been waiting for from these guys since "These Are the Vistas." If you're a newb, pick that one up, listen to it 25 times and then get this one immediately thereafter. The perfect mix of all those wonderful elements that make the Bad Plus so damn bad! The originals are magic, but. of course, the covers sell, so rectify: Tears for Fears, Rush and Bowie on a single album... a jazz album at that. I've been resisting writing a full-blown love letter to this album, but I'll spare the gushing and urge you to pick this up. And if you don't like it? Well, then, I hate you. Ned-O-Matic: 9.5

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