July 2016 Comics, Poetry, and Reviews by
Stream "On The March"
Alexander & The Grapes*
babysue comix #267
babysue comix #268
babysue comix #269
babysue comix #270
babysue comix #271
Cook and Throw
The Girl In The Photographs
Good and Nice, Really
Independence Day: Resurgence
Michael Livesley and Brainwashing House
Now Is The Past
Pee-Wee's Big Holiday*
Red Sleeping Beauty*
Rover Is Bird
Billy Sherwood & Tony Kaye
Thought for July 2016
We The Wild
Additional Items Received
July 2016 Thought.
Is it worth it?
You may sometimes find yourself wondering if it's all worth it. Worth the time, the trouble, the energy. The answer is simple. Things aren't worth it. People aren't worth it. School isn't worth it. Work isn't worth it. The only value things have is the value we place on them in our minds. And because there is nothing in our minds, this means there is nothing of any real value anywhere or anytime. It may not be pleasant, but it is what it is. Just be grateful that you now have the real facts to move forward in your life.
It's a nifty cool world out there so just learn to enjoy the pointlessness of it all.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Alameda - Fortunate Vices (CD, New
Granada, Progressive pop)
The person writing the press releases at New Granada these days is an amazing talent. By the time we read the one pager summing up the band Alameda, we were just about sold before even hearing the music. But after spinning the disc and hearing these folks' cool songs, we realized we would've ended up writing about this album anyway. This Portland, Oregon-based four piece band plays what might best be called folky progressive pop/rock. The only real comparison we could come up with is to say that some of these songs are reminiscent of Peter Gabriel very early in his solo career (and that comparison is mainly due to the similarities in the vocals). Fortunate Vices is anything but formulaic pop or rock music. Listening to these songs, you really don't know exactly where they will go and what will happen next. But unlike some artsy bands who make unusual music that is difficult to appreciate, this stuff is surprisingly easy on the mind and ears. The band was formed by Stirling Myles and Jessie Dettweiler but also now includes Barra Brown and Phil Nelson. Ten intelligent reflective tracks here including "Little Lives," "Hospice," "Time of Transference," and "Fortunate Vices."
& The Grapes - Hyper Self (CD, New Granada, Pop/rock)
We're kinda surprised that this band hasn't received more attention than they have up to this point in time. The band's debut album (Hemispheres) released in 2012 received a lot of very positive praise, and the group seemed to be on a short path to success. But for whatever reason--probably just the fact that the world is oversaturated with great bands--the big break hasn't happened yet. Hyper Self has a very good chance of changing that situation. This self-recorded album (with assistance from engineer/producer Jeremy Mendicino) has all the ingredients that make some of the best Guided By Voices albums so entertaining and engaging. Good solid catchy melodies, smart lyrics, and arrangements that are simple yet effective. We particularly like the fact that this album is so heavily driven by electric guitars. Some of these tracks sound like underground college radio hits, while others are more moody and slightly abstract. Interestingly, some of these songs even bear a slight resemblance to The Apples In Stereo (!?). The more we hear these guys' music the more of an impression it makes. Hyper Self is a direct hit that will be an instant favorite among underground hipsters. Top pick.
Blaschke - Breaking the Blues (CD, Bird
On A Lyre, Pop)
Although we're not quite sure why, Amy Blaschke is one of those singer/songwriters out there who is probably most appreciated by other musicians. She just has that kind of sound that most musicians would probably appreciate the most. Breaking the Blues is Amy's sixth full-length release, and it is one impressive spin. Producer Brian Whelan and engineer Mark Rains did an excellent job capturing Blaschke's sound and spirit on these tracks. These songs have such a nice, warm organic sound that you almost feel as if Amy herself is in the room with you singing her songs. Songwriting is this talented lady's specialty. She writes songs that are friendly, smooth, inviting, and clever. And what some may appreciate the most is the subtleties of her music. She never seems to force things, instead just allowing stuff to happen naturally. Eleven well-crafted cuts here including "Under My Skin," "Across the Sky," "Silver Linings," and "Be the Love I Need."
The Boy - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack: Music by Bear McCreary (CD, Lakeshore, Soundtrack)
We've always had a fondness for motion pictures that involve dolls and/or ventriloquist dummies that come to life. The Boy is a different take on the idea by presenting a doll that is apparently alive...but you never actually see it move. The story involves an older couple who hire a woman to take care of their 'son' named Brahms. The woman initially thinks it's a joke (or that the couple is crazy). But once she's left alone with the life-sized doll...things begin to happen. The music for this unusual movie was created by the ultra-prolific Bear McCreary. This is bit outside the boundaries of what we normally hear from McCreary in that the music is more surreal and spooky. But there are also segments that are pensive and/or childlike that are probably offered to seemingly help give life (from an audio standpoint) to the doll. Thirteen cool interesting tracks here including "The Boy Main Title," "The Attic," "Through the Keyhole," and "Goodnight Brahms."
Cavier - Premier (Independently released
The debut full-length release from up-and-coming pop singer/songwriter Jonathan Cavier. This guy has a big slick commercial sound that could easily catapult him into superstardom. Cavier is no newcomer to the world of music. Before changing his name and embarking on a solo career, he was Alan Clark in the atmospheric pop duo EyeTalk. But after about ten years had passed, Jonathan decided to reinvent himself and go in a different direction. We never heard the music of EyeTalk so we can't contrast and compare here. Premier has a big thick produced sound with the main focal point being Jonathan's highly stylized vocals. Over forty-two minutes' of music here spanning across twelve tracks. Super melodic potential hits include "January," "Hope," "Are You In Love," and "Jupiter."
Conformists - Divorce (CD, Aagoo, Bizarre art rock)
This is a case where the name of the band is the exact opposite of what they're about. The guys in this St. Louis, Missouri-based band make music that certainly does not conform. If you dig the sound of early bands on Great Britain's Factory Records, some of this may have a slightly familiar sound. If we are to believe the strangely written (and rather hilarious) press release that accompanied this album, the band has been around for about twenty years now but this is only their fourth full-length release. The Conformists play music that has a slightly atonal herky jerky spastic sound that is sure to alienate most listeners. We love it when bands try to scare us away of course, because it usually only draws us further and further into their music. These guys have what so many bands and artists are missing these days...BALLS. Yup, they've got the courage and energy to completely confuse and alienate. And in today's world, that's a rare thing indeed. Our favorite thing about The Conformists is that they have a sense of humor about what they're doing. This bizarre album will surely make a lot of people sit up and take notice. Cool cuts include "Reverse Alchemist," "S Apostrophe Period S Period S Period Opening Parenthesis J Period B Apostrophe Period Closing Parenthesis" (hilarious), and "Hail Spraytan."
COOK AND THROW
Cook a bunch of stuff
And throw it in the
Corbett - On The River Off The Lake
(Independently released CD, Pop)
Instantly unique and likable modern pop from Nova Scotia's Kev Corbett. When we hear a pop musician we're almost always immediately reminded of someone else. In this case, we can't really come up with any obvious comparisons or soundalikes. And that's probably because this cool fellow seems to be creating music purely out of his own unique perspective...not trying to emulate anyone else...and not trying to impress anyone in particular. Genuine might be the best word to sum up this album. On The River Off The Lake presents nine songs that seem to come straight from the heart. Hearing this guy sing, you almost get the impression you're listening to someone talking to you rather than singing. The intent here seems to be clear. This is a man who is, first and foremost, making music because that's what he enjoys doing. In a world full of copycat artists and technology-driven music, these songs are like a real blast of fresh air. Cool tracks include "On The River Off The Lake," "Nowhere But For You," "Queen Among The Witches," "Thunderbird," and "Rome Didn't Fall In A Day." Recommended. Top pick.
Darling - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack: Music by Giona Ostinelli (CD, Lakeshore, Soundtrack)
This is easily one of the more curious, unusual, and compelling soundtracks we've heard in 2016. The way the first few tracks are strung together is particularly odd. Instead of each one fading out or ending appropriately, they switch from one to the next very much like it sounds when you're changing channels on a television. Some of this is from the sound-as-music philosophy of recording, where melodies aren't the main ingredient. Giona Ostinelli is a rare artist who is approaching soundtrack creation from a really interesting perspective. Instead of making music that sounds familiar and would fit comfortably in the background, this man creates soundscapes that are purely creative endeavors in which the boundaries are usually endless. We've heard very interesting things about the Darling motion picture itself--this one's already on our list of must sees. The tension and unease in these tracks must surely be one of the main ingredients that is impressing viewers. Totally engaging compositions include "The City," "Invocation," "Henry Sullivan," "Exploring the House," and "I Couldn't Let Him Live." Highly recommended. Top pick.
Ellington - Marbles From A Drawer (CD,
Blue Canoe, Blues/pop)
David Ellington is a very, very busy man. Take a look at his web site (link above) and you'll be amazed at how much this guy has done and is doing. Not only does he maintain a solo career, but he's also worked with so many other bands and artists that it'll make your head spin. Marbles From A Drawer features eight tracks, some instrumental and some vocal. On the vocal tracks, different people lend their talents/skills, including Bridget Kitson, Marshall Ruffin, Clay Cook, and Oliver Wood. Ellington wrote all of the tracks here with the exception of one ("Bridgetown") that was co-written with Ms. Kitson. David surrounds himself with musicians who are truly inspired and talented. This is a pro-release all the way, in terms of songs, sound quality, and presentation (the album features a well-designed triple fold cardboard sleeve). Killer tracks include "Goin' To Church," "Bridgetown," "Lineup Willie," and "Soul Survivors." David Ellington's music and keyboard skills will always be in demand because this man is obviously making music for all the right reasons.
Evans - Rise Above (Independently released
Bill Evans is one of the most prolific saxophone players the world has ever known. If you're the kind of person who paws through music either physically or on the internet, then you already know that this guy's name (and sound) seem to be all over the place at once. This is Bill's twenty-fifth album as a bandleader, and as you can imagine this guy plays with some of the best. Evans got his start when he was only twenty-two years old performing and recording with Miles Davis. Since that time, he's made amazing connections all over the world and played with a mind-boggling array of classic artists from the past and present. Bill wrote or co-wrote all of the songs on Rise Above with the exception of "Them Changes" that was composed by Buddy Miles and Widespread Panic. This is yet another solid release from one of the world's most classy and incredible saxophone players. Thick slick cuts include "Right Lady," "Love is Working Overtime," "Tales of a Shiny Devil," and "Every Once In a While (Things Got To Give)."
50FootWave - Bath White (CD EP, Happy
Happy Birthday To Me, Pop/rock)
50FootWave is the trio comprised of Robert Ahlers, Bernard Georges, and Kristin Hersh. The band was formed in 2004 and many people will remember them as being one of the very first to offer their music with the name-your-own-price idea. Hersh was, of course, originally a member of the band Throwing Muses. Having made a solid name for herself with that band, she's now moved on with her life and her music. And instead of re-treading familiar territory or staying in a rut, Kristin seems to have reinvented herself in many ways. This EP presents six tracks that feature neat, gritty guitars and cool aggressive rhythms. Hersh's voice still sounds great, focused and determined. Clocking in at just under nineteen minutes, this is a cool and exciting spin. Our favorite songs include "Bath White," "Ratted Out," and "Sun Salute."
Fialta - Shadow of a Drought (Independently released CD, Pop)
Really excellent smart modern pop played with passion and style. California-based Fialta is comprised of David Provenzano, Beth Clements, Mike Keibovich, and Sarah Shotwell. The humorously-titled Shadow of a Drought is a nice, smooth, hummable pop experience that's sure to improve your overall mood. Unlike many up-and-coming artists who haven't quite honed their skills and fine-tuned their sound, these four individuals already have a sound and image that could easily propel them into superstardom...but that superstardom would most likely first occur in countries other than the United States (where good quality music seems to always be something of an underground cult kinda thing). No matter. What matters are good solid songs and the right intent, and on this album you'll find both. Songs feature both male and female vocals, some are more upbeat, while others are more subdued and pensive. There isn't a bad song on this album, they all have something cool and credible to offer. Our initial favorites include "Be Someone," "Another Lonely Heart," "Burning On Empty," "On The Run," and "Lullaby." Out guess is that this album will be received most warmly in France, England, Canada, and Sweden. It's full of direct hits, and we just can't get enough of this band's wonderfully inviting sound. Recommended. Top pick.
Fracasso - Here Come the Savages (CD,
Blue Door, Pop)
Wow...how could we not have heard about this guy until now? Better late than never, and we're pleased that we've only just begun to be exposed to the magical pop music created by Michael Fracasso. If you ever loved the crystal clear voice of Harry Nilsson, Fracasso's super smooth perfect pitch vocals will definitely hit the spot. The reason we're so surprised we never heard of this guy or his music before is that he has released no less than nine (!) solo albums, so you'd think by this time one would've hit the (commercial) target (?!). So Here Comes The Savages serves as an introduction for us. This album consists of originals and well-chosen cover tunes. The album title (and title of the seventh track) is in reference to the death of Davy Jones, a cool little track that should hit home with a lot of folks. After spinning this one, we were left with the feeling that we'd like to hear more of Michael's back catalog. The album closes with an appropriately heartfelt cover of Ray Davies' (The Kinks) "Better Days." Here's hoping this album exposes this guy's music to a larger audience, because he definitely deserves that. Other cool tracks include "Daisy," "Little Scar," "You Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory," and "Interlude."
The Girl In The Photographs - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack: Music by Nima Fakhara (CD, Lakeshore, Soundtrack)
The Girl In The Photographs is the final screen credit of the late Wes Craven. The plot of this motion picture sounds interesting, but by almost all accounts it fails in many ways. But thankfully here we're just dealing with the music...and from that perspective, it's a success. Creating music to serve as the backdrop for a story involving people who are creating and dealing with violent photographs seems bizarre to begin with. But composer/recording artist Nima Fakhara has done a masterful job creating compositions that are spooky, atmospheric, pensive, and sometimes rather peculiar. Fakhara seems to be more interested in creating music for artsy films than huge blockbusters (click on his web site above to see previous motion pictures he's created music for). There's a lot more variety in this soundtrack that what we normally hear. Instead of going for one sound or style, Nima seems to create pieces that are most likely an exact fit for the scenes in the picture. Twenty-four expertly executed cuts here including "The Pictures," "The Drive Up," "Say Hello," and "The Truck." Interesting and slightly...hypnotic.
GOOD AND NICE, REALLY
Let's all be good and
Let's all be nice.
Let's all be really really good and
Colman Gota - Tape (CD, Buchipluma, Pop)
This album was sent to us from Spain, so we were surprised to hear how American the music sounds (could be because it was recorded in North Carolina?). And also surprised when we noticed that it was produced by Mitch Easter and John Pfiffner (both of whom also play guitar/mandolin on Tape). This is an instantly likable album chock full of hummable pop that may remind listeners of underground pop from the 1980s and 1990s. Colman Gota wrote all eleven tracks, and each one has its own particular appeal. The songs are based around intelligent chord progressions and Coleman's got a really cool voice that's perfectly suited for guitar pop. After spinning this a couple of times we couldn't help but smile. There's something about Gota's music that...just makes you feel good. Perfectly executed cuts include "Waiting for a Change," "Talking to the Fridge," "Do What I Want," and "Back In Tune." Good solid catchy pop stuff that will hold up to many repeated spins.
BD Harrington - The Diver's Curse (CD, MICR Cultures, Soft folky
The third full-length release from underground singer/songwriter BD Harrington. The Diver's Curse presents eleven tracks that listeners might first be inclined to label Americana. But upon closer inspection, it becomes clear that pigeonholing Harrington's music into such a clear category just doesn't make sense. These pensive, intelligent tracks are more like introspective soft folk pop creations in which BD shares his thoughts and feelings with the rest of the world. His first two albums were released by the small French label Traveling Music, where they were both well received. The songs on The Diver's Curse are presented simply, using only the most basic ingredients, which allows the listener to focus on the lyrics and vocal melodies. Sparse is probably the best word to describe the overall sound and vibe here, which just goes to show that when your songs have substance you don't need to clutter them with a lot of unnecessary instruments and overdubs. Eleven cool tracks including "Resusci-Anne," "Black Waves," "In Your Arms," and "Early Morning Eye."
Heatley - Angel Numbers: 111 (Independently
released CD-R EP, Pop)
David Heatley is a man with real personality and presence. For proof, just go to his web site (link above). This is a super short little EP that lasts just over seven and a half minutes. But during that brief amount of time the listener is treated to three instantly familiar and friendly sounding upbeat songs that pack a punch: "Dream Puppy," "Principles," and "The Eclipse." Backing Heatley are Pete Galub (lead guitar, Galub also produced this EP), Alice Bierhorst (drums), Dana Lyn (violin), and Adam Tully (bass). Super catchy and infectious upbeat stuff with a sense of humor.
- A Single Rose (CD EP, Aagoo,
If you love the sound of early techno/electronic pop bands who made simple and precise music...before the genre became burdened by too many digital effects...you may very well find yourself completely immersed in the music created by Hheaven. This band is the duo of Morgan Enos and Bryant Keith Bayhan. Enos' other bands include Hollow Sunshine and Other Houses and Bayhan's other bands include .paperman. Apparently this EP finds both musicians heading off into a different direction. The folks at Aagoo continue to surprise us, releasing artists and bands from a variety of different worlds with only one thing in common: the music they make is cool and credible. The songs on A Single Rose have a very upbeat friendly sound that we find most appealing. By keeping their music simple and focusing on the main ingredients, Enos and Bayhan manage to come up with music that has the potential to catch on with a large number of listeners. The more we spin these tracks the better they sound. Standout cuts include "Fanfare," "Bad Balloons," "Kabbalist Heist" (particularly great song), and "Do Work/Stay Working." Top pick.
Hunt - Branches (CD, Lovely,
Progressive dream pop)
The second full-length release from Sweden's Hunt. Branches presents moody, atmospheric, dreamy modern pop that will appeal to folks who want something outside the mainstream. The band is comprised of Susanna Brandin, Johanna Hellqvist, Hillevi Duus, and Jakob Enlund. The overall sound of this band reminds us of some of the more adventurous underground guitar bands in the United States in the 1990s. Some might say this is shoegazer rock, but to our ears there's a lot more going on here than one normally hears in that genre. Lots of cool grooves happening and we totally dig some of the spacey guitar riffs. This is a short album, just over thirty-three minutes long. But all eight tracks are keepers and have something credible to offer. Our favorite cuts include "Hard To Defend," "This Cannot Be," "Two Steps," and "From the Bottom of My Heart."
Independence Day: Resurgence - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack: Music by Thomas Wander & Harald Kloser
(CD, Sony Classical,
Here's yet another case where the major motion picture is receiving so-so reactions from most film goers and reviewers. We're not ready to dismiss the sequel to Independence Day just yet however...because we know that most people are so jaded and burned out from taking in so much that they just don't really appreciate much anymore. We're always amazed at the bored reaction so many modern motion pictures receive lately, because we know if they had been released two decades ago everyone would have been walking around with the tongues hanging out praising them to high heaven. The sequel Independence Day: Resurgence has been released to coincide with the hottest holiday of the year, July 4. So it will probably draw crowds no matter what simply because a lot of people will want a cool place to hang out (temperature wise). Although we haven't yet seen the flick, we can report without a doubt that the music to this one is...rather incredible. The soundtrack for this motion picture was created by Thomas Wander and Harald Kloser and it features a great big orchestral sound. Wander and Kloser composed most of the material but there are a few tracks that were either co-written with others or written by someone else. These twenty-five tracks zip by in just over fifty-two minutes. Whether you see the film or not, you're almost guaranteed of finding something to appreciate here. The album ends on a humorous note with "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down" performed by Annie Trousseau.
Joyner - Maybe Sometimes In C (CD, Hearts and Plugs, Pop)
Nice smooth melodic slightly moody pop with intelligent lyrics and top notch vocals. Charleston, South Carolina's Grace Joyner was in various bands before making the decision to go solo. She released her debut EP Young Fools in 2014. Joyner took her time recording the follow up album. Our guess is that this release will find an immediately warm and welcoming fan base. Maybe Sometimes In C features cool, reflective songs with the main focal point being Grace's superb vocals (this young lady has a voice that could melt concrete). Backing Joyner on these tracks are Camille Rhoden, Dan McCurry, and Nic Jenkins. While these recordings sound nice and thick, there's also plenty of space left that allows the listener room to breathe (most likely the result of producer Wolfgang Zimmerman). Nine inspired tracks here including "Maybe Sometimes," "Real," "Sick," and "Call You Up"
The Kingbees - The Big Rock (CD, Omnivore
The folks at Omnivore sure know how to pick 'em. To celebrate the 35th anniversary from the date it was originally released, they have reissued a deluxe expanded edition of The Big Rock by The Kingbees. We have to admit our ignorance here, in that we never heard this album when it was originally released...but we sure remember the cool cover art. Obviously a lot of other folks were exposed...which left a lasting legacy for the three guys in this band. The band was comprised of Jamie James (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, lead guitar), Michael Rummans (bass guitar, backing vocals), and Rex Roberts (drums, backing vocals). Though the band only recorded two albums for the RSO label, they firmly established their place in rock history by playing their own style of modern rockabilly that pre-dated the rockabilly revival that occurred later on in the 1980s. This nice slick reissue presents all the tracks on the original album plus four bonus cuts that bandleader Jamie James recorded with a different rhythm section shortly after the group broke up. Recommended for fans of Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds, and Rockpile.
Krisha - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack: Brian McOmber
(CD, Lakeshore, Soundtrack)
Once upon a time, in order to find the most creative and original music on the planet you'd have to search through the complex maze of underground pop, rock, modern classical, and experimental musicians. Nowadays, it seems that most of the truly creative music is being made for film and television. The soundtrack for the critically-acclaimed film Krisha involves a bit of both. The music for this motion picture was created by Brian McOmber who is best known as a member of the underground band The Dirty Projectors. If you liked that band, you're certain to find something to appreciate here. This sounds like anything but a conventional soundtrack. This disc spins more like an experimental album. We haven't seen Krisha yet so we can only imagine that these unique sounds add an interesting, peculiar slant to the visuals. This one will probably make McOmber an immediate in-demand favorite for film and television soundtracks. It's short, just over thirty minutes long...but in that amount of time this soundtrack entertains and satisfies. Cool and unusual cuts include "Face," "The Woodpecker Part I," "Anxiety," and "Music From the Short Film." Top pick.
Lindsay - Cities & Schools (CD,
File 13, Pop)
North Carolina's Jon Lindsay is a man who is obviously destined for greatness. Whether that greatness is in the form of commercial success or becoming an underground cult icon, only time will tell. We've heard this man's music before, but it was when he was playing in his previous bands (The Young Sons, The Catch Fire). Since going solo, Lindsay seems to have really found his calling in life. And our bet is that a lot of folks are going to be going rather nuts over Cities & Schools. These songs are so well written and so well recorded that many may be very surprised that, at least at this point in time, Lindsay is something of a cult hero. This album has a great deal of excitement and focus...two things that are sadly missing in the music created by so many twenty-first century artists and bands. Jon's songs and approach remind us in so many ways of babysue favorite Mitch Easter (Let's Active), which is interesting considering both are based in North Carolina. In addition to recording his own music, Lindsay has also been producing a lot of other artists of late. But after hearing this, our guess is that his real passion is in creating his own music. Eleven perfectly crafted modern pop compositions here including "All Them Houses," "Lifer," "Better Never," "The Church of Me," and "Little Queen Drum Machine." You can expect to see and hear a lot about this young man in the years to come. A direct hit. Recommended. TOP PICK.
Michael Livesley and Brainwashing
House - Sir Henry at Rawlinson End (CD,
You have to hand it to Michael Livesley and his friends for tackling this one. A truly obscure release from the 1970s, Vivian Stanshall's original album (created for John Peel's radio show) has always been controversial. Some people think it's genius while others consider it an odd point in Stanshall's recording career. Whether you like it or hate it, it seems clear that the album was ahead of its time in many ways. Several years back, Livesley decided it was time to recreate the music for an entirely new audience (and those still alive to remember it). Thus, he and his associates took it upon themselves to begin performing the album live. Now, six years later, the show is still going strong and has earned the seal of approval from the Stanshall family. This recording features the talents of Rick Wakeman, Neil Innes, and Susie Honeyman. Fifty-one minutes plus of pure British creativity now available for all to hear, thanks to the tasteful folks at Gonzo Multimedia.
Logen - New Medicine (CD, Nettwerk, Pop)
You might not immediately recognize the name, but chances are you've probably already heard Michael Logen's music. This talented up-and-coming singer/songwriter's music has been featured on the television shows Parenthood, The Fosters, One Tree Hill, Beauty and the Beast, Switched at Birth, and Duets...and one of his songs also appears on Kelly Clarkson's Stronger album. With the release of New Medicine, our guess is that this fellow will soon be experiencing the kind of name recognition that he deserves. Some of the tracks bear a slight resemblance to Nashville, Tennessee's Ben Rector mainly because the main emphasis is on melodies and lyrics. Logen's got a great voice that is a perfect fit for the style of songs he writes. And talk about commercial potential. Just about any one of these ten tracks could easily become a huge hit. Ten well-crafted tracks here including "St. Christopher," "Look Out Your Window," "Paper Thin," and "Cannonball Embrace (Hey Hey Hey)."
Gayle Martin - To Keep The Dark Away (CD, Ravello,
This album is a true solo piano experience as the only thing you will hear is Gayle Martin playing the piano. It takes a great deal of talent and concentration to pull off an album like this because...one wrong note or move...and people will immediately focus on the one tiny flaw without ever giving credit for everything else. That said, there doesn't even seem to be the slightest hint of any errors here. But what you will find...are a lot of very inspired compositions played by a woman who has obviously spent a lot of time at the keys. Martin offers her interpretations of pieces by Robert Schumann, Franz Liszt, Judith Shatin, and Sergei Prokofiev. Gayle chose material that most listeners are probably not as familiar with, which was probably a wise choice (no Beethoven or Bach here). Impeccable playing from start to finish. The album is presented in six sections, and each has something substantial to offer. Precise and intricate.
The Essential Ennio
Morricone Film Music Collection - Performed
City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra (Double CD, Silva Screen, Soundtrack)
The folks in The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra once again pay tribute to a great composer of music for film. This classy double disc set focuses on the music of Ennio Morricone by offering renditions of his compositions for various projects. There's a huge amount of material here...forty-one tracks from a whole plethora of films. Music is presented from such well-known cinema classics as The Hateful Eight, Love Affair, In the Line of Fire, The Mission, Once Upon a Time in America, The Thing, Days of Heaven, Exorcist II: The Heretic, My Name is Nobody, The Men From Shiloh, The Red Tent, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly...the list goes on and on and on. The one thing this release makes perfectly clear is the sheer volume of music composed by Morricone. No less than five conductors were involved in these recordings: Evan Jolly, Mic Raine, Paul Bateman, Derek Wadsworth, and James Fitzpatrick. Creating this double disc set was obviously a major undertaking and yet...listening to these tracks, the people involved manage to make it all sound so...effortless. That's true creative genius, when you can do something very, very complex...and make it sound very, very simple. This one's a must for Morricone fans as well as anyone else who appreciates great classic motion picture soundtracks.
Mr. Robot - Original Television Series Soundtrack: Music by Mac Quayle, Volume 1 (CD, Lakeshore, Television soundtrack),
Original Television Series Soundtrack: Music by Mac
Quayle, Volume 2 (CD, Lakeshore,
We haven't yet seen this television series. But after reading a bit about it on the internet and hearing these two soundtrack albums, it's on our short list of things we want to experience. Created by Sam Esmail, the series centers around the activities of Elliot Alderson, a cybersecurity engineer and hacker (played by Rami Malek), who suffers from anxiety and depression. Alderson is then recruited by Mr. Robot (played by Christian Slater) to join his group of activists. Sounds very involved and intriguing. The music for both soundtracks was created by Mac Quayle who a lot of folks will remember as the man who created the music for the wildly popular American Horror Story: Freak Show (probably the strangest of that series). Not surprisingly, the music for Mr. Robot seems driven by technology and electronics. In many ways, these albums are very similar to some of the more abstract electronic albums recorded by folks in Europe and Asia in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Hearing this music, listeners may be reminded of a wealth of intriguing artists from the past like Tangerine Dream, Tomita, and even Wendy Carlos at times. The packaging here is great...these two discs are housed in cardboard sleeves that make them look like old video games. The 'artwork' on the discs themselves is hilarious...they look just like someone made throwaway CD-Rs and then quickly scribbled the name on front. Lots of cool tracks here. Fans of the show will surely enjoy this stuff. Folks like us who haven't yet been exposed...are bound to get just as big of a kick out of Quayle's cool and creative musical universe. Recommended. TOP PICK.
Muffs - Blonder and Blonder (CD Reissue,
We're such huge fans of the original release of this album...how could it possibly be any better than it already was? Well, leave it up to the folks at Omnivore Recordings to outdo something that was already incredible...because that's just what they've done here. This deluxe remaster/reissue is an absolute must for Muffs fans as well as anyone out there who loves insanely catchy power pop/punk. It's hard to say which Muffs album is the best because the band has put out such a wealth of consistently amazing stuff. But Blonder and Blonder is definitely one of their high peaks. There are so many unbelievable songs here. The band's bubblegummy power pop/rock is delivered with intensity and a cool sense of humor. Our favorite addictive songs include "Agony," "On and On," "Sad Tomorrow," "What You've Done," "End It All," "I Need A Face," "I'm Confused," and "Just A Game." We will never ever get tired of hearing these tracks because they are so inspired and perfectly composed. In addition to the original fourteen tracks (remastered), this issue also includes two bonus tracks ("Goodnight Now" and "Become Undone") and five bonus demonstration recordings. Thankfully, the band is once again out there playing live dates and recording new music (their 2014 album Whoop Dee Doo is right up there with their best). Kim Shattuck, Roy McDonald, and Ronnie Barnett deserve a lot more credit than they've received thus far in their career. Let's hope the Omnivore reissues help to correct this public oversight. Power pop just doesn't get much better than this. Highly recommended. TOP PICK.
Nightmen - Fifteen Minutes of Pain (CD, Lovely,
Instantly catchy and addictive buzzsaw power pop from four musicians who call themselves Nightmen. The press release that accompanied this album pretty much hit the target by describing the band's music as "Ramones tangled up with Dead Moon and The Cars." In a world full of processed cheese pop and digitally perfected slop, Fifteen Minutes of Pain stands out because it sounds like real rock musicians playing real rock music. Almost everyone seems to be going the opposite direction, so it's getting harder and harder to find bands who still sound like authentic bands. Nightmen is comprised of Nopan (drums, vocals), Tony (guitar, vocals), Christine (guitar, vocals), and Erik (bass, vocals). This short little album (only approximately twenty-seven minutes long) rips and roars and goes by so fast you won't know what hit you. But the catchy tunes are sure to stay in your head long after the album ends. Twelve well-crafted tracks here including "Hot Days," "I Don't Give a Damn," "Habits," and "Down and Out." Top pick.
NOW IS THE PAST
Now is the past and
Then is the future.
Gods - Dismal Rift (CD-R, Stickfigure, Sound/ambient)
The idea of sound as music always seems to receive mixed reactions. Some folks love it, some folks hate it. We're in the first category, and we're particularly fond of artists who can create sound that is soothing and cerebral. Outer Gods is a purely artistic endeavor created by two musicians in Atlanta, Georgia. Our first reaction upon hearing Dismal Rift was...that these folks are working in territory that is very similar to Nashville, Tennessee's Hammock (a favorite here in babysueland). The tracks on this album are hypnotic and subtle...so much so that they can just as easily be listened to as ignored, and you just might find your consciousness failing at some point if the transcendent sounds have their intended effect. Five cuts here that could be described as drone, ambient, atmospheric, modern classical, or purely experimental. These folks are really good at what they do. After the album is over, you may find yourself hitting repeat...without ever quite knowing what it was you heard the last time. Intriguing and puzzling.
Big Holiday - Music From the Netflix Original
Film: Score Composed by Mark
Mothersbaugh (CD, Varese
We've huge, huge, HUGE fans of Paul Reubens. We fell in love with the guy's Pee-Wee Herman character instantly long ago and our love has never faded. We have to admit, however, that the live stage comback was a bit disappointing. For whatever reasons, it just didn't work so well. As such, we were concerned that the Netflix comback movie might also not live up to expectations. WRONG. Although different folks seem to have different reactions to Pee-Wee's Big Holiday, for us it is a magnificent and genuine return to form. In other words, Reubens still has that magic that made so many fall in love with him in the 1980s. This movie is very much like an extension of the original Pee-Wee movies. It's amazing how little Reubens has aged. We're sure there was tons of make up involved...but Paul is still looking and sounding incredible. And the humor still works. The music for Big Holiday was, appropriately, created by Mark Mothersbaugh (of Devo fame). Considering what a strange motion picture this is (just about everything Reubens has done is strange), listeners may be surprised at how normal and conventional the music is. But that's part of what makes it all work. While you're watching and taking in all the crazy stuff, the music in the background makes it all seem so normal. We're hoping this is just the beginning of an entire new series of Pee-Wee projects. Everything about this one...works...including the music. Recommended. Top pick.
Posies - Solid States (Advance CD, My Music Empire, Pop)
Solid State is the first album of new material from The Posies in five years. The band is now the trio of Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow along with Frankie Siragusa on drums. Instead of burning out or fading away, these guys' music has only gotten better over time. Solid States is right up there with the very best Posies releases and will definitely please fans of the band, as well as others who love good solid melodic pop. Hard to believe these fellows have been making music for almost three decades (!) now. Solid States finds Auer and Stringfellow delving into some new territories, while still retaining enough familiar elements to please fans of previous releases. Solid States makes it perfectly clear that The Posies are just as relevant in 2016 as they were back in the 1980s and 1990s. Two previous band members (drummer Darius Minwalla and bass player Joe Skyward) passed away in 2015 and 2016, so this obviously had an impact on the recording of this album. In addition to basic pop tracks that will please Posies fans, there are also some intriguing and surprisingly complex compositions that definitely push the band's music into new arenas. This will hopefully be only one of many new releases from a band that continues to provide good, solid, and inspired pop music. Top pick.
Raz - The Best of Raz (CD, Gonzo
It's an interesting experience listening to a best of compilation from an artist who has been making music for thirty-two years. Interesting mainly because we have unfortunately never been exposed to much of Raz's music until now. But this is one of those projects that can be labeled a success because it succeeds at what it is probably aimed at doing which is...to make the listener want to hear more. There's a lot to take in here as these nineteen tracks clock in at over seventy-four minutes. The material covers the entire period from his 1984 debut (Criminals Off the Streets) to his latest album in 2015 (Madison Park). Our guess is that there are a lot more folks overseas who are familiar with Raz than here in the United States. Hearing these ultra-catchy guitar driven pop/rock cuts, it seems amazing that this guy has never received more recognition for his music. But even though he might not be a household name, Raz has received a lot of praise along the way. Guests involved in the recording of some of these tracks include Joey Molland (Badfinger), Joe Vitale, Carla Olson, and Stu Cook. Cool catchy cuts include "The Boy," "The Tattoo Song," "Naked On the Floor," and "Searching Forever." We always appreciate the interesting artists selected by the fine folks at Gonzo Multimedia.
Sleeping Beauty - Kristina (CD, Shelflife, Pop)
We just can never get enough of those ultra-cool and groovy underground pop bands in Sweden. Red Sleeping Beauty is yet another example of why we've been such big fans of Swedish pop over the past couple of decades. The guys in this band have a smooth, dreamy, hypnotic sound that is characterized by nice flowing melodies and subtle arrangements. Interestingly, Kristina is the band's first new album of new material in 19 years (!). It is now primarily the duo of Niklas Angergard and Mikael Matsson, two guys who have an uncanny knack for coming up with cool pop songs. Kristina is a relatively short album, clocking in at just over 34 minutes. But in that length of time they deliver ten beautifully executed tracks of pure pop perfection. One thing that's particularly interesting here is the percussion. Instead of using the latest state-of-the-art instruments or technology, it sounds very much as if these fellows utilized early 1980s drum machines (!). Even more interesting is...it works. Every track here is a keeper but particular favorites in babysueland include "Cheryl, Cheryl, Bye," "Always," "If You Want Affection," and "I Am The Artist." Highly recommended. TOP PICK.
Ripples - Modern Chamber Works With Percussion (CD, Navona, Classical)
This is a different sort of classical music album. When the first track began (Mathew Fuerst's "Broken Cycles"), we knew we were in for a treat. Rather than simply being classical music with simple percussion, the track presents all kinds of complex percussion that is anything but traditional...and the xylophone adds a really interesting twist. Heath Mathews' "Digressions" is also peculiar, with some very strange xylophone combined with saxophone (?!). A very intriguing and odd ten plus minute composition with some strangely moody sections. The third segment (Bill Pfaff's "Lichen") is a lengthy piece (just over thirteen minutes) where a moody subdued piano meets some equally moody xylophone. Presented in three segments, Sally Reid's "Three Trifles" combines an alto saxophone with percussion. In some ways, this one reminds us of music that could serve as the soundtrack to a short art film. Interesting. Closing out the album is William Thomas McKinley's "A Different Drummer" which, for the first time during the course of the album, presents an entire orchestra (the New York New Music Ensemble). This lengthy (almost twenty-five minutes) piece is ambitious, curious, and in some ways sounds like an orchestra that might be playing on the other side of the looking glass. Curious stuff, very involved, and totally unpredictable. Ripples succeeds on many different levels. While not recommended for fans of standard classical fare, the album is highly recommended for listeners interested in music that pushes the envelope. Unusual and riveting. Recommended. Top pick.
Ritchie - Pop-ti-mis-tic (CD, Fancy
Two Tone, Pop)
More groovy and direct underground pop from Wimberley, Texas-based recording artist Gary Ritchie. This fellow writes classic underground guitar pop that harkens back to the 1970s and 1980s when underground guitar pop really sounded like underground guitar pop. We're not talking about sound quality here (these recordings sound great)...we're talking about recordings that only use the essentials in order to get the point across. Listening to this, most folks will probably get the feeling they've heard these songs before. They have that familiar overall sound that makes them very easy to digest. But make no mistake, all 15 tracks are Ritchie originals. Considering the commercial potential here, it seems amazing that--at least at this point in time--Ritchie has not yet scored a major smash hit. But things could suddenly change, as Pop-ti-mis-tic is an upbeat jolt of positive pop that's arrived just in time for a totally rockin' summer season. Cool cuts include "Million Dollars," "It's Not Automatic," "Carol Says," and "Real Good Feeling."
Rodgers - Two Years (CD, MISRA, Progressive soft dream pop)
This album reminds us of very early recordings by Linda Draper...and that was before we noticed that the album was produced by Kramer (who also produced Draper in the beginning). On her web site, Emily Rodgers' music is compared to artists like Mazzy Star, Cat Power, and Neil Young. All of these hold true, and yet Emily doesn't really seem to be aping or copying anyone else's style. The songs on Two Years are anything but calculated commercial pop. This is true underground stuff that will likely only appeal to a small to medium fan base. But our guess is that superstardom and megafame aren't what drives Rodgers. This is a case where the music and the idea of expression seem to be the main ingredients. We really love Emily's voice. She never forces herself, instead just allowing the lyrics and melodies to flow directly from her soul to her music. Ten well-crafted cuts here including "No Last Call," "Hurt," "Right Lie," and "Walk Don't Run." The album closes with a cover of Neil Young's "I Believe In You."
ROVER IS BIRD
Rover was once
Dog but now
Billy Sherwood & Tony
Kaye - Live In Japan (Double CD + DVD, Backyard
Levitation, Progressive pop)
We didn't know what to expect with this one...but we sure know the names. Billy Sherwood is the current bass player in the band Yes and keyboard player Tony Kaye was an original founding member of the band (who rejoined after their 90125 tour). This thick little package contains two CDs plus a DVD documenting the duo's live show in Japan. This release is a true duo excursion, there are no other players involved. Rather than have a backing band, Sherwood and Kaye play to pre-recorded/pre-programmed tracks. That said, the overall sound is very big and full. There's a lot of material here, eighteen tracks in all. Some will be immediately familiar to listeners while others not as much. Kaye's keyboard skills remain totally intact and Sherwood's voice will definitely please all the Yes fans around the globe. Although there is a record label listed, this appears to be an independent release. Sound quality is excellent throughout.
Runner - New Monsters (CD-R, Hearts and Plugs, Progressive)
Slow Runner is the Charleston, South Carolina and Nashville, Tennessee-based duo of Michael Flynn and Josh Kaler (the band's two main members). These guys have had a good bit of success with their music. We love some of the wording on their web site about this topic: "Twenty years ago this would have been called 'selling out'; now that society has descended into a soulless corporate sarlacc pit void of all dignity and integrity, it's actually an inspiring success story!" We couldn't have said it better ourselves. New Monsters sure doesn't sound like artists who have sold out though. These progressive intelligent pop tracks feature cool winding melodies and lyrics that are light years beyond what we normally hear. This is one of those rare cases where the guys making the music are doing everything right. In other words, we wouldn't change a thing. This short album clocks in at just under thirty minutes, but each and every song is a definite keeper. Addictive smooth tracks include "My Love Will Bring You Back," "Trigger Warning," "Bike Thieves," and "Perfectly Fine." Recommended. Top pick.
Spain - Carolina (Limited Edition CD, Diamond Soul Recordings,
Folky soft pop)
The sixth full-length studio album from Spain. This band is the project created by Josh Haden (son of jazz bass player Charlie Haden) way back in 1993. Josh experienced a good bit of success with his music during the 1990s but eventually decided to take a break in 2001. He reformed Spain in 2007 and seems to be solidly on track ever since. Recorded at producer Kenny Lyon's apartment in the historic Gaylord building in Los Angeles, Carolina showcases Haden's real skills as a songwriter and lyricist. Backing Josh on this album are Lyon, Danny Frankel, and Petra Haden. This is a truly solid batch of tunes that feature a nice organic sound and Haden's sincerely heartfelt vocals. Housed in a nice, thick, simple cardboard sleeve, this album will please Spain fans as well as anyone who loves twenty-first century Americana. Only 500 copies are being made available of the CD so if you want yours, you'd better grab it fast. Smart pensive cuts include "Tennessee," "Apologies," "Battle of Saratoga," and "Station."
Jeffrey Stadelman - Three String Quartets (CD, Navona,
This album presents three string quartets composed by Jeffrey Stadelman who has been making music for over twenty-five years. Stadelman is currently an Associate Professor of Music Composition at the University of Buffalo, State University of New York, and chairman of the Department of Music. Those are his day jobs. But our guess is that his real passion is in composition. Offering interpretations of Stadelman's music is the New England String Quartet which is comprised of Julia Okrusko (first violin), Nelli Jabotinsky (second violin), Sam Kelder (viola), and Ming-Hui Lin (cello). Stadelman's compositions are more challenging and peculiar than what most classical fans may be accustomed to hearing. So if you like everything all smooth and familiar, some of this may seem strange or alien. The album is divided into three sections: "Seraphita (Canons)," "Eastland," and "String Quartet No. 2." Some of this music has that odd herky jerky quality that we associate with some of the more absurd moments that occur in Warner Bros. Looney Tunes cartoons (!?). But make no mistake, this is neither silly nor comedic. The overall mood here is quite serious and unpredictable. These compositions seem to teeter on that fine line that divides classical from modern classical. Simultaneously interesting and unusual.
Cranes - Tango (CD, Mister White
The first thing we noticed about these songs was how uncompressed they sounded. For those who haven't noticed, one of the biggest problems with twenty-first century rock and pop music is the fact that almost everyone compresses the hell out of everything and you end up losing any and all dynamics that might have been there in the first place. These two ladies seem to be taking the opposite approach with their songs. The tracks on Tango have definite peaks and valleys in terms of volume and intensity. We can't remember the last time we've heard a duo like this...two ladies who don't play country or pop. Their music most definitely fits in the rock category. Steel Cranes is/are Tracy Shapiro on vocals and guitar and Amanda Schukle on drums, bass, guitar, and keyboards. The tunes on Tango have a loose bluesy rock sound...and they come across sounding completely authentic and sincere. Nine groovy cuts including "Ebb," "Pretty," "Happy," and "The Poet" (gotta love those succinct song titles). A solid cool spin.
Swans - The Glowing Man (Double CD, Young
Swans are one of those rare bands out there in the world that during their long and lengthy career always seem to satisfy music fans (both young and old) without ever compromising or selling out. Michael Gira's long and evolving band is not for everyone, nor does it try to be. Gira and his associates are true leaders in the underground world of music as art, a world which sadly seems to be growing smaller in the twenty-first century. We rarely hear bands like Swans these days, and that's a shame because the world now seems to mainly revolve around safe and samey music. But now that a 1990s resurgence seems to be bubbling underneath the surface, perhaps that will change and we will once again be treated to a world where guitars are turned all the way up and things get totally out of control again. But back to the subject and music at hand... The Glowing Man is yet another triumphant success for Gira and his bandmates. The music is brooding, experimental, aggressive, moody, peculiar, and played with total conviction. In addition to Michael, the band is comprised of Norman Westberg, Christoph Hahn, Phil Puleo, Christopher Pravdica, Thor Harris, and Bill Rieflin. This double CD package is presented in a deluxe triple cardboard foldout digipak sleeve. Quite a package, and right up there with the best Swans releases. This batch of recordings will definitely please Swans fans, as well as anyone else who appreciates the darker side of progressive hard rock. Captivating and intense in so many ways...and sometimes quite disturbing. Highly recommended. Top pick.
Turner - Life Begins (Double CD + DVD,
Dirty Dog Discs, Pop), New Live Dates: The Complete Set (Double
CD, Dirty Dog Discs, Pop)
Not one but two new releases from Martin Turner who is best known as a member of the legendary band Wishbone Ash. Music can be kind to some musicians as they age but in most cases people seem to just lose their spark over time. And then, instead of just throwing in the towel, they continue toiling away even though the magic is no longer there. That being said, Mr. Turner is a refreshing case of a musician who still has the spark (at least as recently as 2010 when the first of these two releases was recorded)...and whose music still sounds as fresh and vital as it did decades ago. Listening to these two albums and watching the video, we couldn't help but be amazed at how great Martin's voice sounds. He and his backing musicians pack a solid punch, making music that could probably be enjoyed equally by just about anyone regardless of their age. Life Begins is a big whopping triple disc set...two CDs featuring the audio from the 2010 concert in Leicester as well as a DVD so you can see the guys playing live to a very appreciative audience. Included in the concert is the popular Argus album in its entirety. Backing Turner are Ray Hatfield, Danny Willson, and Dave Wagstaffe. Turner and his bandmates offer stellar performances...they're all super tight and focused and never seem to have that annoying rock star attitude. The audio discs here are impressive...but even more impressive is the video footage which allows the listener/viewer to really appreciate these guys' talents. Recorded in 2005 and 2006, New Live Dates: The Complete Set, presents Turner backed by Ray Hatfield, Keith Buck, and Rob Hewins (plus a guest appearance by Ted Turner). Both of these releases are credible reminders of how well Turner's music has held up over the years. Next we're going to have to go back and re-examine the entire Wishbone Ash catalog. Recommended. Top pick.
Watches don't do
Way - Myths, Legends and Tales (CD,
Right Honourable, Pop)
Nice surprise receiving this one in the mail. Darryl Way's name will forever be embedded in our consciousness as he was one of the original members of one of the greatest British progressive rock bands of all time...Curved Air. The band achieved almost no success here in the United States, but overseas they were quite popular and highly influential. Mr. Way's violin was one of the crucial elements that made the band unique. At that time, very few rock bands had a violinist as a member. And Way was not just another violin player...he was one of the best. We heard one of Darryl's early solo albums released under the name Darryl Way's Wolf many years ago. And then, probably because he is virtually unknown in the United States, we lost track of the man and his music. Myths, Legends and Tales is a nice solid collection of new music...and we were pleasantly surprised to read the liner notes and find that Mr. Way played everything on the album himself. Interesting, because this doesn't like a one man recording project. A quick internet search revealed that Darryl has actually released a whole array of solo albums that we unfortunately never heard...yet. Mr. Way's music continues to sound inspired and interesting, so we can only hope he continues carrying the torch for cool and intriguing progressive rock music.
The Wild - From the Cities We Fled (Independently
released CD, Pop)
So many bands seem to be teetering into territory reminiscent of the 1990s when creativity was bursting out all over and bands weren't afraid to turn all the way up and blow everyone off the planet. From the Cities We Fled is one loud, aggressive, intense experience. If you like tapping your toesies to the latest Americana artist or country pop band, we can almost promise that you aren't going to like what the guys in We The Wild are up to. And our guess is that they don't mind alienating most people in the least. This ten track album is like getting bashed in the face with a log...over and over and over and over. Pummeling rhythms...loud overdriven guitar...and a vocalist with a raspy scream that will make your ears hurt. In a world where so few are so unwilling to take chances, this album provides welcome relief. Intense rockers include "Still Asunder," "Foxy, The Cops Are Here," "Terrible, Terrible!", and "2001."
Womack - Namaste (Independently released
If there's one word that might sum up Tommy Womack's career in 2016 that word might be...survivor. Tommy's been through a lot over the past few years, including an experience in 2007 when his heart stopped due to drug abuse. Instead of allowing the experience to end his life or his career, Womack turned it into fuel for a career that was supposed to have ended with the release of his fourth album There, I Said It! His career began years ago as a member of the Bowling Green, Kentucky-based punk band Government Cheese. After that he formed the Bis-Quits with his pal Will Kimbrough before embarking on a solo career. Womack's sounding mighty inspired and vigorous on Namaste. His songs sound something like a cross between The Replacements and Lou Reed with a few hints of Bob Dylan swimming around in the mix. The album has an interesting cover...a simple black and white photo of the artist holding his hands in prayer. Far from being a typical religious experience, however, Namaste seems to be all about being grateful for still being around to enjoy and appreciate it all. Produced by Brad Jones, these eleven tracks have a nice smooth sound without ever seeming overproduced. Cool reflective pop cuts include "Angel," "It's Been All Over Before," "I Almost Died," and "It's a Beautiful Morning."
X-Men: Apocalypse - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack: Music by John Ottman (CD, Sony
We've been listening to and writing about some rather unconventional and unusual soundtracks of late. Fans of traditional soundtrack music will be pleased to know that the music for the X-Men: Apocalypse motion picture takes a more traditional approach in terms of music. The X-Men movies are probably the best of all the Marvel characters that have been brought to life on the big screen. This one was directed by Bryan Singer who worked on the hugely popular X-Men: Days of Future Past. The music for Apocalypse was created by John Ottman, who is no newcomer in the world of the X-Men...he also created the music for X-Men 2. This is an extremely long album that clocks in at over seventy-six minutes. The sound quality is amazing...these tracks have a great big HUGE sound...so you can bet it'll have a major impact on you when you see the motion picture. All kinds of moods intertwined here...everything from moody to somber to creepy to spontaneously exciting. Killer cuts include "The Transference," "Just A Dream," "A Piece of His Past," and "Great Hero/You Betray Me."
Zhongyu - Zhongyu (CD, Moonjune,
A progressive American band that has the courage to make music like this and then have a Chinese band name...deserves a round of applause. After all, most people want everything easily defined and categorized so that they don't have to think at all. There are lots of bands of late whose music seems inspired by progressive bands from the 1970s, but very few who seem to actually capture the sound and spirit of the original progressive wave. The folks in Zhongyu do just that. The band is comprised of Jon Davis (chapman stick, guzheng, mellotron, ARP 260), Dennis Rea (electric guitar, resonator guitar), Alicia DeJoie (electric violin), James DeJoie (baritone saxophone, flute, bass clarinet), and Randy Doak (drums, percussion) along with special guest Daniel Barry (trumpet) on the track "MBBL." So many styles and sounds from so many decades and parts of the planet and yet...these songs have a nice flowing quality that makes you forget how unusual the music actually is. Recorded and mixed by Steve Fisk, the sound quality is the dead giveaway that these are brand new recordings. If you like heady progressive music where there's plenty of semi-psychedelic free form spontaneity, you're likely to fall in love with this album. Twelve absorbing cuts including "Apple Of My Mind's Eye 2," "Tunnel At The End Of The Light," and "All Food Comes From China."
James Zingara - Textures: New Works for Trumpet (CD, Ravello,
We don't often see and hear classical music albums where the trumpet is the main instrument. As such, this is a bold release that in some ways redefines what can be created with a trumpet. James Zingara is currently an Assistant Professor of Trumpet (we didn't even know there was a title this specific) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Zingara has not one but three degrees and has performed all over the world. When you hear the first composition on this album you'll realize you're in for something different. William Price's "Sans Titre VII" is a piece written for "unaccompanied solo trumpet." We're not even sure if we've ever heard a solo trumpet recording before (?). This was surely a test of Zingara's skills and concentration, and he pulls this one off with magnificent ease. Another strange standout track here is Price's "Ich Bin Maroon, Part 1." This piece features the UAB Chamber Trio which is comprised of Zingara on trumpet, Denise Gainey on clarinet, and Chris Steele on piano. The piece presents a variety of moods and styles, and shows just how skilled each of these players are. Pushing things into the realm of truly strange is the closing piece. Jeffrey D. Boehm's "Ovid's Dream" delves into another space we've never heard...a composition written for trumpet and computer. Dreamy peculiar stuff that's a lot easier on the ears than you might think. James Zingara is taking the trumpet into entirely new universes here...and it all works like a dream. Top pick.
Additional Items Received:
Ryan Adams - Heartbreaker (deluxe edition)
Additional Items Composed - Reversal of radishes
Additional Items Reversed - Back to the additional items
Adele - My frisky rat puppy done ate my head off
Alice Copper - Lob it to Seth
Allman Brothers - Crackdown concert 1986
Shirlette Ammons - Language barrier
Anohni - Hopelessness
Anthrax - For all kings
Antlers for Booboo - Oh no not that tired old runt again
Apples Got Smushy - Train smush
Bad Bump - Banana tread
Badfigure - Crooked down
Bambi Dambi - Lambi
Ballerina Pumps - Blackass
Barge - Limpy
Beadulls - Desmocker
Beatles - Medium rare
Bee Numb - Numb bee
Beyonce - Sorry
Beyond the Beyonder - Blander and blander
Black Tabitha - Pastor of senility
Butler Pudding - Lippity gris gris
Car Mump - Dazed and refused
Cast of Cast - Lastly
Cat Grave - Mickey's laboratory
Cesula - Maid in martians
Chance The Rapper - Coloring book
Chicago - Love songs
Chump - Malaria
Chunks of Paisley Pumps - Lordy the snore is a plaza burn
Eric Clapton - I still do
Phil Collins - No jacket required
Come To Lulu's Nurse - Romp and the bumpy tum tum
Conscious Or Not - Grumpy lazy
Crosby, Stills & Nash - Survival Sunday
Crunchy Links - Switches and prawns
Dae Dae - Mae Mae
Daisy Days - Freezing
Deftones - Gore
Dion - New York is my home
Dirty Pennies - Flocks and pimps
Doves That Die Today - Lassie
Ducks for Ducks - Nine hundred ponies
Eat The Bounty Feathers - Naptime
Elephant Muff - Beneath the blurry knob
Elves and Bumpy Thumpers - Original motion picture soundtrack
Empty - Flow
Far Out Far In - Farin
Faxes Forever - Limp little pixies
Five Times Fifty-Five - Live
Four Times Four Is Four - Five times
Foxes - All I need
Fume - Lumps
Funky Laminate - Parking
Fur For Francis - Pouches
Gas Pumps - Last primper
Gauge Rage - Now cow
Germany's Burp - Lamp drill
Get Your Begging Done - Tower bitch
Vince Gill - Down to my last bad habit
Goo Goo Dolls - Boxes
Graham Slackers - Naturally grabby
Ariana Grande - Into you
Josh Groban - Stages live
David Guetta - This one's for you
Guns N Roses - Acoustic session: Radio broadcast 1987
Hell for Humans - Happiness is a dumb puppy
Help the Hopeless - Bloody hearts get you nowhere
Ian Hunted - Punts and nuttters
Ian - Jackknife
Icky - Picky, picky, picky
If It Dies Don't Touch It - I offered more than they wanted and they took it
If You Knew Nothing You Would Be Nothing - Drips
Inky Doll - Dampness and dryness
It Stays Warm - Square butter
Michael Jackson - Off the wall
Michael Jackson - Nosey dopes
Jerry's Apple - Towers
Jerry's Crud - Narry a buster
Jersey is Swervy - Translustre
Jethro Toil - Sick as a tick
Elton John - Wonderful crazy night
Jones Is A Donkey - Drammamine
Judas Priest - Battle cry
Junk Is Just Junk - Lady trunk
Kalesh - Kaos
Kandy and the Ks - Lassie's drool
Krazy Cow - Lots of tips
Krunchy Krunch - Captain's caps and tons
Kudzu's Lamp - Drastic
KWKWERA - Lists
Ladies For Pretzels - Louder than the other thing that we had discussed earlier
Lamb Peppers - Smuppy
Cindi Lauper - Detour
Laxative Preamble - Naps and snappers
Let There Be Let - Now there be meow
Lisa Said - First time, long time
Lists - Stop the Lists
Loretta Lynn - Full circle
Lumineers - Cleopatra
Lumps - Lousy mouses
Manners and Nanners - Tablets for pokey
Masta Ace - The falling season
Matchbox - Going down there
Math for Math's Sake - Plazas
Maze Lops - Trazzler
Mazer's Big Torch Bucket - Lipsy
Millie's Pork Bucket - Boxes won't go away
Monkey Chuck - Arlene
Monkey Davis - Nervous
Monkey Pauline - Damnable
Moo Moo the Bow Wow - Trouser's ain't fresh no more
Mrowl - Prowling for mrowl
Murphy and Nop - Dammy and slop
Murphy's Paw - Plaid and dumb
Nasal and Tonsil - Lasers and urchers
Ned and the Headrumpers - Trowels
Newsboys - God's not dead
No More Blouses - Farmy
More More Cactus - Deal or no no
Now Cows - Blouses and thermometers
Numb's Fumbler - Town and mouth
Octorub - Norbie
Oh No That Old Shithead Is Here Again - Rotten old schmucks with no manners
Oooh - Uuuuuh
Oooh Oooh - Uuuuuh uhhh
Opposite of Opposite - Lopposite
Orange Floyd - Sharp glide of the goon
Osmosis - USB #7
Other Muzzles - Howdy Pops
Oz and the Schnoz - Pow wows and monkeys
Painted Fuss - Nope
Pants and Pantless - Rainy press
Part Blub - Fran is ugly
Paws With Fingers - Ink bus
Pet Shop Boys - Super
Mike Posner - At night, alone
The Puddles - Nappy load
Punk Biscuits - Sap
Punk Noodles - Take this noodle and cook it
Puny - Runny infection
Quacks - Trippy truck
Quails and Trucks - Lamb power
Query - Stop the questions
Quest for Dope - Smoking snuff
Quails Got Drunk - Beer and tissue paper
Quicker Than Daffy - Cords that don't work
Quiz Germs - Links that don't work
Radiohead - Daydreaming
Debbie Rafter - Lemme after
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Dark necessities
Reel to Raoul - Mouthpiece
Reform Club - Never yesterday
Rely On Relish - Candy dash
Mick Rhodes & The Hard Eight - Paradise city
Rihanna - Anti
Rolling Bones - Get your mama's kraut
Runny - Tippy's revenge
Rush - Beneath, between and behind
Larry Samual - Barney doesn't have hugs for me
Santa Died Last Night - Presenting...
Santana - Santana IV
Shotgun Louise - Rampy dim
Shotgun Tina - Lousy lamps
Shotgun Zappa - Mouses and mouses
Smuppy - The tatters that ground pepper
Sparse - Kim's Ono spy mouse
Rick Springfield - Rocket science
Bruce Springsteen - Roxy night
Mavis Staples - Livin' on a high note
Steely Dan - Doing it in California
Styx - Suite madame blue: Radio broadcast 1977
Sultans of Swing - Subcontinental drift
Swap and Change - Loudness weird
Swenter - Flowers
Talking Sheds - Lambs forking up tonsils
Tea For Lunch - Massachusetts isn't a country
Teepee Tupperware - Laura's butter pand
Telltale - Taller toll
Thuds - Ready for emperors
Thunder - All you can eat
Justin Timberlake - Can't stop the feeling
Trunk Idiots - Laugh when it's all over
Tummy Bus - Lambs and prawns
Tunker - Lassie's paw
Ugly Banana - How do the hussy wink
Ugly Orange - Do the mouse
Ultraplucks - Eyebrow mania
Umbrella Vision - Church of tassle
Uncle Duck - Mushed
Uncle Pregnant - Does and rodents
Keith Urban - Ripchord
Various Artists - A collection of dull dribble that no one will ever notice
Various Artists - We stopped makin' em because they stopped buyin' em
Various Artists - No one buys these kinds of compilations anymore so that's why we keep producing 'em
Various Artists - Tribute to someone whose name we can't remember
Various Artists - Trying to get something heard never works
Various Artists - The most boring bands you never cared to hear
Wally Is Near - Stamp that thing goodbye
Wanda and the Wandas - Limp
We Don't Get It - Now is the now
Well I Guess This Is Just Another One - Lumps
Whether Or Not - Lousy weather
Lucinda Williams - Ghosts of Highway 20
X-ray Pecs - Lookie away
Xzistance - Lift down
Yanni - The dream concert
Yell All The Time For Whatever You Pay For It - Taxi service
Yellow Floyd - Park wide until noon
Yesterday's Potties - Damp portions
Yes We Will Be Bananas - Trap doors
Yoyos for Panama - Sharp
Zappa and the Zappettes - Trown
Frank Zappa - How flowers got in the potty train
©2016 LMNOP aka dONW7