Classical, Neo

Classical, Neo

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Outsight brings to light non-mainstream music, film, books, art, ideas and opinions.

Published, somewhere, monthly since July 1991. Feel free to re-print this article.

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THE TOMMIES

Here is the Top 15 Recordings for 2003 from Outsight, listed alphabetically:

Steffen Basho-Junghaus – Rivers
and Bridges
(Strange Attractors Audio House)
The Cramps – Fiends
of Dope Island
(Vengeance)
Cul de Sac – Death
of the Sun
(Strange Attractors Audio House)
Frith, Derome, Tanguay, Boisen – All
is Bright, but it is not Day
(DAME)
Satoko Fujii – Minerva
(Libra Records)
Kevin Kling – Wonderlure
(East Side Digital)
Alan Lomax – Blues
Songbook
(Rounder Records)
Joni Mitchell – Travelogue
(Nonesuch)
Muggs – Dust (Anti)
Shuggie Otis – In
Session Information
(RPM Productions)
Pigface – Easy
Listening…
(Underground, Inc.)
The Prime-Time Sublime Community Orchestra – (
                                )

(Corporate Blob Records)
The Ruiners – How’s
That Grab Ya?
(Disaster Records)
Spring Heel Jack – Live
(Thirsty Ear)
Otis Taylor – Truth
is not Fiction
(Telarc)

For archived reviews of the Top 10, visit the Outsight
Home Page

While you there, join your music-related Web site to the Outsight
Web Ring, “Music’s Haven on the ‘Net”

MORTIIS BEGINS RECORDING IN NORWAY

Mortiis is at Silvertone Studios in Fredrikstad, Norway with producer Vegard
Blomberg working on new material for a forthcoming album. “So far the studio
has been totally right for us,” said Mortiis. “Good vibes, good people and it’s
cool to finally be able to work in Pro Tools, as well. The sound really speaks
for itself on that level, even though we’re still totally on a ‘work-in-progress’
level.” To approach the project for total, sequestered immersion is a new one
for Mortiis, “I like the way we are working now, by coming in and living in
the studio for a week at a time and just working on whatever we feel like working
on at the moment,” says Mortiis who adds that the sound is also different. “The
songs so far sound a lot more certain of themselves, and all around it is a
lot harsher, a lot heavier, it contains the anger I was unable to vent last
time around basically.”


CLASSICAL, NEO

New names and ways in classical recordings keep this tried-and-true genre full
of fresh possibilities. One of the freshest is fourteen-year-old organ wunderkind
Felix Hell. Check out his Liszt, Guilmant, Rheinberger, Vierne album on
Reference Recordings.
Presented in the stunning dynamics of 24-bit HDCD all the nuances, especially
in the sweeping mood changes of Guilmant’s “Sonata No. 1 in D Minor, are captured
in this recording made on the Schoenstein organ at the First-Plymouth Congregational
Church (Lincoln, NB)… Trying new ways is Hayden Wayne. Wayne is intent on incarnating
a “new classicism” of vital music. Toward that end his symphonies 2, 3 and 4 form
a trilogy. Symphony #4 is titled Funk and this would give the impression
that we are to expect something like James Brown and the Boston Pops. However,
this symphony, recorded by Czech Republic’s State Philharmonic of Brno, is a more
subtle impression of this ostentatious genre. Only in the final movement with
the offbeat percussion and horns can a funk feel be had without searching too
hard. Symphony #3 is Heavy Metal, but it is not even Wagnerian.
The greatest heavy metal feel is in the first movement with nods to Holst’s “Mars,
Bringer of War” and John Williams’ “Imperial Attack” for Star Wars. The
connection is the insistent, emphasized march of dread. Still, portions of this
recording really cry out for maximal volume, but you will really have to crank
it because these CDs are mastered at such a low level. Wrapping up the reverse
order appraisal is Symphony #2: Reggae. Nothing especially sunny, sub-tropical
or bass-as-lead-instrument here. As a matter of fact it is more ominous and imperial
march-like then Heavy Metal. Maybe the titles got switched? Honestly, Hayden
has done some great work here putting together symphonies for the modern canon,
but why attach the names of such showy and formulaic pop/rock genres to sophisticated
music if there are no cheap tricks? … Then there is the ensemble Red Priest, named
for Vivaldi. This group takes Vivaldi’s world-renowned The Four Seasons
(Dorian) and performs it as a largely recorder
and harpsichord affair. Some recorders were especially made for the spirited and
fiery rendition. The take on the well-worn set of music is so sprightly played
and brightly recorded as to breathe new life into the pieces. The booklet includes
Vivaldi’s sonnets setting the mood for each concerto and the recording includes
Corelli’s Christmas Concerto….


Listen to or Buy Symphony #2 at Amazon.com

Listen
to or Buy at Symphony #4 Amazon.com

Listen
to or Buy at The Four Seasons Amazon.com


DEMOCRACY IN ACTION

Alternative Tentacles and Jello Biafra are working with PunkVoter.com.
The site is a good match for Jello’s mocking jests and witty attacks on American
politically institutions. Just as Jello also sees the democratic process as a
tool for progressive change, so does PunkVoter.com, which is a sarcastic rallying
point for non-mainstream voters and would-be voters… The fight to lift the U.S.
embargo on travel to Cuba is very much alive. Senators Craig (ID) and Dorgan (ND)
were offered an amendment to the Transportation, Treasury, and Independent Agencies
Appropriations bill for just this and it passed by a unanimous voice vote. The
Craig-Dorgan provision to stop enforcement of a ban on travel to Cuba must now
survive conference committee and a possible presidential veto. Contact your senator
to voice your own support for this amendment… The Friends Committee on National
Legislation has a great resource for easily tracking down your Senator or other
representative at: http://capwiz.com/fconl/dbq/officials/


DVD REVIEWS ******************************

John Wetton
Amorata
Metal Mind Productions/Music
Video Distributors

This is concert filmed and recorded in Poland in 2003. Bassist and vocalist John
Wetton gets his best material in this concert from time spent with Asia (“Heat
of the Moment”, “Sole Survivor”) and King Crimson (“Red”, “Easy Money”, “Starless”)
from his varied prog rock career. He also uses material recorded with UK (“In
the Dead of the Night”, “Rendezvous 602”). This is the debut DVD concert release
for John Wetton. (4)

More
on the DVD from Amazon.com


Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
Real Wild Child: Video Anthology
Blackheart Records/Music Video
Distributors

Joan Jett and manager/partner Kenny Laguna provide the commentary and introductory
notes on this video anthology spanning Jett’s career. In the candid remarks Joan
looks great but comes across forgetful and not eloquent. However, this is all
part of her persona as the real deal, the queen of punk; the über-grrl that picked
up a guitar and became the original riot girl in spite of the music industry.
The early videos of “Bad Reputation”, “Do You Wanna Touch Me?” and “I Love Rock
N’ Roll” show how the foundation of her career was based on basic and catchy hard
rock. However, Jett’s MTV-supported fame resulted in a spate of pop videos and
trendy fashion. In this warts-and-all collection Joan shows and comments on all
the videos, even the ones she openly dislikes herself. The completeness of the
anthology makes is a must for the serious Jett fan, but there is a healthy slice
of yawn potential for the punk and hard rock fan that sees Jett as one luminary
in that constellation. (4)


Various Artists
Punk – The Early Years
Cleopatra/Music Video Distributors

The documentary, shot in 1977-8, explore the early days of punk rock. At this
time, there was a plethora of style and direction with a comparative lack of control
by the any level of the corporate music industry. Much has changed since, but
this film provides fascinating insight by interviews with key players like Siouxsie
Sioux, Poly Styrene (X-Ray Spex), The Slits, The Adverts and more. These talks
are contrasted with outsider views from record company executives that sought
to understand and profit from this new genre, as well as the final interview with
Marc Bolan, who had just toured with The Damned. (4)

More
on the DVD from Amazon.com


Candye Kane
In Concert
Inakustik/Music
Video Distributors

Back in the ’80s, Candye Kane was a stripper and magazine model with a few X-rated
videos to her credit. With a background like that, it may be easy to suppose she
would be a novelty act with little to offer musically. However, this 1997 concert
shows Kane to a bold blues singer with ability and style. Her bold and shameless
sense of pansexual fun combined with a disarmingly direct and honest charm makes
her the modern Mae West of the jump blues. This swinging concert with the Swingin’
Armadillos includes a cover of “These Boots are Made for Walkin'” as well as such
fun and overt tunes as “Great Big Woman” and Kane’s own “All You Can Eat…” Blues,
rock and swing have always mixed well with sex and it is her brassy, fun blend
of those as well as real singing ability that has kept her post-porn career as
a musician alive since her debut in 1993 and on to last year’s all-star live recording
Whole Lotta Love (Ruf Records). 1997, when this concert was recorded, is generally
seen as a banner year in Candye Kane and the Swingin’ Armadillos. (3.5)

More
on the DVD from Amazon.com


The Residents
Eskimo
Euro Ralph/Music
Video Distributors

The album Eskimo came out in 1979 and still resonates as a highpoint
in impressionistic minimalism. Putting on the sparse, alien soundtrack can make
a hot room feel chilly. This special DVD edition combines Inuit photographs
and text to overlay images with a horrific, tragic, mysterious tale. The words
and images are carried over onto a glossy, color 16-page booklet. The booklet
includes pre-publicity articles about supposedly stolen masters. Chris Cutler
(Henry Cow), responsible for much percussion on the album, wrote one of these
articles. This DVD fully completes the suggestion of Eskimo musical documentary
suggested with the icy album. Also, go to the “Residents” Main Menu option,
which is a paragraph about the band. Let the DVD sit there for a few seconds
and you get treated with a video and instrumental music from The Residents.
(4)

More
on the DVD from Amazon.com


Foetus
¡Male!
Atavistic/Music Video Distributors

Foetus has a tradition of using single-syllable recording names, usually echoing
the direct, brute force of the music: Blow, Nail, Gash. This one, with
the double-emphatic Spanish exclaim suggests the pointless, sudden and brutal
violence that is male. That is, violence of the wolf, of war and of such songs
as “Anything (Viva)”, the gay bashing “English Faggot” and the equal opportunity
racial attack in “Free James Brown”. The recordings are from several venues
in the late ’90s: CBGB’s, Chicago’s Cabaret Metro and more. The touring band
of this time, captured here, includes members of Swans, Prong and Cop Shoot
Cop. (3.5)

More
on the DVD from Amazon.com


VINYL REVIEWS ******************************

Escape Pod
Losing Control
Dead Digital

Splicing together lo-fi post folk elements of indie pop with electronica really
works for this Manchester trio. Fans of the K Records roster and Pixies, Badly
Drawn Boy and Of Montreal will appreciate this band. The single A Side is a nice
juxtaposition between the song content of “Losing Control” and the in-control,
angular guitar melody. The B Side of the single has harmony vocals and a harmonium
sound for quasi-baroque pop. (3)


The Bristols
“I Got a Thing About You” b/w “I’ll be Gone Again”
Damaged Goods Records

This garage pop group has a fun, bouncing sound. The two sides here feature the
cheery vocal talents of Fabienne Delsol. This garage rock revival outfit is put
together by guitarist Liam Watson who makes sure everything sounds like it “used
to.” Full of pep, these two songs are catchy and memorable, bright and shiny examples
of the best of garage pop. (3)


ARP
Supersonic
Top Shelf Records

Fun and funky beat music with a down tempo is the order of the day on this debut
single from ARP. The B-side is the “Midnite Mix” of the song. The wistful female
vocals and simple, direct beats bring back the ’80s and the birth of new wave
and such later post-disco electro-pop as Tom Tom Club. (3)


CD Reviews ******************************

Gwendolyn
Dew
Gwendolyn

Gwendolyn has the oddball metaphors and quirky, rolling acoustic guitar melodies
that recall Syd Barrett and his Madcap Laughs albums. This madcap, crazy
wisdom exudes from such tracks as “Eskimo” and “Cuckoo for You”. This gives her
songs a unique quality and fills the arrangements with surprise and freshness.
You may have heard Gwendolyn before, she is responsible for the catchy “Freedom
of the Heart (Ooodily, Ooodily)” from the film Chuck & Buck. She also has
a medieval, almost eerie quality to some songs, like the dirge ballad “Lady Strange”.
She is also in good company here. Ralph Carney (Tom Waits) provides some horns
and lap guitar while Quazar is on hand to provide not all sorts of found object
percussion. Quirky and engaging, this is a splendiferous album. (4.5)


Listen to or Buy at Amazon.com


The Mummies
Death by Unga Bunga!
Estrus

This is a collection of rarities from the costumed garage rockers taken from rare
45s. The band revels in the most primitive of arrangements, so that these
tracks sound like unearthed go-go teenbeat singles from the ’50s. These songs
hum and buzz with over-modulated tones and the burning stench of pharaonic wrappings
bursting afire with white-hot rock. This is a fitting testament to the bandaged
kings of the lo-fi garage rock revival, the costumed superheroes of the proto-punk
sound. (4.5)


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The Crack Pipes
Snakes in my Veins
Emperor Jones

This Texas band has a rough garage punk blues inspired sound that bounces along
on organ. Some occasional horns lend a damaged Stax air to this rugged retro rock.
Giving its garage noise a blues lining the band ends up with a sound like Ike
Turner meets Blue Cheer, or James Brown producing a Mudhoney release. (3.5)


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Those Unknown
Those Unknown
TKO Records

This is a reissue of Those Unknown’s 1995 debut CD. In hindsight, this album proves
to be a high water mark in old school punk of the mid-’90s. The group has a tough,
muscular street punk sound with nods to hardcore. At its feistiest it is what
an old friend of mine would have descriptively called “boot thrash.” There is
a real working class attitude here (“Bound for Glory, Headed for Hell”) and slight
English accent that makes the music oi-friendly. The original release has been
expanded to fourteen by the addition of two bonus tracks. All the lyrics are provided
and there are liner notes from band member Rich Owens. In today’s largely apolitical
neo-punk scene the incisive radicalism of those unknowns is refreshing and Rich
Owens fairly calls for a revolution in his liner notes. Should a revolution come,
this would be an ideal soundtrack. Punk revival that is RIYL: Sham 69, The Business,
The Adicts. (4)


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Jay McShann
Goin’ to Kansas City
Stony Plain

Jay McShann is here doing the jump blues sound form the piano aided by rock ‘n’
roll originator Johnny Johnson, premier folk pop vocalist Maria Muldaur and contemporary
blues guitarist Duke Robillard. The 87-year-old, still act, keeps the Kansas City
R&B flame alight on this album which features Johnny Johnson with McShann on two
barnstormer two-piano tracks: “Kansas City (Revisited)” and “Some Kinda Crazy”.
McShann’s 1941 songs “Confessin’ The Blues” remains a classic and that’s when
Muldaur appears, to duet with Jay on the song. The album also includes an entertaining
and enlightening 18-minute interview with Jay. (4)


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Rich Stein
Unspoken
Clearsteer Music

This is an acoustic, instrumental guitar album that is heartfelt and poignant.
Beside steel-string guitar, Stein plays violin and viola on this album. Each track
offers something singular in its arrangements, like the gentle background humming
and vocalization contributed by Jane Ross to “Family Gathering”. Stein also uses
an E-Bow for a synthesizer like quality on “My Secret Life”. (4)


Listen to or Buy at Amazon.com


Alan Lomax
Blues Songbook
Rounder Records

The world is full of blues compilations. Even blues compilations that have such
songs as “Dust my Broom” and “Stagolee”. Heck, I bet many are given away free
with a tank of gas. But nowhere else are you going to get the real deal recorded
in the field by Alan Lomax himself. By its very nature, and even with digital
transfer technology, this is a warts-and-all compendium, meaning there is a recording
hum behind Pete Johnson doing “Roll ‘Em” (1938) and is that a blown jug or over
modulated percussion buzzing on “Kokomo” by The Memphis Jug Band? Who cares what
recording imperfections lie on the surface when underneath is such a primary source
as Memphis Slim, Sonny Boy Williamson and Big Bill Broonzy together doing “Life
is Like That” or Mississippi Fred McDowell with Fanny Davis and Mile Pratcher
on “Goin’ Down the River”? Check out this trio closing out the second disc of
this two-disc set: Leadbelly with Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee doing “How Long
Blues”. Always generous and complete on documentation, Rounder provides this set
with a thick booklet detailing every track; it’s performers as well as place and
time of recording. Featuring previously unreleased Lomax recordings, Blues Songbook
includes Son House, Blind Willie McTell, Muddy Waters and more. (5)


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Nina Simone
The Lady has the Blues
Tomato

For reviewing this recording, I relied heavily on my resident Nina Simone expert,
my wife. Both of us agree that blues albums from Simone is the exception rather
than the rule for this jazz and pop singer and pianist. That alone makes the recording
worthy of taking notice. However, my wife tells me that recordings in her collection
of the same songs tend to be of better quality than those found here. Still, this
collection offers some real standouts, like “House of the Rising Sun” which really
heats up, as well as “See Line Woman”. It is also interesting to hear Simone’s
take on “Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”. This was one of several Bennie
Benjamin numbers Nina recorded for 1964’s Broadway-Blues-Ballads (Philips).
The pop version recorded by The Animals the following year is better known, but
lacks the depth and expressiveness Simone gives the song on this album. (3.5)


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Albert King
Live ’69
Tomato

This is a newly unearthed Albert King concert recording. This king of the classic
Texas blues guitarists is in excellent form, both on righteous guitar leads (“Why
Are You so Mean to Me?”) as well as soulful vocals (“As the Years go Passing by”).
Combined with the slow blues ballad “Please Come back to Me” following right after,
this is the two-song heart of this 6-song live set. The set closes with rocking
versions of “Crosscut Saw” and “Personal Manager”. Albert King was the bellwether
that power blues rock would follow in the following decade. Aside from the
rough introduction track, each piece on here is worthy of the standout, culminating
episode of a later live concert featuring such blues-insprieed expressive guitarists
as Eric Clapton or Jimmy Page. (4)


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Duke Robillard
Exalted Lover
Stony Plain Records

This album features the classic Bennie Benjamin-penned heartache ballad “I’ll
Never be Free” done as a vocal duet with Pam Tillis. Combined with the rootsy
Robillard originals “Down Home Country Girl” and the piano-fueled “Real Live Wire”
gives the album a nostalgic, blues roots feel. However, the arrangements and recording
is crisp and contemporary, perfect for the modern blues fan. The title track
has a jazz and blues feel featuring horns and a sultry French narration by Aimée
Hill. This is a good song that Robillard really does not have the vocal chops
to exalt to its deserved level. In trying too hard he trips up the album’s flow.
(3.5)


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The Moto-Litas
The Moto-Litas
The Moto-Litas

The Moto-Litas have a catchy feel to their edgy, garage-inspired rock that
cannot be denied. This is RIYL The Runaways and the 5,6,7,8’s. The edge delivered
by the biting guitar rhythms in the band’s two-guitar front has one foot in the
garage revival and the other in ’70s rock. (The ’70s rock feel is reinforced with
the occasional appearance of prominent bass, but fortunately there are not cowbells.)
This hard rock delivery juxtaposes nicely when the vocals are sweet and nice (“Un
Solo Filo”) and sometimes the vocals soar with and above the rock sounds. (3.5)


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Robert Crumb
Hot Women: Women Singers from the Torrid Regions
Kein & Aber Records

Covering 1925 – 1950 and sourced from Robert Crumb’s collection of 78RPM discs,
this is a compendium of pre-everything female vocalists. The “torrid regions”
here range from Cajun Louisiana to Latin America to southeast Asia to Greece and
more. Most of the music is not sung in English, but a spirited, high-pitched passion
pervades the entire disc of exotic acoustic tunes. The richly decorated Digipack
packaging is festooned with Robert Crumb’s artwork as well as eight pages of lettered
liner notes detailing historical facts about each track. This document is an excellent
overview and testament to the nearly forgotten sounds captured on these antique
recordings. (4)


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Tyrades
Tyrades
Broken Rekids

After 3 EPs, Tyrades is out with a full-length CD of sputtering and spastic retro
punk reaching back. This album recalls the spitting and outrageous first wave
of L.A. punk, like The Weirdos and The Screamers. Intense and infectious, this
is fun and cathartic music. (3)


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The Gits
Enter: The Conquering Chicken
Broken Rekids

Enter: The Conquering Chicken was originally recorded in 1993. It was during
this time recording the band’s second studio album that Mia Zapata was murdered.
Producer Jack Endino (Nirvana, Mudhoney), has now re-mixed the tracks and nine
bonus tracks are added. Most of the bonus live material is from a Portland State
University live recording. At a time when the Pacific Northwest was giving birth
to grunge, The Gits hearkened back to The Avengers. This package has the additional
material and superior sound quality to the earlier C/Z Records release. (3.5)


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Purple Hearts
Beat That!
Captain Mod Records

In the wake of punk, Purple Hearts was one of the many bands inspired by The Jam
to revive the mod sound. However, the punkers were now dancing to new wave and
other potential mod revival fans were dancing to two tone. In the wake of these
divergent trends, Beat That! became a garage soul classic that would have been
lost had it not been for discerning collectors and, now, this reissue by Captain
Mod Records. Including extensive liner notes on the band’s history, this reissue
also has four bonus tracks including the single version of the title cut. (3)


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The Lurkers
26 Years
Captain Oi

The Lurkers arose in the second wave of UK punk in the late ’70s. What they lacked
in genre leadership, they made up for in longevity lasting about a decade through
lineup changes and become a beacon for Brit-punk nostalgia. Then there was a decade
plus of not much happening. Now, the group is back together as a trio (in a form)
with Arturo Bassick (vocals/bass) and two other near-anonymous members: “Billy
G”. and “Nelly”. This a new studio album from the group and includes new versions
of “Go Ahead Punk” and “Mass Media Believer” along with plenty of potent new rockers.
(3.5)


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The Close
It’s a Secret to Everybody
Moodswing Records

The Close offers a sophisticated, musically intricate indie rock full of varied
style and texture. The Atlanta transplant group has accessible songs that are
full of tricks without being arty or contrived. However, it is the artful complexity,
the engaging intricacy of these songs that makes the album compelling. All the
elements at work here gives the material a dynamics, constant variation that
makes this album one that can be put on again and again. (3.5)


Arab on Radar
Queen Hygiene II / Rough day at the Orifice
Three One G

Here we have Arab on Radar’s first two albums, Queen Hygiene II (1997)
and Rough Day at the Orifice (1998) reissued together onto one CD. On Queen
Hygiene II
the band had a bass player (Andrea Fiset), but not so after that.
Right from the beginning we have the hyperactive post-punk songs of attention
deficit brevity and crammed full of brutal and pornographic lyrics. This earliest
material is among the group’s best and having both albums on one CD is a real
bargain for the collector, though all the short spasms of music that make up each
song only adds up to a little over 40
minutes for the entire album. (3)


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Blacktop
I Got a Baaad Feelin’ About This: The Complete Recordings
In The Red

This first post-Gories project for Mick Collins still reverberates with intensity
today. More elaborate then the minimalism of Gories, this is an apocalyptic garage
soul assault. Much sought after was the Australian Up All Night album,
which included unreleased tracks from Blacktop. Now, all the pieces are put together
into Collins’ post-blues noisy nightmare for this complete edtion. This is fitting
tribute to the garage punk classic that this album has become. (4)


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Mary Lorson & Saint Low
Tricks for Dawn
Cooking Vinyl

Mary Lorson has been integral to such projects as Madder Rose and Saint Low and
also done music for film projects with Madder Rose bandmate Billy Cote. Now, Lorson
begins to define herself as a solo artist and seems cool and comfortable in the
role of chanteuse under her own name. There will be comparisons to the likes of
Kristin Hersh and Tanya Donelly but Lorson comes across as more cool and classy,
sweet and sophisticated on this jazz tinged and dark album of songs. The Tom Waits-like
production of “Strange Gift” further sets her apart from her peers. The album
is melancholy and magical. Evan Dando shows up on “Long Way Down” to lend some
guitar. (4)


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Lisa Fraser
Midday Songs
Abish Music

Alone and with her acoustic guitar, Lisa Fraser entertains and enchants with her
beguiling story songs. It is natural to relax into these warm, cozy songs as Lisa
Fraser’s narrative delivers us settings and character sketches to fill the imagination.
This is the debut album from the Centerville, UT singer. Crisp and crystalline
production adds much to the intimate feel of this album. Fraser has said artists
like Elton John and Paul Simon influenced her musical style growing up and it
is easy to hear that influence. Like those artists, Lisa offers the magic of
melody and a moral, harmony and a human story in these songs that stay with the
listener. (4)


June Tabor
An Echo of Hooves
Topic Records

Elvis Costello is quoted as saying, “If you don’t like listening to June Tabor,
you should stop listening to music.” Well, with a testimonial like that, there
is quite a build-up. This album of ballads from Appalachia, England and Scotland
bears out that promise. It is a stark and evocative album of mystery and haunting
tales. Much of this is murder ballad material and singer June Tabor does not approach
it as a traditionalist. The piano-backed performance of “Bonnie James Campbell”
could be Diamanda Galas as a folksinger. June has five different musicians adding
just the right flavor to each track. This includes Kathryn Tickell (Sting, The
Chieftains) on the colorful Northumbrian pipes on two songs and guitarist Martin
Simpson on one track. (4)


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Scott Marshall
Black & White
Paniculture

This two-CD set includes over two hours of material. Most of these audio collages
are very impressionistic, as befitting an experimental composed that has worked
for film (“Small Time Crooks”) and theater. For instance, “Rain” on the White
CD evokes a lonely, nighttime urban walk in a gentle rain. The minimalistic self-generating
melodies of “Twilight in the Country” are similarly impressionistic, but this
time for a rural setting. This disk also includes the complete 21-minute commissioned
score for Scott Rink’s new ballet of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Like the two masks
of tragedy and comedy that represent theatre, so this opus has a friendly and
dark side. The dark side is represented on Black. Black is more crowded
and edgier. The soundbites butt up next to each other with what may appear to be slash-and-splice
editing, exuding a nervous, uncomfortable feeling. (4)


D.O.A.
War and Peace
Sudden Death

Subtitled 25th Anniversary Anthology, this collection includes recordings
from 1978 (Disco Sucks 7″) to 2001 (Win The Battle). This seminal,
incredibly influential Canadian hardcore band was instrumental in laying out the
hardcore formula for all of North America to follow. Listening to tracks such
as “World War 3”, “War” and “Death to the Multinationals” show that frontman Joey
Keithley has been remarkably consistent in keeping his band on message. Decrying
war and a new world order with great punk rock Activism and angst aside and even
putting aside that anti-disco anthem, Keithley has always had a penchant for a
pronounced and heavily accented rhythm which probably is one reasons why his music
has succeeded so well to reach over 500,000 total record sales. (3.5)


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John Carter
Measure for Measure: The John Carter Anthology
RPM

John Carter was a genius of ’60s and ’70s Brit pop singles. This collection includes
singles and advertisements from him. Not only are there solo recordings but output
of the Carter-Lewis duo as well as such John Carter groups as The Flowerpot Men.
The name “The Flowerpot Men” seems more mocking of hippiedom than arising from
it and much of Carter’s music seems subtly self-deprecating about the popular
culture and his own pop music that he relished in. These bright and cheery
melodies are exquisitely arranged and expertly sung by Carter who was as talented
a singer as he was a songwriter. (4)


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Paso Fino
Should’ve Bought a Pony
I-Town Records

Core to Paso Fino is Shane Lamphier and Tara Nevins (both of Donna The Buffalo)
along with songwriter Diana Andersen. Several additional musicians are credited
to the full, folk sound recorded here. Their rhythms are an interesting blend of
Latin and shuffle. The acoustic ensemble is a richly arranged string band with
interwoven harmony vocals. The album is sophisticated musically, but warm and
accessible. If you’ve seen the film The Year That Trembled, the album closer
“On The Outside” appears there. This is recommended if you like Donna The Buffalo,
Poi Dog Pondering or Curved Air. (4.5)


Yusef Lateef & Adam Rudolph
In The Garden
Meta Records

This is a two-CD live recording where longtime collaborators Yusef Lateef and
Adam Rudolph perform with the Go: Organic Orchestra. The instrumental jazz compositions
are organic and fluid suggestions impressions of gentle nighttime rain (“Nanna”)
and a seaside storm (“Little Tree”). The 22-member orchestra put jazz, world and
classical themes cued by Lateef and Rudolph precisely and accurately into a larger
canvas devised by the composers. With ideas stretching from post-modern composition
to traditional Asian and African scales and instruments, this is a richly sophisticated
musical experience yielding a surprise to the ear on every listen. (5)


Gov’t Mule
The Deepest End
ATO Records

This is a three-disc set. Two of the discs are CDs of over one-and-one-quarter
hours of live music. The third disc is a DVD from the concert. This material is
from the May, 2003 concert in homage to the deceased Gov’t Mule bassist Allen
Woody. This was a six-hour live event with thirteen bassists listed. Among
them were Les Claypool, Jason Newsted, Rob Wasserman and Victor Wooten. The set
further features eight other guest musicians, including Béla Fleck, Bernie Worrell
and Sonny Landreth. All of these augment the core Gov’t Mule trio of Warren Haynes,
Matt Abs and Danny Louis. While there is significant overlap with the material
on The Deep End, Vol. 1 and The Deep End, Vol. 2 drawn from the
same concert, this is not merely a repacking of those two CDs with a DVD. Some
of the audio tracks are also here, but some different audio tracks are present
with some tracks from the earlier CDs show on the DVD. (5)


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Wesley Willis & The Dragnews
Greatest Hits, Vol. 3
Alternative Tentacles

Alternative Tentacles chose to make this posthumous Wesley Willis greatest hits
package its first enhanced CD release. As a fitting tribute, this compendium includes
selected tracks from self-produced Willis CDs as well as unreleased and very early
material. Henry Rollins and Jello Biafra wrote the liner notes to the manic mosaic
of keyboards and profanity, commercial quotes and nonlinear metaphors. (3.5)


The Weirdos
We Got the Neutron Bomb: Weird World Volume Two
Frontier Records

Today “punk rock” generally refers to hard rock done by amateur youths with visceral
enthusiasm. The Weirdos is one of those seminal punk rock acts that developed
from a scene that was all promise and never derivative. All this experimentation
led to a lot of material of uneven worth in the group’s discography, however this
assembly of archive material is very consistent. The album brings together unreleased
studio, live and rehearsal material covering 1977 to 1989. (3)


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Various Artists
New York City Rock N Roll
Radical Records

DJ Stephen Blush, author of “American Hardcore: A Tribal History”, compiled this
compilation of 22 bands and he did a great job at it. Blush seems himself as a
documenting a return to the post-glam punk scene of Blondie, New York Dolls and
more from the Max’s Kansas City and CBGB’s heyday. Listening to Detox Darlings,
Sküm and Slunt, one has to agree. Interestingly, female vocalists fiercely lead
most of the bands presented here. (3.5)


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Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez
The Trouble With Humans
Texas Music Group

This second album from the legendary songwriter and the talented newcomer scintillates
with a synchronization of talent and emotion that produces compelling songs and
an intimate, sexual mood. Chip Taylor has a long history as a country music innovator
and the youthful fiddler and vocalist Carrie Rodriguez is an open vessel that
is in tune and expertly reflects his classic and accessible style. The songs are
smartly delivered with a bedroom voice (“Don’t Speak in English”, “Curves and
Things”) or a beautiful sadness (“All the Rain”, title track). (5)


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Alix Olson
Independence Meal
Subtle Sister Productions

Fans of Ani DiFranco will take readily to the neo-folk style and progressive politics
of Alix Olson. There is a warm but edgy spirit to her delivery that runs the spectrum
from sweet and charming to a fiery feminist rant. These songs are poems put to
music. These are socially aware poems that can sit next to Allen Ginsberg. While
she is not alone in having this message, she delivers it with superlative style
and vigor. Olson also has a real gift for imaginative narratives like “Kindness
and Rage”. (4)


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Dan Reeder
Dan Reeder
Oh Boy Records

Dan Reeder comes with laudatory words from John Prine, “This guy is having fun
with music and words and in return I am enjoying him, enjoying himself.” There
is also a home recording quality to these tracks that makes them appear more personal
and intimate. Reeder is credited with all the vocals and instruments on the usually
spare recordings. These acoustic songs draw off folk and roots rock styles, exemplified
by “Food and P*ssy” which could be a Sha Na Na demo of a country-folk novelty
song. Fun wordplay, simple melodies and a range of emotions from humor (“Three
Chords”) to pain (“Fight My Way Out”) make this direct, unadorned album an instant
classic. (4)


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