Categories
Music Reviews

Tav Falco

Tav Falco

Cabaret of Daggers

Org Music

Tav Falco has been lurking around the dark alleyways and back rooms of the music world since he slithered onto the scene with Panther Burns in the early 1980s. Along with Alex Chilton and the Gibson Brothers Falco energized a rambunctious revival of Memphis roots music. Forty years on and his co-conspirators have evolved from dissipated Southern Gentlemen to a crew of passionate Italians. His home base is Vienna rather than Beale Street yet a primal Americana is still at the core of Tav’s soul.

Cabaret of Daggers suggests a back street cellar dive existing in a time warp. Like his old running partner, Alex Chilton in his later releases, Falco is largely mining the “Great American Songbook” for inspiration. Falco isn’t on a feel good nostalgia trip. Falco ranges from the comparatively upbeat “Sally Goes Round the Roses” to the utter devastation of “Strange Fruit”. “Nobody’s Baby” and “Born to Be Blue” strike a melancholy chord. The Astor Piazzola classic “Strange (libertango)” is a lovely tango in the dark.

Falco brings a few of his own songs to the Cabaret. “Red Vienna” is an opium dream, a waltz through the interwar years. The tune is full of melancholy. While he sings of the great high points of the cities early 20th Century glory, the creeping rise of fascism curdles the cream of nostalgia.

While “Red Vienna” is a subtle, cautionary tale, “New World Order Blues” kicks you in the ass. It’s a rallying cry against the dumb yourself down, or get out of town trend we’re seeing all around. Who could he possibly be talking about when he calls out the “perfect puppet head wearing the Orangutan diaper of malignant rage”? The tune fades out on the disturbing thought that we’re witnessing the destruction of mankind. Cabaret of Daggers isn’t a feel good album (although there are feel good moments). Falco cites the fucked up past as a warning to our fucked up present. Who knows where this trip will end?

orgmusic.merchnow.com/catalogs/tav-falco

Categories
Music Reviews

Frank Sinatra

Frank Sinatra

Christmas with Sinatra and Friends

Concord Music

I’m frustrated. Every year a flood of new Christmas music is released, both new and reissued, and it’s just no good. Bob Dylan’s hilariously sublime Christmas album and Billy Childish’s yearly output excepted, why have they released David Archuleta’s Christmas record this year and why is Red Simpson’s Trucker’s Christmas almost impossible to find? Why can’t I buy Hasil Adkins’ or Solomon Burke’s Christmas songs? Which brings me to Frank Sinatra. Why is it that an artist of his magnitude has been so ill-served in the compiling of his holiday-related output? The central premise of Christmas With the Rat Pack had so much potential, but the finished product was downright shoddy, from Dean Martin’s sauced rendition of “Rudolph” to Sammy Davis Jr’s alllllllmost racist “Christmas Time All Over the World” to a laughable group take of “Marshmallow World” that falls apart at the end, there just wasn’t much to make merry to. And don’t get me started on the Sinatra family version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” on the The Frank Sinatra Christmas Collection.

This year’s Christmas With… is a whole lot more satisfying package. The song selection is strong, the performances and takes chosen are even stronger. The sound quality is crisp and clean from remastering, while still retaining the sonic characteristics that make analog recording so appealing. I will take issue with the spuriously broad criteria applied to consider the performers on this record Sinatra’s “friends.” So what you’re telling me is that the Rat Pack wasn’t Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., or even Joey fucking Bishop (all absent) and was instead Rosemary Clooney, Tony Bennett, and Ray Charles? Did he even know who Rosemary Clooney was? Anyway, it’s a pleasure to hear Mel Torme’s take on the “Christmas Song” — the Velvet Fog nails the song he wrote in one languid, Christmas Cookie haze. Ray Charles and Betty Carter’s “Baby It’s Cold Outside” is downright naughty, in a good way. And Rosemary Clooney does a great “White Christmas.” The main man nails it on “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” “The Little Drummer Boy,” and “Mistletoe and Holly,” though hearing him claim to want to trade the Manhattan skyline for Christmas in a small town makes you want to bite your lip in laughter. This is a solid cohesive album. I think the stores are open late…..

Concord: www.concordmusicgroup.com

Categories
Music Reviews

Quintron

Quintron

Are You Ready For An Organ Solo?

Three.One.G

I’m not a bad driver, especially when I have passengers in the car. It’s just that when someone (*wink*) hands me a package in a clandestine meeting, which just happens to contain the new Quintron platter, well, so-called priorities kinda go out the window. Much like my passengers might have. I’ve got “Place Unknown” fucking blaring on my stereo and I’m swerving all over the road just buzzing on how obsolete he’s making much of popular (and unpopular music) seem and I notice my passengers, and maybe they don’t know all about the glory of Quintron, right? So I start excitedly lecturing on what exactly is good about Quintron, y’see — I, they, he, he’s one of about five bands that I’d eagerly do the whole Derek Taylor courtier thing for eternity. Do you hear me, Quintron? I would willingly die working on the Quintron Anthology in my twilight years! Everything’s good about Quintron — the clothes, the style, Miss Pussycat, that fucking nasty organ, the technological breakthrough that is the Drumbuddy and that soulful punk yowl. It’s okay to go gonzo here, man. It’s Quintron, dig?

“Place Unknown” is just lunatic pop perfection with shout-outs to Miami, New York, Biloxi, Brazil; immortal couplets like “Well, it’s all about the kids/And I’m a big kid now/And I want a dance party”; funky-ass organ and Miss Pussycat growling “Get around” over and over again. It’s messy and immaculate and a panting ball of soul devastation. “Mud Bugs (Diamond Rex)” has some classic rock organ and plenty of chants of “Bugs!” again and again, and it’s only halfway through this song that I realize that Quintron and Pussycat are indeed creating this wonderful roar with only an organ, a drum machine and two voices. “Teenage Antoinette” overflows with sci-fi squiggles and bleeps (touch the dial, stroke the keys, IF YOU DARE!) with Miss Pussycat bursting in with an army of disciples chanting “Teenage Antoinette/You Can’t Break Her Yet!” It’s a nice, skewed idyll.

Now the real shit begins. “Miniature Breakdown” is so fucking just out there, with Miss Pussycat mumbling some orders to a new schizo dance craze, and keys that reminds me of New Order crossed with a silent film score for some reason. Then Quintron starts in with that beautiful falsetto, singing “I’m a believer,” causing me and all the girls’ hearts to melt en masse. And the handclaps? Kill me now. How about that organ and synth vamping, like Wendy Carlos in the disco flatbed truck from the Jackass movie. “I’m Not Busy” features guest raps from MC Tracheotomy, who sleazes all over the track and keeps up with every organ freakout. It’s total velvet hip hop with some funky Drum-Buddy breakdowns and Prince-ly falsetto courtesy of Quintron. That fucking falsetto, that’s soul. I dig the call and response chorus between Pussycat and the ever-more-freaked out Quintron. This one’s a tricked-out monster.

“Cave Formation” is a Miss Pussycat solo spotlight with a little geology lesson about stalactites and stalagmites hidden in there. It’s a tiny insect lullaby. “The Beach” is a total raveup of Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello proportions. I love the Pussycat shouts of “Rhinestone Records!” that kick it off. Handclaps and distorted organ solos with fucking awesome sloganeering lyrics win me over. Make out now! Yeah! “Underwater Dance Club” whispers sweet nothings into my ear about a secret submerged club in New Orleans that may or may not exist. But Mr. Buffet’s niece knows all about it! Damn her. “If you don’t know, you don’t need to know!” Ouch! The girl/boy vocal interplay here is particularly beautiful on some pre-verbal level, and the organs are all opulent like Captain Nemo’s chambers.

And the cover is fucking cool too, a homage to those ‘randy’ Scorpions covers, with Miss Pussycat looking roller rink-tastic, and I DO want that airbrushed pink Quintron shirt. “Are You Ready For An Organ Solo?” is the best Quintron album yet. My broken heart ain’t broken no more.

Three.One.G Records: http://www.threeoneg.com/ • Fucking Quintron: http://www.drumbuddy.com/

Categories
Music Reviews

Porter

Porter

Whiskey Hill

Blue Monster

Newcomers Porter have been compared to Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, and Bob Dylan. Those are very high expectations and on their first release, Whiskey Hill, they don’t quite meet them yet. In their favor, they utilize congas, wah rhythm guitars, chimes, a balafon, and an organ in many of their songs (among other staple instruments) which creates a very unique sound and an eclectic variety of material. While they still have a lot of shaping to do as a musical force, they have meaning and soul behind their songs and that gives the group an extra push. Some standout tracks are “What I’ve Learned,” “A Change in the Weather,” “Camouflage” and “Last Night.” Porter is The Barenaked Ladies meets Vince Gill meets Mel Tormé. Weird, but somehow also strangely lovable.

Blue Monster Records, http://www.bluemonsterrecords.com