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May & June Music

17th Jun 08 (Tue) 1 comment

Here are 10 May & June CD releases that I’ve been digging… in approximate order of release…

King’s XXV: While some people kinda nay-sayed it, I give this one a thorough three thumbs up. Of course, I’m a long-time KX fan, and while some of their albums don’t suit me well (um… Black Like Sunday), I think this album is pretty well rounded. I might’a chopped the opening track “Pray” (not normally a good sign to chop the lead-off), but I think the rest of the album does any King’s X fan well. It’s got the great bass rumble from Doug, and a great mix of lead vocals not just from Doug but also a handful from guitarist Ty Tabor… and even one from drummer Jerry Gaskill (only his 3rd or 4th lead vocal track for King’s X… yay!). I think this album will stack up well in their vast catalogue.

Bill FrisellHistory, Mystery: Great double-disc from jazz guitar great Bill Frisell. He also brings along a few favorite players of mine… Bungle / Zorn / Secret Chief 3’s Eyvind Kang on viola and Sex Mob & Electric Masada drummer Kenny Wollesen. Also on the CD are Ron Miles (cornet), Hank Roberts (cello), Jenny Scheinman (violin), Tony Scherr (bass), and Greg Tardy (clarinet / tenor sax). I saw Bill Frisell, Eyvind Kang, and Rudy Royston last week in Eugene (review is here), and they played a few tracks from this record. Truly outstanding… and not like an uncashed check.

In other Bill Frisell May & June release news… the re-issue of the 1987 News for Lulu trio album with John Zorn & George Lewis is awesome. I think I was expecting more avant-garde music, but it’s really concise/interpretive takes of compositions by jazz historical figures Kenny Dorham, Hank Mobley, Freddie Redd, and Sonny Clark. It’s out on one of my favorite Swiss jazz labels, Hatology. More News for Lulu is due in Jan 2009.

Aimee Mann@#%&*! Smilers: Heard about this record last fall, then forgot about it. I don’t know why I always forget about Aimee Mann, then she usually delivers more than I was expecting. @#%&*! Smilers starts out strong (my fav track is “Freeway”), and stays pretty consistently good throughout. I think it’s her strongest albums since Bachelor No. 2 (and Magnolia), even though Lost in Space and The Forgotten Arm were both strong efforts, too. I’m trying to forget about “the holiday album” (shiver / barf).

Hiromi Beyond Standard: I hadn’t heard of Hiromi until sometime in late 2007 when I re-joined BMG for the brazillionth time. I needed to fill out a Jazz order, I heard some clips of her last one (Time Control), and it kicked my ass. I mean, piano jazz can be good (read: Thelonious Monk and early Herbie Hancock), but I tend to gravitate to brass (John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Dave Douglas, John Zorn). Anyway, Hiromi is somewhat of a prodigy. She’s blazing fast at times, gentle at times, and completely off the hook other times (in the good way, obviously). Her Sonicbloom band is just short of brilliant. I wish I was up in Seattle a few days ago for her multi-day run at the Triple Door.

Demians Building an Empire: This was an impulse purchase, and I needed something to fill out my Opeth order. Demians are a progressive rock band from the UK. They are in the vein of Porcupine Tree (i.e.- good songs, non-lame vocals). Check ’em out if you get a chance. They’re the sleeper / sneaker-upper album of the year so far for me. Like Abigail’s Ghost for me last year, there always seems to be some good prog-rock that strikes my fancy, even if I’ve been generally tired of the genre as of late.

Opeth Watershed: Pretty much everything Opeth has ever done is pretty good to me. They’re sort of not death metal, but not not death metal. Lush vocals, death metal growl, acoustic & thrash guitars, ethereal effects and drum blast beats. It’s a concoction that’s both powerful and beautiful. This album is one of their best produced albums since the Steven Wilson production days (SW’s just too busy, but still remains friends). And luckily this one sheds off the keyboards that I felt plagued their last one (Ghost Reveries). Quality death metal for the 21st century… SIDENOTE: Testament‘s new one (The Formation of Damnation) is also great metal for 2008.

Alanis Morissette Flavors of Entanglement: This will probably come off as a horrible thing to say, and I mean nothing sexist about it (it could happen to a male artist, too), but Alanis’ music is soooo much better when she’s not happily in a relationship. Her long-time relationship (for entertainment standards) to Ryan Reynolds came to a halt recently, and what do you know? She turned out her best emotion-filled album in a LONG TIME. Her last two “new” efforts (So-Called Chaos & JLP Acoustic) were OK to me. This one is right back on track (even though I think “Straightjacket” and the b-side “On the Tequila”… um… don’t seem to fit). It’s sad that some people have to suffer for their art to be better. Again, nothing sexist about it – – I’m bettin’ the next Silverchair (or other Daniel Johns’ side-project) will be better as wellfor similar reasons (even though the last 3+ Silverchair records have been amazing without relationship turmoil).

My Brightest Diamond A Thousand Shark’s Teeth: Stringier and less rock than her previous outing… yet still artistically sinewy with lush vocal gravity and brilliance. Shara Worden doesn’t enlist Sufjan Stevens this time around, but brings in Inlets‘ multi-instrumentalist Sebastian Krueger and the Osso String Quartet to fill out her sound. This is a great record and a great addition to the AwRy / My Brightest Diamond catalogue. I look forward to seeing her live this year (if she hits the PacNW). The best explanation/description I have for her voice is… purely sublime.

For those who don’t know of Shara Worden (i.e.- My Brightest Diamond), here’s a live video from her last (gorgeous) album (a song called “Disappear“). Her voice is goosebump inducing (for me at least):

Thanks to Eithan‘s blog for the reminding me of that gorgeous performance / video.

Clodplay (aka Coldplay) Viva la Vida or A Really Long Pretentious Title: I wasn’t gonna buy this right away… but the opening week sale was a good one. Clodplay seems to be taking what Radiohead did a decade ago (or U2 two decades ago) and simply watering it down (more and more). And they’re far more asshole-y about it (or at least Chris Martin). With that being said, I still like ’em. I just don’t ever really feel the need to see them live …EVER (too expensive… which is saying something coming from me). OK, I take that back. If they were touring with a reunited Faith No More (FNM opener or closer) or Pink Floyd (PF closer)… I’d go to that show.

But, anyway, good album. The sale price is still about $2 too much. My recommendation… get it used for cheap. Unless you’re a rabid Clodplay fan. I imagine it’ll grow on me, eventually… the last one didn’t though. Meh. PS-Yes” (#6) is a fantastic track. They need more like that

Sigur Rós Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust: Technically not out until next week, the download version came early this week… I postponed my usual “front of the line” Smodcast listening for new Sigur Rós. Right off the bat, it’s more “accessible” than their previous (I thought/think people who said that about Takk were/are on… crakk). This one’s slightly more rocky and less atmospheric, but still very much a Sigur Rós record. Perhaps what I feel makes it more “accessible” is that the songs actually feel like songs to me — not just Hopelandic meanderings (which I also love). I’m only once through, but I really dig “Gobbledigook,” “Inní mér syngur vitleysingur,” “Við spilum endalaust,” “Festival,” and “Með suð í eyrum.”

Fav of the above? Opeth, My Brightest Diamond, Hiromi, and Sigur Rós are my current cream of the crop for the ones above… but they’re all pretty damn good. Regardless of my comments on Clodplay, too… it’s a good one. Even though they’re totally 2nd wave brit whine rock. ;)

Oh, and Secret Chiefs 3‘s Xaphan beats them all out for best album of the past 2 months (I guess that’s why it got its own blog).

~Dan – pp: Tiptons Saxophone QuartetLive on KEXP Sonarchy Radio (podcast link)
np: Bill Frisell, Eyvind Kang, Rudy RoystonLive at the Shedd, Eugene-OR, 6/7/2008 (thanks Mike!)

whoa… lot of tags on this post. Eh, that’s what you get for a mega 10-album hustle. Oh, and yeah, “Clodplay” is the correct spelling of their name. ;)

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