LATEST ADDITIONS

Johnny Black  |  Dec 07, 2010
The grizzled Stones’ axeman returns with his seventh solo album. Actually, the horribly messy cover, which he painted himself, says it all. The music is precisely the kind of sloppy, boozy gumbo that Stones’ fans have lapped up for decades, but with Ron’s croaky sub-Bob Dylan meets Dr John, via Randy Newman vocals floated over the top instead of Jagger’s. Ronnie has pulled in all his old mates, including Slash, Flea, Eddie Vedder, Kris Kristofferson, Bobby Womack, Ian McLagan and more, in the hope that all that professionalism will transform a dozen predictable songs (sample lyric, ‘It’s drivin’ me mad, I need you so bad…’) into rock genius.
Ken Kessler  |  Dec 07, 2010
Alas, this lacks ‘Time Has Come Today’, the majestic 1968 hit and their greatest claim to fame, but the seven tracks here remind us that the Chambers Brothers were an R&B act first, and hippie anthem creators/psychedelic soul brothers second. The recording quality is magnificent – not that live recordings from the Fillmores were ever bad – but the sense of space and air, and the precise locations of instruments and players really benefit from the higher-res offering. Percussion and bass make this flow, and the showstopping take of ‘I Can’t Turn You Loose’ recalls a Stax Revue. Possibly the best $6 I’ve spent on-line this year.
Johnny Black  |  Dec 07, 2010
Amiina was formerly an all-woman Icelandic string quartet working with minimalist popsters Sigur Ros. Now, with the addition of a couple of blokes, they’ve become a sextet and this is their second rather exquisite album. Nothing here will slap you in the face and demand that you listen to it. Instead, Amiina offer the most delicate and fragile of little melodies, hypnotically repeated, ebbing and flowing, occasionally augmented with gentle vocals.
Johnny Black  |  Dec 07, 2010
Infinite Music is 2010’s most effervescently upbeat album by miles. This ultra-smart Brooklyn-based duo, Robert and David Perlick-Molinari, are good mates with MGMT but their music is streets ahead. In some ways, they’re the band that Vince of The Mighty Boosh probably dreams of forming, rich in layers of irony and cynicism, but at the same time impossibly danceable, and overflowing with singalong vocal hooks. ‘Broken Heart’ should be a gigantic hit just for its 150% feelgood factor; ‘New Florida’ is the greatest Yellow Magic Orchestra track that YMO never made; and ‘This Moment’ is Kool And The Gang impossibly pumped up by Giorgio Moroder.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 07, 2010
When Hamilton arrived, British saxist and Woodville label owner Barnes suggested using tunes that Johnny Hodges had recorded with his own band in the early 1950s. And according to Barnes, the American tenor master got all the themes and changes down after a single run-through. Neither of them attempts to sound like Hodges, though, and just as well. While Barnes’ bop-tinged alto skeeters around the chords, Hamilton carries right on with his beautiful, fluid and unhurried swing phrasing, effortlessly conjuring up the spirit of Lester Young.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 07, 2010
She’d recorded albums and won a following in France, but it was last year’s Voyage, her debut for the German ACT label, that put Korean-born singer Youn Sun Nah on the wider European map. Here she travels once again with her distinguished Nordic labelmates, guitarist Ulf Wakenius and bassist Lars Daniellson, who’ve proved ideal musical company. They reach the Middle East with a breathtaking piece of scat virtuosity called ‘Breakfast In Baghdad’. But Nah can also be beguiling when accompanied only by the quiet and gentle sounds of her own kalimba, as on ‘My Favourite Things’ and, much more successfully, on the stunning title track.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 07, 2010
You might not think of chamber music as ‘for the masses,’ as the PR blurb has it, but then, the brilliant bassist’s reference point is the Chamber Music Society of Oregon, the community orchestra that she joined as a five-year-old violin prodigy. Her Heads Up debut Esperanza traversed many genres, but this one brings classical sounds to the mix, with a string trio including supreme session cellist David Eggar, weaving music of rich complexity. Spalding’s vocal flights can seem too indulgent, though she’s helped out on two numbers by the ever-fascinating Gretchen Parlato and on one by a weary-sounding Milton Nascimento. But still, a fresh, inspiring album.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 07, 2010
With a large element of theatre, Kinch alternates raps and instrumental numbers, and the theme is the modern slavery of debt: ‘Today’s fetters are mostly invisible,’ he says. Guest vocalist Jason MacDougall is effective on ‘Help’, Eska Mtungwazi sings superbly on ‘Escape’, but it is Kinch who brilliantly leads a whole cast of speakers in ‘Paris Heights’, satirising the brutality of debt collection. But the other musicians are great too, Femi Temowo on guitar chording like a keyboard when he’s not soloing, and multi-reed player Shabaka Hutchings adding an arresting bass clarinet solo on ‘Trade’. In ‘On The Treadmill’ the mournful horn ensemble echoes early Ellington.
Johnny Black  |  Dec 07, 2010
Sharon plays her folksy fiddle very nicely, and delivers deliciously silky harmonies with her family business. Unfortunately, left to her own devices for her first solo album, she has delivered a handful of gems wrapped in acres of pastel-coloured tissue to fill the empty space. There are three pleasant enough swoony Celtic instrumentals, and at the end of the disc three fairly memorable songs that feel like a consolation prize for having waded through all the foregoing mediocrity. The powerful closer, ‘Love Me Better’, has a touch of gutsiness that suggests a direction she could usefully pursue if she has any ambitions beyond lulling her listeners to sleep.
Ken Kessler  |  Dec 07, 2010
A trend I have no complaints about is that of live CDs which come with a DVD of the same concert, viz. McCartney in NYC, Steve Stills, etc. As I first saw King and Taylor together nearly 40 years ago, this set brought a lump to my throat: for baby boomers, there’s no more comfortable pair of slippers. They’re simply the gentlest, warmest pair of singer-songwriters imaginable, they clearly adore each other, and they deliver a combined self-penned 15 classics.

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