Record Label
and Music Spotlight 

MARCH 2012

  

 

 


















 

MWE3.COM MUSIC NEWS & NOTES

MARCH 2012 RECORD LABEL SPOTLIGHT



POP & ROCK

BELLA UNION - Here’s another wild pop-rock classic by a group that sounds a lot like late ‘60s groups like Velvet Underground and late period music from The Byrds. Produced by David Holmes, and recorded in L.A., To The Death Of Fun introduces the music of the cryptically titled band known as Cashier No.9. Featuring the music and vocals of Daniel Todd, the band contains a number of fine players including guitarist James Smith. In early 2012 Cashier No.9 are currently supporting Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and you can also count the former Oasis band leader as another big influence in the ‘60s strewn Cashier No.9 pop mix. www.CashierNo9.com

BILLY SHERWOOD HQ
- When Billy Sherwood left YES after The Ladder it was a sad day in Yes-land. Having more or less detailed the musical direction of the band with Chris Squire during their very underrated late ‘90s Open Your Eyes era, Sherwood may have left YES but you can still hear a lot of the vibe and musical excitement from that ‘97-’99 era on the 2011 CD release of What Was The Question? Playing all the instruments and taking all the vocals on his latest solo album, Sherwood remains a one man progressive rock wrecking crew. It’s worth noting that What Was The Question? is even more YES sounding in places than the band’s 2011 CD Fly From Here, which features the vocals of ex-YES singer Benoît David. Also not to be missed recently from Sherwood is the latest album from his band Circa. Keeping the YES connection alive, the 2011 Circa CD, And So On features Billy in the company of players including founding YES keyboardist Tony Kaye. www.CircaHQ.com

BLUES EMPRESS RECORDS
- Down under in Australia, singer-songwriter Fiona Boyes has a bad case of the blues and she puts it all into musical context on the 2011 CD release of Blues For Hard Times. Released on the Australian Blues Empress label, with ties to the U.S. label Vizztone, the 16 track CD covers a cross-section of acoustic based blues, while offering a perfect showcase of Fiona’s deep and spirited blues originals. In her liner notes, Fiona describes her experiences in songs as a “travel through classic themes of church house versus barrelhouse, drinking, lust, redemption and fun”. She also cites blues icons Muddy Waters and Solomon Burke as being key to the bluesy vibe in play here. Throughout the CD, Fiona proves masterful at combining a wide range of bluesy jazz, ragtime, Americana and much more. Blues For Hard Times is a solid showcase for Fiona’s resonator slide guitar work and hard driving vocals, and she sometimes echoes legends like Bonnie Raitt and Bonnie Bramlett. Superbly packaged and recorded in Austin, Texas, the CD features contributions from a number of players, including drummer Jim Bott, but the spotlight is right on Fiona and her Blues For Hard Times. www.FionaBoyes.com

COW ISLAND RECORDS
- Specializing in country, rockabilly, swing and R&B, Boston based record company Cow Island Music strikes country swing gold with the 2011 CD release of On The Moon, by new country trendsetters Li’l Mo And The Monicats. By going back in time, singer-songwriter Monica Passin has assembled a truly retro set of country purity that owes more to legends like Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette than say Rosanne Cash. Although she’s based her band in Brooklyn, Li’l Mo also sounds inspired by West Texas legends like Buddy Holly, with Monica sounding like a female Elvis, while not discounting the Wanda Jackson influence. With its country rock rave up, the sound of On The Moon is a real knees up event. Monica has written some fine tracks in the spirit of the ‘50s Sun Records sound and the guitar work and musicianship from her cohorts Hank Bones and guitarist Skip Krevens is first rate. Further examining Cow Island’s 2011 roster, one also notes a new album from Vermont based retro rockers Stone River Boys called Love On The Dial. Described as a mix of hard country rock and Texas funk, the CD is all over the map musically and the guitar work and vocals of group founders Dave Gonzalez, Mike Barfield and steel guitarist Dave Biller is excellent throughout. Also out on Cow Island is a fine CD sampler called P.O. Box 1 - The Cow Island Music Cattle Call. The 14 track CD features a variety of Cow Island artists like Li’l Mo And The Monicats, Stone River Boys, Teri Joyce, The Dixons and Starline Rhythm Boys. www.CowIslandMusic.com

DROPTONE
- The Minnesota-based 9Tomorrows band is making waves with their 2011 CD debut Gravity In Love. Listening to the CD, one minute a reggae type groove gives way to a soulful post-New Wave Joe Jackson type pop sound with a very made for MTV type synth pop beat. With a number of catchy, stay in your head melodies, 9Tomorrows is the brainchild of producer / guitarist David Kellogg who enlisted the help of lead singer Dax Young and guitarist / vocalist Stephen Helvig. Kellogg also handles most of the drums and programming and he’s helped out by bassist Jai Bowie. The reggae influences offer sonic contrasts and color, but there’s a solid rock edge in play on Gravity In Love and when they settle into a groove, 9Tomorrows stakes out a rare musical universe all their own. www.9TomorrowsBand.com

ECC RECORDS
- English folk music tradition is centuries old so it’s really strange sometimes to listen to a CD of newly recorded traditional music that sounds like it could have been written and played three hundred years ago. That linkage where traditional music and instruments meets the wonders of modern recording technology is the story on the 2011 CD from English folk-singer and instrumentalist Jackie Oates on her Saturnine CD. On the twelve tracks of redone traditionals, Jackie features her vocals and 5-string viola while receiving support from various players adding in accordion, bouzouki, hurdy gurdy, guitar, English border pipes and more. With its Donovan-like dreamy chords and multi-tracked vocals, track 11 “Brigg Fair” is a definite highlight. Encased in a colorful multi-panel digi-pak case, the CD booklet features pretty in depth track by track liner notes regarding these traditional folk song remakes from Ms. Oates. www.JackieOates.co.uk

EVOLVER MUSIC
- There’s a heckuva lot more to Betty Moon then meets the eye, even though as a visual artist she makes a sensational sight. Coming out of the L.A. pop scene in 2011, Betty should appeal to a wide range of pop fans who thrilled to bad girl punk rockers The Runaways as well as the more sophisticated L.A. rock of the The Doors. As a singer, auspicious and rising, Betty Moon makes some cool moves on the 2011 CD release of Rollin' Revolution, released on the Evolver label. Commenting on the making of her 5th album, Betty adds, ‘I had to become incredibly focused and developed a very clear vision of what I wanted for Rollin' Revolution.' With Betty taking lead vocals and adding rhythm guitar to her all original fare, the CD features a solid groove from her backing band, including top session players like Kenny Aronoff, featured here on drums. www.BettyMoon.com

FLEDG’LING RECORDS
- Back in the late 1980’s singer-songwriter Anna Domino held sway over the indie pop scene in downtown Manhattan. Album after album, mostly on import from the Crépescule label from Belgium, Anna consistently reinvented her music and established herself as one of the most unique voices during that heady mid to late 1980’s period. Imagine a cross between Marianne Faithful and John Cale and you get some idea of the depth of Anna’s music. By the time of her 1987 album This Time, Anna had joined forces with guitarist Michel DeLory and that long time recording bond is reinstated in 2011 with the release of My Halo At Half-Light. Recorded and released under their group name Snakefarm, the ten track CD follows in the footsteps of the first Snakefarm album from the mid 1990’s. As was with the first Snakefarm CD, the accent here in on reworkings of songs based on original ballads in the public domain. Of course this means Anna’s own great pop-rock originals takes a back seat to music from the roaring ‘20s! (1820’s?) Why am I not surprised? An ambient guitar master, DeLory remains one of the finest guitarists of his generation. That Anna Domino is not a household name is sadly a decades long fact now. Yet with this latest sonic chain gang of a side-trip with Snakefarm, Anna and Michel continue to put their unique musical stamp on music long ingrained in the American musical psyche. Among the studio assistants here include time Anna Domino percussionist Hearn Gadbois, drummer Al Pahanish and bassist Sebastian Steinberg. www.annadomino.imnotafraidofyou.com

FUEL RECORDS
- Back during the late ‘70s New Wave craze, singer-songwriter John Wicks and his band The Records came on the scene, releasing three albums on Virgin through that amazingly raw and heady early ‘80s era. Following periods of reissues and compilations of different music over the past decades, Wicks returned in 2011 with a new solo CD on L.A. based Fuel Records released under The Records featuring John Wicks. Either way, as a guitarist and vocalist, Wicks sounds kind of influenced by the Todd Rundgren late ‘60s school of spontaneous pop sounds, stripped down to the bone yet rocking nevertheless. Backed up by a number of musicians on different tracks, Wicks clearly sounds like he still has great memories of that ‘77-82 punk era and power pop time and you can almost relive the rare and raw groove of 1981 again on Rotate. In addition to a bunch of new material, the CD closes out with a superb remake of an early Records classic called “Starry Eyes”, a track that the most astute power pop mavens should remember. www.JohnWicksAndTheRecords.com

GAZELL RECORDS
- In Sweden, Gazell Records has a cool 2011 CD entitled In Love from singer-songwriter Sista Blue, aka Lo Kivikas. Lo gets solid backing on her album, which is tastefully produced by Swedish drumming legend Bosse Skoglund, best known in international prog-rock circles as being the drummer on those amazing Bo Hansson albums from the ‘70s. Also turning in fine performances are Roland Nilsson (slide and electric guitar) and Hasse Larson (bass). There’s a great hippie vibe on the Sista Blue album, and Lo’s singing is reminiscent of ‘60s folk-rock legends like Melanie and even Quicksilver legend Dino Valenti. Sista Blue is pretty much out there, semi-psychedelic hippie rock for the 21st century that’s enhanced by the expert good vibes touch of the amazing Bo Skoglund. www.gazell.net

JEBO MUSIC
- England has such a rich history of progressive rock and fusion music, so it’s quite gratifying to see rising bands of the 21st century picking up and carrying forth the mantle of the great legends of U.K. prog. Case in point is Settle Up Or Settle Down, the 2011 CD from U.K. prog-pop sensation Jebo. Some music critics and mags have compared them to mid-’70s pop-proggers Supertramp while others have noted a late ‘90s YES influence in the mix. Produced by John Burns, Jebo the band features a solid bunch of musicians including singer Kevin Messinger, keyboardist / string arranger Nick O’Neill, chief songwriter Rob Allen (guitars), Jeff France (drums), Gianfredo Konig (bass) and more including string players and other guest musicians. Perhaps with some further honing of their more hook-laden tracks, Jebo will shine even brighter in the future. Either way, Settle Up Or Settle Down is another step forward for a promising band that sounds ready to achieve true musical greatness down the line. www.JeboMusic.co.uk

MARY MUSIC
- Over in Sweden, singer-songwriter Maria Rylander has a fine new CD called Facing South. Released on her own Mary Music, the 11 track CD presents a convincing cross-section of jazzy pop tracks featuring Maria backed up by fine players like Simon Westman (piano), Sebastiaan Kaptein (drums), Carl Svensson (guitar) and more. Much of the CD is relaxing, lounge jazz that borders on smooth as silk pop but when she cuts loose—as she does here on track 11, a nearly 8 minute track, featuring her cool multi-tracked vocals entitled “You Caught My Eye”—the album takes off and soars into the jazz-pop stratosphere. www.MariaRylander.se

MOKSHA MUSIC LIMITED - A colorful amalgamation of progressive rock, ‘60s beat group stylings and even horn laden Chicago style groove, Las Vegas based Moksha steps into the light with Here To Go. Released on their Moksha Music imprint, the CD features some solid musicianship all around including keyboardist Brian Triola, guitarist Jeremy Parks, singer Sam Lemos with Pat Gray on drums and John Heishman on bass. A full horn section arranged by Peter Apfelbaum adds that big horn sound on several tracks. A few tracks echo early Traffic and even ‘60s Al Kooper. Is it prog-rock, jazz-rock or instrumental flamenco-reggae fusion? Give Moksha a spin and hear it for yourself, you won’t be disappointed. www.MokshaTime.com

MOSTLY AUTUMN RECORDS
- Groups such as Renaissance were huge between 1970 and 1972—the golden age of progressive rock. One 21st century group sounding clearly inspired by the sound of that era is Mostly Autumn—a band that already has a number of CDs out and that is making inroads in the progressive rock scene. Following their 2010 album Go Well Diamond Heart comes a double live CD from 2011 entitled Still Beautiful - Live 2011, a 2 CD set that features this gifted U.K. band in fine form. Like Renaissance, Mostly Autumn has a very Annie Haslam-esque singer in Olivia “Livvy” Sparnenn, who get solid backing from guitarists Bryon Josh and Liam Davison, the rhythm section of Andy Smith (bass) and Gavin Griffiths (drums), along with keyboardist Iain Jennings and Anne-Marie Helder (flute, keys and vocals). Both Josh and Davison also take lead vocals at times so there’s quite a varied approach on the vocals while, as their double live set points out, the overall musicianship is truly first rate. The group’s web site lists a number of albums that shows Mostly Autumn is no flash in the pan in the prog-rock world. If you’re a fan of Renaissance, Pink Floyd and even Genesis, Mostly Autumn makes for an equally rewarding audio experience. www.MostlyAutumnRecords.com

RED RECORDS
- Italy’s Red Records has a winner on their hands with the 2011 CD release of Plays and Sings by Dida Pelled. From Israel and living in NYC, Dida is both a singer and jazz guitarist. Still in her early 20’s, Dida already comes across as an accomplished music stylist. On her debut album, Dida is backed up by a solid support band including Tal Ronen (bass) and Gregory Hutchinson (drums), along with guest spots from jazz legend Roy Hargrove (trumpet) and album producer Fabio Morgera (trumpet). Recorded in Brooklyn, the Plays And Sings album blends vocal tracks and instrumentals featuring Dida reinterpreting timeless gems from the Gershwin brothers, Wes Montgomery, Horace Silver and even The Four Seasons. Influenced by both jazz singer Nancy Wilson and jazz guitar guitar great Wes Montgomery, Dida puts it together with an appealing, multi-pronged musical approach, encompassing both pop-jazz vocals and instrumental jazz. www.RedRecords.it

ROUNDER / ZOË
- There's some great songs and a solid pop-rock approach in play on Voyageur, the 2011 CD from singer-songwriter Kathleen Edwards. Released by the Rounder Records-related Zoë imprint, the Voyageur CD spotlights a number of memorable pop and rocking folk style tracks and is performed with solid musical skill and precision. A number of players help Ms. Edwards flesh out her intriguing pop-rock palette, including guitarists Gord Tough and Jim Bryson, drummer Lyle Molzan and bassist John Dinsmore, with the CD featuring further contributions from Norah Jones and Justin Vernon (who also co-produced the album) and many more. Most important, Ms. Edwards’ pop-rock mix of songs is quite convincing and some tracks really take off and simply soar into the musical heavens. www.KathleenEdwards.com

RUBY STAR RECORDS
- On her eighth album, entitled Lucky Girl, singer-songwriter Jacqui Naylor returns with another winning batch of tunes. Backed by some fine jazz musicians—including Art Khu (keyboards, guitars), Jon Evans (bass, percussion, lap steel) and Josh Jones (drums), the sound of Lucky Girl is bluesy jazz played with style and verve. Compared by some in the know jazz buffs to currently hot jazzer Diana Krall, Ms. Naylor’s vocals are right on and her song writing is quite impressive as is her choice of Lucky Girl covers, here written by Rogers & Hammerstein, Neil Young and Henry Mancini. Seems whatever songs she writes or picks out, Naylor makes them her own. As you spin this finely recorded collection of breezy, jazz and smooth jazz flavors you might find yourself grooving along and tapping your feet and you’ll also be back for a second helping too. www.JacquiNaylor.com

SIX SHOOTER RECORDS
- Guitarist Luke Doucet made lots of guitar fans quite happy with the 2008 CD release of his solo album Blood’s Too Rich and now he teams with singer Melissa McClelland for the 2011 CD release of the self-titled CD debut from Whitehorse. A roosty, pop-rock album that skirts the edges of rockabilly and alt-country, Whitehorse features 8 memorable tracks and clocks in under 25 minutes yet it keeps your interest throughout. With her sultry vocals, Ms. McClelland sounds like the perfect foil for Doucet’s multifaceted pop project. With the pair joined by a fine rhythm session, Doucet shares the vocal chores, often harmonizing with Melissa but it’s really Luke’s stellar electric and acoustic guitar work that seals the deal on an album that begs you to come back for second helpings. www.whitehorsemusic.ca

STONY PLAIN
- On the 2011 CD release of Low Down And Tore Up blues belter and guitar ace Duke Robillard goes back to his early blues roots. The CD features Duke & Co. cherry picking blues classics from the pens of Guitar Slim, Tampa Red, John Lee Hooker and more. From jump-jazz and boogie woogie to searing blues rock, Duke has it all covered on Low Down And Tore Up. From the extensive liner notes by blues producer and historian Dick Shuman, and engineer / producer Jack Gauthier, Duke is quoted as commenting, ‘The reason for this CD is basically, I just wanted to go in the studio and record live and capture the real feeling of lowdown blues in an off-the-cuff sort of way, the way singles used to be made for small labels.’ Featuring Duke in the studio with a tight band and a range of session players, the CD captures the essence of Duke as he jumps, jives and wails the blues while showcasing his always amazing electric guitar work, which skillfully spotlights a composite of the rock ‘n’ roll, jazz and blues idioms. www.StonyPlain.com

THE CONTROL GROUP
- Welsh songstress Cate Le Bon strikes a blow for pop originality with her 2012 album Cyrk For a reference think Super Furry Animals and true to form Ms. Le Bon has worked with Super Furry leader Gruff Rhys. Some of Cyrk sounds like Lou Reed producing ABBA or Keren Ann for that matter. Anyway, at least Kate sings in English and not in that wild Welsh language called Cymraeg but have fun trying to read the credits! There’s a definite Pink Floyd type of musical hypnosis in play on the CD which comes in a quite amazing looking CD package. Cyrk is of the wildest alt-rock albums of 2012 for sure. www.CateLebon.com

VERVE FORECAST
- Back in 2011 Verve Forecast released an acclaimed Buddy Holly tribute CD called Listen To Me. Namesaked after one of Buddy’s greatest songs, and recorded and readied to honor the anniversary of his 75th birthday, the 16 track album is one of the best ever Holly tributes. Only one thing missing is someone you wouldn’t think would miss it: Beatle Paul McCartney. McCartney, while owning the publishing of these tracks, did appear on the other Buddy tribute from 2011 called Rave On Buddy Holly, which did feature Macca with assorted cuts from Graham Nash, Lou Reed, Fiona Apple and more. Listen To Me is another amazing album but the key is the amazing production of Peter Asher, himself one of the key players in the original mid 1960's British rock invasion. The production has Asher’s sonic imprints all around—revisiting the essential harmonies that underlies a fundamental knowledge of songs that created the inspiration for British invasion. Think Beatles, Stones, DC5 and yes Peter Asher’s Peter & Gordon—who scored a massive U.K. hit with Buddy’s “True Love Ways”. Of course, Asher stacks the deck in favor of Listen To Me—featuring key Buddy covers by Brian Wilson, Ringo Starr, Jeff Lynne of the ELO, Chris Isaak, Stevie Nicks, Imelda May and many more. Of course Ringo nearly steals the show with his little skiffle off to Liverpool cover of “Think It Over”, yet the award goes to Monty Python’s Eric Idle, who does in fact steal the show with a CD closing and very hilarious, Python-esque rendition of “Raining In My Heart”—itself one of the last songs Buddy Holly completed and recorded, just around the corner from the Dakota at the Pythian Temple on West 70th St. during that Summer ‘58, with producer Dick Jacobs. Listen To Me contributor Brian Wilson adds, ‘We are trying to keep Buddy Holly’s name alive so younger generations can appreciate it the way I do. Buddy is unique. He matters because his music is timeless.’ In the superbly laid out 16 panel booklet Asher goes on at length about the detailed history behind Buddy, his songs and these artists that breath new life into them. www.ListenToMeBuddyHolly.com / www.BuddyHolly.com / www.BuddyHollyAndTheCrickets.com


INSTRUMENTAL


CALIFORNIA GUITAR TRIO - Although for years associated with Robert Fripp and his famous league of crafty guitarists starting way back in the late 1980’s, the group known as The California Guitar Trio continues to break new ground with their 2011 CD entitled Masterworks. Just as the title implies, Masterworks features CGT reworkings of classical masterpieces from giants like J.S. Bach, Rossini, Vivaldi, Shubert, Beethoven and even modern classicist Arvo Pärt. As it was from the start, CGT features a stellar interchange of guitar ideas from founding members Hideyo Moriya, Bert Lams and Paul Richards. The eleven cut, 55 minute CD was superbly edited and mixed by Howard Givens at his famous Spotted Peccary studios in Portland Oregon and also features guest appearances from prog-rock legend Tony Levin (upright bass and cello) and Fareed Haque, who adds in classical guitar to the Masterworks version of Vivaldi’s “Winter” from the famous Four Seasons. Although these pieces were recorded in different studios around the U.S. at different times, between the early 1990’s and 2011, the expert studio mixing by Howard Givens and the CD mastering by Steve Hall at Future Disc, helps to give the Masterworks CD an impressive and unifying clarity of sound and musical purpose. www.CGTrio.com

CANDYRAT RECORDS - The bizarre name of their record label aside, Candyrat is making quite a name for themselves thanks to their quite beautiful, instrumental acoustic based guitar recordings. Among Candyrat’s 2012 CD releases is From 1 To 8, the latest release from Italian acoustic guitar specialist Pino Forastiere. Back in 2004, Pino released his acclaimed Rag Tap Boom CD to much critical acclaim. In the spirit of that album, From 1 To 8 is a another tasteful showcase for Pino’s acoustic guitar instrumental tracks, which, while making fresh inroads for the acoustic instrumental genre, still sounds honorably influenced by the guitar icons of yesteryear. The perfect instrumental acoustic guitar soundtrack for a rainy afternoon, the ten track From 1 To 8 is brimming with atmospheric and meditative, yet cutting edge guitar soundscapes. Over the past decade, Candyrat has literally become a one-stop shop for guitar fans seeking out the latest, acoustic guitar instrumental albums. Not only do their CD releases feature beguiling sonics but they’re also superbly packaged and mastered and make for some truly illuminating listening. Some of the other recent instrumental acoustic guitar titles released in 2011-2012 on Candyrat are, Myriad—from Australian guitarist Hunter Van Larkins, Blu—from Sergio Altamura (produced by Will Ackerman), the self-titled CD from solo acoustic guitarist Ewan Dobson III, Sound Pictures—the fifth solo CD from Antoine Dufour, ...And The B.L.T.’s, the third Candyrat CD from Craig D’Andrea, Urban Echoes Vol.1, the first studio album from Gareth Pearson, All Time High, the 2011 CD from session player / producer Jimmy Wahlsteen and Entelechy the Candyrat debut from Trevor Gordon Hall. These latest titles represent some of the latest CD releases from Candyrat—clearly a label for acoustic guitar mavens to keep an eye and ear on. www.candyrat.com

ECM RECORDS - One of the more deep and meaningful ECM albums in the past couple years is the 2011 CD release from Swiss piano virtuoso Colin Vallon. The album, Rruga (paths or journey in Albanian) features Vallon on concert grand piano backed up by his trio band mates Patrice Moret (double bass) and Samuel Rohrer (drums). Throughout the 11 cut CD, Vallon’s piano features beautiful sustained notes and is quite mournful and somber at different times. More concerned with cascading moods and ambiance as opposed to virtuosic arpeggios, Colin Vallon achieves a rare musical chemistry on Rruga. www.ColinVallon.com

HAMMOND BEAT RECORDS - Based out in Oregon, the Hammond Beat label continues on with some pretty amazing instrumental albums in the realm of keyboard based, spy-fi type soundtrack music. An example of the label’s devotion to truly unique sounds can be heard on the 2011 CD release of Cobol from Italian keyboard player Paolo Apollo Negri. Released at the end of 2011, Cobol catches Paolo in rare form performing an all original composite of instrumental music that sounds as influenced by Booker T. & The MGs as it does by composers like Lalo Schiffrin and, with some tracks adding in a solid funky, strut your stuff influence, think Isaac Hayes too. With his swirling Hammond organ, grand piano and ‘70s style moog / synth edges, Paolo is like a one man sonic wrecking crew. With a large and colorful palate of sounds, a wide range of players appear, including a trio of guitarists and many other players helping make Cobol an impressive example of Euro flavored spy/fi, instro surf jazz. www.HammondBeat.com

IDYLLIC RECORDS - Back in the late ‘70s a group called Penguin Cafe Orchestra, led by Simon Jeffes, created a uniquely entertaining and mostly acoustic kind of modern chamber music. With their CD debut of all instrumentals, another U.K. called Three Cane Whale mine the same sort of musical genres as the Penguin Cafe Orchestra with similarly successful results. Drawing on various folk based music idioms as well as neoclassical minimalism, Three Cane Whale features a splendid all around performance from group founders Alex Vann (mandolin, music box), Pete Judge (trumpet, harmonium, lyre) and Paul Bradley (acoustic guitars). www.idyllicrecords.co.uk

HATE LAUGH MUSIC - Brooklyn-based alto saxophonist and composer Pete Robbins will make jazz fans very happy with his latest sonic masterpiece, Live In Basel—performed and recorded by The Pete Robbins Transatlantic Quartet. Getting rave reviews from all the major jazz (print and online) publications, the Live In Basel CD features an all original hot plate of smokin’ instrumental jazz featuring Pete’s soaring sax backed up by gifted players including Mikkel Ploug (guitars), Simon Jermyn (bass) and drummer Kevin Brow. Captured in Switzerland on the last date of a 2010 tour, Live In Basel is superbly recorded (by Swiss radio) while CD mastering in Brooklyn, NYC adds in the finishing touches on a truly adventurous album of innovative, instrumental and mainstream
global jazz. www.PeteRobbins.com

HOUSEHOLDER RECORDS - Featuring the guitar and compositions of Michael Welch, NYC area instro rockers The Retroliners strike instro-rock gold on their 2011 CD. Released on the Householder Records label, At The Character Social Club walks a tightrope between a number of musical genres—from West Coast surf instro to a more soulful mix of Booker T. style Memphis hammond organ / guitar twang. Recorded at The Pidgeon Club in Hoboken, the CD is in essence a live recording although there’s no audience present. Clearly, mix in a live crowd digging their music and it must be amazing to watch the Retroliners blow the roof off with cuts from this 15 track instro-rock masterpiece. The cover art is a bit drab and gives little indication of the way-out rave ups inside the package. Welch gets great support from his Retroliners group including one time Paul McCartney drummer Steve Holley, who adds a nice boogie bop beat into the mix. www.retroliners.com

LAZY BONES RECORDINGS - It’s probably because Bill Bruford was such an all encompassing drummer, that Alan White never got the credit for being the fantastic drummer he is. Providing the big beat in YES since Bruford left to join King Crimson in late 1972, Alan White comes alive as a drummer in his own right on the 2011 CD release of Levin Torn White, released by the Lazy Bones label. With Tony Levin keeping down the fort with his legendary bass and stick sound and David Torn doing what he does with electric guitar and “textural events”, it’s up to Alan White to supply the mighty anchor of a beat and he does just that on the 14 cut CD. Produced by Tony Levin and Scott Schorr, Levin Torn White sometimes sounds like King Crimson and sometimes sounds like YES circa Topographic Oceans. Either way the sound of these players is pretty much unmistakable and overall, with it’s all instrumental rock fusion approach, Levin Torn White yields some mighty impressive sonic results. www.LazyBones.com

THE LEAF LABEL - Taking a cue from Bowie and Eno during the Low, era, the instrumental electronic duo known as Roll The Dice return with a modern masterpiece. Entitled In Dust, the sound of the CD is haunting and very dark. Consisting of the Stockholm based duo of Malcolm Pardon and Peder Mannerfelt, the 11 cut all instrumental duo evokes the sonic interplay of Tangerine Dream during their early days as well as Swedish electronic music pioneers Anna Själv Tredje—another ‘70s era duo who morphed into post New Wave music pioneers Cosmic Overdose. Roll The Disc are a kind of sonically cosmic overdose in their own right. One spin leads to another as this album hangs together fine in the ozone of your mind. www.TheLeafLabel.com

WOODVILLE RECORDS - Over in the U.K. jazz guitar ace Nigel Price continues making inroads with his 2011 double CD set entitled Heads & Tales. Heads as in the straight ahead jazz term used for improvising upon a traditional popular track by taking the same chord sequences and coming up with a completely different song. Here on disc one are the alternates or “heads”, including Price playing along with a tight band including organist Pete Whitaker, drummer Matt Home, Snowboy on conga and sax man Alex Garnett. Jazz players as adept and knowledgeable as Price (think jazz fretboard giants from Django and Wes Montgomery through to French prodigy Jean Pierre Llabador) can do amazing things with traditional pop songs—in this case so much so that the whole thing sounds quite “in the pocket” (to quote another popular jazz idiom). With Price overdubbing himself on acoustic guitars, Disc 2 in the double CD set feature the nine originals standards—from the pens of George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Charlie Parker and Frank Loesser—that inspired the “Heads” part of these “Tales”. www.NigelPrice.biz



REISSUES & RETROSPECTIVES


ELEKTRA RECORDS - When it came out in 1971, L.A. Woman became an instant rock album classic. In fact, that entire late 1960's era of The Doors seems like just a dream now. A good example of a band that had way too much talent in it, The Doors eventually self-destructed with the death of Jim Morrison but after making L.A. Woman, Jim went out with a bang. Rhino’s 40th double CD set features the entire original album inventively paired with an alternate version of the L.A. Woman album that sounds as cool as the original album, with most tracks one or two takes away from the official version. Topping the cake is a newly found Doors track—featuring a raw, bluesy and gutsy Morrison vocal called “She Smells So Nice” that, while not a hit by any means, nevertheless starts rocking as the song gets going. The double CD digi-pak design and packaging is okay while the booklet features a new essay on the album from rock scribe David Fricke along with all the album credits. www.TheDoors.com

SOFA ENTERTAINMENT - Best known for their historic series of Ed Sullivan Show DVD collections, SOFA Entertainment will make rock music collectors happy with their 2011 double DVD release entitled 6 Ed Sullivan Shows Starring The Rolling Stones. Of course, after The Beatles, The Rollling Stones were the biggest draw among the original British Invasion pop bands. It’s just amazing that this 5+ hours, double DVD set features six complete Ed Sullivan shows—including shows on October 25, 1964, May 2, 1965, February 13, 1966, September 11, 1966, January 15, 1967 and November 23, 1969. Featuring amazingly clear black & white and color footage of the Stones performing 17 of their greatest hits live on the Sullivan show, which was broadcast live every Sunday night live from Manhattan on CBS, the double DVD comes with a 24 page booklet, detailing the Stones' appearances, as well as a 1966 replica ticket to the really, really big Ed Sullivan shoe. Of course, containing the complete, original TV shows, this isn’t only a Rolling Stones event. Yet, even with the two DVD’s featuring additional performances from Dusty Springfield, Petula Clark, Itzhak Perlman, The Kim Sisters, Leslie Uggams, Totie Fields, Robert Goulet, The Muppets, Alan King, Red Skelton, Flip Wilson, Tom Jones, Rodney Dangerfield, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Topo Gigio and more, the spotlight and the central focus of the DVD package has got to the raw energy and youthful exuberance the original Rolling Stones brought to America way back during the heyday of the British Invasion. www.EdSullivan.com




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