(In The Name Of ***)
nolead ends The Brooklyn duo of Madeline Follin and Brian O'Blivion - good name, that - first got attention with a three-song EP early in 2010. So it's taken an eternity in Internet time for the band's self-titled debut, which is the first release on Lily Allen's In The Name Of label, a partnership with Sony Music. So what's the buzz about? For starters, it was the single "Go Outside," which cleverly upped the intriguing factor of a super-catchy, Supremes-flavored, girl-group throwback song by dressing it up with the sampled voice of People's Temple doomsday cult leader Jim Jones. The rest of Cults isn't quite so entrancing, but it's easy to be smitten with Follin's lovelorn teenage-dreamer vocals as she and O'Blivion update '60s pop truisms that are still pretty difficult to resist, nearly half a century later.
- Dan DeLuca
nolead begins Madeleine Peyroux
nolead ends nolead begins Standing on the Rooftop
nolead ends nolead begins (Emarcy/Decca ***1/2)
nolead ends Standing on the Rooftop has two big advantages over Madeleine Peyroux's last couple of albums. First, her songwriting skills come closer than ever to equaling her considerable interpretive talents; second, she has drafted guitarist Marc Ribot, with whom she worked on her 1996 debut Dreamland, to provide unexpected twists to the spacious and atmospheric arrangements.
Peyroux covers some classic tunes here: A light, understated "Martha, My Dear"; a shuffling "I Threw It All Away"; a somber, tense "Love in Vain." And it's to Peyroux's credit that her own compositions don't seem overwhelmed by the Beatles', Dylan's, or Robert Johnson's. She can be jaunty on "Don't Pick a Fight with a Poet," sassy on "The Kind You Can't Afford," and introspective on "Ophelia," all the while maintaining her jazzy, light, but smoldering touch.
- Steve Klinge
nolead begins The Feelies
nolead ends nolead begins Here Before
nolead ends nolead begins (Bar None ***)
nolead ends "Is it too late to do it again / or should we wait another ten?" sings Glenn Mercer to open Here Before, the first Feelies album in a decade, and the Haledon, N.J., quintet picks up right where it left off. The Feelies began their career with two classics, 1980's perpetually twitchy Crazy Rhythms and 1986's placidly strummy The Good Earth, before settling somewhere in between for 1988's Only Life and 1991's Time for a Witness. Now we have Here Before.
It's great to hear the interplay between Bill Million's rapid acoustic strumming and Mercer's judicious electric leads on "Later On" and "Should Be Gone"; it's just like old times, when the Feelies rivaled R.E.M., at least among the cognoscenti. While some of Mercer's garage-psych songs never quite jell - "Time Is Right" careens but doesn't take off - Here Before is a worthy addition to an undervalued legacy. In a concert set list, its bests songs will sound great among the classics. This band shouldn't wait another 10.
- Steve Klinge
Continued from H7
nolead begins Thurston Moore
nolead ends nolead begins Demolished Thoughts
nolead ends nolead begins (Matador ***1/2)
nolead ends Thurston Moore, cocreator of Sonic Youth, has two faces when it comes to solo albums: atonal noise and reflective mood music. That double mind-set certainly figures large in his work with the Youth. But in his solo work, it's even more pronounced. Demolished Thoughts is soft, psychedelic chamber-folk - delicate, potent, subtle pastoral music both miles away from Youth but not so distant you couldn't imagine it on a Sonic Youth album such as Washing Machine. On Thoughts, Moore has brought in producer Beck, an artist with his own brand of mellowed-out, folksy complexity (think Sea Change). Moore and Beck come up with tremulous electronic textures that waft through the shimmering strings of "Blood Never Lies" and "Illuminine" and the dark drone of "Mina Loy." Violinist Samara Lubelski and Philadelphia harpist Mary Lattimore (Fursaxa, Kurt Vile) provide the strings. Along with the ruminative "Benediction" and Moore's Fahey-like plucking throughout, Demolished Thought's finest moments include the crinkly tone poem "Circulation" and the verbal riffs on the New York he loves on "Orchard Street." The whole thing is so lustrous and comfortable you feel as if you're intruding on something private.
- A.D. Amorosi
Raisin' Hell Revue
(Delta Groove ***)
nolead begins Various Artists
nolead ends nolead begins Legendary Rhythm
and Blues Revue
nolead ends nolead begins (Alligator ***)
nolead ends These two multi-artist live albums serve as a great advertisement for the floating party that is the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise.
Elvin Bishop's Raisin' Hell Revue, recorded entirely at sea, finds the pioneering blues-rocker in his element, generating a good time with a bunch of musically accomplished friends. The irrepressible singer-guitarist starts out with the zydeco/Bo Diddley thump of "Callin' All Cows," gets serious with the raw-blues social commentary of "What the Hell Is Goin' On?," and pays tribute to Albert Collins with some good-humored personal reminiscences and the late bluesman's "Dyin' Flu."
Bishop shares the spotlight with the grizzled Finis Tasby, who steps nimbly through a jazzy take on Percy Mayfield's "River's Invitation." And John Németh, one of the best of the young soul-blues vocalists, easily steps into the Mickey Thomas role for a topflight take on Bishop's lone hit, "Fooled Around and Fell in Love."
Tommy Castro, who has developed into an absolutely commanding soul-blues triple threat (singer, guitar player, writer), is the host and main attraction on Legendary Rhythm and Blues Revue, recorded partly at sea and partly on a tour inspired by the cruise. Castro's killer contributions include his own "Wakeup Call" and "Painkiller" and Dylan's "Gotta Serve Somebody."
Making the most of their one-shot appearances (usually backed by members of Castro's excellent band) are dependable veterans Michael Burks, Joe Louis Walker, Rick Estrin, Debbie Davies, and Janiva Magness, as well as the lesser-known Monica Parker, Trampled Under Foot, and Theodis Ealey.
- Nick Cristiano
Live at Birdland
nolead ends At 83, saxophonist Lee Konitz is still jamming and something of a national treasure. The long, cool years have led to this 2009 session with fellow travelers, the Philly-born Paul Motian, 80, on drums and überbassist Charlie Haden, 73. Pianist Brad Mehldau, 40, is one impressive rookie.
The four combine for a mystical swing through six standards. Konitz starts off alone on Miles Davis' "Solar," then the rest fill in, transforming the tune into a cosmic ECM incarnation. Mehldau likewise begins the magic on "I Fall in Love So Easily," which then gets the kind of deep ride a standard deserves.
Konitz doesn't play quickly - even his ramblings through "Oleo" proceed at an elder's tempo - but there's wistfulness and joy to his ramblings. Mehldau and the rest are all amazing, putting little moments in high relief. "Oleo" develops organically; even the arrangement sounds improvised.
- Karl Stark
Jenny Lin, piano.
(Steinway & Sons ***1/2)
nolead ends Has the current Morton Feldman festival altered our hearing forever? Or has pianist Jenny Lin discovered a Feldmanish abstraction in this spare, late-period cycle of piano works by the roughly contemporaneous Federico Mompou? Like Feldman's Triadic Memories, the more unassuming, ethnically influenced Musica Callada is built on shortish, quiet musical modules. Though Mompou sometimes breaks into traditional melody, this cycle is introspective by any standard, and is said to be influenced by mystical poetry.
Though Musica Callada is no stranger to recordings (even those by the composer himself), Lin avoids the mistier approach favored by some, seemingly intent on showing what's really there. And indeed, there's a lot. The harmonic steadiness of the music makes departures from it feel all the more arresting. The quality from section to section is uneven, but how uneven depends, no doubt, on what the listener brings to to the music in any particular hearing.
- David Patrick Stearns