Pop This collection is inspired by the trials of Damien Echols, Jesse Misskelley Jr., and Jason Baldwin, the Arkansas men known as the West Memphis 3. They were freed in 2011 after spending more than 18 years in prison on murder charges - in a case in whi
West of Memphis: Voices of Justice
nolead ends This collection is inspired by the trials of Damien Echols, Jesse Misskelley Jr., and Jason Baldwin, the Arkansas men known as the West Memphis 3. They were freed in 2011 after spending more than 18 years in prison on murder charges - in a case in which their love of heavy metal music was used as evidence against them. The 15-track CD accompanies Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh's West of Memphis, the fourth documentary made in protest against the unjust treatment of the three. The list of contributors is illustrious, including Bob Dylan, Eddie Vedder, Lucinda Williams, Patti Smith, and Johnny Depp's band, Tonto's Giant Nuts. Spoken-word poet Henry Rollins also shows up: He reads a searing letter Echols wrote him in 2003, when his plight seemed the bleakest. Bits of Nick Cave and Warren Ellis' haunting film score also appear. Despite all that talent, West of Memphis is an inconsistent muddle, with previously recorded tracks like Dylan's "Ring Them Bells" mingling with bad ideas such as Marilyn Manson covering Carly Simon's "You're So Vain" and Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks revenging Pink Floyd's "Mother." For a good cause: A portion of the proceeds go to Echols, Misskelley, and Baldwin.
- Dan DeLuca
nolead begins DRGN King
nolead ends nolead begins Paragraph Nights
nolead ends nolead begins (Bar None ***)
nolead ends DRGN King brings together two Philly music scenesters. Hip-hop producer Brent "Ritz" Reynolds has worked with the Roots, Wale, and La Roux. Journeyman singer/guitarist Dominic Angelella has juggled various blues (Elevator Fight), folk (Hop Along), and rock (Dragonzord) projects; he also played guitar in Nouveau Riche with MC's Dice Raw and Nikki Jean.
Paragraph Nights, DRGN King's debut, is willfully eclectic in the tradition of Gorillaz or Beck, veering from bubbly power-pop ("Wild Night") or thumping rock ("Holy Ghost") to loping, soulful synth-pop ("Warriors"). As Angelella sings of debauched nights on the town and their existential consequences, Reynolds layers the songs with buzzy synthesizers, loopy electronics, happy handclaps, and whooping backing vocals. Stuffed with musical ideas and unafraid of milking big, obvious hooks, it's a messy, fun record.
- Steve Klinge
nolead begins Oneohtrix Point Never
nolead ends nolead begins Rifts
nolead ends nolead begins (Mexican Summer/Software ***1/2)
nolead ends Daniel Lopatin's outsider-electronics project impressed more than avant-gardists in 2011 with Replica, a new benchmark for ambient bricolage worthy of Eno and Hassell in 1982. That breakthrough justifies this boxed reshuffle of the first three OPN releases and various lard-ons, but who knew the early stuff would be so songful and dynamic? You'd be surprised just how quickly three hours of synth improv can go by - tracks like "Betrayed in the Octagon" and the 16-minute "When I Get Back From New York" on disc one are more rock-and-roll than anything on Replica. Disc two is funkier. "Computer Vision" and "Zones Without People" choose not to break into disco at any moment, but they could. And disc three will impress the avant-gardists.
- Dan Weiss
nolead begins Charlie Wilson
nolead ends nolead begins Love, Charlie
nolead ends nolead begins (RCA ***)
nolead ends 'For those uninitiated to the cult of Charlie Wilson (and shame on those unversed), he's a storming soul man with a strong pimp hand, a pencil-thin mustache, and a voice pitched between a sandpapery holler and an overemotional gulp. That gruff swell, first made famous on the Gap Band's analog-funk hits ("Outstanding," "You Dropped a Bomb on Me," "Oops Upside Your Head"), has been heard in collaboration with Snoop Dogg and Kanye West as well as on simmering solo wedding-day classics such as "You Are."
On Love, Charlie, fans of "You Are" will be drawn into the silken R&B balladry of "My Love Is All I Have." Whistling synths and overly literal lyrics define that song, which speaks of Charlie's quest for a woman who doesn't focus on his wallet. By the time we get to the slow, slippery "Whisper" (with fellow '80s hitmaker Keith Sweat), "Turn Off the Lights," and "Our Anniversary," Wilson has charmed, bedded, and married that girl, growing old with her in the process. Yet there's a handsome change in Wilson on "If I Believe," in which the quiet stormwinds blow toward God and faith. Same passion, different subject. Nice.
- A.D. Amorosi
(KK Records ****)
nolead ends He's 76, so, sure, Kris Kristofferson is feeling mortal. Over the last several years, however, that feeling has resharpened his muse, resulting in his best work since the '60s and '70s, when he introduced a new poetic lyricism to country music. Feeling Mortal is no exception - it's the first great album of 2013.
As on 2006's This Old Road and 2009's Closer to the Bone, producer Don Was puts Kristofferson in the best possible light. He highlights the aging troubadour's craggy grace with spare arrangements that fit his conversational delivery and heighten the intimacy of these songs about life, love, and hard-earned wisdom. (Not all of them are new: Two have 1970s copyrights, which makes for a nice linking of his two golden ages.)
Kristofferson may be feeling mortal, but that's also freeing, and so the silver-haired devil doesn't sound as though he's ready to quit anytime soon, as he indicates on "You Don't Tell Me What to Do." And while "Ramblin' Jack" pays tribute to his friend Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Kristofferson could also be singing about himself: "And I know he ain't afraid of where he's going/ And I'm sure he ain't ashamed of where he's been/ . . . And he made his own mistakes, and love, and friends/ Ain't that what matters in the end."
- Nick Cristiano
Zingaro: Portrait in Black and White
nolead ends Pianist Terry Klinefelter, whose music has merged Mozart and Mingus, heads in an earthier direction here with her trio: bassist Lee Smith (legendary padre of Christian McBride) and drummer Byron Landham of Betty Carter and Joey DeFrancesco fame.
This recording has slink and sass in the same way super-storm Sandy had wind. Klinefelter, now a certified yoga instructor, finds the downward-facing dog in "Swagger," in which Jerry Weldon offers his burly tenor. Leon Russell's "Superstar" gets taken for a righteous trot, while singer Denise King offers her essential chops on the bluesy essence that is "Money."
On the title track, Klinefelter's vocals in Portuguese are not her strong suit, but luckily her trio conjures up the kick of a good caipirinha.
- Karl Stark
Top Albums in the Region
This Week Last Week
Locally Nationally Locally
1 3 Les Miserables Cast Soundtrack 2
2 4 Taylor Swift Red 3
3 9 Dropkick Murphys -
Signed & Sealed In Blood
4 2 Hollywood Undead -
Notes From the Underground
5 8 Lumineers Lumineers 5
6 5 Various Artists 7
Pitch Perfect Soundtrack
7 6 Bruno Mars Unorthodox Jukebox 9
8 7 Black Veil Brides Wretched and Divine -
9 34 Conor Maynard Contrast -
10 11 Mumford & Sons Babel 1
SOURCE: SoundScan (based on purchase data from Philadelphia and Montgomery, Delaware, Bucks, Chester, Camden, Burlington and Gloucester Counties). Billboard Magazine 1/26/13 © 2013
On Sale Tuesday
The Joy Formidable, Wolf;
Petra Haden, Petra Goes to the Movies;
Darius Rucker, True Belle; Talib Kweli, Prisoner of Conscious
Violin Sonatas 1-10
Leonidas Kavakos, violin; Enrico Pace, piano.
(Decca, three discs ***)
nolead ends nolead begins Violin Sonatas 1-10
nolead ends nolead begins Barbara Govatos, violin; Marcantonio Barone, piano.
nolead ends nolead begins (Bridge, four discs, ***1/2)
nolead ends New Beethoven violin sonata sets don't come along often, but here, by coincidence, are two of them. Even more coincidentally, these two simultaneous releases arrived as Kavakos was the featured Philadelphia Orchestra soloist last week - playing alongside Govatos, an orchestra member since 1982.
You'd expect a major international star such as Kavakos to best Govatos. But - and this isn't civic chauvinism talking - the reverse is true.
In his Decca-label debut, Kavakos has a far more glamorous tone and posh recording ambience, his thoroughly examined performances scaled to speak intimately to the microphones at hand, which is great for revealing the profundity of Violin Sonata No. 10. Recorded at Lang Concert Hall in Swarthmore, Govatos has a thinner tone, a less lingering manner, and the restless electricity of a live performance that's particularly effective in the early sonatas.
Both have wonderful collaborators. No matter how poetic pianist Enrico Pace is, however, he's not quite treated as Kavakos' equal partner. In contrast, few chamber musicians listen to each other so intently as Govatos and the rhythmically buoyant Marcantonio Barone, in a constant, strongminded exchange of musical ideas.
Also, the Govatos set is spread over four CDs, yet it's less expensive (list price: $27) than Kavakos' three ($33).
- David Patrick Stearns