April 2012 Outside The Heard

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Zeus
Busting Visions
Arts & Crafts
 
Few bands can be simultaneously timeless and relevant, but that's exactly the high-wire act Zeus has become as a new millennium hit factory set for a triumphant return with the release of sophomore full-­length Busting Visions. The album follows 2010 Polaris Prize-­nominated debut Say Us, which topped CBC charts and garnered stellar reviews from top rock mags like Q and Uncut. Busting Visions' 14 tracks were penned on bedside motel stationary, coffee shop napkins, the backs of unopened-­bill envelopes, scraps of drywall -- anything the band could scratch their manifold musings on. And it’s all gold -- even Busting Visions' shortest track, the 55 second "Bright Brown Opus," manages to conjure Boston, Big Star and the British Invasion in an alarmingly fresh and inspired way. It's all there. AM radio from dial to dial, minus the filler and full of the future.
 
Yukon Blonde
Tiger Tiger
Dine Alone Records

 
Yukon Blonde’s career has so far been marked by their on-the-road ethic. Last fall they embarked on a 30- date tour supporting Good Old War, as well as several headlining runs down each coast – making for a year-and-a-half of nonstop tour mileage both in North Americ and Europe. The signature hook-heavy arrangements and lush “ooh-wah” harmonies that earned Yukon Blonde critical nods for their self-titled 2009 debut have certainly soaked into their Tiger Talk -- foreshadowing an evolving sound for the band as they explore new territory in their songwriting and continue to grow as musicians. Written partially while on the road, and partially while off the road at a cottage in the Comox Valley (BC), Tiger Talk rambling good nature practically demands you take it on a road trip.
fIREHOSE lowFLOWs: The Columbia Anthology ('91 - '93)
Tre3s
Columbia/Legacy

 
fIREHOSE was formed in the spring of 1986 shortly after the accidental death of guitarist/vocalist D. Boon brought an end to bassist Mike Watt and drummer George Hurley's previous band, Minutemen. Along with Ed "From Ohio," fIREHOSE continued in the Minutemen tradition of intricate musicianship combined with caustic lyrical fusillades inspired by the writing of the Beat Generation but with a punk / funk / free jazz identity all its own. With a relentless do-it-yourself work ethic, the band toured non-stop and consistently played to capacity audiences over the course of 7.5 years - playing nearly 1000 shows before disbanding in 1994. lowFLOWs: The Columbia Anthology ('91-'94) features the complete remastered fIREHOSE Columbia recordings including 2 full length albums (1991's critically acclaimed Flyin' The Flannel and 1994's Mr. Machinery Operator); a kick ass live EP (Live Totem Pole) as well as rare, out of print and previously unreleased recordings.
 
Masabumi Kikuchi Trio
Sunrise
ECM

 
In his liner notes for Sunrise legendary jazz pianist Masabumi Kikuchi credits Paul Motian (1931-2011) for pushing him further in the direction of spur-of-the moment discoveries. Realized in 2009, at New York’s Avatar Studios, this session was Paul’s penultimate ECM recording (Live At Birdland with Lee Konitz, Brad Mehldau and Charlie Haden was recorded two months later). Kikuchi and Motian are wonderful together, fully attuned – after so much shared work, in Paul’s augmented Trio 2000 bands as well as Tethered Moon – to each other’s idiosyncrasies. Sunrise seems both fresh and wise, revealing perhaps some of the emotional tone associated with “late works” as these inventive old masters, players beyond ‘technique’, beyond the need to impress, engage in their parallel, poetic explorations, and reach for essentials. These free and craggy ballads and the luminous waves of sound that wash through them couldn’t have been instigated by anyone else.
Birdy
Birdy
WB
 
British singer-songwriter Birdy (real name: Jasmine Van Den Bogaerde) is a bit more unusual than most of her peers. Discovered at 12 when she won first place at the 2008 Open Mic UK competition, Birdy’s ascent gained steam when she was signed by world renowned label executive Christian Tattersfield (whose other signings include Damien Rice and David Gray). Birdy's evocative and compelling voice, however, belies her young age - as evidenced in 2011 when, at 14, Birdy’s debut single (a cover of Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love”) climbed to #17 on the UK charts and has made her a pop star in Europe. Her debut album, Birdy, which consists of her own piano-driven renditions of songs by artists such as Bon Iver, Phoenix, Fleet Foxes, James Taylor and The National is already a huge hit and, undoubtedly, will find many a fan across the pond.
 
Various Artists
Rough Guide: Psychedelic Africa
World Music Network

 
The last couple of years have seen a deep curiousity in the imminently funky and ocassionaly far out sounds of East Africa -- a sound that’s been inspiring punk and electronic artists since the 70’s (esp. Brian Eno and Talking Heads). There are plenty of worth compilations and artists (esp. Fela Kuti) you should and will want to get down wit, but this Rough Guide is a great pace to start, as it features some hand-picked gems from the archive such as Victor Uwaifo and Balla Et Ses Balladins, and includes tracks by unstoppable psychedelic veterans Ebo Taylor and Orchestre Poly-Rythmo, who are still releasing top-quality mind-bending grooves today. One listen and you’ll be hooked. And the weather is perfect for dancing...
Andy Sheppard
Trio Libero
ECM
 
Trio Libero, convened by UK saxophonist Andy Sheppard, proposes music of graceful lyrical invention and emotional depth. On the debut recording of this free-spirited group, freedom is extended to melodies given room to breathe and to grow. There is always space in the music and independence for each of the players, space for individual expression, as well as the possibilities for dialogue and interaction at any moment. From the beginning of the trio association of Andy Sheppard, Michel Benita and Sebastian Rochford, all these options were evident. After a particularly inspired residency the group found a new direction: Improvise, write it down, develop it, then replay the tune with fresh improvisation: a trio libero. if you will. The results make for a Jazz both refreshing and invigorating.
 
Johnny Cash
Bootleg Vol. IV:
The Soul Of Truth

Legacy
 
If not for gospel music, there never would have been a Johnny Cash. When Cash decided he wanted to be an entertainer, there was really only one type of music he intended to sing. Although Cash reinvented himself many times during his life, there was one way in which he never did: His faith. And this faith, with its roots so firmly planted in gospel music, stayed with him throughout his life. Bootleg Vol. IV: The Soul Of Truth presents an intimate and personal look at Cash's passion for gospel music and his own spiritual path. Bootleg Vol. IV presents three rare albums in their entirety: A Believer Sings The Truth; an untitled, unreleased 1975 set; and Johnny Cash Gospel Singer. Among these hard-to-find recordings are 15 unreleased tracks including outtakes from the sessions at which the albums were recorded. Hallelujah!
Hart/Iverson/
Turner/Street

All Our Reasons
ECM

 
Originally billed as the Ethan Iverson-Mark Turner Quartet, it soon became the Billy Hart Quartet, and under this name has played shows to packed houses each year in New York City. The group’s first album for High Note in 2005 figured on many critics’ best-of-the year list. Since then, the ensemble’s music has gotten more free and spacious, a sensibility that aligns perfectly with the ever-progressive ECM. While drummer Hart’s swinging beat and delicate cymbal tracery have previously been heard on the label behind Charles Lloyd and Bennie Maupin, and tenorist Mark Turner has appeared on acclaimed recording with the Fly Trio and Enrico Rava, All Our Reasons is a label debut for Bad Plus pianist Ethan Iverson and bassist Ben Street. Hart, Iverson and Turner all contribute material, which includes modern blues, a Coltrane tribute and an Iverson-penned homage to Paul Bley, the wonderfully-titled “Nostalgia for the Impossible”.
 
Various Artists
Kentucky Derby Is
Decadent & Depraved
Savoy

 
Well this is certainly interesting. First things first: “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved” is widely considered to be the first real piece of Hunter S. Thompson’s Gonzo Journalism. The story – which is a classic – also marks the first time The Good Doctor collaborated with illustrator and foil Ralph Steadman. Now legendary jazz guitar wizard Bill Frisell has composed a soundtrack for this elemental work. He’s also enlisted a slew of talented voices to help him tell this strange and besotted tale, including Will Forte, Dr. John, Tim Robbins, and Steadman himself. Remove any skeptiscm – this is pretty great... And a treat for any huge Thompson fan. Buy the ticket, take the ride, etc.
Hank Williams III
Long Gone Daddy
Curb
 
As illustrated by Long Gone Daddy, a new career-spanning sampler of Hank III songs, this third generation Hank has never veered from being fiercely independent while staying true in spirit to the path blazed by his family. "Tidy" is not a word often associated with the against-the-grain work of Hank III, but it s a fitting way to describe the way Long Gone Daddy packages up a full-bodied sampling of his career, style and influences. This 10-song collection could have been titled Long Gone Granddaddy for the shuffling country blues flavor of not just the Hank Williams covers but of much of the batch. As "This Ain’t Montgomery," a lament of the state of modern country, states: "Hank Williams is dead and he ain’t comin back here again." True, of course. But he’d be proud of his grandson.
 
CéU
Caravana Sereia Bloom
Six Degrees

 
Eschewing much of the laid-back, loungey electro-Bossa nova and samba of her debut, Caravana Sereia Bloom indicates that Céu seems to have more in common with the psychedelic oeuvres of early Tropicalia artists and Os Mutantes than the restrained musings of Jobim. Producer Gui Amabis does a fantastic job of allowing stripped down guitars to convey a constant sense of momentum. Pieces of Peruvian chicha are embedded in lush reggae grooves. A lifelong fan of Bob Marley and all things Jamaican, Céu stretched her musical vocabulary throughout Caravana Sereia Bloom to draw inspiration for each song, exploring a multitude of Latin Amencan sounds: cumbia, lambadas, carImbos, bregas and guitan-adas. But wheter or not your fan of exotic rhythms, Caravana Sereia Bloom has what it takes to compliment Céu’s amazing voice. Turn it up and disappear.
Scars On 45
Scars On 45
ATL
 
Making music was the furthest thing from Scars on 45 co-founder Danny Bemrose’s mind until the professional soccer player for England’s Huddersfield Town F.C. broke his foot at 21 and his world came crashing down. Danny put down the soccer ball and picked up for his father’s guitar. “I’m quite an obsessive person. I became kind of addicted,” he says. “I used to lock myself away to write songs and record on four-track recorder.” Those early years led to creation of Scars on 45, a quintet from Leeds, England, that combines the gentle melodic intensity of Snow Patrol or Keane with the added allure of co-ed vocals. Highlights on the group’s self-titled, 10-song debut include the gracefully propulsive “Heart on Fire,” on which Danny and fellow lead vocalist Aimee Driver play out a couple’s anguished conversation. But the best part of breaking up is making up... And there’s a little of that, too.
 
Vacationer
Gone
Downtown
 
Most people do not take vacations often enough, some not at all. Quality vacations let us recapture that feeling of childlike exploratory freedom, which we seem to experience less and less frequently as we age. We can have fun without worrying about the familiar consequences presented to us regularly in life. Taking a good amount of time away from our daily stresses allows us to return to our lives refreshed and better equipped to handle whatever comes next. Vacationer, the eastern seaboard’s foremost relaxation specialists have teamed up to compile Gone -- a unique collection of serenity-inducing sonic arrangements. The audio program you are about to experience was designed with the sole purpose of relaxing the listener and sending their mind on a well-deserved trip. No airfare needed, no reservations. Simply settle in, relax and enjoy; Vacation from anywhere at anytime.
B.B. King
Live At The Royal Albert Hall
Shout! Factory

 
On June 28, 2011, the "King of the Blues" B.B. King played to an adoring sold-out crowd at London's spectacular Royal Albert Hall. It was another unforgettable night in the career of one of the most legendary bluesmen to ever pick up a guitar. Joining the illustrious Mr. King onstage were guitar virtuoso Derek Trucks, "songbird extraordinaire" Susan Tedeschi, The Rolling Stones' Ronnie Wood, Simply Red's Mick Hucknall and former Guns N' Roses axeman Slash.
 
Foxy Shazam
Foxy Shazam
Capitol


 
Foxy Shazam's music is an unhinged, maniacal mix of piano, guitar, howling vocals, double-kickdrum percussion, and rock & roll theatrics. The quintet hails from Cincinnati, Ohio, where bandmates Eric Nally (vocals), Loren Turner (guitar), Daisy (bass), Sky White (piano), and Joe Halberstadt (drums) first joined forces in 2004. The band’s name basically means “Nice Shoes,” which should one day be helpful to you if you play rock trivia at your local bar. The Church of Rock and Roll is glorious and occasionally harsh blend of punk, soul, Queen and a touch of AC/DC – and if that doesn’t get your motor runnin’ then you oughta break-up with your significant other and get thee to a monastery. This shizz is pure.
What’s in a name? Not much or else Trampled By Turtles (IMHO) would have never made it out of their garage (or whathaveyou)... Which begs the next question: What do I know? Not much (apparently) as Trampled By Turtles claim to have sold-out 95% of all their shows in 2011 – not to mention their choice slots at big ass festivals like Coachella and Telluride. This was all while they were working their last album, Duluth, which the band happened to record on the road, trying different songs in different rooms with little regard to aural continuity. For their new album, Stars and Satellites, Trampled By Turtles thought they would take the opposite approach (or so says the Turtles’ own Dave Simonette): “We took our songs, along with engineer Tom Herbers and his tape machine, to Soleil Pines, a log home outside of Duluth and within the gravitational pull of Lake Superior.  We moved the furniture, set up some mics, worked, slept, and ate all in the same space...  I like to think Stars and Satellites is the result of us continuing the search for our own voice and a step in the growth of a band that, at the very least, still loves to play together.” I’m sure you (and your favorite beards) will agree.

Trampled By Turtles -
Stars And Satellites

Banjodad Records/Thirty Tigers
The first single from Port of Morrow, “Simple Song,” could easily be an outtake from 2007’s Wincing the Night Away. Digging deeper into the new 2012 release, The Shins’ wound-tight pop energy still persists in some tracks, like as in “Bait and Switch” and “Fall of ‘82,” but a more middle-aged, adult contemporary feeling is setting into the very bones of frontman James Mercer’s songs. The fabric of Mercer’s songwriting is generally woven from the threads broken relationships, self-criticism, and a distaste of the games one must endure as a grown up. The Joe Jackson infused “It’s Only Life” and “For A Fool” are front porch ballads for 30-somethings who’ve traded their punk sensibilities for jobs, kids and car payments. “Port of Morrow” is a sentimental title track, seeming to signal a resignation of will. The overall production of the album, though not heavy handed, is certainly conspicuous, leaning toward John Lennon’s “Imagine.” The shift’s only enhanced by an entirely new lineup of musicians backing Mercer as The Shins. Though The Shins have certainly not given up their waifish ghost, it’s anyone’s guess as to whether this beloved Pacific Northwestern indie band will one day go the way of Wilco.

The Shins -
Port Of Morrow

Columbia
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