Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode 14

Indie rock, indie pop, indie dance, and indie blues rock! We explore three records on this Album Review Saturdays, not sure we’re ever going to be able to define what exactly it is that categorizes a band or artists into this mold, but the great part is such diversity in sound, delivery and experience!  So, let’s dive right into indie sounds, as these two bands and one artist are sliding in and out of this vast genre with sudden radio love or play in soundtracks to television shows or even most recently, commercials.  One guarantee here for all, if you’re remotely interested in any of these mentioned albums below, the live shows should be very good!

Secret MachinesThe Moth, the Lizard and the Secret Machines

Let’s start this one off by saying the indie word here is followed more-so by the word, Alternative. They might have been considered more Alternative over indie at the start of their band’s career, but that’s because of the couple catchy harder driven songs that were served up on alternative airwaves, but they are still rather off radar, and independent in their ability to non-conform with what might be a record label need or want. They have always been (for me) a band deliberately attached to the pressure and drive of bass and percussion, and this album seems to have continued the tradition while amping up the atmospheric and layered instruments, hence maybe driving that indie sound (farther from current radio).  The slow to mid-tempo vocals around it continue to have that indie, eerie effect, except “Last One Out,” which is purely instrumental.

I point out the instrumental out because it does seem to be a marker for a drive to slightly somber edge as the band begins to bring the album up to the climax where the sonic heaviness and layering become much more engaged, and urgent, even in the background of “Run Out the Silver Light,” which is acoustic at its basis.  This is what I was expecting from Secret Machines; anticipating a music pay off as the album continues.  So, let’s label it Indie-Alternative with hints of shoegaze vocal, intentful guitar feedback, extreme bass and percussion leading a very good march to moderate rock sonic madness, which kind of unfolds like a deliberate indie movie with a great payoff in ‘The Finalizer” listening.

Footnote: The Secret Machines have songs in the Manchurian Candidate (movie), Across the Universe (movie where they cover The Beatles’), Mr Robot (TV Show), Legion (TV Show), and Life (TV Show).

 

The Band
  • Brandon Curtis – Vocals, Bass guitar and Keyboards
  • Phil Karnats – Guitar and Backing vocals
  • Josh Garza – Drums

 

The Moth, the Lizard, and the Secret Machines Track Listing

1. There’s No Starting Over
2. I Think It’s Light Outside
3. You Want It Worse
4. Even Out the Overflow
5. Last One Out
6. The Answer
7. Crucifixition Time
8. Run Out the Light
9. The Finalizer

 

 

 

Portugal. The ManChris Black Changed My Life

As forementioned in our “That’s Your Band Name,” Portugal. The Man is not from Portugal.  They are from the far reaches of indie pop rock and dance via the groove, beat and wholesomeness cool vibes and vocal harmonies of big sound entertainment – and they use all kinds of eras to make it all work!  They adhere to no formula that we can understand; much like a Food Network professional whipping up some wild six course meal in one hour that somehow all comes together without a blender. Yeah – true story! We got psychedelic pop with organ grind. We’ve got De La grooves homages and playfulness with great titles and a dose of Cee Lo’s soul dashed like hot sauce here and there! Electronic explorations and all kinds of toms and percussions to bring to boot with rock guitars creating all kinds of interesting feedback and sound fills.  Lyrically it keeps you on it and entertained while realizing the grim state and the need for better things, bending vocal styles and guest appearances. The song “Dummy” with Got a keep it movin’ — keep it groovin, and If this is the last dance you can count on me! And then there is Cheer up Charlie Brown, the end is near from “Ghost Town.”  The simple word choices and phrases are not deep, but they’re immediately understood as much as they are intended to probably not be complex – because everything else in sound is!

The production is detailed, like a Flaming Lips record. The sound is deep, flowing, and tuned to really give your ears a modern day work out between the lyrical content and the spectacular musicianship. This is a multiple listen record that just shines better and better each listen. You’ll know because you’re suddenly hearing the violins you missed and more.  The final categorical placement is harder here, as there are elements galore.  Simplify it, right?  Indie Pop-Rock.

Footnote: Portugal. The Man have songs in TV Shows: Shameless, Vampire Diaries, The Rook, Arrow, The Good Doctor and more. Movies: Ghosted, Poms, Carrie, The Report and Love, Simon.  Commercial: Taco Bell.

The Band
  • John Gourley- Guitar
  • Zoe Manville – Vocal percussion
  • Eric Howk – Guitar
  • Jason Sechrist – Drum Kit
  • Kyle O’Quin – Synthesizer
  • Zachary Carothers – Bass

 

Chris Black Changed My Life Track Listing

1. “Heavy Games II” (featuring Jeff Bhasker)
2. “Grim Generation”
3. “Thunderdome [W.T.A.]” (featuring Black Thought and Natalia Lafourcade)
4. “Dummy”
5. “Summer of Luv” (featuring Unknown Mortal Orchestra)
6. “Ghost Town”
7. “Time’s a Fantasy” (featuring Jeff Bhaske)
8. “Doubt”
9. “Plastic Island”
10. “Champ” (featuring Edgar Winter)
11. “Anxiety:Clarity” (featuring Paul Williams)

 

 

Ayron JonesChronicles of the Kid

Mr Jones, let me introduce you to the music multiverse, if there are those in the rock-blues community that might not have had the pleasure being aware of the talent put forth on this new record.  Ayron Jones is a guitarist and singer-songwriter that seems to be able to blend elements of grunge, rock, hip-hop, soul and blues into his overall finished product.  However, Chronicles of the Kid, has two that are leading the charge here, rock and blues! And the first three songs are crushing it hard, making your ears take note of, not only the hard rock musicianship, but the straight-out lyrical empowerment being served up!  “Strawman, Blood in the Water,” and “The Title” (which could be an entry track for a professional sports team), have that catchy quality that rival your favorite hard rock radio band.  Nothing wrong with that!

When we get to “My America” we’re starting to see the Lenny Kravitz in him, although we’ve still not lost the hard rock — it’s maybe moved a bit more grunge, but it’s still flaming hot, which was the one constant throughout this very personal recording.  The record never loses his hold on that guitar and the ability to make it scream or whine or riff, despite the vocal style he’s throwing down.  Maybe the comparison of Gary Clark Jr., isn’t too far off base.  Then there’s off-the-rails fun, too, like “Filthy.”  This one’s beyond a throwdown — it’s a hit to the dome, as they say!  I could go song by song, but I’ll let you take the ear-wheel and enjoy for yourself!

Ayron Jones has landed a thoroughly cool, hard rocking, blues smashing, lyrical introspection that’s utterly enthralling, inviting, and easily accessible, which will probably turn some rock snobs off, but they make no mistake — they will probably continue their closet listening in their black laced thong.

Footnote: Ayron Jones has opened for all kinds of acts; Living Color, B.B. King, Theory of A Deadman, Slipknot, Janelle Monae, Train, Run DMC, and Patti Smith to name a few, so while we couldn’t find any songs on tv or movies — that’s coming very soon folks!.

The Band
  • Ayron Jones – Vocals, Guitar and Bass
  • Evan Flory-Barnes – Bass
  • Kevin Bressler – Drums
Chronicles of the Kid Track Listing

1. Strawman
2. Blood In The Water
3. The Title
4. Otherside
5. My America
6. Living For The Fall
7. “Filthy”
8. Get High
9. The Sky Is Crying
10. On Two Feet I Stand

Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode 13

Album Review Saturdays this week brings you two heavy electric pieces that hit hard, but in completely different styles and genres, while we finish up with the quiet electric of Pat Metheny to sort of bring us back from the edge of darkness (will call it). It’s funny because the first band has ‘Quiet’ in their name, but I probably spoiled it for you on why I went from two completely heavy emersed and crunching albums to “Dream Box.” Darn it…well, let’s review anyway because you’ve got to start listening to these records because there’s more great new ones on the way — or already arrived, actually!

Dead Quiet – IV

What is it with Vancouver British Colombia and stoner metal bands? This is the second one we’re reviewing this year, but while they are all kinds of variety in the metal, hard rock genre, the one consistency seems to be the dedication to their music, the delivery whether with lyrics or without, and of course the production! Dead Quiet has, just like Hail the Void, all things riffing on all cylinders.
Let’s keep it simple for you in the music multiverse, this is a doom stoner metal quintet that has a Sabbath like draw with hard blues guitar with enormous detail and progressive keyboard connection against a hard rock vocal that has every business being at the helm. Why can I say this? He’s not over-stepping. He’s not doing some off processed growl, and he knows how well his voice works in his originality and range. Here’s just an example of some of one of the many lyrical deliveries “before you could walk, before you would run, this is the hill you will die on” (Existential Dread), and he nails it — as does the musicianship around it! There’s nothing quiet about this album except a 53 second instrumental that leads into ‘High Roads’. Even the ending track ballads in bombastic fashion in a tempo estranged from the rest of the album. If you’re a metal fan, and have been looking for an interesting, hard hitting, detail oriented new listen this should be on your list!

The Band
  • Kevin Keegan – Lead Vocal, Guitar
  • Brock MacInnes – Lead guitarist
  • Michael Grossnickle – Bassist
  • Michael Rosen – Keyboardist, Piano
  • Jason Dana – Drummer
IV Track Listing

 

 

1. The Hanging Man
2. No Gods, No Gold
3. Lamentations
4. Dying To Live Again
5. Existential Dread
6. Ascensions
7. High Roads
8. Murder City
9. Leave the Light On

 

 

King Gizzard & the Wizard LizardPetroDragonic Apocalypse; or, Dawn of Eternal Night: An Annihilation of Planet Earth and the Beginning of Merciless Damnation

Since we’re in the metal environment, why don’t we stay there for another? Right!? This one is a blistering as the crushing title suggests, and while King Gizzard (for short) has a tendency to put out a lot of interesting music surrounding and bending the stoner music multiverse, this one is it’s harshest, shredding, pounding, exhilarating, monumentally metal recording to date! The shredding, the pace, the vocal, and every inch of space captures whatever apocalyptic vision you can imaging put to sound under a sonic thrash that might make Rob Zombie release his thrown for a stint. That’s right! Plenty of speed groove and hooks still, so the band hasn’t relinquished their tight musicianship in this fiery foray Metal lovers are going to have a chance to see metal through the eyes of a psychedelic stoner band, which turns out to be extremely engaging, entertaining, and generously over-indulgent. It’s not a barn burner — this is a planet destroyer, so make sure you’re a safe distance when the record ends (wink).

The Band
  • Stu Mackenzie – Guitar, Bass, Vocals, Synthesizer
  • Ambrose Kenny-Smith – Vocals, Synthesizer
  • Joey Walker – Guitar, Bass, Vocals, Synthesizer
  • Michael Cavanagh – Drums, Percussion, Vocals, Electronic Drum Kit
  • Cook Craig – Bass, Vocals, Synthesizer
  • Lucas Harwood – Synthesizer

 

PetroDragonic Apocalypse; or
Dawn of Eternal Night: An Annihilation of Planet Earth and the Beginning of Merciless Damnation
Track Listing

 

 

 

1. Motor Spirit
2. Supercell
3. Converge
4. Witchcraft
5. Gila Monster
6. Dragon
7. Flamethrower

 

 

 

Pat Metheny – Dream Box

When the jazz guitarist in Metheny reals it back, it can be a tremendously beautiful experience, as his infinite possibilities and delicacies are always on audio display at every nuance, showcasing his complete mastery over the guitar and the intimate sounds that it can produce. This is so controlled, so peaceful and powerful, that you thought maybe you were hearing some other instruments – but you’d be wrong. This is the strings of the guitar dancing, plucking, and reverberating as if every breath of Metheny was calculated, in tune, and balanced with his playing and even the studio production and recording that had collaborative team of Pete Karam and Steve Rodby (former bassist for Pat Metheny Group from years ago). This is of note, as these are seasoned, experienced Metheny jazz henchmen that know what he’s throwing down in original compositions, but also in the two jazz standards, and the one cover song. Metheny is so precise that we can suddenly feel that it comes easy, or it’s careful. It’s safe — is that what we’re calling it? When it comes to the safety of a composer, jazz guitarist extraordinaire like Pat Metheny, whom I have seen live working by himself with people-less instruments doing his bidding based on chord structure through valves and switches, it’s unsafe to say this is safe. Let’s call it a glorious, perfect holding place while we wait for whatever he might conjure up next!  Also, I would like to make note that there’s going to come a day in the music mulitverse where some new jazz musician is going to be doing Metheny standards and a cover or two, for sure!

The Band
  • Pat Metheny – Electric Guitar (as he puts it, “Quiet Electric Guitar”)
Dream Box Track Listing

1. The Waves Are Not the Ocean
2. From the Mountains
3. Ole & Gard
4. Trust Your Angels
5. Never Was Love
6. I Fall in Love Too Easily
7. P.C. of Belgium
8. Morning of the Carnival
9. Clouds Can’t Change the Sky

Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode 12

This is one of those Album Review Saturdays to remember!  One a return to some classic folk from the master singer-songwriter, Mr. Bob Dylan, that puts a studio spin on his live delivery!  Then we move into Canada to see how it is the Cowboy Junkies know that ‘Hell Is Real,’ and I (wow) believe them!  Finally, we enter a barren, strikingly electric, desert rock-fusion wasteland that might very well be the album of the year, from a band that’s been wandering the Sahara and the music-multiverse for nearly two decades!  Statements made by all three are to be reckoned with no matter past, present or future!  All I can say, is I wouldn’t hesitate to get these three albums onto your playlist, but be warned — they demand wondrous audio attention!

Bob Dylan – Shadow Kingdom

When I sit down to a Dylan record I take notice of the track listing first, and while I had nearly his entire catalog, the songs didn’t jump out at me (and also of note I have never seen him live, which is criminal considering how much I do love him as a singer-songwriter). This album is certain a dynamic soloist, minimalist triumph, which he has done many times before. This one, however, has a special note for me, as I believe his vocal is the best I have heard (or remember hearing). The vocal control and less nasal delivery leaves me breathless against the songs that I am familiar with, but now more so intimately.  This makes me believe that my thought against seeing him on tour for fear of being lulled instead of delivered to was completely inaccurate and unfortunate choice.  From the perfect place to start, a song about painting your masterpiece to the finale, one of the greatest song writers of our time gives us — again — the true art of solo.  For old Dylan fans this should feel like vindication and appreciation for how he delicately handles these songs, adding + subtracting both music pallet and lyrics, as well as how he vocally challenges himself to sing instead of speak it, making it all the more monumental and emotional.

Only one selfish regret, as I’m a sucker for the long tracks — there was no Highway 61, no Murder Most Foul.  He steers clear of the epics, and give this an album feel that’s very concise and connected song to song.  This is a worthy listen, and another reason why he can continue gaining attention from generation after generation!

The Band
  • Bob Dylan – vocal, guitar, harmonica
  • Jeff Taylor – accordion
  • Greg Leisz – guitar, pedal steel guitar, mandolin
  • Tim Pierce – guitar
  • T-Bone Burnett – guitar
  • Ira Ingber – guitar
  • Don Was – upright bass
  • John Avila – electric bass
  • Doug Lacy – accordion
  • Steve Bartek – additional acoustic guitar
Shadow Kingdom Track Listing:
1. “When I Paint My Masterpiece”
2. “Most Likely You Go Your Way and I’ll Go Mine”
3. “Queen Jane Approximately”
4. “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight”
5. “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues”
6. “Tombstone Blues”
7. “To Be Alone with You”
8. “What Was It You Wanted”
9. “Forever Young”
10. “Pledging My Time”
11. “The Wicked Messenger”
12. “Watching the River Flow”
13. “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue”

14. “Sierra’s Theme”

 

Cowboy Junkies – Such Ferocious Beauty

What a great title!  They had me the minute I saw the new title.  You kind of have an audio inkling if you will, that we’re going into dense songwriting territory of a uber-experienced, soft augmented, alternative blues  band wrapped in the treasured, hypnotic possessive vocal of a troubled, tempted, playful angel.  The Cowboy Junkies have a band that knows how to bend a sound, elaborate ambient background, tip the scales of melody and melancholy.  Margo Timmins is a powerhouse in low-fi delivery that’s surprisingly beguiling, sneaking up on you from all corner of you ears and mind, which is by grand design by Michael Timmins and Peter Timmins.  I’m still reeling over the songs ‘What I Lost’ and ‘Hell Is Real.”  And despite the pause that’s odd on the final track, which is probably purposeful, this is as flawless a record as can be made this intimate in all aspects of tone and arrangement.  Call it the most sophisticated adult contemporary on the planet rooted in a swagger that is unique only to this band!  Call it an album that is going to continue to linger in our ears and challenge us for that question, “What is the best Cowboy Junkies’ album?” — could very well be…!

The Band
  • Margo Timmins- vocals
  • Michael Timmins – guitars
  • Peter Timmins – drums, percussion
  • Alan Anton – bass

Such Ferocio Beauty
  Track Listing:
  1. What I Lost
  2. Flood
  3. Hard to Build. Easy to Break
  4. Circe and Penelope
  5. Hell Is Real
  6. Shadows 2
  7. Knives
  8. Mike Tyson (Here It Comes)
  9. Throw a Match
10. Blue Skies

 


Tinariwen – Amatssou

How about a little context before I push off into this foreign language ultra-unique true desert rock-jazz dazzler?  Tinariwen is a collective of Tuareg musicians from basically the Sahara Desert (northern Mali if you want to get geographically technical) that love to combine western rock into their native dialect as well as instrumental uniqueness!  Ready?!  Oh come on, I’ll hold you’re headphones on, and we will do this together because I don’t want you to miss out on this album!  Hell, if Daniel Lanois is doing production and has guest appearances on this record,  you know there’s something both mysteriously important and engaging!

No you’re not going to understand the lyrics unless you’re native to it, but the voices that deliver it have a gorgeous texture and range that’s quintessential to the whole.  The titles translates to Beyond Fear or Beyond the Fear, and there’s certainly a conscious effort to a guitar styling that emulates struggle, from the dark of uncertainty to the light of potential unity that is scattered through their region. Their situation is real, remains dire, but they rebel on through the power of their sound.  A sound that’s been powerful enough to gain all kinds of attention over a decade plus of terrific music.  You can certainly dive into the hot sands of anger, political states, and suppression that have stood probably as long as the sand has covered their earth, but we encourage you to read some reviews by other publications who have skillfully done a marvelous job (John Lewis for Uncut is one such).  This album has such distinctive electric blues meshed with virtuous added instrumentation from fiddle to the imzad and probably a list of others that would escape my untrained ear.  There are albums that truly have gravity of situation, truth-filled story lines, and a real soul for all who wish to join.  Put on your noise cancelling headphones and seek the soul of Amatssou and the band, regional sound rebels, and teller that call themselves, Tinariwen.

The Band
  • Ibrahim Ag Alhabib – singer-songwriter, guitarist
  • Touhami Ag Alhassane – guitar, vocals
  • Abdallah Ag Alhousseyni – acoustic guitar, guitar, vocals
  • Eyadou Ag Leche – bassist, calabash, acoustic guitar, backing vocals, vocals
  • SaidAg Ayad – percussionist, backing vocals
  • Elaga Ag Hamid – guitarist, backing vocals
Guests: 
Fats Kaplin (fiddle, but could also be:  guitar, button accordion, banjo, mandolin, steel guitar, an Arab oud, Turkish cümbüş )
Wes Corbett (Banjo)
Machar Fatimata (imzad [not violin] interludes)
Daniel Lanois (steel guitar, producer)

 

Amatssou  Track Listing:
  1. Kek Alghalm
  2. Tenere Den
  3. Arajghiyine
  4. Imzad (Interlude)
  5. Tidjit
  6. Jayche Atarak
  7. Imidiwan Mahitinam
  8. Imzad 2 (Interlude)
  9. Ezlan
10. Anemouhagh
11. Iket Adjen
12. Nak Idnizdjam
13. Tinde (Outro)

Khun Narin On Unknown Sundays

Gotta love unlocking a good mystery or at least wondering about it, right? The timing could not be more appropriate, considering the sacred mysteries of the past several weeks upon some in the Catholic faith (remember this article was written back in March 27 of 2016). So, why don’t we go on an interesting musical mystery, and this one has been solved for all to enjoy!

 

Miles into nowhere from the buzz and bang of Bangkok, what’s that coming down the street with bewildering musical talents and heavy psych-instrumentation like some quasi New Orleans hippie-day of the dead ensemble? And, who are these people following their vibe like some Jimi Hendrix pied piper?  Khun Narin. There, that’s all that needs to be said, when it comes to this Thailand improvisational band. It probably won’t matter what I write after this…you’re going to either dismiss this as some shot in the crazy dark from an overly attentive, self absorbed supposed music infatuation junkie. It won’t be anywhere near accessible, and I’ll have to listen to it for hours to even remotely appreciate it. Well, let’s find out–even after the background (and it’s extremely interesting). So, put their latest “II” on, if you have access on Google Play Music or Spotify, or you can check out link above for a live 2 HR performance recorded and…read along…
The music they play is called phin prayuk. The first word refers to the lead instrument, a 3-stringed lute known as the phin. Beer, the phin player, uses a string of Bass effects pedals, including a phaser (oh—I have the attention of the Star Trek lovers now), distortion and digital delay to get his sound. He also builds his own instruments, installing Fender pickups into hand-carved hardwood bodies, with elaborate mythical serpents adorning the headstock. The band takes pride in their custom PA system, as well as an imposing tower of 8 loudspeaker horns atop a huge bass cabinet. And, like a favorite movie of mine (Begin Again), a Los Angeles music producer, Josh Marcy, captured the essence of the group and their sound in their natural environment, which originated, as stated above, in the field. Literally! A field outside the city of Lom Sak, in the valley of mountains that form a rough border between Thai- land’s North and Northeast.
Interested? First mystery is how did Josh Marcy come to hear this obscure, foreign band that literally plays at house parties in the middle of nowhere? Enter—YouTube. Oh, the power of the internet media and medium, and may the world bless Josh for his obsessive musical appreciation and devotion to tracking them down on the net and into the fields of remote Thailand. Second mystery is who is in this band with this kind of diversity, talent and relevance? That one is as elementary and obvious as The Prestige. It’s all about getting the vibes from an ever rotating line up and from generational creativity and experiences. They can be from as young as teens to artists in their late 60’s. Now you understand (especially if you took my advice and read this while listening to Khun Narin).
This is certainly going down a very unique rabbit hole in brilliant music, and from a place that might least expect. I hope you took the time and ears to follow me into it. Admit it! You’re glad you Thai’d one on, right?! Sorry, could not resist.

 

SPECIAL ARCHIVE POSTING NOTE

Khun Narin Albums in my collection:   II (2016)

This “Unknown Sundays” was done back on March 27th of 2016.  While this still remains one of the best, most interesting stories of Unknown Sundays, I fear that the success or exposure from NPR must have caused some uncertainty or issues.  While the band has a bandcamp page, I’ve found nothing.  It was only a few months ago that I stumbled across the album, II, which might have been the most expensive used CD I’ve purchased.  My heart tells me that they probably maintain their Thailand status, and that the nearly seven years passed has only expanded their band members and tribal (if you will) legacy.  Wait…I think I hear them coming down the street with that beautiful old PA system strapped to a wheel barrel!  I’m suddenly all anxious and excited — but then it’s only the shitty broken, warped pa system of an ice cream truck.  That sucks!  – Mark Kuligowski  [June 3rd 2023]

Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode 11

There’s something about a vocal and the exercise of distinctiveness.  On this Album Review Saturdays choices we’re exploring two vocalists, while in very dissimilar genres and bands, the range and lyrical content share a uniqueness that defines what it is to truly listen to an album and come to an appreciation for the art of it within the context of either bombastic instrumentation or sparse, ambient accompaniment.  Then our third album explores the truest of listening experiences that one can undertake, that of the classical range and somewhat limitations within the context of the song writing, but it’s somehow – still – distinctive.  Boom!  Yeah, you think I’m stretching it — after listening to these three albums since their releases this year, you will come to see just how they’re ‘stretching’ it.

In our video portion, I also review two other surprise albums!  See link below!

Jethro Tull – RökFlöte

Let me start out by admitting that I am still trying to get, understand, and accept this band into my collection, as well as my ear.  With that being said, I have always respected the musicianship and progressive nature of the mindfulness of this flute-infused progressive rock.  In most instances, the melding of unique forces of instrumentation continues to be something that sucks me completely in!  However, I’m usually put-off with the vocal delivery more so than the continued bombastic flute soloing that is yielded cleverly like the hammer of Thor.  And, in this Icelandic inspired record it’s in full throttle on both ends!  This is true ‘Tull’ in my experience, which I go down this rabbit hole often (attempting to finally get it — love it).  Fans of the style, the commitment, and Ian Anderson’s musical vision should be swelling with ear-filled excitement.  The Nordic lyrics are abound, delivered as expected, and nothing you can immediately pick up on without some sort of cliff notes.  The usual folk-progressiveness follows this album around like the Eye of Sauron or a drunkin’ Hobbit bar-fight, with some abrupt stops, and even an additional vocalist that might have come directly from the Nordic swells.  All that being said, I have to assume (as I struggle further in my Jethro Tull journey) it can only mean it’s worth it.  That those that already have unlocked the secret musical mysteries will love the story here, the distinctive solitary vocal range, the power of the Flute, and the orchestration providing a music-scape worthy of the overall earful vision that is RökFlöte.

 

The Band
  • Ian Anderson – vocals, concert flutes, alto flutes, flute d’amour, Irish whistle, production, mixing, engineering.
  • David Goodier – bass guitar.
  • John O’Hara – piano, keyboards, Hammond organ.
  • Scott Hammond – drums.
  • Joe Parrish-James – electric guitars, acoustic guitars, mandolin.
RökFlöte Track Listing:

1. Voluspo
2. Ginnungagap
3. Allfather
4. The Feathered Consort
5. Hammer on Hammer
6. Wolf Unchained
7. The Perfect One
8. Trickster (And the Mistletoe)
9. Cornucopia
10. The Navigators
11. Guardian’s Watch
12. Ithavoll

 

Esben and the Witch – Hold Sacred

The vocalist here, Rachel Davies, seems to be able to channel very dark emotive and soul-ripping tones in a range that does not use bombasticism but more control and sparseness, revealing truly realistic haunting doom metal — this time without all the doom sludge we might have been accustomed to from Esben and the Witch prior recordings.  In fact, this album might be the dark possession of Sade (work with me people).  This is minimalism that is heavy to swallow, delivered uniquely in a beauty that somewhat terrifying and still realistically loving, delivered on the edge of life’s end either by choice or by time’s demise.  Wow.  Maybe I’ve overstepped.  I have liked this band since their beginning, and this might be their most harrowing accomplishment, yet.  However, be warned, this is their sparsest album — I don’t recall drums of any kind, just keyboards and guitar virtuosity in ambient production, leaving us to the raw duties of Davies – amidst a dark room with a solitary candle burning uncertainly.

The Band
  • Rachel Davies – vocals, bass.
  • Thomas Fisher – guitar.
  • Daniel Copeman – Electronics, Keyboard (he is the drummer).
Hold Sacred Track Listing:

1. The Well
2. In Ecstasy
3. Fear Not
4. Silence, 1801
5. True Mirror
6. A Kaleidoscope
7. Heathen
8. The Depths
9. Petals Of Ash

 

 

 

 

Thibault Cauvin – Bach

There are no vocals here, but rich song writing composition delivered by the master of the music multiverse, tamer of over-proud musicians, Johann Sebastian Bach.  In this solo guitar interpretation from ridiculously talented, Thibault Cauvin of France, we experience a master guitarist’s delivery in a similar restrictive range of the two albums prior (vocally though).  Here the ‘Le Petit Prince of Six String’ dazzles our ears to what might be considered the extreme of Bach.  Now, I am not a classically trained musician.  I do not possess the depth of knowledge to critique as to whether he’s traditionally bound or taking liberties that would offend wig wearing officials sipping tea from obnoxious patterned ceramics, but I will tell you that I have head another wonderful player do a more classical approach, where as Mr. Cauvin is truly pushing the boundary of interpretation to really surprise the ear.  It’s dramatic and clever.  The recording is sublime thanks to whatever Cathedral or majestic church they did it in.  There’s no mistaking that kind of sound and quality of intimate and reverberation that comes with such detail.  If Mr. Cauvin is not on you radar, let me be the first to tell you what a wonderful rabbit hole you can take with this virtuoso!

 

Bach Track Listing:

1. I. Toccata
2. II. Fugue
3. Bach Autrement I (Inspired By Prelude, BWV 846)
4. Bach Autrement II (Inspired By Prelude, BWV 1007)
5. Bach Autrement III (Inspired By Prelude, BWV 855A)
6. I. Allemande
7. II. Courante
8. III. Sarabande
9. IV. Gigue
10. V. Chaconne

 

 

SEE MORE REVIEWS ON OUR “ALBUM REVIEW SATURDAY’S SHOWS”

This Episode 11, hosted by Beyond Your Radio creator, Mark Kuligowski, features discussing these albums, plus two (2) additional reviews of albums recently released!

https://youtu.be/ePcdadEo2hA