The Birdwatcher On Unknown Sundays 2024

THE BIRDWATCHER ON UNKNOWN SUNDAYS [YOU TUBE VERSION]

I’m pretty sure this is going to be a band that is relatively the most Unknown I’ve talked about.  An obscure band, that started out as Windsor For the Derby (of which until this Unknown Sunday and the research in writing the article past my appreciation for the albums, I didn’t have any connection with), and that’s the rabbit hole, unique, Memento (the movie) like moment of this article.  From a know absolutely nothing gamble from a used record store bin on vacation in Florida (and wait we’ll come full circle back to why that is) to an odd mix of ambient and jangle barren pop electronica, this one is a different kind of musical journey.  And, exploring it, all these years later, finding another connection to The Birdwatcher, just this year, the Windsor for the Derby.

Since the 90s, I had been writing novels.  Don’t get all excited, I’ve never had anything published, but I do enjoy the thrill and mystery and challenge of writing them.  It is probably why I’m attached to albums over singles and songs.  The entire scope from start to finish is the incredible journey, and the payoff is so much greater when it’s a complete picture (right?), or maybe that’s just me.  What I purposely went looking for, in music (sometimes) were ambient or low-fi orchestrations to play in the background that had moods that could set the background for my writing.  It’s like a soundtrack to a book (which never really took off in the music industry).  The only difference is I’m listening to it as the story is unfolding, the characters are speaking, and the description is flowing.  I find it often inspiring, and this was the find that was, well sort of, The Birdwatcher.

So, what attracted me to it was the cover, the band name, and then the title, The Darkest Hour Is Just Before Dawn.  I thought of the idea of the best REM sleep, and how nightmares can be their most vivid at those times, so I picked it up without any realization of what it might be.  There was a tag on it that stated ‘an amorphous blend of subtle, barren pop,’ and that was all I needed to snatch that up.  Hell, I’m not even sure if I completely understood that description, but I am a willing accessory to the music multiverse’s pull on me for new music that falls out of the common range.  And, The Birdwatcher did not disappoint in that description.

So, I discover the band, with it’s not quite Brian Eno, post rock mood-scape in the year 2000.  The album is basically working off of a concept of realizing the slip of darkness into the crack of dawn, exploring that on a very interesting, and rich – but – quite barren instrumental reach.  I found it very interesting and ear-catching.  Seemingly eerie and perfect for my writing background, which was the great surprise.  However, not the greatest vacation music to play in the car (remember I found this in Florida on vacation), so I definitely wasn’t able to put it on in certain company. ‘Cutting Rope’ is the perfect intro to realize that, no matter how much you feel the power of the music, it’s not going to reach happy time vacation goers (a little sub-reference there if you progressiver rock avant-gardest are reading — probably not), and there’s a level of repetition that is not going to rest with the common music listener.

So, what comes next is seeing another The Birdwatcher album release in 2001, which is apparently the second in the trilogy that was stated on the label of the first album.  The tag on this one says, ’emotive & fragile, strangely spooky, slightly unhinged.’  Oh hell to the yes!  Afternoon Tales the Morning Never Knew starts with fresh bell sounds and a keyboard etched gun fire into somber air-organ like playing and finally into a perfectly strumming and picked acoustic electronic riff (with that gun fire still hedging in the background).  There’s an odd plucking (maybe banjo) and the mood again is set for another background of musical expression.  Going back to this album, for this particular Unknown Sundays solidified that the second album draws me in more than the first.  There’s even a little bit of vocals on this record, giving it a Nick Cave indie like track, ‘Empty Boat.’  A lot to appreciate and digest, and I certainly appreciated it.

So, where’s the third in the supposed, mentioned trilogy?  I’ve been waiting for it for 23 years now?  I haven’t seen or heard any of it.  Searching isn’t that easy, as there are other bands that seem to share a common name with plural(s), so here I am — at the first draft of this article–and I now realize Dan Matz.  A name that I have apparently overlooked, just thinking only of The Birdwatcher, when in fact, Dan Matz is The Birdwatcher, and these were his solo albums.  So now, thanks to The Birdwatcher on Unknown Sundays 2024, I now have a new rabbit hole of musicianship to explore in Windsor For the Derby!  And, you can go either way on this one my music multiverse travelers, as Windsor For the Derby had albums prior, during, and after The Birdwatcher!  And, maybe, just maybe The Birdwatcher’s third album will finally emerge?!

Albums by The Birdwatcher In My Collection

  • The Darkest Hour Is Just Before Dawn (2000)
  • Afternoon Tales The Morning Never Knew (2001) 

Albums from Windsor For the Derby

  • Calm Hades Float (1996, Trance Syndicate)
  • Minnie Greutzfeldt (1997, Trance Syndicate)
  • Difference and Repetition (1999, Young God Records)
  • The Emotional Rescue (2002, Aesthetic Records)
  • Earnest Powers (2002, Emperor Jones Records)
  • We Fight Til Death (2004, Secretly Canadian)
  • Giving Up the Ghost (2005, Secretly Canadian)
  • How We Lost (2007, Secretly Canadian)
  • Against Love (2010, Secretly Canadian) 

Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 20

It’s hard to believe that Album Review Saturdays 2024 is finishing up May with this our Episode 20.  While we can count on time marching on, we can equally count on the releases continuing to reach the digital and local shelves at a near daunting pace.  I wish I was retired or wealthy enough to do this full time, allowing the music to utterly consume me night and day, but the realities of the situation are probably equal to that of yours (wouldn’t we all love to just do what we love all day and night long).  This Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 20 we have English singer-songwriter that was a huge part of the electronic merge of alternative technically coming out with her first true solo album.  The second is a long standing swamp-rock, southern bluesing band that got its beginnings in 1969 because Frank Zappa fired a Mothers of Invention member who was just too talented to not have his own band.  There’s a push, right!  And then, we take on a young woman who might be approaching a one-of-a-kind vocal delivery status, and a master-type-musician in her brother, as they deviate — yet use impressive musical allegories to the beautiful, past — to accentuate their distance from the usual music industry chords and common tracks.  Yes, it’s another big album on Album Review Saturdays from Beyond Your Radio that we were anxious to get our ears into!  And, now, let’s give you what we thought!

 

LINK TO OUR YOUTUBE VERSION
[Mark Kuligowski & Panelist, The Grateful Dude, discuss these (3) albums + adds three (3) more reviews!]

 

 

Beth GibbonsLives Outgrown

Portishead is definitely one of the most important electronica meshed alternative bands of the 90s.  The trip-hop meets experimental aspects of rock with loop, real orchestra and electronic blending was ear-y, melodic, avant-garde, and classic.  The elements within are dynamic, but all held together by a unique, English woman, who had the specialized, whispy and angular delivery to not only pull it off, but to send it soaring.  That voice was Bristol’s Beth Gibbons, and she was nowhere near the household name of her awesomely named band.  I still remember the first time I heard the debut, Dummy, and the shivers it send through my body.  And now, nearly thirty years after the Mercury Prize winning, Dummy, Ms. Beth Gibbons emerges from a Polish classical album from 2019, Henryk Górecki: Symphony No. 3, where she brings to the music multiverse what is technically considered her solo debut, Lives Outgrown.

There is no question that she is under the heavy influence of orchestration, percussion, and the arrangements and how they create a wave of emotions and settings for song-writing.  The layers of responsibility that are on this recording are an audio astonishment to some, but to those that know of Portishead, and that magical night at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City know full on how orchestration changes everything, and the power of the music.  Beth Gibbons is truly one who understands, appreciates, and loves to push that environment into smaller places in sound, which is what makes her and her past a unique signature.  This is where Lives Outgrown lives, breathes, and navigates for over forty-five minutes filled with variety of sparseness of orchestral arranging, electronic-ambient enhancements, and the beautiful, emotive, storytelling vocals of Gibbons.

When we reach ‘Rewind’ we begin to hear the addition of international flavors into the mix, which I truly love, because she didn’t engage us right away, leaving the perfect movements and moments (including the strings) to showcase a change in the album.  It’s almost as if this is the bridge of the album, instead of that of a particular song.  Her vocal has even changed to some degree, leaving an edgier drift on it while she allows it to hang majestically in front of the out-of-control — gone to far soundscape that comes.  It’s probably the darkest of the tracks, but it is brilliant even in the addition of loops of children and seagulls (I believe).  It’s remarkable detail.

If you’re a Portishead fan, this might take a few listens to find your place in this.  A faster process if you had listened to her 2019 album mentioned above, as you already have a point of reference to the utilization of orchestra over the electronica of the past.  The richness of this record extends to every minor and major part, from her vocal to the variety of live orchestral percussion, to the strings, and eventuality of horn entry.  This is massive, yet subdued to the overall pursuit.  There were a few times I felt like a soundtrack entry might be in her future, like that of James Bond perhaps?  The arrangements, while reaching bleak arenas, are the best thing to grace 2024 so far in this scope of alternative music, and something that I encourage all our music multiverse travelers to partake of with determination, as this is what exploring music is supposed to be.  At the hands of a courageous, untrained, and slightly unusual combinational artist, Lives Outgrown, is rich despite the bleakness, and deserved of sincere attention for the first alternative-classical album ever made (I’m sure there was an orchestra right, considering I don’t see a list of musicians — fingers crossed).

The Band

  • Beth Gibbons – vocals, production, mixing (all tracks); engineering (tracks 1, 3–10), arrangement (3, 8, 9)
  • James Ford – production, mixing, engineering (all tracks); arrangement (tracks 3, 8)
  • Lee Harris – additional engineering, additional production
  • Bridget Samuels – arrangement (tracks 1, 3)

Lives Outgrown Tracklisting

  1. Tell Me Who You Are Today
  2. Floating On A Moment
  3. Burden Of Life
  4. Lost Changes
  5. Rewind
  6. Reaching Out
  7. Oceans
  8. For Sale
  9. Beyond The Sun
  10. Whispering Love

 

 

Little FeatSam’s Place

Now I don’t know exactly where Sam’s Place is, but I’m sure I’ve passed by it a few times in my lifetime. Whether it’s in New Orleans or not, it certainly seems Creole in nature by the southern blues or swamp rock that they’ve always seemed to be categorized as, even if they’re from California. Now what I do know, is that the Sam’s Place, is that comfort food, that comfortable place, a place you can count on to bring you back or ground you. You get me musical drift or my musical plate? This is a grounded recording that harkens to a place, a time signature of sorts, and a music that at its basic principal is there to simply move – get you motivated by hearing familiarity, easy comparisons, and the tribulations and triumphs that life will offer.

This album is a well done, southernly executed bluesy and raspy little record to remind you of the simple way music can be catchy, presented, and darn right easily entertaining.  Amidst all the crazy albums I’ve listened to this year, and the compositionally sound and unsound, Little Feat has managed to take me back to the root of the equation and solve for “c.” And, “c” stands for comfort, because it certainly doesn’t stand for complicated.  You are going to hear the common chord structure of the blues, maybe even think they’re going to do a cover or two, and that’s as it’s intended.  Even the vocabulary of the lyrics is meant to strip it all down, and even ‘Mellow Down Easy,’ as the second to last song suggests in the harmonic blasting blues riffed song that’s been dug up and respun a dozen times by greats, bar bands, and people by a campfire.

You know what isn’t going to be comfortable for some, is Sam Clayton doing all of the vocals for every track, because this is the first album to ever feature him as the vocalist. But, I think it’s the right, solid, and perfect choice to carry the record.  He’s got it, and he’s even got a little Joe Cocker to his vocal, too.  It moves right into the harmonics of the entire album, and it does have a that genuine feel of what is being carried out around the audio of Sam’s Place.  So does it sound like Little Feat?   Well, if you’re referring to the 1970s version, I can tell you that it sort of does NOT, but I don’t think that’s what most will be expecting after the thirty years of changes, and life’s departures.  It is played though with the same feel for song structure allowing guitars, pianos, organs, and vocals to find their place within the southern melody, and that’s truly groove and jam of Little Feat from the 1971 debut self-titled album to 1988’s pop-driven Let It Roll.

Come on in to Sam’s Place, but bring your easy appetite. Don’t expect some fancy Eggs Benedict, Fois Gras, or Beef Wellington. Expect a heaping portion of Alligator bites, meat loaf, and smoked potato-salad with a nice cup of shine or hooch. The music is just as heaving as the portions with extra butter and slide sizzle on the side.  Will this start a new opening of chain restaurants?  Probably not, but it’s a great little roadside distraction in a complicated music environment and world.

The Band

  • Sam Clayton – percussions, lead vocalist
  • Scott Sharrard – lead guitar, vocals
  • Tony Leone – drums, vocals
  • Bill Payne – keyboards/piano, vocals
  • Fred Tackett – guitar, vocals
  • Kenny Gradney – bass

Sam’s Place Tracklisting

  1. Milkman
  2. You’ll Be Mine
  3. Long Distance Call (feat. Bonnie Raitt)
  4. Don’t Go No Further
  5. Can’t Be Satisfied
  6. Last Night
  7. Why People Like That
  8. Mellow Down Easy
  9. Got My Mojo Working (Live)

 

 

 

 

Billie Eilish – Hit Me Hard and Soft

It is very hard in the modern music world to find yourself as completely unique. There always seems to be some sort of comparison one can make to some other band or artist from the past or even the current music multiverse that share a sound, a type of singing style, or the creative ruses. The truth is, a person’s influences usually lead to them being compared slightly to them, and especially if there is a mesh variety in the artist’s passion for the art. Rare to have a signature to your material, delivery and albums. I can think of Sting, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Tool, Frank Zappa, and Bessie Smith just off the cuff. Distinct from start to finish. This is starting to be the catch of Billie Eilish, and she make more strides to closing her circle of song-writing, fortifying her position, as her brother steps carefully and masterfully into classical touches, music memorials, and a slick sense that the minutest amount of quality can go a very long and deep.

Oddly enough (after that great paragraph intro), Hit Me Hard and Soft is exactly the album one would be expecting from Billie Eilish.  She can’t escape her vocal, and she would be extremely foolish to try to parade into a pop or indie environment without a hazmat suit.  She lives and breathes this album in all her tones, under-the-breath statements, and intoxicating pronunciation queues.  The album is desperate while it’s hopeful.  It is a search for identities as much as it is about the expression of them.  It is the first Eilish record that I believe is free from trying to make something to bring to the masses, rather than trying to put the music into a carefully selected genre.  She is the very opposite of Taylor Swift in choosing her position.  The position is chosen based on the whim of the duo and their passion toward the music, and where the songs lead them (as much as it is to where it leads us the listener, too).

The shackles of the industry are completely off, and I don’t feel they need or feel the need to play by any such rules.  There is also a clever, calculated way of letting go, allowing a lot more sound in (even if they are brief or understated).  They are wonderfully placed and produced (the groove of the record sneaks up on you in a lot of places), and this is something of the effect of Finneas on what is Billie Eilish.  There’s fun in the movement of the record, and there’s sincerity, too.  Whether acoustic or hip-hoping oriented, there was not a moment of the record that I thought was there for filler purposes.  Delicate?  Yes, there’s plenty of it within the song-writing, the melodies, and in the intentful and mindfully produced details.  While it has the delicate it does stiffen to engage, to make an emphasis, and to help the ear contemplate the worth of the hard and the soft.

This is her best full record, and it appears to my ear that the duo is going to continue to trend upward, considering the sounds and the attention to detail I am still hearing in this record.  Her vocal has miles to go before it could even think of sleeping, while the creative genius of musician and songbird-writer moves into what sounds to be seamless sympatico.  Think of these two like you do Atticus Ross and Nine Inch Nails, and you will get an understanding of the status of music creation they are in.  Now, they just have to work on those album covers (you know what I mean).

The Band

  • Billie Eilish – vocals, keyboards, synthesizers, vocal editing, engineering
  • Finneas – bass, drums, glockenspiel, guitar, keyboards, percussion, programming, synthesizer, vocals, production, engineering, vocal engineering (all tracks);
    string arrangement (tracks 1, 6, 10)
  • Andrew Marshall – drums, percussion
  • Andrew Yee – cello (tracks 1, 6, 10)
  • Andrew Marshall – drums, percussion (tracks 1, 6, 10)
  • Nathan Schram – viola (tracks 1, 6, 10)
  • Amy Schroeder – violin (tracks 1, 6, 10)
  • Domenic Salerni – violin (tracks 1, 6, 10)

Hit Me Hard and Soft Tracklisting

  1. Skinny
  2. Lunch
  3. Chihiro
  4. Birds of a Feather
  5. Wildflower
  6. The Greatest”
  7. L’Amour de Ma Vie
  8. The Diner
  9. Bittersuite
  10. Blue

Whale On Unknown Sundays 2024

WHALE ON UNKNOWN SUNDAYS [YOU TUBE VERSION]

We can learn a lot from two dummies.  Two poorly drawn, rock t-shirt wearing, odd giggling, do-nothing teenagers sitting around watching MTV.  Makes sense, considering they were a product of television channel MTV, and they certainly (in my generation and time) had us sitting around watching the channel, waiting anxiously for the next video to pop up.  Beavis and Butthead were their names (well, actually are their names as they seem to have rebounded on more than one occasion, even a recent Saturday Night Live skit), and they loved to get entranced or make fun of music videos, people and overall situations (be them appropriate or inappropriate).  It was no secret where their allegiances for music lay given the never changing t-shirt titles, and the usual head bobbing and horn fingers displayed.  The videos that appeared on this show ranged from timely, Milli Vanilli and Biz Markie, to throwbacks like the Bangles and Aerosmith (who was enjoying a resurgence of their own at the time), to the metal loves of Guns n’ Roses, Judas Priest and more alt-metal like White Zombie and Pantera.  No one was safe from ridicule, well accept this one time, when a sound I had never heard, an odd video, nearly inaudible lyrics and screaming caught my ear — and that of Beavis (in more ways than one).

“Hey. This is kind-like rock!?” Butthead surmised as he watches some men dressed in tin foil tight short, one in orange dress, and a woman sucking a lolly pop in braces on the video screen. “It’s not bad.” Giggles Beavis.  Apparently, as the lyrics state, she was taking candy…so the lollipop made sense.  The braces endured her to Butthead, who then expresses that she would be in to him.  The immediate disruption came into a wild lyrical rant that Beavis attempts to copy (hilariously) and then screaming and then the drop to this sweet alt-vocal, which the two cartoon teenagers suddenly took a wild interest in, was just that — not bad — not bad at all!  When she goes from inspecting knads (they go there a lot) to licking an arm pit, it’s off the rails, and I’m going there with this band!  Yeah, yeah, yeah…oh good there’s the usual name of song and band name in bold so idiots like me can find them (stalk them sonically).

Here’s the lyrical nonsense (but how cool is it):

You hobo humpin’ slobo babe
Get it off, get off, get off of me!
You hobo humpin’ slobo babe
Get it off, get off, get off of me!

Baby, we don’t love ya
Baby, we don’t love ya, baby, yeah!
Baby, we don’t love ya
Baby, we don’t love ya, baby, yeah!
Baby, we don’t love ya
Baby, we don’t love ya, baby, yeah
(really screaming – male vocals)!

This I found out was a Swedish alternative rock group, Whale.  Whale was a small part of wider alternative seen in Europe that got swept up in dance-alternative-rock-pop, and augmented vocal distortion to relate certain societal inconsistencies, some of which went from slap-you-in-the-face to more back-handed and sincere.  But, no matter what they were doing on their first album, We Care, from 1995, their sound was completely unique, bombastic where it needed to be and cleverly intertwined with catchy groove, off-kilter melodies, and sudden switches in distribution of the alternative sounds.  They were a perfect, weird outlier in the music multiverse at the time, and ‘Hobo Humpin’ Slobo Babe’ was a fine whap to the current ear-standards going around, and how fitting that Beavis and Butthead felt so inclined to say so as well (but far from articulate of course).

We Care, is actually a very intriguing record from start to finish, and one of the unknown pleasures of alternative rock in 1995.  There’s not a solitary dud on the record in my opinion, and I was even backed up on that by a certain Sunday television program called Four on the Floor, hosted by David Adelson of Hits Magazine.  Loved this show by the way, and trying to find footage is astoundingly difficult, but he would have musicians and artists guest on the program, and on this particular episode (which I believe Neil Young was on and John Popper) one of the critics went into what he was listening to, new that was catching his ear, and it was Whale’s We Care.  God I miss that show, and I know I didn’t see all the episodes because I didn’t get VH1 to start.  Oh well, maybe someday it’ll be available.

Who was Whale?  Gordon Cyrus and Henrik Schyffert met while working on a commercial and decided to collaborate on a music track.  Schyffert recruited his then-girlfriend, Cia Berg, to perform vocals, and the rest is well, Beavis and Butthead history.  Two albums only, as the sounds they were a changin’ even in Europe. despite the touring they were able to do with bands like Tricky and Blur (whom seemed to have managed the changing audioscape better).  It would have been exciting to see them once, or get a third album in.  Their creativity and energy toward taking alternative outside particular boxes was inventive in places, crazy in others, and sometimes a fun disturbing listen at times (check out ‘I’m Cold’ and you’ll understand what I’m talking about).  Whale was a swift kick in knads!  A wake up from the radio goo-goo and video ga-ga-ga and that’s ‘Where It’s At!’

I truly encourage the listen, especially We Care.  The follow up 1998 album, All Disco Dance Must End In Broken Bones, had some moments, but didn’t hit as raw and unpredictable as the debut.  Both of which are in my music collection, as well as an EP Pay For Me.

 

Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 19

This weekend’s Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 19 has stretches of diversification to their representative genres that make your ear stand up and take notice in a variety of ways.  An independent thinking saxophonist and composer uses his fearlessness and global reach to put together one of the year’s most encompassing jazz recordings.  Then we step into rock-jazz-fusion with a multi-talented vocalist, drummer and producer at the helm that loves to assemble supergroups to bring new expressions of sound to the music multiverse, and this one’s as deep as the list of players.  Then we take an absolute risk on an album that has that kind of album cover, name, and album title that you kind of have a feeling you’re in for a very different industrial music and soundscape experience, and it certainly lives up to all the mystique that made us pick it.  It’s time to traverse these three albums on Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 19.

 

LINK TO OUR YOUTUBE VERSION
[Mark Kuligowski & Panelist The Grateful Dude discuss these (3) albums + adds two (2) more reviews!]

 

 

Kamasi WashingtonFearless Movement

Kamasi Washington has stepped full on into a Robert Glasper-ian jazz making experience on Fearless Movement.  The award winning, extremely talented, saxophonist and under-appreciated composer, has crafted a wonderful mesh and diversified jazz recording that truly masters flow but also reaches a truthful, unforced combination of intersection genres without destroying a single fabric of listening.  What the hell am I talking about here?  Simply put, whether his saxophone is at the helm or completely missing from some of the compositions, the scales of musicianship that entrances, beguiles and fearlessly exorcise the blending of hip/hop, be-bop, soul-jazz, classic jazz, funk, and electronic age varietals and a whole lot more is truly ear-stounding!  Not to mention the attention to the lyrical expressions that, while it is the largest stretch for a jazz ear, does have a true connection even though purest will probably cringe.  Don’t give in.  Listen to the genius of it.  The way the instruments keep it framed like ‘Get Lit’ and that lovely flute that pierces as fine as the rap flow and lyrics.

Don’t worry, Fearless Movement does not dwell or rest upon one area or arena of music.  ‘Dream State,’ a modern masterpiece of jazz saxophone meets electronic-ambient that features Andre 3000 is probably the moment on the record of truest realization of the accomplishment at hand.  This is one of the most thrilling movements of fearlessness, and probably one in which these two artists should attempt to expand upon like that of Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno, as it is elegant, electronic and ambiently blended to truly offer something that only few in the music multiverse have attempted.  The album does orchestrate more jazz fusion moments with funk and progressive rock elements as the rest unfurls, including a band-like approach in ‘Interstellar Peace’ which feels like a background of Radiohead in the Ok Computer realm.  All of this consistently allows the saxophone to become all kinds of tempos and emotions (whether played by Kamasi Washington or not) while the artists surrounding it tap dance, free flow, and jam in-and-out of moments and movements.

This album clearly illustrates that reach, scope and accompaniment power of jazz in the hands of those with fearless expressionism.  Every instrument and style is as important as the genre blending that’s being improvised and appreciated.  The music is all-together moving in audio and in soulfulness.  This is not a solitary listen to grasp this, unless you are a jazz musician, and even then there are going to be standards that need to be withdrawn and allowed to move through your ear so that you can truly appreciate every inch of this lovely accomplishment.  This is definitely a jazz album contender for best albums of this year, and one that I hope more people will continue to explore and move toward in the future of elevating jazz in all culture and genres.

The Band

  • Kamasi Washington – tenor saxophone (all tracks), alto saxophone (track 6)
  • Brandon Coleman – keyboards, organ (all tracks); key bass (tracks 3, 6, 10), vocoder (5)
  • Cameron Graves – piano (tracks 1–3, 5, 7–12)
  • Dontae Winslow – trumpet (tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 7–12)
  • Ronald Bruner Jr. – drums (tracks 1, 2, 4, 7–12)
  • Ryan Porter – trombone (tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 7–12)
  • Tony Austin – drums (tracks 1, 2, 5–12)
  • Allakoi Peete – percussion (tracks 1, 2, 5, 7–12)
  • Kahlil Cummings – percussion (tracks 1, 2, 5, 7–12)
  • Miles Mosley – double bass (tracks 1, 5, 8, 9, 11, 12)
  • Patrice Quinn – vocals (tracks 1, 2, 5, 8, 11)
  • Woody Aplanalp – guitar (tracks 1, 5, 9)
  • Carlos Niño – percussion (track 1)
  • Banchamlak Abegase – vocals (track 1)
  • Henok Elias – vocals (track 1)
  • Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner – electric bass (tracks 2, 4)
  • DJ Battlecat – turntables (track 2), talk box (5)
  • Taj Austin – vocals (track 2)
  • Ras Austin – vocals (track 2)
  • Terrace Martin – alto saxophone (track 3)
  • Rickey Washington – flute (tracks 4, 8, 11)
  • George Clinton – vocals (track 4)
  • D Smoke – vocals (track 4)
  • Joel Whitley – guitar (track 4)
  • Robert Miller – drums (track 5)
  • André 3000 – flutes (track 6)
  • Mono/Poly – synthesizer (track 6)
  • Ben Williams – upright bass (track 7)
  • Dwight Trible – vocals (tracks 8, 11)
  • BJ the Chicago Kid – vocals (track 10)

Fearless Movement Tracklisting

  1. Lesanu
  2. Asha The First (feat. Thundercat, Taj Austin & Ras Austin)
  3. Computer Love (feat. Patrice Quinn, DJ Battlecat & Brandon Coleman)
  4. The Visionary (feat. Terrace Martin)
  5. Get Lit (feat. George Clinton & D Smoke)
  6. Dream State (feat. Andre 3000)
  7. Together (feat. BJ the Chicago Kid)
  8. The Garden Path
  9. Road to Self (KO)
  10. Interstellar Peace (The Last Stance)
  11. Lines in the Sand
  12. Prologue

 

Mandoki Soulmates – A Memory of Our Future

I was not familiar with this supergroup or László “Leslie” Mándoki (German-Hungarian percussionist, vocalist, producer and composer of supergroups), but that’s why I do this Beyond Your Radio thing.  Another music media outlet was giving a brief discussion of the type of music this was, and a little bit of history, and of course (for fear of missing out) I was intrigued.  Now, I could have listened to this and just put it out there as #album4today that I post, but I decided I’d put it out on Album Review Saturdays this weekend, giving my panelists an opportunity to listen and report on.  So, before I get into the album, let’s just give you a bit on Mr. Mandoki and his reason for being able to pull the likes of Al Di Meola, Ian Anderson, and Bill Evans when he asks.  While studying percussion and music in Budapest, Leslie was smitten with Cream and Jethro Tull (yeah, I get that immediately).  He enters Eurovision 1979 in a six person band, Dschinghis Khan, as the German entry.  Fourth place ain’t bad, and he took further, discovering progressive rock and jazz, until it became production love, helping with the likes of Lionel Richie, Engelbert Humperdinck, and Phil Collins.  He also made music compositions for companies like Disney and Audi as well, so his musical scope and attention to audio detail is probably what leads him to the respectability of what would become making the band, Mandoki Soulmates.

Who is the original collective here?  Well Mandoki of course, but let’s bring in that Jethro Tull dude Ian AndersonRobin GibbJack BruceSteve LukatherBobby KimballMidge UreNik KershawAl Di MeolaMichael and Randy BreckerTill Brönner and Eric Burdon  just to have a little band (right)?  Can you imagine the sounds and scope of genre inclusion in this progressive jazz, rock fusion ensemble!?  It’s like the Avengers for Christ’s sake!  And, on A Memory of Our Future, the amazement of how the artists assemble and move in and out of the jamming, improvisation, and orchestrated sessions is something to truly enjoy.  On this outing, we have the three usual suspects that you automatically can hear (Ian, Al and Leslie), but we also have Bill Evans, Mike Stern, with the return of Till Brönner and Randy Becker as well.  As well as more in the cast (you can read below).  The music ranges from a Dave Matthews like jam session in ‘The Big Quit’ to the progressive fluting rocker eighties-like ‘Devil’s Encyclopedia’ to the Mahavishnu like ‘Age of Thought.’  There is something for every instrument lover, and a complete absorption into each other’s leads, sounds, and emotive playing.  It’s truly a remarkably made record, and there are even such subtle tendencies in the layers that you just don’t pick up on the very first listen (okay, there are those of you that will hear it immediately and just love that they didn’t just go to the bridge easily).  The album can be tender, lyrical, and bombastic, which is not something you experience too often in the music multiverse.

I am very glad that a mere mention of the band and a hint of what it sounds like from Sea of Tranquility’s “Professor’s Picks” lead me to this album, and its appearance here on Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 19.  There’s a lot of music on this one hour and eighteen minute progressive jazz-rock fusion album, exploring all kinds of connective genres and soloing from rock guitar to flamenco guitar, from piano to bouncy keyboards, to a fistful of flute (wonder who that was), and even vocal deliveries that go a bit Floydian to pop.  Give this one a big long spin, and I am sure you’ll find a lot to love (especially if you love Mahavishnu, Chicago, and Jethro Tull).  The memory of all our futures in jazz and all it touches is in very good, capable present and future hands and minds.  They bang it out in all analog, too (should have mentioned that I guess)!  Stay loud my friends and enjoy!

The Band

  • Leslie Mandoki – Vocals, percussion(s)
  • Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull) – Vocals, Flute
  • Mike Stern – Guitar(s)
  • Al di Meola – Guitar(s)
  • Randy Brecker – Trumpet
  • Till Brönner – Trumpet, Fugelhorn
  • Bill Evans – Piano
  • John Helliwell (Supertramp) – Saxophone, Keyboard
  • Cory Henry – Organs, Keyboard
  • Richard Bona – Bass
  • Steve Bailey – Bass
  • Simon Phillips (Toto) – Drums
  • Tony Carey (Rainbow) – Keyboards, Guitar, Bass, Vocals
  • Nick van Eede (Cutting Crew) – Vocals (song-writing I assume, too)
  • Jesse Siebenberg (Supertramp) –  Keyboards, Guitar, Percussion, Vocals
  • Mark Hart (Supertramp) – Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards, Bass

A Memory of Our Future Tracklisting

  1. Blood in the Water
  2. Enigma of Reason
  3. The Wanderer
  4. The Big Quit
  5. Devil’s Encyclopedia
  6. A Memory of My Future
  7. I Am Because You Are
  8. My Share of Your Life
  9. Age of Thought
  10. Matchbox Racing
  11. We Stay Loud
  12. Melting Pot

 

 

Bossk – .4

Okay, so here we go.  Deathwish Records (check).  I’m assuming the band is named after one of the most feared bounty hunters in the galaxy?  Yes, Star Wars lovers start squealing, Bossk and getting out your Wookie-pedia.  That was not checkmark I was expecting.  Apparently, I didn’t pay that close attention to the bounty hunters past Boba Fett, which the spell check knew (which is whole level of disturbance in the force, if you catch my telepathic drift).  What we have here is a merky album cover that could actually be a swamp on Dagoba (good they didn’t spell check that one -oh my Lord Vader-they did), it’s actually Dagobah.  And, finally a sparse title of only a mere decimal point shy of half — half of something or half of nothing, we embark into the unknown of this album.

First off, you understand that we’re in the midst of throwdown of industrial meets cinema soundscapes and complex orchestration at the helm of a well, post-metal band maybe?  Yes, in fact that’s somewhat a starting point to catch their cool, dark industrial metal drift.  The Ashford England boys are hitting you with some viciously cool riffs and soundtrack industrial instrumentals that have a generous amount of crescendo-like modes and flow like the ‘The Reverie II x Crown Lands’ and its progressive eight minute plus epic progressive, industrial romp.  Not to mention the addition of metalcore grind-vocal moments to spice things up another notch or two in the album.  You’ve definitely entered a darker melodic realm, but not one that sacrifices the sound quality for over-effect.  This is very well composed and accented music from start to finish that is gripping and edgy.  It deserves more attention and ears beyond that of cool bounty hunter name.  I believe in their structure, the future of their progressive nature, and the way in which the weaved the entire record, calling on some cool, unique outside influences to join in on the melay of murky metal and dark audio terror-like feelings that bubbled up from the troubled sound surface.

I look forward to moving back into their catalog and exploring where they came to this from.  Maybe I’ll find…‘Truth’… part one (or is that just Truth)?  I have a feeling there’s an entire saga there and to come from Bossk.

The Band

  • Tom Begley – bass
  • Nick Corney – drums
  • Simon Wright – vocals
  • Alex Hamilton – guitar
  • Rob Vaughan – guitar, vocals

.4 Tracklisting

  1. Kobe x Pijn
  2. Truth II
  3. Albert
  4. Events Occur In Real Time
  5. White Stork x Endon
  6. I (Reuben Gotto 2006 Remix)
  7. The Reverie x Maybeshewill
  8. The Reverie II x Crown Lands (feat. Crown Lands)
  9. 181 To Beulah 0

Kitchen Witch On Unknown Sundays 2024

KITCHEN WITCH ON UNKNOWN SUNDAYS [YOU TUBE VERSION]

So let’s turn up the fuzz, push the hard rock blues button, and let soulful and powerful unknown female hang her notes like Ann Wilson of Heart or shatter the skull in any stoner rock epic.  This is Kitchen Witch On Unknown Sundays 2024 on Mother’s Day.  So, get heavy on and raw with it you — mother lovin’ blues rockers!  Let me start out by wishing all those rockin’, bluesin’, hip/hop trippin’, classical kickin’, soul flippin’ and progressive ear-lovin’ mother of the music multiverse a very happy and blessed Mother’s Day.  You are the birth of it all and without you and your selflessness, we are all done and gone.  So, I raise this band, and woman within it, a relatively unknown in the music world, along with a glass to you all!  Now, on with this kick ass hard blues and fuzzed out rock band that I discovered because Amazon.com had the wrong name and album picture for two bands.  True story!

Did I mention I scour Amazon.com after I’ve exhausted two other new release sites on the Internet, just to make sure I’m not missing something?!  If I haven’t, you probably already figured that by the obscurity of some of the things we listen to and report on, on this article or on our shows.  And, when I mean that I don’t want to miss something, that can be just based on seeing an album cover that draws my attention.  And in this case, it did, 11 pages deep into the new release listing in Amazon.com (which is horribly put together, but I’m sure they could care less), I saw this stoner, heavy psyche album cover, noting it’s cool look, but I still kept scrolling because the band name didn’t register or make any sense (sorry that I don’t remember it, and I looked back so they obviously cleaned it up).  Then, I saw the album cover again, which was strange on page 13, but the band name — well that fit!  Kitchen Witch!  Attention grabbed, album purchased (a bit later when the price fell), and I did let Amazon know that they had a wrong album cover for another band.  Yes, I’m the guy that puts albums back in the right place, if they’ve been improperly placed (after all I know most record store owners and love them to death).

Trouble!  Got to love a band or an artist that sings a song with that title and intent, or a band makes that their album title and delivers!  That is the 2015 EP of Australia’s Kitchen Witch, and they definitely ‘Don’t Waste Your Time’ getting right into the thick of the hard rock blues pool with a cannon ball, wreckless splashing, and momentous glory!  From the dark riffing, to the soul-spilling blues vocals that seem to harken from a woman who has somehow sucked the old souls of Janis and Dinah Washington into a female version of Robert Plant, to the sound-shifting doom rock grooves, Kitchen Witch has everything a 70s heavy rock officianto would orgasm over!  Don’t believe me? Oh you should.  I’ll give you a link to a live performance back in 2018 that sound ridiculous for an outside show on YouTube below, and you can thank me later!

While I cannot get over the vocal of Georgie Cosson, and you won’t either, the reason this works so well is also her bandmates and their complete, submerged delivery of the doomy, heavy blues while being able to carefully shred or move into a soulful place to ensnare the rapture of her vocal reach.  It seems to come effortlessly for both band and Cosson, and that’s the magic of it all!  There’s not a moment wasted on albums from the longer tracks to the more standard blues rock late night radio pieces.  This particular band find is a rarity that deep in the web, that far gone from bands that probably have no business even being on any pages prior to them.  Just think of the stuff you’ve listened to that was on the first five pages of Amazon.com.  There is no disappointment and no let up for this Unknown Sundays from Kitchen Witch!

 

The Band is currently, and I don’t think it has changed since their conception in 2013:
  • Georgie Cosson – Vocals
  • Conor Kinsella – Guitars
  • Simon Elliott – Bass
  • John Russo – Drums, Percussion

Now, the truth of the matter of this posting is that I was really searching this Mother’s Day for something to put out there, and I had a lot of choices, but it was the fact that Kitchen Witch came up in my FORGOTTEN FAVORITES and they have a brand new single out ‘Glitch’, which is on the bandcamp page (you know I normally don’t listen to singles from any band – it’s albums baby), but I broke my rule on this occasion because it was seven minutes, and I just knew it was going to drive my heavy, stoner blues ear nuts!  Hopefully, it will do the same for you!

Albums by Kitchen Witch In My Collection
  • Kitchen Witch (2017)
  • Back To the Mud [EP] (2016)
  • Trouble [EP] (2015)

Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 18

When we’re on these musical trips, we never truly know where they’re going to lead.  On Album Review Saturdays 2024, we do not pre-listen.  It is strictly a choice.  Sometimes completely deaf (you know what we mean – unheard, uncertain), and sometimes we know of the band.  This Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 18, we definitely knew of our first band, but it’s been a while since their pop, rock and adult alternative music has been put to an album.  The next band up is nowhere near a household name in our region, but has been steadily meshing together some interesting indie rock from groove and hipper music spaces.  But, they took a sixteen year hiatus?!  Finally, we lend some exposure to an interesting progressive instrumental, noise-rock, garage band (I know that seems very odd) from Detroit, Michigan that we had never heard of.  So, we never know exactly what we’re going to hear, how it’s going to go down, and often how it’s going to relate to the Beyond Your Radio music multiverse listeners, but that’s how we roll!  Roll with it, baby!  To quote the great Steve Winwood.

 

LINK TO OUR YOUTUBE VERSION
[Mark Kuligowski & Panelist DAHM discuss these (3) albums + adds three (3) more reviews!]

 

 

Better Than EzraSuper Magick

It’s been ten years since the adult alternative band from Baton Rouge had put out an album.  I don’t think anyone in the 90s will have forgotten, ‘Good’ from there major label debut, Deluxe, but it is very interesting that a band that has gotten ripping reviews like “low impact cheesy pop” has manager to maintain a career longer and somewhat stronger than those have had millions of copies sold, major tours, and consideration for some of the best albums of all time (insert all kinds of bands here).  What got me hooked on the band more was the single from The X-Files Soundtrack, ‘One More Murder’ that caught my ear, and made me ear-alize that they have a breath of delivery that sets them apart.  With, Super Magick, the trio remains tied to that breath, and they use it extremely well, which should continue to rejuvenate the fan base and potential reach a Coldplay and Keane.

When that rather crass reviewer stated “low impact” it is not fairly stated.  I believe the statement to actually be somewhat true, especially when you consider the ballads and delivery of Kevin Griffin, and it is there with songs like ‘This Time’ (well written and timely, and probably pretty decent radio ear candy for those soft-hearted listeners).  However, the low impact does sort of continue into places where you could hear or feel coming — something bigger, louder in harmony or production (a la Mutt Lang chorus raising)‘Grateful’ has this potential, like it was building to an Imagine Dragon kind of sound, but it holds in the lesser impact.  And, the groovier, ‘Sensation’ also could have been served by a more INXS chorus.  That lesser impact (hang on) — is really the unique edge that Better Than Ezra truly holds, if you really listen and appreciate.  It works for the harmonies, it works for the band, the overall flow of the record, and it exposes the lyrics more.  But, I will admit, I wonder what would happen if they played up one song and pushed it.

Let’s talk though about the creative song to song sounds on the this album.  We got the ballad, here and a little there, but then we’ve got a rock-twanger, a groovy pop-rocker, as well as my favorite on the album, the bluesy-Beck ‘Bad Communication’ which rides in on percussive tempo and bass line, and a lovely change of vocal pace!  Oh, and then they drop in the saxophone to push that slap that impact bitch around some!  Cool!  Yeah, that’s why they’re past their 35th year together and still enjoying the making and performing of their sound.  They have enough magic on Super Magick to make the right impact to anyone’s musical ear!  Better Than Ezra is ‘Killing It’ here 34 years from their actual debut, and 32 years since Deluxe, so I can’t even imagine them stopping now.

The Band

  • Tom Drummond – bass
  • Kevin Griffin – lead vocals (all tracks), acoustic and electric guitars, background vocals
  • James Arthur Payne Jr. – keyboards, synthesizer, piano and electric guitar
  • Michael Jerome – drums

Super Magick  Tracklisting

  1. Mystified
  2. Live A Little
  3. Show Em Up
  4. Super Magick
  5. This Time
  6. Contact High
  7. Grateful
  8. Sensation
  9. Bad Communication
  10. Fuzzy
  11. Omens
  12. Killing It

 

 

The ZutonsThe Big Decider

The band from Liverpool certainly had that combination of club-pop, clap and groove from the moment their debut hit the streets.  It got here in the States, and thanks to my usual used bin prowling I got my hands on it relatively cheap.  I assume that’s because the reach of music like this from across the pond usually has a much harder time landing in the overall scope of radio play.  It’s unfortunate because it shares some similarities to sounds like a modern day indie Earth Wind & Fire and Sly and the Family Stone.  There’s also a lot of quality music playing coming in and out of the songs, as well as the instruments being utilized throughout.  The Big Decider cover doesn’t really give this a fair representation visually, but if the maze means anything about the maze of variety and inter-crossing sounds, then I’ll let it slide it.

Now, let me tell you that I was diggin’ the record to start.  Not exactly blown away, but you have to realize it’s been several years since I put on that debut, Who Killed the Zutons?!  So, got it get back into it, as the taste has to be acquired a hint (I believe).  But, by the time I get to ‘Disappear’ I’m definitely remembering and grooving.  The way that track flows fast and then back into a different groove is definitely the signature style that defines them for me, anyway.  Let that sax soar, and then drop the bass line, nail down some production and then…oh yeah, get that smooth talk with the big, big universal question…

Why?  Why should you listen to The Zutons?  The flow, function of the instruments, and the subtle to wavy grooves lend to well to the softer and funkier.  They are refreshing against the polarized structures hindering some music formats today, and they use the saxophone in a variety of tones and deliveries that it’s almost as if it’s vocalizing.  The Big Decider, whoever that is according to the band or the record (I’m assuming it’s the very same person who knows the answer to the question ‘Why?’), has made some very good decisions on pressing an interesting sound into the indie-rock environment, again.  It’s is nice to know that The Zutons have been saved from extinction, the sum of their parts (themselves), which is a groove-unison formula that gets the best — out of them — for us!

The Band

  • Dave McCabe – lead vocals and guitar
  • Abi Harding – saxophone and vocals
  • Sean Payne – drums and vocals

The Big Decider Tracklisting

  1. Creeping on the Dancefloor
  2. Pauline
  3. Water
  4. In Your Arms
  5. Disappear
  6. Company
  7. The Big Decider
  8. Rise
  9. Best of Me

 

The Infinite River – Tabula Rasa

Let’s go to Motor City of Detroit, and check in on an interesting instrumental garage rock band progressing their way into noise-tempered proggy soundscape that could catch you on and off guard.  Tabula Rasa begins with a guitar lovers dream scenario, all kinds of levels of guitar playing, flinching feedback, and progressive tendencies that sell the sizzle and no the steak — yet!  Congratulations, The Infinite River, for one of the more unique, interesting, and beguiling beginnings for albums in 2024 (so far).  I wasn’t sure what would be coming next, as there was even levels of Middle Eastern twang in there, too!

Where did we go from there?  To an edgy, beautiful, subtle and moody progressive ‘Stars Above.’  And from there, we get taken up a notch to different guitar pitch, a completely different drum pattern against a definitive progressive environment and sound that reminds you of slightly early Genesis and maybe even Hawkwind (although I have more experience in the Genesis).  The trio has no problem expressing their cohesiveness while it appears to us, the listeners, that they are challenging themselves.  Hell, when we transferred from ‘Astro Cat 9’ to ‘Be the Cyclone That I Need,’ the punk-action guitar and then the soloing got Gretchen and Joey all caught up.  A great part of the record there for sure!

While we’re all familiar, maybe way to familiar with ‘My Favorite Things,’ I do feel this was a slightly off-putting placement, breaking the originality and clever sound waring that was going on.  It’s a good instrumental interpretation, but within the scope and flow of the record it seems enough out of place to be distracting.  I might have placed that at the end of the record, or maybe even had it deeper within the last song as a hidden track, especially since the lead into it song was the moodiest of them all.  And, I was surprised again, when there was actually a little harmonized singing on the track after it, ‘Space Signal,’ amidst the noise-rock feedback guitaring going on.  That worked, and we’re back into the next track which reminds us again of the moodiness with a little Radiohead like feel, and that signature guitar sound that has been beautifully flowing through certain tracks that is carefully delivered and placed throughout, including the ending track.  But, it is very good and cool that the band does appreciate a good off-the-rails progressive improv moment that rests in between the ending tracks called ‘Buzzer’ that leads off as march of some kind, but then slips off into noise rock and progressive, intentful improvisation.

At times you feel there’s a late seventies movie vibe.  Like maybe that song might have been from a Charles Bronson movie.  Okay, so that’s the old Detroit kind of thing, right? (Come on work with me, here).  Then you are transported into a noisy progressive rock garage appreciating the sonic tapestry and improv-confusion swirling around, and then you’re at pace and peace with a contemporary guitar.  There’s nothing born empty about this band or their sound, and they are definitely worthy of instrumentalist appreciators to be given a listen to, as well as those that like a little something different in their prog.  The Infinite River has a lot of great things going for them, and the sky’s the limit!

The Band

  • Joey Mazzola – guitar, bass, acoustic guitar
  • Gretchen Gonzales – guitar, vocals
  • Warren Defever – bass synthesizer, Mellotron

Special Guests

  • Steve Nistor – drums, percussion
  • Jordan Schug – double bass (Breathless, Blue Photons)
  • Salem Daly – vocals (Space Signal)

Tabula Rasa Tracklisting

  1. Sky Diamonds Raga
  2. Stars Above
  3. Astro Cat #9
  4. Be The Cyclone That I Need
  5. Machine
  6. My Favorite Things
  7. Space Signal
  8. Blessed Unrest
  9. Buzzer
  10. Blue Photons
  11. Breathless

Rodrigo y Gabriela On Unknown Sundays 2024

RODRIGO Y GABRIELA ON UNKNOWN SUNDAYS [YOU TUBE VERSION]

The record store junkie in me visits them all over the US and Canada, and as you would expect, if I’m in a foreign country — that doesn’t deter me either. However this story doesn’t start in Mexico City, where the band is from, this one goes to Bogota Colombia, where my wife and I were there adopting our first child. So, one afternoon, we took a cab up to The Hacienda Santa Barbara. Now, you know me, I brought everything I needed to play my music, which amounted to a CD case of what I had selected for 24 albums, the laptop to play them, and a backdoor link to some of my start of digitizing my catalog (although the internet speed in our abode was not first world). That’s right, I was not on a streaming service at the time, and I’m not quite sure if it would have even worked, considering the connection and out-of-country IP. But, I was prepared to purchase some native music from across the genres, so that my daughter could continue to be immersed in her culture’s sounds, as well as for me to enjoy.

I did my homework, and knew that I would do several compilations (especially in the folk concepts), but I was truly fascinated to get into the Jazz, Electronica, and the acoustic playing. Bogota is a Spanish settlement. So, obviously, there’s a deep search going on in the store, as they tend to sell a bit more of the Western music because of exposure. So, for some reason, in the World Section (will call it, or at least I called it with my limited Spanish), I see this eyeball of a lizard or a dragon, and I’m immediately taken by the name Rodrigo y Gabriela, and it had this sticker claiming all sorts of great things! And, there were two mentions that immediately drew my attention, covers of “Stairway To Heaven” and “Orion” by Metallica. Oh you got some balls on you! Snag! Mission accomplished! Several albums, got the cultural music, after some broken Spanish communication, and a huge thumbs up from the one person behind the counter when they registered the Rodrigo y Gabriela album.

Surprise! They’re not from Bogota, Colombia. Somehow, they just were in the wrong bin title, or placed there unknowingly. But, oh thank you that mistake because I might have had to wait even longer to make the connection to this great duo out of Mexico City.

The minute it started I could immediately discern their unique manifesto to conquer the sound environment through especiale guitar workings, which at point were mostly acoustic (or at least in the first several studio albums Rodrigo y Gabriela played acoustically to each other with other artists coming in with an electric guitar in some spots along with the other instruments. Remarkable and impeccably produced, even the album, Re-Froc, which I believe was done without any microphones.  Also, the pounding of face of the guitar is the percussion in a lot of their music, and a backbone of their rhythmic connection as well as to the audience.

The duo does love the cover, and of course the more complicated the better. From Echoes (Pink Floyd) to Al Di Meola, Jimi Hendrix, and Carlos Santana. We were able to see them perform a few years ago with our two children at the University of Buffalo Center for the Arts, and it was a masterful acoustic and electric session of mind blowing proportions. I know it wasn’t Drake or Gavin DeGraw, but they knew they were in the presence of two talented, outrageously ferocious guitar players, and the Flamenco style was something they don’t hear in their music much, and that’s mostly true of the music multiverse. That’s why when they come up again the Metallica Three Album Tribute and do “The Struggle Within” to close the four disc set, you know the tremendous respect they have in the industry for their unique sound and love of music.

They were recently at Ameba Record Store in a YouTube “What’s In My Bag” and I just loved their choices, and it’s moments like that — that feed my curiosity for sounds and more music exploration. If you’ve not heard of Rodrigo y Gabriela, you should definitely give their flamenco modernized style and variety a good listen, especially if you’re an Al Di Meola fan, as they can certainly give him a run for his title.

Albums by Rodrigo y Gabriela In My Collection
  • Re-Froc (2002)
  • Rodrigo Y Gabriela (2006) – oddly enough released in Ireland.
  • 11:11 (2009) [Yes, that’s a Pink Floyd song title and they cover it.
  • Area 52 [Live] (2012) That’s with a Cuban orchestra.
  • 9 Dead Alive (2014) Which is all about paying homage to famous people and their triumphs.
  • Mettavolution (2019) – We’re going electric and acoustic.
  • In Between Thoughts…A New World (2023)

Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 17

Who’s afraid of little old me?  Something we small people in the grand scheme of things can always feel, right?  I mean, Beyond Your Radio, it’s not like the giants of the music information arena need to be fearful of what we do and say.  We’re doing this out of pure love and addiction to music!  Our chances of taking over the world of music information and the ears of the masses from little old, four time Super Bowl losing, two Stanley Cup losses (13 straight season without a playoff experience), taxed and worked to death Upstate New York are probably up there with having our first album’s music multiverse queen wanting to show up for an interview on our YouTube Channel!  It’s Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 17, and we’re taking on the new album from the chosen one.  And since it seems song-writing and delivery are the landscape of this weekend, we’re going to also go with a legendary producer, guitarist song-writer with a real gritty solemn performance, as well as one that we think really should harbor deeper attention and listening from a backing vocalist who deserves a real, true center stage!  Welcome to Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 17!  Let’s get into these three singer-song writer albums from completely different places in the music multiverse!

 

LINK TO OUR YOUTUBE VERSION
[Mark Kuligowski & Panelists The Grateful Dude & DAHM discuss these (3) albums + adds three (3) more reviews!]

 

Taylor Swift – The Tortured Poets Department [The Anthology]

Let’s get this out of the way.  She is probably one of the greatest forces, solo artist to grace the music world in a very very long time.  Not only is she a force in the singles and radio play, as well as fan base craziness, but she’s shaping, changing and helping the industry in all facets.  She is also increasing record sales and exposure to what seemed to be an untouchable demographic.  She’s got people buying records, albums, and not just singles, and not just downloads.  So, she is, truly an artist, a performer, and a mogul that seems to hold to a certain principle (but make no mistake, that can change, so time will continue to tell).  What is telling, is this years colossal The Tortured Poets Department, whether you go for the standard version or the Anthology (although to be honest with you — why wouldn’t you have it all)?

That force to be reckoned with comes on slowly on this new album, in my opinion.  What does maintain is Ms. Swift’s lyrical dominance in story, metaphor, intelligent rhyming schemes, and vocal wavery.  Yes, the songs are dominated by attachments love and hate mostly, but they are utterly engaging for the most part, especially as the album builds.  ‘Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?’ kind of starts that heavier climb from the near Drake-ian drab musical background, giving Taylor Swift more of musical accompanied platform to ascend to the mountain top of The Tortured Poets Department, getting beyond the lyrical cleverness into the overall connection of lyric and musicianship.

What is also amazing is that she does not forsaken any root that was once hers.  There is a tint of country and pop, and she is masterfully manipulating current music trends to be her own, which is a formula that hear ear (in the studio) must be one her greatest assets.  She can flow in lyric like Alanis, or she can make a Shania-like pop melody. or she can hook a refrain that rests forever on your ears or someone else’s, which is what gives her the honest popularity that she deserves.  Need an example?  “I’m so depressed I act like it’s my birthday – everyday.”  Or wait, maybe another, where she let’s the refrain’s end hang?  “You told me I’m the love of your life, the love of your  life – you said I’m the love of your life — about a million times.”  Oh, hook. Ouch.  There’s very little lyrical throw aways here, or times where you don’t feel included (to be honest I thought there was going to be a lot of that, considering the situation she’s in versus the rest of us).  It only happens when she’s name dropping discretely.

The only problem I have, would to be a friend of hers — or worse and enemy?  Could I even do a scathing review of this album?  Would she let me get away with, or suddenly put me in with ‘The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived’!?  Oh man those poor sons-a-bitches!  Yikes.  Yes, it’s a lot of love and mood, but it does have tempo, reason and connection.  She is definitely attached at the hip to her heart and song connections to it.  She uses her mind, intellect to deliver that, and it’s a formula that bloody works like that of Phil Collins in the 1980s.  And, in that same vane (Phil Collins), it always seemed odd when he dropped an F-bomb, and I’m still not there with it for her either.  Seems forced to me.

I could go on and on about this album.  I’m still digesting it outside my wheelhouse and in the overall landscape of 2024.  What I do know is, if you don’t like this, it’s a personal preference, and has nothing to do with style, delivery and production, because this album has a fantastic mix of it all despite the avoidance of over-the-top crescendos.  Yes, I’m sure there’s autotuning and studio engaged mechanics, but it’s a very very good listening experience that encompasses a solo artists that continues to mesmerize and weave a spell over the listener without selling out to some idea of what people want.  She is an artist all her own, tortured or not.  A poet for the future?  More than likely, as I see no reason for her to fall away from taking life and making it into hear-felt music for the masses.  And, if you’re reading this Ms. Swift, I wanted to use a type-writer for this, but it would have taken me a ‘Fortnight’ to find one of the strips for auto-correction.  Make your next song, Long Live Word Press.

The Band

  • Taylor Swift – vocals, piano, background vocals
  • Jack Antonoff – synthesizers, programming, guitars, cello, percussion, organ, Mellotron, Rhodes, bass, background vocals
  • Sean Hutchinson – drums, percussion

Guest appearances

  • Emma Stone – oddities (on track 8)
  • Post Malone – vocals
  • Florence Welch (Florence + the Machine) – vocals, drums, percussion, piano
  • Aaron Dessner (The National) – piano, synthesizer, drum programming, acoustic guitar, mandolin, synth bass, bass, banjo, drums
  • Bryce Dessner (The National) – piano, synthesizer, drum programming

The Tortured Poets Department Tracklisting

  1. Fortnight (feat Post Malone)
  2. The Tortured Poets Department
  3. My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys
  4. Down Bad
  5. So Long, London
  6. But Daddy, I Love Him
  7. Fresh Out the Slammer
  8. Florida!!! (feat Florence Welch)
  9. Guilty As Sin
  10. Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?
  11. I Can Fix Him (Really I Can)
  12. Loml
  13. I Can Do It With A Broken Heart
  14. The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived
  15. The Alchemy
  16. Clara Bow

The Anthology Edition [Additional Tracks]

  1. The Black Dog
  2. Imgonnagetyouback
  3. The Albatross
  4. Chloe or Sam or Sophia or Marcus
  5. How Did It End?
  6. So High School
  7. I Hate It Here
  8. Thank You Aimee
  9. I Look In People’s Windows
  10. The Prophecy
  11. Cassandra
  12. Peter
  13. The Bolter
  14. Robin
  15. The Manuscript

 

T-Bone BurnettThe Other Side

T-Bone Burnett takes full center stage on The Other Side with his acoustic guitar in hand and skillful song-writer’s aging mentality that suits both him and the deep, simple melodic structures that enrapture the ears.  It is relevant like that of Johnny Cash’s final records, and that reason is because of the musical partnership and mutual understanding of this kind of sound by him and Colin Linden (Canadian folk legend guitarist and singer-songwriter).  While folk is at the true center on The Other Side, the heart of this album lies in Burnett’s sincerity and complete, inviting honest writing and pure delivery.

The roots of everything that T-Bone Burnett can thank and base his career on is beautifully pressed and picked.  The country blues and folk entanglements are as majestic as he has produced for others.  And he’s done some magnificent albums; Raising Sand (Plant & Krauss), O’ Brother Where Art Thou?, The Story (Brandi Carlisle), Low Country Blues (Gregg Allman), The Diving Board (Elton John).  Not to mention Grammy Awards for his soundtrack compilation work on Walk the Line, Cold Mountain, and Crazy Heart.  And, he also worked with Jim James, Elvis Costello, Marcus Mumford Taylor Goldsmith, Rhiannon Giddens, and Johnny Depp on The New Basement Tapes that was put together to write songs based on the new uncovered written documents from Bob Dylan and the Band Basement Tapes.  So you get an idea of the man’s overall encompassing talent.

It’s all on display.  The songwriting, the adaptiveness to recreating other’s works, and allowing collaboration.  The connection to the Cash family is present with Roseanne Cash, as she joins him marvelously on ‘(I’m Gonna Get Over This) Some Day.’  It’s playful and it’s haunting, which is another feather in the sound-cap of this album.  I love the wonderment of ‘The Town That Time Forgot’ and the pause and tempo of the intentional delivery.  So genuine, and that’s the truth and connection to this record, and how the sound fits so well.

If anyone is going to take us to The Other Side, sincerely and purely, I can think of no better than Mr. T-Bone Burnett.  The Other Side is the best album in his solo works, and should be something that new folk fans appreciate, as well as those that follow T-Bone across the music multiverse in all he does from production to accompaniment to soundtracks.  ‘The Race Is Won’ here by the turtle, so to speak.  Steady and eloquent wins the race!

The Band

Guest Appearances

The Other Side Tracklisting

  1. He Came Down
  2. Come Back (When You Go Away)
  3. (I’m Gonna Get Over This) Some Day [Feat. Roseanne Cash]
  4. Waiting for You [Feat. Lucius]
  5. The Pain of Love [Feat. Lucius]
  6. The Race Is Won [Feat. Lucius]
  7. Sometime I Wonder
  8. Hawaiian Blues Song
  9. The First Light of Day
  10. Everything and Nothing
  11. The Town That Time Forgot [Feat. Lucius]
  12. Little Darling [Feat. Lucius]

 

Judith HillLetters From A Black Widow

When you hear her soulful vocal, the reach and range, you are probably wondering (if you’re hearing her for the first time) how someone like this kind of slipped through a crack in the music multiverse.  Right?  Judith Hill, backing vocalist for Prince, Michael Jackson, as well as Josh Groban, and part of the critically acclaimed documentary 20 Feet From Stardom (which I believe was nominated for Academy Award, as well as garnished her a Grammy win for her performance in the film).  She also toured with Groban and John Legend.  And, in case you watch The Voice, she was a Top 8 finalist in 2013, too.  Her elimination from that competition was considered one of the most shocking moments in the show’s history.  And then, her debut album, co-produced by Prince, was given the purple-royal treatment!  And, here we are today, with her fourth record, Letters From A Black Widow.

Darkness to light.  Been there, done that kind of record before, but not quite like this.  Ms. Hill is an astounding vocalist against the rock and roll groove format of most of this record.  She’s ‘One of the Bad Ones’ for sure!  Bad meaning good, my music multiverse traveling friends.  She is fearless here, starting off with a ready-for-prime-time ballad worthy of Whitney or Adele.  Bad to the vocal bone, and a great way to quickly engage your listener, making them aware of the power and command of her voice.  The arrangement is classy and a warning shot to James Bond theme-ists everywhere.  There’s very little on this album that takes a backseat to her delivery, but the music that surrounds her carefully, bombastically, and cinematically (in places) is very worthy of attention.  In fact, this is a ginormous recording against all that she has done!  So damnit, take ‘Black Widow’ and put it up against the palette of today (that Prince-like guitar solo after her empowering speak-sing atonement), it’s absorption at it’s finest soul-clenching moment.

I don’t want to overshadow her piano playing, or her overall ear to putting this recording together.  They are the strongest I have heard in recent years (against that young woman mentioned at the top of this Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 17).  She even plays a lot of the instruments on the recording, and she has a very deep connection to the formulas surrounding the recordings from Jazz to Funk to Soul to R&B to her section of rock and roll.  The energy and artistry and attention to details that might get lost in album production and timing to get the recording out are NOT present here.  She is a dedicated craftswoman, and Letters From A Black Widow is an absolute pleasure to listen to, groove to, and behold when it calls.  Hopefully, the music multiverse opens a bit more to Judith Hill as the dark and light of Black Widows everywhere looking to hear an absolute voice in the fight and love of this thing call life.  This is beautiful, sustainable power to the ear and heart.

The Band

  • Judith Hill – vocals, piano, guitar
  • Michiko Hill – piano
  • Robert Lee “Pee Wee” – Bass
  • John Staten – drums, percussion
  • Daniel Chase – strings
  • A group of her friends apparently provided backing vocals

Letters From A Black Widow Tracklisting

  1. One of the Bad Ones
  2. Flame
  3. My Whole Life Is In the Wrong Key
  4. We Are the Power
  5. Black Widow
  6. Touch
  7. Dame de la Lumiere
  8. Let Me Be Your Mother
  9. You Got It Kid
  10. Runaway Train
  11. Downtown Boogie
  12. More Than Love