Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode 39

This time of year my ear wants to slow down.  I use music to get into a finalization of the year and the start of a new one for work and projects that pertain to the jobs I have.  That’s right, as you probably realized Beyond Your Radio is a hobby, and these Album Review Saturdays 2023 are completely done out of love for all things albums and music, as well as trying get other people excited about the art form that sometimes feels like it’s close to being abandoned.  As much as I want to “slow down” in my listening, there are still late albums coming out, and those a few weeks back that remain on my heavy “got to listen to” for Album Review Saturdays 2023 before the year ends!  In this week, wow #39, the genre is a completely mixed bag, but all of these records were completely worthy of being reviewed for one music moment or another.  So, whatever your listening fancy, get your earbuds, your record player (I love saying that), or your car stereo ready for these three very different albums from the music multiverse.

 

YouTube Channel Version Link
[These articles with 3 additional album reviews]

 

Ambrose AkinmusireOwl Song

Is there not a more iconic sound in jazz than the trumpet?  Okay, I can probably start a show or an argument on that, so let’s just table that to “it’s a very iconic piece of the jazz sound world,” and there have been some incredibly prolific entertainers that mastered the wind instrument to the point of making some of the most recognizable music across generations ever!  Ambrose Akinmusire with his newest album, Owl Song, is approaching that status.  The intimacy and the careful way in which his trumpeting skills are utilized throughout the eight compositions in 42 minutes, not only reminds us of the greats, but showcases the emotional ear fortitude that he commands to the sway and call of the music accompaniment.  And, with Bill Frisell and Herlin Riley surrounding, embracing, and sometimes baiting Ambrose, you know the company wouldn’t keep if the greatness wasn’t true.  I even love that two songs are titled after the two legendary gentlemen that have made this such an amazing recording.

Owl Song is one of the best Jazz records of the year.  Why?  First off, it is using the simplest of formats of jazz.  While other records, and they are very good and triumphantly entertaining and worthy of best of 2023, utilize guest vocalizations/speeches or technological warfare (which is cool and modern), Ambrose and his guests utilize the soft, the sounds, tempos and tones only, stretching the ear’s ability to feel the moment and create either imagery or stories in the mind, emotionally tethering us to the music track by track, appreciating every sound and waiting in anticipation for the next.  Some albums there is too much, or that can be shaky moments that break that connection, but not on Owl Song.  You can feel the wise old owl, whether you feel the musicians being that, or it’s what the owl sees in all its quiet, watching and listening glory.

I believe, since it is a late entry, there will be a lot of reviewers and people like myself that will find they will go back to this record and truly feel that this was beyond worthy of being on an elite list of records in 2023 overall, as well as in the jazz world.  Owl Song goes by at a lovely pace, and it will continue to be a record of choice even in the holiday season as I try that “slow down” I was talking about in the opening.  We all need it, now and again.  “Who” that man that brings this to us, Ambrose Akinmusire, that’s “who.”

The Band

  • Ambrose Akinmusire – Trumpet
  • Bill Frisell – Guitar
  • Herlin Riley – Drums

Owl Song Tracklisting

  1. Owl Song
  2. Weighted Corners
  3. Flux Feelings
  4. Owl Song 2
  5. Grace
  6. Mr. Frisell
  7. Mr. Riley
  8. Henya

 

 

 

Duster – Remote Echoes

Duster, if you don’t know the history of, is an American indie rock band from San Jose, California formed back in 1996 kind of noted for that growing slowcore and space rock revival movements during that time.  Now, you have to know that this band had a large hiatus that took its toll on timing, but they managed to return last year with and album called Together.  While predominantly instrumentalist in the band since conception you would sort of be surprised by their history of albums and the attention to the lo-fi fuzz feel of bad recordings, but they are intentionally done from what I can hear, which makes them feel nostalgic at moments, fresh in others, and back club indie rock-ish.  Cool right?  And, I don’t know who singing, but it’s really more so done on the same channel as the band’s instruments (not really leading the way but providing a bit of context for tracks).  Just as a fun side note:  No, that’s not someone calling in on your phone — when the music suddenly pause-stops, it’s the intentional break at end of certain songs.

So, where does that leave us with Remote Echoes?  Well, if you’re a fan of this band, their style and delivery concepts, you are going to really like this one!  They took old, unreleased cassette tracks (from what I gather, as I had to gain some context) and found a way to engineer them into these 14 fuzzy songs with all kinds of little clever nuggets thrown into the music (now I’m not saying they were not there before, but how am I to know, considering my lack of knowledge of the band).  ‘Moon In Aries’ is a prime example, and kind of the reason for going over this album, as it has a hint of “Jingle Bells” in it!  That’s right!  T’is the season for a little lo-fi fuzz indie rock with some slight of instrumental hand to brighten up the track.  There are lots of these kinds of echoes, if you will, even in the overall production quality and how the tracks come back around, as if the melody or instrumental play is echoing itself.  And, you have some echoes of even further into the past with a hint of psychedelia, too.  However, I will say there are odd ends to the tracks, and the brevity is probably going to agitate some listeners.  The oddities that come up, too, are either going to be a hit, like ‘Testphase’ and ‘Lost Time’ or a filler like feel in ‘Cigarettes and Coffee.’

If you want to place this in or out of wheelhouse think it might the background of Marcy’s Playground against Pinback and Coedine, I guess? Ah, just take a listen and see if Remote Echoes lost songs collection for Duster does the job for you — it might just be something you didn’t expect.

The Band (most of which are multi-instrumentalists)

  • Clay Parton – instruments, production (1996-2001, 2018–present)
  • Canaan Dove Amber – instruments, production (1996-2001, 2018–present)
  • Jason Albertini – drums, production (1998-2001, 2018–2022)
  • Krag Likins

Remote Echoes Tracklisting

  1. Before the Veil
  2. Cigarettes and Coffee
  3. The Weed Supreme
  4. Untitled 59
  5. I Know I Won’t
  6. Moon in Aries
  7. Glue
  8. Testphase
  9. Lost Time
  10. Strange
  11. The Mood
  12. Country Heather
  13. Untitled 84
  14. Darby

 

Kadabra – Umbra

This is my first ever listen of Spokane, Washington’s Kadabra.  The heavy psych-sludge rock world has certainly been ablaze with great material this year!  Our Twitter feed is always scrolling from lists to lists, month to month, and when Umbra released, it wasn’t long before we saw it in best lists for that month (October I believe it was).  And now, with the year’s end lists coming out, we have definitely seen a few trusted sites and officiantos put this band either on the list or in the honorable mentions.  So, when the slate was clean for a listen, I jumped in!

Heavy Psych Sounds Records has apparently found themselves a real technical darling here with all kinds of additional uncommon tricks up it’s dark sleeves!  The commitment to the sound and the heavy riff and organ darkness is genuine and somewhat of a higher calling attention for your ears because of the bombastic controlled nature of it.  Their page kind of speaks the truth, I think, when they say a band born in dark times.  Hell, yeah, 2020.  Jesus (I’m sure he’s abandoned this band already, ha ha)!  How do you even become a band at that time, survive, and on the same side of that — deliver like this?!  It’s a testament to the fever that burns within these talented men of the heavy psychedelic rock cult side.  They didn’t need any “abra” — they obviously were not searching for that kind of genie!  They got a dark genie at their musical whim that you will not want to put back in the bottle!  I can’t even imagine a live set — but I’m definitely going to be at a show as soon as possible (get thee to a nunnery)!

What to expect?!  Expect a devilish pursuit of riffing you ears off, while organ grinds your soul, the drum keeps the groove-line to the blood letting featuring the perfect modern stoner vocals to tantalize your lust for dark knowledge.  Are you off to the church of no affiliation?  Are you down with the depths of modern-sabbathism at the altar of thunderous long pursuits to a reckoning you’re not quite certain of?  Yes, I did feel that some of the songs went a little far, and the payoffs didn’t reach the crescendo I was expecting, but then I realize where these songs start, so how the hell can you finish them darker or heavier?  I think Kadabra could find a way.  Umbra is a heavy stoner-rocker’s record that will pull you immediately in, ensnare you like a ‘Serpent’ and either squeeze you into pulp, or thrash you around madly after leaving you catatonic from its venom.  Either way — it’s a fabulous way to serve your ears a forty-seven minute treat that will…reach out and grab ya (sorry, I had to — regretting it now — no I’m not)!

The Band

  • Garrett Zanol Guitars / Vocals
  • Ian Nelson Bass
  • Chase Howard Drums
  • Blake Braley Organs/Keys

Umbra Tracklisting

  1. White Willows
  2. High Priestess
  3. Midnight Hour
  4. The Serpent
  5. The Devil
  6. Battle Of Avalon
  7. Mountain Tamer
  8. The Serpent II

 

 

 

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