Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 9

Anxiously awaiting for a new album used to be a weekly thing for me, but now that there’s so much in my wheelhouse of music, my expectations are that I’m always going to be behind reviews for Album Review Saturdays, and 2024 is certainly living up to that!  This week’s Album Review Saturdays has me back tracking a week or two at least, starting with what might be one of my favorite bands coming out of France.  Then a god-like British duo make their self-titled debut in 2024, decades apart from their prior world domination experiences in the music multiverse.  Would this be the blend we all hoped it would be?  And, to finish off Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 9, we go on a journey with one of the best, diverse jazz guitarists on the planet who has been knocking albums and EPs out of the park for the last five years easy!  It’s good to be anxious, right!?  It let’s us know we’re looking — forward, n’est-ce pas?

 

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

 

 

Caravan Palace – Gangbusters Melody Club

I can still recall the first time I heard of this electro-swing, synth-house band out of France!  Thank you Later…with Jools Holland!  The swingin’ toe-tappin’ groovin’ band was infectious, and the romper-stomper augmented vocal and charm of Zoé Colotis equally beguiling, entrancing, and rock-centric.  The Gangbusters Melody Club release is, not only a continuation of that moment seven years back from the hit single ‘Lone Digger,‘ it’s an extension and bridge to another couple of genre bending moments that keep you anxious, guessing, and completely dance enthralled from start to finish!

Parisian.  The very word expresses upper class type feel and look.  Caravan Palace is the perfect blend of the Parisian, Nomad (Gypsy), Rave.  The concept is sophistication in instrumentation, coming from the old world delivery, but blitzing it here and there with new world favoritism.  Then bend in some intoxicating and ravishing house trance and dance to either accentuate or exacerbate the tempo.  Oh, yeah!  There’s even a hint of probably improvisation available within the recording, but definitely at the fingertips of  their live experience, which would no doubt have everyone on their feet and attempting the best cramped version of swing possible.  That’s Gangbusters Melody Club!  You’re in a very unique Paris club, that appreciates the art deco of the past in music, loves to splash in the synth pop and dance (even in the slower, closer, ‘Villa Rose’).

The vocal is probably a bit more augmented than I would have expected over the last seven years, but I do not know the range and reach of Zoe Colotis.  Although, ‘Fool’ does show an interesting range and dimension explored against a fractured accordion track and what I would believe to be a harp (if you can believe it).  This set of songs definitely yields great results, and as long as she’s enthralled by the musicianship and the ability to move to it, I’m sure her delivery will find slightly new interpretations available with or without the microphone tricks (although I’m sure it’s not exactly easy to dance like she does and deliver vocal perfection).  The real hit here is the overall band experience and how incredibly tight they continue to be in the face of all the free-flowing musicianship, new loops, and era sounds that are blistering throughout.  This is an exclusive club everyone’s ears should be in at least once a year.  Good clean, body movin’ fun in an old-school fashion and flash that’s not dated, nor pretentious by any means.

The Band

  • Arnaud “Vial” de Bosredon – composition, production, guitar, vocals
  • Charles Delaporte – composition, production, bass, vocals
  • Zoé Colotis – vocals
  • Paul-Marie Barbier – keyboards, percussion, vibraphone
  • Odd Sweet – dancer
  • Martin Berlugue – trombone, clarinet
  • Lucas Saint-Cricq – violin, saxophone
  • Luis Calderon – synths, Piano

Gangbusters Melody Club Tracklisting

  1. MAD
  2. Mirrors
  3. 81 Special
  4. Raccoons
  5. Avalanches
  6. Reverse
  7. Fool
  8. Spirits
  9. Blonde Dynamite
  10. Portobello
  11. City Cook
  12. Villa Rose

 

 

Liam Gallagher / John Squire – Liam Gallagher / John Squire

So, you take the lead singer and half the creative process of Oasis, and bring in the guitar greatness of John Squire from The Stone Roses, and get them collectively in the studio to see what happens.  Okay, I’m down with it!  I’m sure there were over a million plus in England that were more than “Okay” with the musical thought process.  The potential is the very definition of anticipation beyond control, right?  I certainly think so.  Those first two and three Oasis albums were very good, very engaging.  The Stone Roses ‘Second Coming’ still remains an outlying recording in my history of record buying.  I just love putting that on, and losing myself in the chords and the intoxicating lyrical connection within.  “The journey is the trip, I say,” is the lyrical line in ‘Mars To Liverpool’ that defined my exact expectations for this duo.  But, did it get there — for me?

Let me start off by saying my first listen was a broken one.  I was distracted by how much Liam is singing, which for me was not allowing the guitar tracks and layerings to be heard.  I’m not saying that the mesh wasn’t good, but I wanted to get more flavor and licks from the guitar work.  Why?  Because the more talented man on stage is John Squire.  His English blues, and signature sound is truly what drives the overall composition and engagement in the music.  The lyrics and vocal are fine, but they do not make for the greatest lead.  It’s the breath of the guitar between lines and refrains that is exactly what’s needed!  It’s what makes the vocal more interesting, as it slides and builds on the expert musicianship of Squire’s fingers, foot pedaling, and passion to get every little drop of sound out of each bluesy note.  He accomplishes that mission and then some, but you have to get past the nearly constant singing of Liam (in my first listen opinion).

There is a lovely blend between the two throughout a lot of their debut together.  Whether this will happen again or not — who knows.  The story is here that you get the sound you expected, some very well conceived lyric and music collaborations that are worth their time and your own.  I have a feeling that the more I gravitate to playing it, the more out of it I’m going to get and start to appreciate.  I just wish there was a bit more breath and respect to John Squire’s ability to be the lead on this, letting his instrument do more of the talking.  This is probably an issue where Liam’s vocal range is — well, Oasis, and it’s taking away from defining their sound and melody – to some degree.  Also, as a bitter side note, come up with a title next time!  It’s crazy to me that you couldn’t come up with an interesting title, even if it was The Squire in the Galla.

The Band

  • Liam Gallagher – Vocals, hand claps
  • John Squire – Guitar(s) [Electric and Acoustic], hand claps
  • Greg Kurstin – bass, drum programming, percussion, hand claps, synthesizer, keyboards, piano, Hammond B3 organ, Wurlitzer, Mellotron, vibraphone, congas, upright piano
  • Joey Waronker – drums
  • Debbie Gwyther – hand claps
  • Martha Squire – hand claps

Liam Gallagher / Johns Squire Tracklisting

  1. Raise Your Hands
  2. Mars to Liverpool
  3. One Day at a Time
  4. I’m a Wheel
  5. Just Another Rainbow
  6. Love You Forever
  7. Make It Up as You Go Along
  8. You’re Not the Only One
  9. I’m So Bored
  10. Mother Nature’s Song

 

 

 

Julian Lage – Speak To Me

Guitarist and composer, Julian Lage, has been making a strong case for his ability to man-handle the guitar in splendid genres of blues and jazz, and equally stunning collaborative individuals as well.  In fact, he is a favorite in the Kuligowski household after his terrific last four records, dating back to his collaboration with Nels Cline, Room in 2014.  Speak To Me, while it is not the usual structure or flow (meaning holding to a genre or tempo), it is an expressive, expansive jaunt through guitar-lead jazz, blues and even unplugged acoustic tracks that engage the trained and untrained ear.  It’s careful and lovely.  It’s also jangly and surprisingly enough a little rocky, which is cool addition to the albums over the last four years.

Now let’s get to the stunning uniqueness that still is the signature of Lage, which is evident and powerful in the ‘South Mountain’ track, leading off in an odd acoustic, soft, free-jazz intro that spills like a country acoustic trott and roll complete with woodwind accompaniments fluttering by like a desert butterfly (is there such a thing).   Then there’s the rockabillian jazz flamingo rocker ’76’ (what?!).  Yep!  It’s jazz, but it’s not like you’re used to.  It’s just catchy amazement with wicked off-beat wild piano improv, which just sends this record into another stratosphere that you were not expecting.  It’s also the reason you let it go around again!  Expectation, while still wowed, since it wasn’t what you were expecting — you have to do it again!  Why?  You missed that woodwind, and I’m fairly certain you missed the fact that somehow he has switched from electric to acoustic.

When all is said and done.  Speak To Me is ultimately a jazz record, but it’s one that is slightly pressing against the boundaries, but carefully plodding those points and consistently engaging the weapon at Julian Lage’s disposal, which is the Beck like control and lyrical signature he allows the strings to have at every prestidigitation he conjures as one of the best jazz guitarists currently in the world.  It will speak to you.  Some will take you a second listen, and others will be instantly attractive.  It is the beauty of how he speaks with any style guitar, to us, and to the professionals surrounding him that find themselves just as lost and appreciative of his finger felt arrangements.

The Band

  • Julian Lage – guitarist, composer
  • Jorge Roeder – bass
  • David King – drums
  • Kris Davis – keyboards
  • Patrick Warren – keyboards
  • Levon Henry – woodwinds

Speak To Me Tracklisting

  1. Hymnal
  2. Northern Shuffle
  3. Omission
  4. Serenade
  5. Myself Around You
  6. South Mountain
  7. Speak To Me
  8. Two And One
  9. Vanishing Points
  10. Tiburon
  11. As It Were
  12. 76
  13. Nothing Happens Here
  14. Cars/Colors (D2C LP Exclusive Bonus Track)
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