Album Review Saturdays Episode 2024 Episode 16

The new albums are coming in fast and furious from all kinds of areas of the world, all kinds of genres!  From artists and bands known and unknown, and we decided this week we’d shake it all up with a very mixed bag of music.  We start off with the latest from one of the most familiar, long lasting grungers in the music multiverse.  Then we step off into musical virtuoso soloist that’s been building a four-banger album over the last six years, and the final installment drives home what a sensational ear for nearly all things he has!  Then we drop down into an hour plus of funkified jazzy spasticity from a Dallas based band that is having as much fun as that album cover exudes!  Let’s explore the musical matter we’ve selected this week on Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 16!

 

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

 

Pearl JamDark Matter

To say that they are the most notable grunge era band survivors is a complete understatement.  Not to go to far into Seattle’s most coveted possession in music over the last 34 years, but they have been delivering consistent album after album, as well as some of the longest, entertaining and encompassing live shows of any act coming from that era and genre.  They are a band in legendary status, and on this their twelfth album, the don’t spend much but a moment lingering in that legendary status.  Dark Matter is a full tilt continuation of their usual music pursuits, album production, and usual vocal-lyrical attention getting mojo of lead man, Eddie Vedder.  For Pearl Jam fans this album falls right on the heels of the prior record, Gigaton, which was really no slouch of a recording either.

What the problem then?  The same problem we had last week with The Black Keys, where do you put this against that which has come before!?  Iconic, memorable, and timeless classics that came from that fountain of Seattle angst-youth were just truly amazing.  They will be there for another thirty plus years for new music lovers to appreciate, for sure.  So, let’s stack Dark Matter against the past, because in all honesty, they have again managed to make several timeless pieces again!  The title track is driving, catchy, groove-riff, and has the guitar pungent solo you need, all with the Vedder driving you off the cliff with his voice that you would have thought couldn’t go there again as he screams ‘everyone pays for everyone else’s mistake!’  This is very reminiscent of Pearl Jam’s early presence in the 90s!  And, ‘Waiting for Stevie’ lyrics are heavy with reality truth and potential perseverance (the song title does not seem to represent anything other than the time in which it was written by they way, as from what I’ve read/heard it was written while Eddie Vedder was waiting for Stevie Wonder to arrive to record).

You can be loved by everyone
And still not feel, not feel love
You can relate, but still can’t stop
Or conquer the fear you are what you’re not
Would have to take an act of faith
To find relief and escape the blame

This is rare return to form that does not usually happen in the music multiverse.  I’ve been around and down the isles, and in and out of the ears of hundreds of albums of bands that have gone the distance of time.  Pearl Jam has crafted a recording here that seems to be them, returned, and nearly as fresh and new as there early days.  If you don’t think so, you have not listened intently and you are buried in your connection to a song.  I implore you to digress from that (it’s not easy), and you will suddenly hear the emotion, connection, and the wonderful production that give Dark Matter life in the top five albums the band has ever made (easily).  Whether you believe me or not, I’m going to lay down one more proof of this.  Ready?  Did you love that Rolling Stones record that came out recently?  Of course you did.  It just sounded better, it felt better, it had sound of them, but them — now, sparking relevancy and reconnection.  That’s not a fluke.  That’s the work of Andrew Wotman (I think they call him Andrew Watt in the industry)!  Don’t know him do you?  That’s okay, the band California Breed (which was ridiculously awesome and featured him with Jason Bohnam, Joey Castillo, and Glenn Hughes — damnit that should have been on our Panelists Favorites Show – One Album Wonders!) came and went quickly, but his knack for rock-relevance production has become astounding!  He’s recently batting 1000, with Ozzy’s Patient Number 9, Iggy Pop’s Every Loser, and The Rolling Stones’ Hackney Diamonds!

So put your headphones back on, check your nostalgia at the door, and get back into Dark MatterPearl Jam didn’t do this to make money.  It sound to me, like this did this because their wicked spirit returned, and they were compelled by Watt-age to do so for us all!

The Band

  • Eddie Vedder – lead and backing vocals, guitar, piano
  • Mike McCready – guitar, piano
  • Stone Gossard – guitar
  • Jeff Ament – bass guitar, guitar, baritone guitar
  • Matt Cameron – drums, percussion

Additional musician of note

Dark Matter Tracklisting

  1. Scared of Fear
  2. React, Respond
  3. Wreckage
  4. Dark Matter
  5. Won’t Tell
  6. Upper Hand
  7. Waiting For Stevie
  8. Running
  9. Something Special
  10. Got To Give
  11. Setting Sun

 

 

Jacob CollierDjesse Volume 4

Jacob Moriarty, current age is twenty-nine, and at this young age he is a music virtuoso, producer and a harmonious expert in blending his jazz concept into just about any and every music genre in the music multiverse!  Don’t believe me (I wouldn’t exactly say I gave him a fair shake either)!?  Let me start off by saying that I am not a virgin to Jacob’s music.  I do have and listen to the debut album, In My Room, which I find somewhat soothing in jazz-pop realm, and Jacob’s vocals immediately attached me to the idea of him as a new-world crooner.  So, that’s where I kept him — until listening to Djesse Vol 4.  I know, shame on me for not realizing the potential in that debut album.  Shame on me, for not getting past the mid-to-low range temp jazz pop.  I think I was right still on the vocal, but against this bombastic record, it certainly gives it more creedence and vivality.

The Djesse albums are the work he immediately started on after In My Room, attempting to conceptualize four albums for the times of the day (morning, afternoon, evening, and night).  While I am no study in the concept record, I do feel that the use of space and genre throughout this particular album of the four (being the last – I assume) captures that restless spirit of wanting to enjoy that which is beyond the midnight hour and wanting to dream through sleep in ostentatious ways.  Djesse Vol 4 is completely awe encompassing in nature and genres that it elevates and moderates either with his vocal or with the bridging of instruments within.  This happens beautifully again and again throughout the record, but the one that will stand out because of the international flavor through it is ‘A Rock Somewhere,’ as it bridges the sitar and the pop-crooner’s Dean Marin-like vocal drops and sways.

The technical expertise at hand here to the ear is sometimes subtle and other times definitive.  This is what was missing from In My Room.  This is bigger, broader, and the music and the producer (which is Jacob Collier) knows it, embraces it, and isn’t afraid to raise the roof or the orchestration.  Your ears are going to be struck by a lot in this recording.  From the orchestral to the metalcore (don’t worry it’s there to effectively drag you horrifically for a moment) to the Spanish-beat manifesto-ism with pop and hip/hop elementals, along with the ever-present vocals of Collier making the necessary runs, connections, and lyrical melodies that tie it all together.  The experience truly falls under a new category in free-harmony (like free jazz).  Jacob Collier is using Djesse Vol 4 to showcase the power, reach, and limitless use of harmonies.  It’s the backbone of each song, and in fairness to the composer, it does hold all of it together — even if the flow of it appears, in audio, to be outrageously all-over-the-musical-map.

Guest appearances do a lovely point to this as well, which is one of the staples of the volumes.  And, these are different harmonies melding within Jacob’s creation(s).  It’s all part of grande listening experience that leaves nearly no music stone unturned while holding fast to the harmonies and structure of jazz-pop and tight (all hands and ears on deck production).  Djesse Vol 4 and the previous three volumes share another strong common thread that is attached to Jacob, and that is the utmost respect for the past of music, the importance it has in creativity and inspiration, and the men, women and bands that have crafted such timeless, important pieces.  That’s so present in where I leave this article’s last sentence, ‘Like a bridge over troubled waterI will ease your mind.  I will ease your mind.’  Sail on with Jacob Collier and his catalog because you should and you will, just like the ending of the album.

The Band

  • Jacob Collier – vocals, instruments, arrangements, engineering, production, and mixing

Additional Musicians (are you ready – it’s really long?)

  • Moulay Abdekrim Alaalaoui – background vocals and krakebs (track 15)
  • Lydia Acquah – handclaps (track 14), gang vocals (track 15)
  • The Aeolians of Oakwood University 2018 – choir (tracks 3, 15, 16)
    Alaysia Bookal, Aleigha Durand, Allayna O’Quinn, Andre Smith, Asriel Davis, Asya Bookal, Briana Marshall, Carl Reed, Celine Sylvester, Chad Lupoe, Charles Wallington, Chesroleeysia Bobb, Cleavon Davis, Cole Henry, Dominique DeAbreu, Haley Flemons, Hector Jordan, Holland Sampson, JoPaul Scavella, Jonathan Mills, Jourdan Bardo, Kashea Whyte, Keviez Wilson, Kobe Brown, Kristin Hall, Leonard Brown, Lincoln Liburd, Louis Cleare, Maia Foster, Malia Ewen, Malik George, Malik Mchayle, Marc Simons, Marissa Wright, Matthew Cordner, Mykel Robinson-Collins, Naomi Parchment, Natrickie Louissant, Patricia Williams, Roddley Point Du Jour, Samara Bowden, Samella Carryl, Terell Francis-Clarke, Zarren Bennett
  • Maia Agnes – Filipino/Tagalog spoken word (track 15)
  • Arch Echo – guitar, keyboards, bass, and drums (track 1)
  • Adam Bentley, Adam Rafowitz, Joe Calderone, Joey Izzo, Richie Martinez
  • Aespa (Winter, Karina, Giselle, and Ning Ning) – vocals (track 13)
  • Audience Choirs from The Djesse World Tour 2022 – choir (tracks 1–3, 7, 8, 10, 13–15)
    Sydney, Paris, Vienna, Cologne, Amsterdam, Munich, Utrecht, Auckland, Santiago de Compostela, Barcelona, Madrid, Stockholm, Bristol, Berlin, Oslo, Luxembourg
  • Regina Averion – gang vocals (tracks 13, 14)
  • Awich – spoken word (track 1)
  • Prerana Balcham – Tamil spoken word (track 15)
  • Felipe Baldauf – handclaps (track 14), gang vocals (track 15)
  • Erin Bentlage – gang vocals (tracks 13, 14)
  • Charlotte Blaudeck – German spoken word (track 15)
  • Ben Bloomberg – handclaps (track 5), gang vocals (tracks 13, 14)
  • Wahid Boudjeltia – background vocals and krakebs (track 15)
  • Abdelhak Bounhar – background vocals and krakebs (track 15)
  • Camilo – lead and background vocals, frog guiro, mouth harp, tiple, and whistling (track 9)
  • Brandi Carlile – vocals (track 3)
  • Stian Carstensen – pedal steel (track 3)
  • Tereza Catarov – handclaps (track 14), gang vocals (track 15)
  • Li-Chin Chang (張立勤) – Traditional Chinese spoken word (track 15)
  • Tom Chichester-Clark – handclaps (track 14), gang vocals (track 15)
  • Jordan Cohen – tenor saxophone (tracks 6, 15), background vocals (track 13)
  • Sophie Collier – background vocals (track 2)
  • Suzie Collier – orchestra conductor (tracks 1, 5, 7, 14, 15)
  • Madison Cunningham – lead vocals (track 7)
  • Mario Daisson – handclaps (track 14), gang vocals (track 15)
  • Dapul – Filipino/Tagalog spoken word (track 15)
  • Pat Davey – handclaps (track 14), gang vocals (track 15)
  • Dhol Academy – Dhol drumming ensemble (tracks 1, 8, 14, 15)  Harjodh Singh Assi, Jasdeep Singh Bamrah, Taran Singh Bedi
  • The Diner – additional horn arrangements (track 6)
  • Shay Dyer-Harris – handclaps (track 14), gang vocals (track 15)
  • Emily Elbert – gang vocals (tracks 13, 14)
  • Adam Fell – gang vocals (tracks 13, 14)
  • Jason Max Ferdinand – choir conductor and piano (tracks 3, 15, 16)
  • Kirk Franklin – choir direction and additional vocal arrangements (track 10)  & Kirk Franklin Singers – background vocals (tracks 1, 10, 13, 14)
    Ariel Campbell, Billy Mitchell, Carla Williams, Connie Johnson, Demarcus Williams, Drea Randle, Eboni Ellerson-Williams, Emerald Campbell, Ja’Quoi Griffin, Josiah Martin, Minon Bolton, Rachel Clifton, Sanesia Tillman, Stephanie Archer, Trent Shelby, Zebulon Ellis
  • Sara Gazarek – gang vocals (tracks 13, 14)
  • Nathan Greer – Turkish spoken word (track 15)
  • Alex Guitierrez – gang vocals (tracks 13, 14)
  • Francesca Haincourt – background vocals and gang vocals (tracks 13, 14)
  • Ondrej Hanák – Czech spoken word (track 15)
  • Neda Imamverdi – Farsi spoken word (track 15)
  • Ben Jones – electric guitar (track 2)
  • Juliette Jouan – French spoken word (track 15)
  • JNY – spoken word (track 1)
  • Hamid El Kasri – guembri (track 15)
  • Katrin – spoken word (track 1)
  • Jay Kavanagh – Spanish spoken word (track 15)
  • Tori Kelly – lead vocals (track 12)
  • Jonny Koh – guitar (track 6)
  • Kont – spoken word (track 1)
  • Kpoobari Saana Kpoobari-Ereba – Gokana spoken word (track 15)
  • John Lampley – trumpet (tracks 6, 15)
  • Clyde Lawrence – lead vocals (track 6), background vocals (tracks 6, 13)
  • Gracie Lawrence – lead and background vocals (track 6)
  • Jim Le Mesurier – percussion (tracks 1, 15)
  • Yuri Lee – Korean spoken word (track 15)
  • John Legend – lead vocals (track 12)
  • Ryan Lerman – gang vocals (tracks 13, 14)
  • Jang Li (站起來) – Taiwanese spoken word (track 15)
  • Lindsey Lomis – lead and background vocals (track 5)
  • David Longstreth – gang vocals (tracks 13, 14)
  • Stevie Mackey – gang vocals (tracks 13, 14)
  • Francesco Marcheselli – Italian spoken word (track 15)
  • Feu Marinho – handclaps (track 14), gang vocals (track 15)
  • Chris Martin – lead and background vocals (track 13)
  • Kanyi Mavi – spoken word (track 1)
  • John Mayer – electric guitar solo (track 11)
  • Lizzy McAlpine – lead and background vocals (track 11)
  • Michael McDonald – lead and background vocals (track 6)
  • Magnus Mehta – percussion (tracks 1, 15)
  • Shawn Mendes – lead and background vocals (track 10)
  • Metropole Orkest – orchestra (tracks 1, 5, 7, 14, 15)
    David Peijnenborgh, Denis Koenders, Ewa Zbyszynska, Jasper van Rosmalen, Kilian van Rooij, Leonid Nikishin, Merel Jonker, Pauline Terlouw, Ruben Margarita, Sarah Koch, Thomas Gould, Vera Laporeva, Willem Kok, Xaquín Carro Cribeiro – violin, Alex Welch, Isabella Petersen, Julia Jowett, Mieke Honingh, Wouter Huizinga – viola, Annie Tangberg, Geneviève Verhage, Jascha Albracht, Joel Siepmann, Susanne Rosmolen – cello, Arend Liefkes, Erik Winkelmann – double bass, Janine Abbas, Mariël van den Bos – flute, piccolo, Maxime le Minter – oboe, David Kweksilber – clarinet, Leo Janssen, Marc Scholten, Paul van der Feen, Sjoerd Dijkhuizen – saxophone, Diechje Minne, Pieter Hunfeld – French horn
    Nico Schepers, Ray Bruinsma, Rik Mol – trumpet, Jan Bastiani, Maarten Combrink, Marc Godfroid – trombone, David Kutz, Ries Schellekens – tuba, Joke Schonewille – harp
  • Martina Mihulkova – handclaps (track 14), gang vocals (track 15)
  • Mopiano – spoken word (track 1)
  • Abderrazak Moustaqim – background vocals and krakebs (track 15)
  • Robin Mullarkey – electric bass (track 1)
  • Naezy – spoken word (track 1)
  • Barbara Obremska – Polish spoken word (track 15)
  • Adam Osmianski – handclaps (track 14), gang vocals (track 15)
  • Ivan Ormond – percussion (tracks 1, 15)
  • Chris Ott – trombone (tracks 6, 15)
  • David Pattman – percussion (tracks 1, 15)
  • Akrivi Pavlidou – Greek spoken word (track 15)
  • Robin Pecknold – gang vocals (tracks 13, 14)
  • Michael Peha – gang vocals (tracks 13, 14)
  • DáSa Pokorny – Slovak spoken word (track 15)
  • Na La Takadia Praminta Putri – Indonesian spoken word (track 15)
  • Emma Quaedvlieg – Serbian spoken word (track 15)
  • Jessie Reyez – spoken word (track 1), Spanish spoken word (track 15)
  • Jakub Rokosz – handclaps (track 14), gang vocals (track 15)
  • Jordan Rose – drums (track 3)
  • Daniel Rotem – gang vocals (tracks 13, 14)
  • John Ryan – drums (track 6)
  • Patricia S-Thomas – Swahili spoken word (track 15)
  • Oumou Sangaré – background vocals (track 15)
  • Barak Schmool – percussion (tracks 1, 15), handclaps (track 14), gang vocals (track 15)
  • Konstantin Selyansky – Russian spoken word (track 15)
  • Seema Seraj – gang vocals (tracks 13, 14)
  • Anoushka Shankar – sitar (track 8)
  • Noah Simon – gang vocals (tracks 13, 14)
  • Willow Smith – scream vocals (track 1)
  • Lennon Stella – background vocals (track 3)
  • Stormzy – lead vocals and spoken word (track 10)
  • Chris Thile – mandolin (track 7)
  • Utako Toyama – Japanese spoken word (track 15)
  • Steve Vai – electric guitar (tracks 1, 2, 15)
  • Valas – spoken word (track 1)
  • Sus Vasquez – electric guitar (track 1)
  • Varijashree Venugopal – featured vocals (track 8), background vocals (track 14)
  • Voces8 – choir (track 15)
  • Noah Wang – Mandarin spoken word (track 15)
  • Sam Wilkes – gang vocals (tracks 13, 14)
  • Remi Wolf – background vocals (track 4)
  • Yebba – vocals (track 12)
  • Zakwe – spoken word (track 1)
  • Kasia Zielinska – handclaps (track 14), gang vocals (track 15)

Djesse Vol 4 Tracklisting

  1. 100,000 Voices
  2. She Put Sunshine
  3. Little Blue (feat. Brandi Carlile)
  4. WELLL
  5. Cinnamon Crush (feat. Lindsey Lomis)
  6. Wherever I Go (feat. Lawrence & Michael McDonald)
  7. Summer Rain (feat. Madison Cunningham & Chris Thile)
  8. A Rock Somewhere (feat. Anoushka Shankar & Varijashree Venugopal)
  9. Mi Corazón (feat. Camilo)
  10. Witness Me (feat. Shawn Mendes, Stormzy, & Kirk Franklin)
  11. Never Gonna Be Alone (feat. John Mayer & Lizzy McAlpine)
  12. Bridge Over Troubled Water (feat. John Legend & Tori Kelly)
  13. Over You (feat. aespa & Chris Martin of Coldplay)
  14. Box of Stars Pt. 1 (feat. Kirk Franklin, CHIKA, D Smoke, Sho Madjozi, Yelle, & Kanyi Mavi)
  15. Box of Stars Pt. 2 (feat. Metropole Orkest, Suzie Collier, Steve Vai, & VOCES8)
  16. World O World (feat. The Aeolians of 2018, Jason Max Ferdinand)

 

Ghost-Note Mustard n’Onions

This would be my first Ghost-Note experience that I’m aware of, although I am completely in-tune to the brilliance of Snarky Puppy.  In fact, it was the mention of drummer, Searight and percussionist, Werth, that made me move my attention and this Album Review Saturdays to Ghost-Note‘s Mustard n’Onions.  So, I know I’m in an avant-garde like jazz setting for sure, as I assume the two were not suddenly going to sway into mainstream contemporary.  Mustard n’Onions might have a slight foundation in contemporary, but when the soul catches them just right, the funk, jazz and rhythm escape like a wild ghost in a musical china-shop.  However, they never lose the tightness and respect for where the song started and the composition of it.

All right, let’s address the cover.  Come on!  It’s a great attention getter, and it is remarkably fashionable to the compositions that astound this funkified, soul-filled one-hour and nineteen minute infectious groove.  While you probably shouldn’t judge it exactly, because it appears as some anime Buckethead album (oh wait a minute — that might be how I look at it), its depiction kind of prepares you for the funk ride of your life.  It’s the title that doesn’t truly connect for me.  Once that first song hits, ‘JB’s Out’ (eluding to the James Brown I assume) I’m expecting a clone James Brown to suddenly materialize (like that wild ghost I talked about in last paragraph), and I realize that Mustard n’Onion has it goin’ on like that of buffets served up by Galactic!  The church of soulful rhythm and blues has me shaking like Jake and Ellwood!  Y’know from The Blues Brothers (you saw the movie right — heaven help you if you have not).  But, this is not sweet home Chicago – this is Dallas Texas meets Steely Dan, Prince, and touches of old schoolin’ (Sly and the Family Stone/Earth Wind & Fire).  They take funk-jazz to an entirely unique place, not only with the guests on the album, but with tempo and attention shifts to jazz and blues within.  ‘Yellow Dan’ (featuring Marcus Miller) is an example of fusion expression featuring bass virtuosity within a familiar jazz-rock backing.  There’s a lot of this “unexpected” yet “nurtured” audio.  Thanks mostly to the accompaniment of keyboards, saxophone(s) and that specialized percussion.

Snarky Puppy fans will miss a bit of the edge of avant-garde and technical aspects in this, as it is definitively more playful, soulful.  However, when it comes right down to the condiments mentioned it is a damn saucy performance that will no doubt be festival groove/jam favorites, I’m sure.  Which is perfect, because the crowd will certainly lose track of time swaying and trippin’ out with Ghost-Note‘s set, where I did find some tracks were a little too long even in the nature of the album.  The great thing was, they seemed to know it, as the next track would always signal you back to attention!  They’re playing near us in Rochester, May 21st at the Lilac Festival, so we will probably head on over to see one of those shows, as it should be phat (Phatbacc)!

The Band

  • Robert Sput Searight – Drummer, Keyboards
  • Nate Worth – Percussions
  • MonoNeon (Prince) – Bass
  • Dominique Xavier Taplin – Keyboards (Toto) 
  • Sylvester Onyejiaka – Saxaphone and arranger
  • Jonathan Mones – saxophone, flute
  • Mike Jelani Brooks – saxophone, flute
  • Peter Knudsen – guitar
  • Mike Clowes – guitar
  • Daniel Wytannis – trombone

Special Guests

  • Bernard Wright
  • Eric Gales
  • Marcus Miller

Mustard n’Onions Tracklisting

  1. JB’s Out! (Do It Babay) [feat. MacKenzie]
  2. Move With a Purpose (feat. Karl Denson)
  3. Where’s Danny?
  4. Origins (feat. Keith Anderson)
  5. PoundCake (feat. Casey Benjamin)
  6. Phatbacc
  7. Grandma’s Curtains (feat. Eric Gales)
  8. Revival Island (feat. Travis Toy and Mark Lettieri)
  9. Yellow Dan (feat. Marcus Miller)
  10. Bad Knees
  11. Synesthesia
  12. Slim Goodie
  13. Mustard n’Onions (feat. Jay Jennings)
  14. Origins Reprise
  15. Nard’s Right (feat. Bernard Wright)
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