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This article was published 4/10/2018 (987 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
POP / ROCK
Digital Garbage (Sub Pop)
From the opening thick bass tones and sludgy guitars, Digital Garbage already sounds like the way Mudhoney is expected to sound.
The forgotten heroes of the grunge explosion, these blue-collar rock workhorses are still cranking out searing riffs and represent something more than what their current status would lead you to believe. Since 1988 the grungy, West Coast rock sound coming from Seattle was heavily influenced by Mudhoney’s fuzzed-out guitars, the rock-solid drums and the erratic energy of Mark Arm, even if the group didn’t get the attention it deserved.
On the group’s 10th album, Mudhoney shows no sign of slowing down, dishing out Prosperity Gospel, Paranoid Core and Oh Yeah like it was 1994 — and that isn’t a bad thing. Mudhoney has never been about big hits, with the exception of cult classic Touch Me I’m Sick and the parody Touch Me I’m Dick from Cameron Crowe’s film Singles. Instead they relied on a steady stream of grunge rock and disillusionment to keep them going. That means while Mudhoney never reaches the heights of other Seattle groups like Nirvana, Soundgarden, Mother Love Bone and Alice in Chains, it has put out albums that were both genuine and hard-rockin’.
When you hear singer Arm’s nihilistic assault on contemporary American capitalism and greed on Prosperity Gospel, it’s easy to hear why Mudhoney are one of the few bands to come out the other side of the grunge era and survive. ★★★
Stream these: Prosperity Gospel, Please Mr. Gunman, Night and Fog
— Anthony Augustine
POP / ROCK
How Do I Talk To My Brother? (Colemine Records)
It seems like it has been a long time since real soul music has had a chance to become part of the general musical dialogue. Sure, Brooklyn-based Dap-Tone Records has a firm hold on a remarkable roster of artists but the two most famous of their label stars (Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley) have both gone on to their respective great rewards, leaving a gaping hole where they once commanded the stage.
With his debut full-length album How Do I Talk To My Brother? singer/songwriter Ben Pirani is sure to create a buzz. Pirani wrote or co-wrote each of the 11 tracks on offer and his ability to deliver a solid, soul revival approach is stunning. The opening track Try Love ("’cause it’s wonderful, beautiful...") sets course for your heart with its funky drums and eloquent backing vocals.
Pirani sings mostly everything in falsetto, which would be an exercise in futility for many other artists, yet he modulates the cadence in a way that sounds natural and cool. Of course there are and would have to be echoes of those that have gone before if anyone is creating a modern soul record. Pirani loops in touches of Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band in the upbeat groove of Light Of My Life and even a nod to the mod Motown sound in Can’t Get Out Your Own Way.
HDITTMB is chock full of memorable riffs and the tight connection between the rhythm section and the string and horn section is immaculate. Dreamin’s for Free, with its use of strings and acoustic guitar is especially enigmatic and You Brought the Rain is a tough and tender ballad that won’t leave your memory quickly. ★★★1/2 stars
Stream these: Not One More Tear, You Brought the Rain
— Jeff Monk
Hard Rubber Orchestra
Kenny Wheeler: Suite For Hard Rubber Orchestra (Justin Time)
Trumpeter/composer Kenny Wheeler was born in Canada but spent most of his life in Britain. While becoming a jazz treasure to the world he nevertheless maintained many links with Canada and our jazz folks.
Vancouver pianist/trombonist Hugh Fraser, a friend of Wheeler for years, initiated a plan a few years ago to commission Wheeler to compose a suite for the periodically assembled West Coast Hard Rubber Orchestra. In 2013 Wheeler, who was no longer performing much but actively composing, agreed. The result is this wonderful album that is at once quintessential Kenny Wheeler and a tribute with terrific musicians.
The large ensemble includes Mike Herrriott and Brad Turner on the major trumpet parts, Ron Samworth on guitar, Chris Gestrin on piano, Andre Lachance on bass and drummer Dave Robbins. Vocals are by Norma Winstone, a longtime friend and colleague of Wheeler.
For anyone who had ever heard Wheeler or his big-band music, this album will be a true gift. The music is generally fairly gentle, with beautiful solos throughout. The movements have different moods, with Movement I driving with a fuller, harder edge than the sound, for example, in Movement III.
The jazz world mourned Wheeler’s death in 2014. He sadly never heard this suite performed here, but without doubt he lives on in this music. The ensemble’s affection for the composer is tangible. That affection will extend to the listener as well. ★★★★1/2 stars
Stream these: Movement II, Movement III
— Keith Black
Costas (Big Round Records)
The Montreal-based Duo Beija-Flor, which includes classical guitarist Charles Hobson and flutist Marie-Noëlle Choquette, perform Latin-flavoured works by composers from both sides of the Atlantic, including Winnipeg’s Sid Robinovitch, in this new release.
More traditional fare includes the duo’s own arrangements of Piazzolla’s Escualo, teeming with crisply executed syncopated rhythms, as well as the moodier, lyrical Oblivion, which features Choquette’s effective flutter tonguing. De Falla’s Siete Canciones Populares Españolas becomes an ideal showcase for the couple’s virtuosity, with the fifth piece Nana, a traditional Andalusian lullaby heard sung by the composer’s mother a souful highlight. Also offered are their arrangements of traditional songs Valeu a Pena and Lisboa é sempre Lisboa.
Robinovitch’s Four Sephardic Songs encapsulates four imaginative worlds that includes flute flourishes and a colourful textural palette in the guitar accompaniment, displayed throughout each tuneful movement, with the last one, Alta, Alta Es la Luna, particularly compelling with its driving ostinato pattern.
Other highlights include Sergio Assad’s Summer Garden Suite, evoking the sounds of Rio, while Roddy Ellias’s funkier Havana Street Parade, written especially for the ensemble features effective flute multiphonics performed over jazzy chords. Another contemporary offering is Narciso Saul’s Boulevard San Jorge, while Celso Machado’s two works named after Brazilian candies: Quebra Queixo and Pé de Moleque becomes a sweet treat for listeners who like their music hot. ★★★★1/2 stars
— Holly Harris