Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/7/2016 (1353 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Live! In California (Alive Natural Sound Records)
If you reach back far enough and track the tastes of Winnipeg music fans, there’s a thread of big-hearted love for exciting guitar players. Cats such as George Thorogood, Rory Gallagher and even Blue Öyster Cult brought out the six-string worshippers in droves whenever they graced city stages.
San Diego heavy-rock trio Radio Moscow would make a lot of the same folks — and probably a new batch — very happy if they brought their incendiary, guitar-centric show to ’Peg City. As advertised, this "Absolutely Live! No Overdubs!" 70-plus-minute-long player is a brain-frying testament to what three hairy lads can do after lots of practice and no doubt gallons of caffeine.
Parker Griggs is the man with the axe throttle and there isn’t a chance he misses to blow your mind. After a simple greeting to the audience, he kicks it into top gear with the electrifying opener I Just Don’t Know. The sound is by turns heavy metal, Jimi Hendrix-inspired blues madness and a thick wad of wandering riffs, screeches, wah-wah effects and feedback that never becomes what is commonly called a wank fest. There are times where there seems to be no end to Griggs’ creativity, yet he balances all this with an ear to keeping the framework of the song intact. Fellow travellers Anthony Meier (bass) and Paul Marrone (drums) must be credited for adding balance to these wild auditory excursions.
Dear R.M., please play here soon. ★★★★
DOWNLOAD: I Don’t Need Nobody, Rancho Tahoma Airport
— Jeff Monk
Achieving what Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool couldn’t, the seventh album by the Southern California pop-punk band — and first since co-leader Tom DeLonge was replaced by Alkaline Trio guitarist Matt Skiba — has succeeded in pushing Canadian rapper Drake’s Views off the top of the Billboard album chart.
Proving… what, exactly? Certainly that the snarky, aging pop-punk band retains more audience share than might be expected, and their less-ambitious-than-Green Day three-minute rips continue to appeal to both current and former suburban youths.
The San Diego-born band’s wit remains less than stellar — I won’t repeat the inane, one-line lyric of the 29-secondBrohemian Rhapsody. And California’s efforts to stand as a unified statement about the Golden State are feeble, though there are songs called Los Angeles, California and San Diego.
But almost despite themselves, the late-1990s trio has gathered a smidgen of gravitas, as they turn sensitive balladeers onHome Is Such a Lonely Place. And the realization "the clock’s running, our time’s coming" threatens to harsh the buzz ofKings of the Weekend. ★★★
—Dan DeLuca, Philadelphia Inquirer
IV (Innovative Leisure)
FOR album No. 4, Canadian trio BadBadNotGood has fittingly expanded to a quartet. On IV, keyboardist Matthew Tavares, bassist Chester Hansen and drummer Alex Sowinski are joined by Leland Whitty on saxophone. They have also added vocalists on several tracks, including Future Islands’ Sam Herring, and another saxophonist, Colin Stetson of Arcade Fire, on another.
Like many other contemporary groups, BadBadNotGood pushes conventional definitions of jazz with extensive influences of rock, hip hop, electronic and other "pop" ideas. The band continues to develop, with many jazz licks heard in previous releases coupled with forward-thinking grooves here.
It’s possible the hip-hop style on several tracks will not appeal to some listeners, but the overall effect of the album is solid. The rhythms are frequently intricate and the technical skills of all band members are excellent. The group is not afraid to tackle different sounds and the playing is very strong. The sax duet on Confessions Pt. II is particularly noteworthy. BBNG are here to stay. ★★★1/2
DOWNLOAD: IV, Chompy’s Paradise
— Keith Black
Maxwell, Muhly & Couloir (Ravello Records)
The proverbial whole is greater than the sum of two parts as Canadian cellist Ariel Barnes joins harpist Heidi Krutzen on this new release. The duo, known as chamber ensemble Couloir, performs three contemporary works, which also showcase the exquisite melting pot of sounds and colours created by this particular musical combustion.
The album offers a unique opportunity to compare and contrast two different (world première recording) arrangements of James Maxwell’s Serere, originally composed in its prior incarnation Double Variations for Ballet Kelowna in 2012. The first for solo cello and harp features spare writing that nonetheless allows each instrumental voice to speak as though in dialogue. The second includes an electro-acoustic track that adds further sonic texture, while at times (slightly) obfuscating the pure tonal beauty of the acoustic instruments.
Nico Muhly’s Clear Music (2003), inspired by John Tavener’s choral writing, also features Maryliz Smith on celeste. This introspective, one-movement work opens with Barnes’ plaintive solo and voyages through nearly 10 minutes of arching luminosity. ★★★★
— Holly Harris