New Music Playlist

July 25, 2012

Lots of great new recorded music available in the Arts Division this summer! Here’s a sampling:

Sixteen Saltines/Jack White

Jack White leaves such an indelible stamp on any project he touches that a solo album from him almost seems unnecessary: nobody has ever told him what to do. He’s a rock & roll auteur, bending other artists to fit his will, leading bands even when he’s purportedly no more than a drummer, always enjoying dictating the fashion by placing restrictions on himself. And so it is on Blunderbuss, his first official solo album, arriving five years after the White Stripes’ last but seeming much sooner given White’s constant flurry of activity with the Raconteurs, Dead Weather, Third Man Records, and countless productions. -All Music Guide

Bloody Mary (nerve endings)/ Silversun Pickups

Building upon Silversun Pickup’s Swoon’s layered melodicism and once again showcasing lead singer/songwriter Brian Aubert’s  knack for evocative, introspective lyrics and fiery, multi-dubbed guitar parts, Neck of the Woods is an even more infectious and nuanced affair. In that sense, not much has really changed for the band since 2009.  Slow-burning lead single “Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings),” with its atmospheric soundscape backdrop via keyboardist Joe Lester, and the driving, grungy “Mean Spirits” are, as with all of the cuts on Neck of the Woods, perfect pop songs that still make room for Aubert’s raging and cinematic guitar parts. – All Music Guide

No Reflection/ Marilyn Manson

The eighth-studio album from alt-rock firebrand Marilyn Manson, Born Villain is the follow-up to the band’s 2009 effort The High End of Low. Described as having a heavier sound than its predecessor, this is also purported to be a concept album of sorts, in the vein of similar works by longtime Manson influence David Bowie. As Manson parted ways with Interscope Records in 2009, he was set to release Born Villain via his own imprint Hell, as well as his new parent label, Cooking Vinyl. A promotional film in support of the album directed by actor Shia LaBeouf premiered in Los Angeles in 2011. Included on Born Villain is the lead-off single “No Reflection.” – All Music Guide

We are Young/ Glee: The Music- The Graduation

One of Glee‘s biggest (perhaps only) concessions to the realities of being a high-school student was the graduation of several cast members entering their final year at William McKinley High School at the end of the show’s third season; many shows starring teen characters put off that fateful moment when high school ends for as long as possible. As with many later albums in the Glee series, the cast’s performances are decent but somewhat bland, as are the song choices, although fun.’s “We Are Young” and the New Radicals’  “You Get What You Give” are too quirky to have all their personality removed by Glee’s gloss. – All Music Guide

Changing of the guards /The Gaslight Anthem

Designed as a celebration for Amnesty International’s 50th Anniversary, Chimes of Freedom is the mother of all tribute albums: a four-disc salute to Bob Dylan that runs some 76 songs performed by singers from all corners of the globe. From the very start of his career, Dylan saw his songs covered by all manners of artists, ranging from colleagues and peers to longhair rock bands, easy listening outfits, and weirdos like William Shatner, so the absurd abundance of Chimes of Freedom in a way fits into the grand pattern of history: his songs were always up for grabs, they’ve survived terrible misguided covers, they’ve been performed with loving faith, they’ve been reinvented once and again. – All Music Guide

Do to Me/ Trombone Shorty

New Orleans’ Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews knows the music biz inside out. Hounded for years by friends and music business types to jump into the game, he understood the lessons of his lineage elders: too many had been been ripped off and discarded. He took his time, assembling, rehearsing, and touring Orleans Avenue, a band steeped in brass band history, jazz improv, funk, soul, rock, and hip hop. He finally signed to Verve Forecast and released Backatown in April of 2010. Entering at number one on the jazz charts, it stayed there for nine straight weeks, and was in the Top Ten for over six months. For True hits while Backatown is climbing again. Chock-full of cameos — in the manner of modern hip-hop recordings — it is an extension of Backatown but not necessarily in sound. – All Music Guide

High Tide or Low Tide/ Jack John feat. Ben Harper

This is the most overt display of deference onJack Johnson & Friends: The Best of Kokua Festival but it’s hardly the only moment where Johnson is clearly the Big Kahuna. Eddie Vedder stops by, along with many other rockers and guitar strummers of all stripes, and there is a sense of communal good times that’s palpable and often ingratiating, even to those who don’t quite cotton to Johnson’s notion of surf-n-sun good times. Even here, where he is quite clearly the ringleader, Johnson remains an affable but not forceful presence on record: Jackson Brown, Eddie Vedder, Willie Nelson, even Dave Matthews and Ben Harper, all easily overpower him. – All Music Guide

 

Hypno music/ Danny Elfman

The cult classic supernatural soap opera Dark Shadows has a rich musical history, including the show’s Grammy-nominated “Quentin’s Theme,” part of Robert Cobert’s groundbreaking score, which remains one of the best-selling TV soundtracks. While Tim Burton’s 2012 film adaptation of the series was much more intentionally campy, Danny Elfman’s score remains more or less true to the original’s gothic grandeur while adding his own distinctive touches. Elfman also nods to Cobert’s score with tracks such as “Hypno Music” and “Deadly Handshake,” which boasts a melody that recalls the original Dark Shadows theme song, replete with suspenseful vibraphone and murky, lingering woodwinds. – All Music Guide


The Jazz Starts Here Playlist

June 1, 2012

Every spring, the Central Library Arts Division obtains as many music recordings that reflect the upcoming Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival that will take place at the end of June. Here is a playlist of albums featuring some of the big acts that will be playing at the festival this year.

Slipstream/ Bonnie Raitt

Slipstream provides ample proof of hust how much fans have missed Bonnie Raitt since 2005’s Souls Alike. The album was recorded over a period of a year at Ocean Way in Hollywood and at Joe Henry’s Garfield House. The four tracks cut at Henry’s studio in 2010 and 2011 include two of his own songs, and two covers of Bob Dylan tunes (“Million Miles” and “Standing in the Doorway”) from the latter’s Time Out of Mind. Raitt’s voice has never sounded better. She’s expanded her lower range with an expressiveness that is soulful, rich, and rings emotionally true — though she’s sacrificed none of her higher register. Her voice can command and reveal a devastating tenderness.- All Music Guide

Little Broken Hearts/ Nora Jones

Exorcizing the ghost of a failed relationship via the time-honored tradition of the breakup album,Norah Jones luxuriates in beautiful misery on Little Broken Hearts. Liberated by the separation but not quite ready to let it go, Jones achieves a curious subdued tension here, dressing unadorned confessionals in softly stylized studio noir created with the assistance of producer Danger Mouse, who collaborated with her the year before on the collective Rome. Seeming opposites — the classicist meets the futurist —  Jones and Danger Mouse are well matched, as both artists are not as set in their ways as their individual reputations would suggest.-All Music Guide

Radio Music Society/ Esperanza Spalding

Esperanza Spaulding’s fourth album, Radio Music Society (a companion piece to Chamber Music Society in name only) is one of enormous ambition — polished production, sophisticated, busy charts, and classy songwriting — that consciously juxtaposes neo-soul and adult-oriented jazz-tinged pop. It employs a stellar cast, largely of jazz musicians, to pull it off. She produced the set, with help from Q-Tip on a couple of numbers, and wrote all but two songs here: a cover of “I Can’t Help It” (a Michael Jackson cover written by Stevie Wonder ) and Wayne Shorter’s “Endangered Species.” -All Music Guide

Rare Bird Alert/ Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers

From the earliest days of his comedy career, Steve Martin has incorporated the banjo into various aspects of his act, and fellow banjo players have spoken with reverence of his skills for decades. But in recent years he has put a renewed focus on the instrument, and he won a Grammy for his album The Crow in 2010. Rare Bird Alert came along a year later, and it’s a full-fledged country/bluegrass album consisting entirely of Martin originals and recorded in collaboration with the Steep Canyon Rangers. – All Music Guide
The Very Best of Diana Krall/ Diana Krall
The Very Best Of Diana Krall collects a nice cross-section of tracks the pianist/vocalist recorded beginning with her 1996 breakthrough album, All for You, and moving through to her 2006 effort From This Moment On.  While this is primarily a compilation for fans of the sophisticated, jazz standards-oriented Krall, Verve does earn some kudos for including at least one cut from her deeply personal and subsequently not as popular effort The Girl in the Other Room. Also featured are cuts from her stellar 2002 concert album Live in Paris. If you’re a fan of straight-ahead jazz with a heavy dash of romance and haven’t checked out Krall’s work, The Very Best is superb place to start.- All Music Guide
Bossa Nova Stories/ Eliane Elias
Eliane Elias returns to the music of her native Brazil with this collection of bossa nova favorites, though there are a few American standards and pop songs recast as bossa novas as well. The pianist has grown in confidence as a vocalist over the course of several CDs, developing a sexy yet never overdone style that beautifully complements the music. Elias proves herself as a talented singing pianist, effortlessly switching between English and Portuguese lyrics. – All Music Guide
Middle of Everywhere/ Pokey LaFarge
Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three have no plans of stopping their mission of spreading the joy of early American music to the masses, exemplary in the accomplishments of their most successful year to date. The group has continued to received praise from NPR Music, having the honor of recording for the popular NPR video series Tiny Desk Concert, all while playing nearly 200 live shows across the country, including a second appearance at the renowned Newport Folk Festival and a first time performance at the Americana Music Festival in Nashville, Tennessee. -Artist’s Representative
For True/ Trombone Shorty (Troy Andrews)
Chock-full of cameos — in the manner of modern hip-hop recordings — it is an extension of Backatown but not necessarily in sound. It’s perhaps crisper in production, but the musical diversity more than compensates. In addition to trombone, Shorty plays trumpet, organ, piano, drums, synths, and, of course, sings. They are tighter, even more confident, and perhaps even more adventurous here. Though Shorty handles some tracks playing all the instruments himself, or with a guest or two, OA bear the lion’s share with gravitas. “Buckjump” is the first clue that this is part two — it could have been the closing track on Backatown. The Rebirth Brass Band guest and play a big funky horn chart as Shorty’s big trombone solo greases the skids.- All Music Guide