Music Reviews

The Skins – What Teen Music Once Was and Still Should Be

The Skins

The Skins

Okay, I am now well beyond my teen years, so I guess that should be taken into consideration about my thoughts regarding “teen music.”  I put teen music in quotes because I suppose it can be argued that it isn’t really a genre, however I stand on the side of that argument that Disney is the creator and perpetuator of a genre of music that is geared and targeted directly at preteen and teen ears – thus “teen music.”

My preferred genre of music is rock and roll, I do have preferences in rock and roll, but, by and large, I am a fan of the genre on the whole; and let’s not forget that rock and roll blew up out of the mouth and sound of a nineteen years old Elvis Presley.  Almost immediately upon Elvis’s success, there were teenagers throughout the world who bought guitars, gathered in garages, or basements, and created bands.  While many of the early rock and roll music is decidedly tame, by today’s rock standards, there was always an element of teen angst in the music, so much so that many adults of the day thought rock music was dangerous, leading some radio stations to outright ban rock and roll music from their playlists.

Today’s “teen music” is decidedly lame, lacking much of that teen angst, and decidedly gooey in its prepackaged, mass marketed, overly managed and over-produced products (Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus, pick a “boy band,” The Jonas Brothers, Justin Bieber, etc., etc.).  That isn’t to say that any of them are not talented, because they are, hell Justin Bieber is quite a talented musician, and The Jonas Brothers can play their own instruments too.  Nor am I begrudging them their success, more power to them.  It just seems, to me, that few of those products offer much in the name of real substance, and are like almost everything else in today’s world – disposable.

I imagine a room of executives in a product planning meeting, putting together demographics and spreadsheets, directly targeting the pre-teen and teen markets, hiring song writers, and studio musicians; then holding auditions for who the next star is going to be … That’s a far cry from forming a band in your parents garage and struggling to land gigs, and earn a little coin and make a name for yourself, isn’t it?  I think all of that prepackaging, over producing, mass marketing, focus grouping, over managing is one of the biggest issues that is hurting rock and roll specifically, and the music industry in general – music shouldn’t be created in a boardroom; but that’s just my opinion.

So, back to the title of this post.  Just as I (and I am sure many of you at this point) was sure I had reached the point that everyone reaches, where I just don’t get “it” anymore; much like my Dad didn’t get the music I listened (and still listen) to; just as I was willing to throw in the towel and be too old to understand, I heard The Skins.

The Skins is a Brooklyn Based band, comprising of siblings Bayli, Reef, and Kaya McKeithan, along with Daisy Spencer, and Russell Chell; recording on the Wreckroom Records record label; but none of that is what surprised me.  The thing that surprised me is this – The Skins range in age from 13 to 19 years old, and I can assure you that they do not make “teen music.”

Listen to their song “Surf,” and tell me that it is something that a Disney boardroom committee came up with:

Aside from the powerful vocals, and the decidedly fusion of funk, surf, and classic rock of their sound – did you happen to catch the homage to Black Sabbath’s 1971 song “Sweet Leaf,” in the guitar riff at the 3:03 mark?  That wasn’t sampling, that was knowing beyond their years – other than all of that they are just another teen band right?

Now listen to their song “Killer:”

The tightness in their sound and rhythm belies their age, as does their apparent knowledge of “older” sounds.  THAT is what “teen music” should sound like, not whatever some giant media conglomerate focused grouped and forced fed to us (or rather teens).  So, this “old,” out of touch dude just found a little ray of hope for the future of rock and roll, and their name is The Skins.

You Can Call Me Nostradamus…

2991218905Okay, maybe not Nostradamus, maybe Carnac the Magnificent?  Anyway, last night (Feb. 10th) was the 55th Grammy Awards, and on Friday (Feb. 8th) I made some predictions as to who I thought should win, and who I thought would win in some of the bigger, more popular categories.  So, how did I do?  Well, you can see the results below.  All in all, I think I did pretty damn good.   Here’s how I graded my predictive abilities:

    • Nailed it! = I got both who I thought should and who would win the award correct.
    • Spot on. = I missed who should win, but I got who would win.
    • Close. = My who should win pick won, but I missed on who would win.
    • Swing and a miss. = I missed both who should win and who would win.

Record of the Year

I think the winner should be – Lonely Boy by The Black Keys

The winner will probably be – Lonely Boy by The Black Keys

Actual winner was – Somebody that I Used to Know, by Gotye feat. Kimbra.

My predictive abilities – A swing and a miss.  I should have known it would have won, because “Somebody that I Used to Know” was a massive hit, spawning several covers, including Walk Off the Earth’s viral video cover, which; dare I say; is better than the original.

Song of the Year

I think the winner should be – We are Young, by Fun.

The winner will probably be – Call Me Maybe, by Carly Rae Jepsen

Actual winner was – We are Young, by Fun., feat. Janelle Monae.

My predictive abilities – Close.  I am actually a little pleasantly surprised here.  Even though I thought “We are Young” should win, I was fairly certain that “Call Me Maybe” would win, because it seemed like you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing that song, or something about it – though “We are Young” was pretty huge too.

Best New Artist

I think the winner should be – Alabama Shakes

The winner will probably be – Fun.

Actual winner was – Fun.

My predictive abilities – Spot on.  Not too terribly surprising here, Fun. is definitely worthy of winning the New Artist category, and they did release several songs from their “Some Nights” album which received plenty of air play.  Alabama Shakes really only had the one song, “Hold On,” that was played on the radio, and even then it never really got as much air play as any of Fun.’s songs, but I do think Alabama Shakes are awesome.

Album of the Year

I think the winner should be – El Camino, by The Black Keys

The winner will probably be  – El Camino, by The Black Keys

Actual winner was – Babel, by Mumford & Sons.

My predictive abilities – A swing and a miss.  This kind of surprised me, not to take anything away from Mumford & Sons, who I do enjoy listening to, but I really thought “El Camino,” by The Black Keys was a much better album; obviously the Grammy voters felt differently.

Best Pop Solo Performance

I think the winner should be – Set Fire to the Rain [Live], by Adele

The winner will probably be – Set Fire to the Rain [Live], by Adele

Actual winner was – Set Fire to the Rain [Live], byt Adele.

My predictive abilities – Nailed it!  Great song and great performance; If “Set Fire to the Rain” didn’t win this category I would begin to think that the something was amiss with the Grammy voters – not corrupt, but maybe a bit of lunacy.

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

I think the winner should be – Somebody that I Used to Know, by Gotye, Featuring Kimbra

The winner will probably be – We are Young, by Fun., Featuring Janelle Monae

Actual winner was – Somebody that I Used to Know, by Gotye, feat. Janelle Monae.

My predictive abilities – Close.  Again, Gotye’s song was a huge hit, bigger than “We are Young,” but I kind of figured the voters would’ve been more partial to “We are Young.”  Apparently the voters and I were on the same wave length, but I didn’t have enough faith that the voters would make the “right” choice, but they did.

Best Pop Vocal Album

I think the winner should be – Some Nights, by Fun.

The winner will probably be – The Truth About Love, by Pink

Actual winner was – Stronger, by Kelly Clarkson.

My predictive abilities – Swing and a Miss.  That was a big swing and a miss by me; as is evident by the voters’ selection and my apparently weak predictions.  Nothing against Kelly Clarkson, but I figured that the voters would have been more partial to Pink’s album in this category – I was obviously wrong.

Best Dance Recording

I think the winner should be – Don’t Worry Child, by Swedish House Mafia, featuring John Martin

The winner will probably be – Bangarang, by Skrillex, featuring Sirah

Actual winner was – Bangarang, by Skrillex, feat. Sirah.

My predictive abilities – Spot on.  No real surprise here, while I thought “Don’t Worry Child” was a tad better, “Bangarang” is definitely damn good too, and Skrillex is a more recognizable name.

Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance

I think the winner should be – No Reflection, by Marilyn Manson

The winner will probably be – Love Bites (So Do I), by Halestorm

Actual winner was – Love Bites (So Do I), by Halestorm.

My predictive abilities – Spot on.  Of the nominees, Halestorm seemed to be the more accessible to a wider audience (and there is nothing wrong with that), which is why I thought “Love Bites” would be the winner.  That being said, of the nominees, I thought “No Reflection” is a better Hard Rock/Metal piece, and I say that as one who doesn’t particularly like Marilyn Manson.

 Best Rock Performance

I think the winner should be – Hold On, by Alabama Shakes

The winner will probably be – Lonely Boy, by The Black Keys

Actual winner was – Lonely Boy, by The Black Keys.

My predictive abilities – Spot on.  Despite the difference between who I thought should win, and who would win, I knew that “Lonely Boy” had to win this category.  I chose “Hold On,” by Alabama Shakes as the “should win” because I really want this band to get more critical acclaim.  That being said, there really isn’t a Black Keys song that I’ve heard that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy, and “Lonely Boy” is definitely an awesome song.

Best Rock Song

I think the winner should be – Lonely Boy, by The Black Keys

The winner will probably be – Freedom at 21, by Jack White

The actual winner was – Lonely Boy, by The Black Keys.

My predictive abilities – Close.  Again, I love this song, but I just kind of figured that the Grammy voters would throw Jack White some love here – apparently I was wrong.  To be perfectly honest though, “Lonely Boy” is a better song than “Freedom at 21,” and I mean no disrespect to Jack White in saying that.

Best Rock Album

I think the winner should be – El Camino, by The Black Keys

The winner will probably be – El Camino, by The Black Keys

The actual winner was – El Camino, by The Black Keys.

My predictive abilities – Nailed it!  Of the nominees, I really couldn’t see how there could be any other winner than “El Camino.”  It had far more commercial success, and more air played/released singles than the other nominees, and again, I really haven’t heard a track on that album that I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed listening to.

Best Alternative Music Album

    • • The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver Of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do – Fiona Apple
    • • Biophilia – Björk
    • • Making Mirrors – Gotye
    • • Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. – M83
    • • Bad As Me – Tom Waits

I think the winner should be – Biophilia, by Bjork

I think the winner will be – Making Mirrors, by Gotye

Actual winner was – Making Mirrors, by Gotye.

My predictive abilities – Spot On.  I think it is pretty safe to say that Gotye’s “Somebody that I Used to Know” is what won this category for him.  However, when I think alternative, I think Björk, but maybe that is just me.

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration

I think the winner should be – No Church in the Wild, by Jay-Z & Kanye West, featuring Frank Ocean & The-Dream

I think the winner will be – No Church in the Wild, by Jay-Z & Kanye West, featuring Frank Ocean & The-Dream

Actual winner was – No Church in the Wild, by Jay-Z & Kanye West, feat. Frank Ocean & The-Dream.

My predictive abilities – Nailed it!  Of the nominees I really didn’t how “No Church” could lose this category.  It frankly just sounds the best, is better produced, better lyrically, and seems the most original piece of all of the other nominees.

Best Rap Song

I think the winner should be – Mercy, by Kanye West, featuring Big Sean, Pusha T, & 2 Chainz

The winner will probably be – N*****s in Paris, by Jay-Z & Kanye West

The actual winner was – “N*****s in Paris, by Jay-Z & Kanye West.

My predictive abilities – Spot on.  Again, of the nominees I really couldn’t see how this song could not win this category.  Like the previous category, this song simply sounds the best, seems better produced, though I think “Mercy,” by Kanye West sounds a bit more original; and I say that as one who isn’t a particular fan of Kanye.

Best Rap Album

    • • Take Care – Drake
    • • Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album, Pt. 1 – Lupe Fiasco
    • • Life Is Good – Nas
    • • Undun – The Roots
    • • God Forgives, I Don’t – Rick Ross
    • • Based On A T.R.U. Story – 2 Chainz

I think the winner should be – Undun, by The Roots

The winner will probably be – Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album, Pt. 1, by Lupe Fiasco

The actual winner was – Take Care, by Drake.

My predictive abilities – Swing and a miss.  This was another swing and a miss on my part.  I thought The Roots should win simply because I personally prefer them.  I thought Lupe Fiasco would win simply because I thought the voters would be more partial to him and his music.  Apparently I should quit thinking, because I was obviously way off.

Best R&B Performance

I think the winner should be – Adorn, by Miguel

The winner will probably be – Climax, by Usher

The actual winner was – Climax, by Usher.

My predictive abilities – Spot on.  This really doesn’t surprise me, but I thought “Adorn,” by Miguel was better, just a personal preference though; “Climax” is definitely a good song.

Best Country Solo Performance

I think the winner should be – Blown Away, by Carrie Underwood

The winner will probably be – Wanted, by Hunter Hayes

The actual winner was – Blown Away, by Carrie Underwood.

My predictive abilities – Close.  I honestly thought that the voters would go with Hunter Hayes.  Glad to see that the voters and I knew that Carrie Underwood’s “Blown Away” should (and did) win this category.

Best Country/Duo Group Performance

I think the winner should be – Pontoon, by Little Big Town

The winner will probably be – Safe & Sound, by Taylor Swift, featuring The Civil Wars

The actual winner was – Pontoon, by Little Big Town.

My predictive abilities – Close.  Again, it seems that the voters and I were on the same page, as far as which song should (and did) win this category.  That being said though, “Safe & Sound,” by Taylor Swift, feat. The Civil Wars is a pretty damn good song, and I really don’t particularly care for Taylor Swift’s music.

Best Country Song

I think the winner should be – Blown Away, by Carrie Underwood

The winner will probably be – Blown Away, by Carrie Underwood

The actual winner was – Blown Away, by Carrie Underwood.

My predictive abilities – Nailed it!  I think it is safe to say that I hit this one out of the park.  That being said though, I couldn’t really see any of the other nominees possibly winning this category.  Not to sound too critical of the other nominees, and not to take anything away from “Blown Away,” but the competition seemed pretty weak in this category – but that is just my opinion, I could be wrong.

Best Country Album

I think the winner should be – Living for a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran, by Jamey Johnson

The winner will probably be – Hunter Hayes, by Hunter Hayes

The actual winner was – Uncaged, by the Zac Brown Band.

My predictive abilities – Swing and a miss.  Well, here is another giant wiff on my part.  Again, I really thought that the voters would’ve gone for Hunter Hayes, and I thought “Living for a Song,” by Jamey Johnson was/is a good listen; shows you what I know.  This is not to take away from the Zac Brown Band and them winning this category though, because I thought the competition in this category was pretty strong.

Bonerama

Jim Nix / Nomadic Pursuits / Travel Photos / CC BY-NC-SA

During the interminable lead-in to this past Sunday’s Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans, I heard Scott Van Pelt, and Ryen Rusillo on their ESPN radio show make several glowing references and mentions to a local funk brass band called Bonerama.  I think most people wouldn’t think too much about a couple of sports talk radio guys giving their musical recommendations, and I admit I am one of those people.  However, I have been to New Orleans many, many times, it is one of my favorite cities in America, and through those many, many visits I have come to truly appreciate the actual culture that thrives in New Orleans that is so much more than the revelry of Bourbon Street.  One of the biggest pieces of New Orleans culture is music, so when Van Pelt and Russillo continued to speak of how awesome Bonerama is, going so far as to want to make this band the house band for their show, while in New Orleans (due to their proximity to other media sets though their want was not able to happen) I began to think that maybe I should check this band out, and see what the fuss is all about.  So, four days after the Super Bowl, I finally did just that, checked out the band Bonerama, and let me tell you, they are well worth the fuss.

As they describe themselves, they are a brass funk band, the brass in question though is the trombone – thus the bone in Bonerama – and are accompanied by drums, electric guitar, bass guitar, and synthesizers.  They play/produce both original and cover material, and let me tell you, this band brings the funk AND the noise.

Since I am a big Led Zeppelin fan I have to share Bonerama’s covers of two of Zep’s songs, first is The Ocean:

Then there is one of my favorite Zeppelin tunes, When the Levee Breaks:

And finally let’s close this out with one of Bonerama’s originals called Big Fine Woman, in which you can definitely hear much of that New Orleans sound:

They Come from Alabama?

270px-Alabama_in_United_States.svgLittle known fact, well, maybe not that little known, but a fact nonetheless, I was born in L.A., as in Lower Alabama.  Though to either my saving, or failing grace (depending on your personal biases) I was born on a military base, in a military hospital, which I believe qualifies as quasi neutral territory, and only my first 24 months of existence were spent there – so whatever memories I have there are spotty and vague.  That being said though, I did spend the vast majority of my life in the southeastern United States, and I have heard plenty of jokes about that region; hell, I’ve even made a few jokes about it myself.

One belief held by many, particularly many who believe that the universe rotates around a certain northeastern island, that was bartered away from the natives for a few trinkets, is that once you cross below Washington DC, then you have essentially entered the unchartered hinterlands of the third world.  That is to say that a not too insubstantial amount of people believe that the South is an uncouth backwater, and not too far from being populated by tobacco chewing Cro-Magnons.  A land where fire is still considered state of the art, and electricity is magic.

Sorry to disappoint everyone, but indoor plumbing, electricity, and even the internet, all do exist in the South; and I can assure you, as someone who has also lived north of Washington DC, as one who has been to that bartered island, and one who has seen most of the rest of this country (35 of the 50 states), that the South is NOT a back-water, lodged deep in the Dark Ages.  Are there hicks there?  Yep, you betcha; but you know what?  In my experience there are hicks everywhere.  Doesn’t everyone just listen to country music down there?  Um, no, and there are plenty of “sophisticated” northerners who love them some country music.  Plus, one town in the South was ground zero for one of the biggest, and culturally relevant bands of the last 20-30 years.  That town is Athens Georgia, and the band was R.E.M., and the B-52s, Widespread Panic, Drive By Truckers, as well as others hail from that small-ish southern town too.

Birthday IslandTo further my defense of the South, particularly music from the South, is the band below, called “Plains,” from the plains of my birth state, Alabama; and they have been kind enough to share their entire latest album, Birthday Island, with everyone, for free (see below).  The first thing I was expecting, was to hear some sort of “southern rock,” and/or, stereotypically, some sort of country inspired music – boy was I pleasantly surprised.  The music has that indie, “college band,” with a whiff of “surf guitar” sound in there; along with a tinge of electronic synth too.  Sure, the third track has a certain country – maybe rockabilly? – element to it, but to call it country music would be a mistake.  The college thing makes sense, as, I believe, they are based out of Auburn Alabama, which, like Athens Georgia, is home to a university, in Plains case it is Auburn University (Athens Georgia is home to The University of Georgia).  correction:  Plains actually hail from Montevallo, AL, home of the University of Montevallo; and located on the plains of Alabama -Ed.

I am now on the third rotation of listening to Birthday Island, and I have to say that it is REALLY growing on me – in fact just as I typed that last little bit there, something hit.  That something is the sound, there is a band that I have heard before which Plains does have a similar (not exact, but similar) sound as, and that band is Rooney; particularly Rooney’s first album – and Rooney is NOT from the South, they’re from L.A., the real one, in California.  Anyway, I encourage you guys to give Plains’ Birthday Island a listen to below.  I have a suspicion that many of you will enjoy it; even many above Washington DC, and heaven forbid, some on that bartered island might even like it too . . .

 

This Ain’t the Same Old Jazz

We were approached by the UK based indie record label, Tru Thoughts Recordings about a week ago inquiring as to whether or not we would be interested in conducting some music reviews for some of their artist’s recordings.  As music fans we jumped at the opportunity to do so, because it is a great opportunity to hear music and artists that we, and I suppose many of you, haven’t heard before.  We are music fans here at Noise Made Me Do It, even though not all posts are strictly related to music.  We told the Tru Thoughts representative that we would be fair, and, most importantly, honest.  We are not being compensated in any way for these reviews, which is, of course, the best way to ensure our honesty.

Now a little about who are giving the reviews.  There is Luke MacClean, who is a musician, and currently working towards getting his degree in music.  There is also Mike Catania, a published, and accomplished composer, and musician, holding several degrees in music.  So those two guys know a little about music; Then there is just me, Tim Bean.  I do not have a music degree, nor am I a musician.  I am simply a mere mortal compared to my two colleagues, but I am a huge music fan, with broad and eclectic musical tastes; so my reviews are simply the thoughts of a fan.  Without further ado, below are the reviews – click the linked titles above each review to hear each piece.  Many thanks to Sean at Tru Thoughts Recordings for asking for our thoughts.

Tim.

Mark de clive loweMark de-Clive Lowe – “Take the Space Trane”  To be released on February 5th, 2013

Luke’s Review:

First off, Mark de-Clive Lowe has just gained another fan.  Far too often I see a lot of Jazz coming out of New York that parades around as a new synthesis of urban and jazz idioms, but upon listening I discover that they cautiously added a couple “hip” samples or a buried synth part.  Not MdCL.  What he gives us is pure energy through relentless and unflinching use of drum and bass style beats, sweeping leads/pads, and heavy synth bass. However, the horns only briefly relinquish the spotlight to the electronics, and I wouldn’t have it any other way with such an awesome display of talent being thrusted out of my speakers.

The composition is complex to say the least and is at times a little over zealous with multiple horn solos all building on top of electronic textures, but the fact of the matter is that his rises and climaxes are gold. Sometimes you have to push the envelope.  There is an ebb and flow to the piece as well; not simply massive horn hits for seven minutes.  The periods of smooth affected rhodes and sax/trumpet solos provide a refreshing emotional contrast to the heavy horn onslaught that the Rotterdam Orchestra throws at you.  There are such great parts to it though that I would like to hear something repeated eventually. How I would have killed to hear him do something huge with a return of that juggernaut intro or bring back the horn theme that appears around 3 minutes.  As for the ending, I’m not really sure what to make of it; it comes off as abrupt but yet still appropriate.  Maybe it achieves its goal because it leaves me wanting to listen to it again

All in all, Mark de-Clive Lowe delivers something which is bold, aggressive, and also very cool.

Rating:  ♪♪♪♪ out of 5 Notes

Mike’s Review:

I found Take The Space Trane a fun departure from what I thought it was going to be – an over-produced, synth-heavy spin-off of the Strayhorn hit.  The performances, especially the brass, are exciting; so much so I would have rather heard some scaling back of the effects and let the instrumentalists shine on their own.  That said; the electro portions are integrated well.  I don’t feel as though they were thrown in as an afterthought, which is extremely common in this style.  I would have liked to have heard more development of ideas instead of the barrage of new material.  All told, though, I think the piece is successful.

Rating:  ♪♪♪♪ of 5 Notes

Tim’s Review:

Okay, here are my thoughts on Mark de-Clive Lowe’s “Take the Space Trane.”  I am a fan of jazz, not a huge fan, but a fan none-the-less.  I am also a bit of a traditionalist; which means that free form jazz, to me, often sounds too discordant for my tastes; but that’s just me.  So, when I fired up “Take the Space Trane” for the first time I found myself waiting for the song to actually start, it sounded like it was just one long intro; but again, free form jazz isn’t really my thing.  However, I am not one to rush to judgment.  I didn’t just listen to it once and decide that was enough.  No sir, I listened to it a good half dozen times, and I am here to tell you, that despite my personal biases towards free form jazz, I really began to like this piece of music.  I found the incorporation of modern synthesizers a nice touch, and even began to dig (to use the old jazz slang) it in its entirety.  Even though it isn’t the style of jazz that I like, what I like about jazz is that it is cool.  Jazz music sounds cool, feels cool, looks cool, and this is definitely a cool piece of music by Mark de-Clive Lowe and the Rotterdam Jazz Orchestra – though I do still prefer more traditional jazz.

Rating:  ♪♪♪ ½ of 5 Notes

menagerieMenagerie – “Leroy & the Lion”   To be Released January 22nd, 2012

Luke’s Review:

Usually, the genre-term smooth jazz carries with it a stigma of being synonymous with elevator music.  If it’s even appropriate to categorize this song under such a label the fact of the matter is that it’s definitely smooth, but it’s also definitely the real deal.  With the percussion groove popping in at the intro it’s easy to know you are listening to something special; it is one of those beats that doesn’t really change much, yet somehow doesn’t get old. On top of this pocket groove unfolds what is simply a very catchy melody and improvisations that really turn the tune inside out.  The simplicity of this song is key for it allows growth to occur, and as the listener gets comfortable in the beat the melodies come flying at head level. In essence, “Leroy and the Lion” is stimulating, satisfying, and almost impossible to stop moving to.

Rating:  ♪♪♪♪ ½ out of 5 Notes

Mike’s Review:

Menagerie’s Leroy and The Lion is a shapeless blur that, I think, is supposed to suck you into a groove but lacks any sort of contour making it nothing more than a waste of a superb performance by Roy Ayers.  The piece is tired–there are no elements in the form, orchestration, style, harmony or melody that merit giving this a place in your playlist.  Nice studio work and the performance by Ayers is all that salvages the stars it gets.

Rating:  ♪♪ of 5 Notes

Tim’s Review:

Menagerie’s “Leroy & the Lion” is definitely more my type of jazz, but . . . It just didn’t really resonate with me.  I gave it plenty of time, and tries, just so that I could be sure that I wasn’t rushing too quick to judgment.  I know this is going to sound crazy, especially given that I have already said that I don’t really care for free form jazz too much, but I found “Leroy & the Lion” sounding a bit generic and derivative. I also think the xylophone was a little over done, giving too much of a tinny sound.  I wanted to hear a deep, smooth bass line so bad, but it never materialized.  Over all “Leroy and the Lion” is a bright piece of music, but I just found something lacking, which left me wanting.  That’s just my opinion, I could be wrong.

Rating:  ♪♪ of 5 Notes

Nostalgia 77Nostalgia 77 & the Monster – “The Taxidermist”   Released on November 19th, 2012

Luke’s Review:

“The Taxidermist” is reminiscent of the psychedelic fusion stylings of the “Bitches Brew” recordings.  The stark and moaning horns in the melody and solos provide a haunting atmosphere that conjures images of empty dark streets.  This piece definitely has a lot of atmosphere.  Moreover, the drum groove, which is such a key element to the tension of “The Taxidermist,” really tugs at the listener with the hi-hat emphasis and syncopated snare drum hits.  Though, what seems to nag me about this piece is the fact that it never seems to get to where it’s going.  It suggests some sort of build or raise of energy and while it starts to get there near the end, I would say it just doesn’t do enough.  At the finish, even though I appreciated the mood it created, I felt relatively unfulfilled.

Rating:  ♪♪♪ of 5 Notes

Mike’s Review:

The tags the record label applied to The Taxidermist are frightening: beats, funk, hip hop, jazz (to name the first few).  If this tune had come out fifty years ago, it still would have sounded dated.  It’s the kind of thing that make non-musicians hate jazz:  the arrogance of soloist falsely believing that he/she has the skill to poorly improvise for extended lengths of time in lieu of an actual thought-out piece.  Nostalgia 77 & The Monster should spend a little more time emulating before they recklessly attempt “innovating” again.

Rating:  ♪ of 5 Notes

Tim’s Review:

Nostalgia 77 & the Monster’s “The Taxidermist” just sounds cool, which is what I think jazz is supposed to sound like.  There is a darkness and a broodiness to this piece that I often associate with jazz too.  Maybe I am the only one who does this, but often times, when I am listening to an instrumental piece of music, I close my eyes and “envision” the music.  When I did that with “The Taxidermist” I conjured it being played in a dimly lit, smoky bar; where people drink highballs, not beer, and they’re just grovin’ to this music.  Sure, there still are the elements of the free form jazz (which I already said is not my favorite style of jazz) from the horns, but it never really goes overboard into full blown “jam session” free form, and the steady cadence of the cymbals, and drums; which at first listen sounded too monotonous, but upon hearing it again, and again, it just worked for me.  That steady little rhythm kind of kept me on the edge, I found myself just waiting for it to go off, and blow up into something bigger, and louder, but it just kept steady; leading me along, like bread crumbs.  I know that might sound like a complaint, but really I mean it as a compliment.  Of the three pieces of music here this one is by far my favorite.  It has the elements that I associate with jazz; a little groove, and a little mood, with a touch of improvisation.  Yeah, I dig “The Taxidermist” a lot.

Rating:  ♪♪♪♪ ½ out of 5 Notes

So, those are our first, and hopefully not last, official music reviews.  If you would like us to review your music please feel free to leave us a comment and we will email you with our contact information.  Also, if you clicked the above links to the associated artists and music, and liked what you heard, please visit Tru Thoughts Recordings and explore these and other artists – again, we are NOT being compensated in any way by Tru Thoughts Recordings, we are just being gracious.

Thanks Again,

Tim

 

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