Tuesday, July 26, 2011

This ChuCha Santamaria y Usted album is WORTH IT.

Here's my PopMatters review in full:

Reportedly there’s a concept buried inside the self-titled debut ChuCha Santamaria y Usted, something about the complex historical relationship between Caribbean people and the U.S., and how that parallels the complex relationship between hi-hats and synth arpeggios in all your favorite disco genres -- I count freestyle, Italo, motorik, the hard-charging Pitbull stomp, and maybe more. The album may also describe how Puerto Rico’s “Fiebre Tropical” equals a tropical fever on the dance floor. Since I don’t speak Spanish, I’m not sure. Thankfully, as with all good concept albums, ChuCha Santamaria y Usted’s music doesn’t need its concept. Matthew Kirkland’s synths play a thinned-out version of early ‘80s hi-NRG, only without the 4x4 thumps. He’s got bass churgles and he’s not afraid to drop ‘em, but the focus is on the treble sounds -- mallet percussion and lush Moroder-esque ostinatos that suck you into their rippling propulsion like a wave pool. Singer/wordsmith Sofía Córdova sings in inglés, español, y Vocoder, carefully unfolding her melodies with stately restraint. She never sounds like she’s reaching for the high notes, and her low notes just sort of drift into the heat haze. You’ve been here in your dreams.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

These two CCM albums are WORTH IT!!

They are treating us well here.

The Blind Boys of Alabama and Burlap to Cashmere both have new albums out, and I reviewed both at PopMatters (hence the links), and both are very good but Burlap to Cashmere's is a little more surprising and less like other stuff I've heard before so I will give top marks to it. But yeah, I could listen to both for a while. Here's an excerpt from the BtoC review:

If there’s room in your pop heaven for Simon & Garfunkel, Cat Stevens, the Indigo Girls, and Fleet Foxes, you oughta make room for Burlap to Cashmere, mostly-acoustic choogaloogers with a thing for lyrics both inscrutable and sincere. Their self-titled second album even OPENS by emulating the Foxes’ wide-eyed wonder: chiming guitars and tenor voices advise, “Keep your eyes on the new day / You and me, we are the same / Shout it out at the horizon / And don’t forget to change your name.” (No idea what that means, though it reminds me of the end of The NeverEnding Story, when Bastian shouts the Empress’s new name out the window.) From there the music gets fleeter and foxier, as the hard-strumming trio builds into a weird-time-signatured ode to… vacation? Singer/songwriter Steven Delopoulos is at ease, the ocean’s near, and the sun is sinking; he keeps telling his baby, “Don’t forget to write”, even though he keeps seeing said baby in the sun and the wind. Oh, and Delopoulos also tells us he’s the ocean, which might make him Neil Young. In any case he’s a hippie who’s one with nature. I keep trying to dislike him for this, but he and his band sound terrific.

For some reason that's my second NeverEnding Story reference in as many weeks. Maybe I need to watch that again. The first was at Singles Jukebox, talking about some song that I liked a lot less than everyone else:

Is it just me, or does the blaring trumpet-y synth running through the ‘chorus’ remind anyone else of some theme from The NeverEnding Story? And is it just me, or is The NeverEnding Story the SEXIEST GOTH MOVIE EVER??? I mean, you’ve got the hero riding around with a Luck Dragon between his legs, Teeny Weeny sliding around on his snail, that sublime scene where the hero’s stallion sinks into the Swamps of Sadness, the freakin’ ROCK BITER tooling around on his massive rock-hard bike or whatever — I mean, everybody in that movie is always RIDING something. Way sexier than this song, anyway.

Speaking of Luck Dragons, here's an excerpt from the Blind Boys review:

At center stage, the Boys themselves sound as great as ever. Founding member Jimmy Carter and his mates have perfected a blend of passion, good humor, gentleness, shouting, rhythmic acuity, and mile-wide vibrato that seems to deliver songs as naturally as plain speech or breathing. Somehow all the vast enormity of the Christian walk resides in their voices.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

This Limp Bizkit album is TOTALLY WORTH IT!!! (watch out for cussing)

Polar Bear or Silver Fox?

Having never really cared about them one way or another, I never thought I'd love one of their albums, but Durst moves in mysterious ways. I requested Gold Cobra from PopMatters (my review's here) thinking I'd be able to quickly turn around a review comprised of insults and douchebag jokes. You can see I have uncompromising professional standards. But no: Gold Cobra is really good, and it's quickly threatening to turn into a Security Blanket album for me, the kind of CD I need to keep in the car or in the backpack at all times, just in case. Sort of like Cathedral, Ke$ha, and Jamey Johnson were last year. Which, if you're connecting the dots, probably means I'll end up voting for Limp Bizkit in any year-end critics' poll that comes my way. I love life.

From the pretentious Proust-quoting review, which is already garnering articulate and constructive reader comments:

Bizkit’s music, played here by their original lineup, clarifies and specifies Durst’s rage. As plenty of reviews last decade sheepishly pointed out, Limp Bizkit are actually a Good Band. They’ll nod your head. Guitarist Wes Borland pulls off one huge catchy riff after another, and he and DJ Lethal add sound effects that alter their songs subtly and not-so-subtly. (“Shotgun” ends with an Andes flute playing “There’s a Place in France” over a beat made entirely of shotgun sounds. Badass.) The rhythm section’s bottom end is fatter than your girlfriend.

That reminds me! Limp Bizkit have some unreasonable expectations of women. Specifically, if Limp Bizkit attend a party, they expect that there will be nine women for every one of them, and that these women will undress, enter a swimming pool together, and kiss one another. I think they request this stuff in their tour rider. Frankly, with Odd Future innovating the field of female objectification every day, Bizkit’s imaginations seem a little quaint.

This Arrington de Dionyso album may or may not be Worth It.

He even kind of LOOKS like he's in the Magic Band.

Really it depends on how much you like to hear Indonesian throat singing and bass clarinets. If that's something you want every once in a while, Suara Naga is an album for you! Here's part of what I said at PopMatters:

Arrington de Dionyso sings like Diamanda Galás if she had the range of Johnny Cash and spoke Indonesian. With his band Malaikat dan Singa (“Angels and Lions”), he sounds kind of like Captain Beefheart, if the Magic Band had a less interesting rhythm section—and if Beefheart, God rest his soul, sang in Indonesian. De Dionyso is sort of like a throat-singing Chris D. of the Flesh Eaters… Whatever, did I mention this guy sings in Indonesian? It’s not his native language. He learned it to impress a girl. He’s like some art-freak version of Eat, Pray, Love.