CD Reviews – June – 2007

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Warren Zevon

Preludes: Rare and Unreleased Recordings

Ammal/New West Records

4 out of 5 stars

In a world where everything is marketed to death, including death itself, Warren Zevon’s posthumous release Preludes: Rare and Unreleased Recordings stands apart, not only as a monument to the man and his work, but as a monument to those who have an intellect developed enough to “get” his music in its raw form. Ultimately, this double disc set allows the listener to enjoy the simplistic beauty of a legendary songwriter’s relationship with his art, and to hear the artist’s true opinion on many subjects in his own words. 

The music on the first CD shows Zevon spinning tales of empty L.A. streets, old habits that die hard, old broken down cars, and broken down people, in unpolished splendor which lends itself to the earnestness of his compositions. These songs give the listener a peek inside the writings of a man that had not yet been “discovered” by a wide audience, as most of these recordings were made prior to 1976. 

Disc 2 contains three songs interspersed with an interview made back in Austin, Texas, when Zevon was 53. In the interview, which happened only a few years before he passed away, he discusses with his sardonic wit and charm, a full spectrum of topics including how he came to music and his opinion of himself musically, his career path, his relationships with other famed personalities such as Igor Stravinsky, writing symphonic music, and his acceptance of his own mortality “I think you have to spend a fair amount of time realizing that you will be [dead]so that you will remember to enjoy everything you possibly can every minute you’re not [dead]. You always wanna try and tell younger people that, which is very difficult ’cause they don’t really hear it because they feel that life has been imposed on them…and of course, they’re absolutely correct.”

There is the saying “a good song is a good song is a good song.” While some of the tunes on this release do not have the production luster that a modern day L.A. or Nashville record might, the songs are real and very in touch with the human spirit defined by Zevon. This record may not be a diamond in the rough, but it is a rough diamond that stands up against a world of polished glass which has become the majority of mainstream music in this plastic pop-culture.

— Chibo Acevedo

 

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 Cat-a-Tac 

Past Lies and Former Lives

Needlepoint Records

3.5 out of 5 stars

Past Lies and Former Lives marks the first full-length release for Denver-based indie band Cat-A-Tac. While the album is similar in style to the group’s preceding EP, you can hear the growth of the band, both creatively and technically throughout the 12 tracks and they certainly have grown a lot since their debut.

The first song, “Needles and Pins,” immediately strikes a pleasing discord in your body, somehow meshing dark vocals with cheery beats into a fresh, fuzzy distorted sound that lasts throughout the album. It is a sound however, that leaves you unsure if you should get out on the dance floor or get another beer to drown your sorrows at what the world has become.

Switching tempos and style basically from song to song, Past Lies and Former Lives is a testament to what can happen in a band with two songwriters pulling the reins in different directions. At times the result is a little dysfunctional, but it’s always entertaining.

   Tiffany Childs

 

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 Golden Smog

Blood on the Slacks

Lost Highway

4 out of 5 stars

The Soul Asylum/Jayhawks supergroup set out to make an EP follow-up to its 2006 release Another Fine Day, but ended up with an eight-track mini-album that features six original tracks, an amazing version of David Bowie’s “Starman” and a cover of Dinosaur Jr.’s “Tarpit.”

From sing-songy anthems like “Can’t Even Tie Your Own Shoes” to the brooding “Scotch on Ice,” the celebrated musical collective could be The Faces of our era — an amazing supergroup that we should all know, but remains hidden in obscurity.

   Brian F. Johnson

 

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 Great American Taxi

Streets of Gold

Independent

4 out of 5 stars

I love this band. There I said it. My bias is in the open. That being said, Great AmericanTaxi’s first full-length is, for sure, a ride. In a Burrito Brother’s style of country, rock and Americana, the Taxi lays down amazing work with only a tip-toe still touching its original jammy roots. The songwriting of Herman, Hamer and Staehly is strong and inspiring and the album begs to be played in a top-down convertible on the highway.

— Brian F. Johnson

 

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 Ekoostik Hookah

Under Full Sail: It All Comes Together

Independent

2.5 out of 5 stars

Ekoostik Hookah’s new studio/live double LP Under Full Sail: It All Comes Together is a revisit to their first basement recording made 14 years ago, with new interpretations by the band and a reconnection with original guitarist John Mullins. A true gem for fans of the debut release, the new version boasts three newly arranged tunes from the original LP and captures the somewhat Americana-jamband’s live energy with all the aural pleasure of a professional sound system.

— Chibo Acevedo

 

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 The Basement

Illicit Hugs and Playground Thugs

Zealous Records

3.5 out of 5

I’ve checked it and double-checked it, but I still don’t believe that these guys are from Ireland.

Illicit Hugs was recorded in Liverpool, but the sound is true Nashville with hints of post-punk era Minneapolis throughout.

Last month marked their first dates in the U.S. and it’s a pretty safe bet that The Basement will sit atop the penthouse suite before long.

   Brian F. Johnson

 

 QUICK SPINS

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 Doro

Twenty Years: Warrior Soul

Locomotive Records

Doro Pesch was the original M.I.L.F. for many a pimple-faced metal fan during her years fronting Warlock. This two DVD set documents the rise to fame of the original metal mistress.

3 out of 5 stars

 

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 Burning Brides

Hang Love

EMI Records

There’s nothing like an angry band with an education. On their new CD The Burning Brides wax philosophical about the world and kick musical ass at the same time.

3 out of 5 stars

 

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 Spyro Gyra

Good to Go-Go

Heads Up Records

More likely to be heard in an elevator than blasting from an Escalade, this slice of hip-jazz is sure to gain the three-decade-old band some new fans while staying true to older fans.

3.5 out of 5 stars

 

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 DerrenRaser Band

King of I’ll Tell You Next Week

Independent

When a press kit is bold enough to call someone “Simon and Garfunkel meets The Shins,” my first response is “yeah, right.” But this indie release is really good. Maybe not that  good, but definitely worth checking out for fans of the aforementioned.                      

4 out of 5 stars

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