Hypercolor

Hypercolor Cover

If, like us, you’ve wondered what would happen if a punk band (or at least one with a punky aesthetic of reject-the-rules) had conservatory training and could apply virtuoso technique and advanced understanding of musical structure to their rockin’, kickin’, slammin’ music — the answer has arrived. Hypercolor, the self-titled debut recording of guitarist Eyal Maoz, bassist James Ilgenfritz and drummer Lukas Ligeti, is what rock sounds like when it’s all grown up. Hypercolor is also what jazz sounds like when it has no interest in the label. Listen for the possibilities.

Slow/Fast’s “Settle”

settle cover

Reedman, composer, Bang-on-a-Can-All-Star and Gutbucket alum Ken Thomson leads his Slow/Fast Quintet Russ Johnson, trumpet; Nir Felder, guitar; Adam Armstrong, bass; Fred Kennedy, drums — through a universe of musical possibilities on the group’s September, 2014 release “Settle.” Everyone here is a virtuoso, which helps with music as technically demanding and intricate as Thomson’s, but that’s not the point of his magical compositions. “Settle” is new music, modern music. It’s simultaneously jazz, rock, chamber, classical — and precisely none of those things. We think Slow/Fast’s “Settle” might be the most interesting recording of the year.

Kira Hooks

kira hooks

The Los Angeles-based Filipino-American singer-songwriter Kira Hooks has a beautiful life ahead of her. Based on her debut recording, “Elephant Heart,” twelve well-produced original songs that defy strict genre categorization — think “jazz and soul-inflected pop” — almost anything’s possible for this extravagantly talented musician. Hooks is a good writer, and a good instrumentalist. But her biggest asset at this point is her sensational singing voice, which has a satisfying bottom end, a sonorous richness, a texture that one either has or one hasn’t. Hooks has it. And a musical expertise and sophistication that’s hard to comprehend. She’s 20. You can experience her major club debut on December 19, at Catalina Bar & Grill Jazz Club in Hollywood.

 

April 18, 2015

Milwaukee-based Beer City Records re-issues the classic 1983 Midwest Hardcore Punk album, “We Don’t Play the Game,” by The Clitboys, featuring songwriter MK on bass and vocals.

Grand Fatilla’s “Global Shuffle”

grand fatilla

The world music collective Grand Fatilla consists of Club d’Elf bassist Mike Rivard, electric mandolinist Matt Glover, accordionist Roberto Cassan, and percussionist-singer Fabio Pirozzolo. We mention this because the astonishing breadth of the group’s repertoire sounds like there are about 14 virtuoso musicians at work. Grand Fatilla specializes in nothing — except consistent excellence. On their debut recording, they perform authentic, spirited versions of Bulgarian dances, Italian tarantellas, Turkish and Irish songs, Moroccan trances, and some deliciously groovy tangos. Recorded beautifully in a refurbished church, “Global Shuffle” is currently our favorite reminder of planet Earth’s astonishing diversity of sublime music.

Tom Chang’s “Tongue & Groove”

tongue & groove

Guitarist Tom Chang’s debut recording,Tongue & Groove,is an arresting, curry-flavored gumbo of jazz, contemporary classical, and South Indian Carnatic music. What this mélange sounds like is newness personified, a foreshadowing of the globalization of musical cultures. The sonic unfamiliarity doesn’t jar; it seduces. The title track opens with a 30-second vocal percussion solo that would make Bobby McFerrin smile, followed by a blazing groove worthy of Brian Blade. The album features tenor saxophonist Jason Rigby, alto saxophonist Greg Ward, acoustic bassist Chris Lightcap, drummer Gerald Cleaver, Akshay Anatapadmanabhan on kanjira and mridangam, and Subash Chandran on konnakol. And at the nexus, Chang, who can (and does) use his guitar like a master ventriloquist channeling distant voices.

. . . → Read More: Tom Chang’s “Tongue & Groove”

Poem: A Brief Autobiography

clitboys_1

I was a punk rocker. A real one. Original Midwestern Hardcore Punk Thrash

loud and fast and angry enough to convey the depths of agony

residing in our adolescent breasts, the unspeakable (only screamable) pain

of being trapped like a bear in a sharp leg clamp,

tortured by the knowledge that we were ensnared in a system

we wouldn’t choose except under the threat of torture, and maybe not even then.

Not having a choice: “I want to have high ideals, I want to love mankind,

trust my fellow man, be loving true and kind – but everyone tells me ‘No!’ Everyone tells me

‘No such thing!’” That’s what upset us so in those naïve days before

we figured out how it’s all arranged.

 

For a minute or some decades of my life I learned

to play the game, the same one I . . . → Read More: Poem: A Brief Autobiography

Poem: Finding Harmony

one version of harmony

He was the oil

She was the water

He swam through her ocean

She laughed when he caught her

Together they swirled yet somehow apart

Through eternity

 

You know that the two

Don’t naturally mix

Connection was broken

Space delaying the fix

Mystery deeper each try a false start

Finding harmony

 

Finding harmony

Finding harmony

Finding harmony

Blend it all together you got harmony

They needed a plan

They needed a change

They needed a weaver

To sing in their range

A stitcher of souls when science meets art

Bring on synergy

 

Add in a third

Triangulation

Call it addition

Of God’s adulation

That welcomes the new and draws a new chart

Possibilities

 

Oil and water

They never lost hope

Trusting believing

They discovered their soap

To bind them as one to make a new start

Finding harmony

Finding harmony

. . . → Read More: Poem: Finding Harmony

Dharma Gypsys, Volume Two

dharma gypsys volume 2

Reggae. World. Rock. Social consciousness. Dharma Gypsys, Volume Two is music for yoga, meditation and revolution — and for obsessive replaying. Created by celebrated yoga teacher and former death metal guitarist Daniel Overberger, the DGs are a collective of some of Hollywood’s coolest musicians, including one of our favorite jazz vocalists, Charmaine Clamor, who leads the chorus on the “No GMO” anthem “Wicked Garden.” Each Gypsy adds her pungent spice to the musical stew. The result is one of the most compulsively groovy records ever to serenade a downward dog.

The North

The-North-Slow-Down-This-Isnt-the-Mainland

The descriptor “easy listening” connotes saccharine elevator music, and “goes down easy” suggests diluted medicine. The debut album from The North, a Brooklyn-based piano trio, is called “Slow Down, This Isn’t the Mainland,” and the entire recording is indeed easy like Sunday morning and smooth as a polished seashell. But there’s nothing insipid or cloying; the journey is an aural pleasure. Recorded in Hawaii, “Slow Down” is relaxed, gentle, charming, approachable, and utterly pleasurable. The band covers Chick Corea, Thelonious Monk and Bob Dylan beautifully. The bulk of the project, though, is devoted to lyrical originals, mostly by pianist Romain Collin. His virtuosity, like bassist Shawn Conley and drummer Abe Lagrimas, never calls attention to itself. The North is all about songs — melodies and grooves and especially dynamics. Imagine the Bad Plus blissed out and chilling on a beach. The result is one of . . . → Read More: The North

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