Rachel’s, “Even/Odd”: Rachel’s is a very classically-oriented post-rock
ensemble – violin, bass, woodwinds. They’re absolutely brilliant. “Even/Odd” is a short, extremely rhythmic track with an interesting pulse with an almost siren-like string lead played over it. Very, very cool.
Rush, “Spindrift”: Rush is back! They released a new album this week. It’s a
much better work than their last effort (which wasn’t bad, mind you, but it wasn’t as
as good as it could have been). It actually sounds a lot more like older Rush than
most of their other recent work. Really good. Not spectacular or anything, but definitely quite good. This track has a nice edge to it, dark chords, very classic
Lifeson guitars, a strong Geddy Lee bass lead driving things. Peart is rather non-descript on this track – he’s got that almost inhumanly perfect timing as always, but he’s not
doing a lot that catches my attention.
Marillion, “The Invisible Man”. The opening track off of Marillion’s last
album. It’s an amazing song, one of the best they’ve ever done. I can’t listen to
it without getting chills. Just the first 30 seconds of it is enough to start me
Porcupine Tree, “Fear of a Blank Planet”. Porcupine Tree also has a new album out in the last couple of weeks. It’s one of their best, which is really saying an awful
lot when you realize how good their catalog is. This is the opening track from the album. Very typically PT: interesting rhythms, dark chords, interesting transitions, and a great contrast between very smooth soft vocals and hard-edged instrumental lines.
Lunasa, “Mean Fomhair”: would you believe, a bagpipe solo? Ok, so it’s not the awful scottish greatpipes that you probably think of when I say bagpipes – it’s the Irish Uillean pipes which have a much less grating sound to them. And it’s played by one of the worlds greatest Uillean piper’s, Cillean Vallely. But it is a bagpipe solo. And it’s great.
Edgar Meyer, “Concerto in D, 2nd Movement”. Edgar Meyer is one of those musicians that just make me sick. He plays this incredibly awkward instrument (the double-bass), and makes it look like it’s easier to play than a basic violin. And he can play anything on it – anything from Bluegrass to Rock to Jazz to Classical. He can play the Bach cello suites on his bass better than any cellist I’ve ever heard can play it on a cello. And he’s an amazing composer, who’s practically redefined the repertoire for
the bass. This track is him performing the part of the Concerto for double bass that he wrote.
Moxy Fruvois, “Spiderman”. Interesting timing, given that the new Spiderman Movie is just coming out. This is Moxie Fruvous doing their incredibly silly version of the old theme from the Spiderman cartoon show. “Spidermans master plan, build his own little spider clan. In the woods, now they’re troops, fighting for special interest groups”. How can you not love a song making fun of low-budget superhero cartoon with lyrics like that?
Tony Trishka Band, “Woodpecker”. Tony is one of the most talented musicians
I’ve ever gotten to know personally. He’s a banjo player who pioneered the Banjo
as a serious Jazz instrument. (Bela Fleck is one of his students.) This is a track off of his first album with his own Jazz fusion band. It’s very typical of Tony’s playing. As much as I love Bela Fleck’s playing, he’s still got a lot to learn from Tony in terms of how to make Jazz really work on the banjo. Tony just pulls out all the stops – using some of the pentatonic rolling tricks Bela is known for, as well as some fitting some more traditional bluegrass rolls, and some single-string work.
Explosions in the Sky, “Catastrophe and the Cure”. Great rock-oriented post-rock.
Shirim Klezmer Orchestra, “Nokh A Gleyzl Vayn”. Klezmer/Jazz fusion. Yeah, really, I’m not joking. Shirim is an amazing bunch of players who can move seamlessly back and forth between very traditional Klezmer and Bebop – but they’re most at home playing something in between. This is a traditional Klezmer tune played Shirim style.
Miles Davis, “Deception”. What can I say about Miles Davis? One of the most
amazing, influential musicians of the 20th century. One of the creators of an
entirely new genre of Jazz. Every note he plays is virtually perfect. You could spend
hours just listening to one little track by him, and still not absorb everything that
he did to make it so perfect.