by: Hobert Taylor
Rod Melancon - Parish Lines - (Medina River Records)
Some of the world's finest music is forged in the crucible of south LA. South Louisiana that is. Rod Melancon has both LA's to thank for his inspiration. Working with Dwight Yoakum guitarist Brian Whelan and Americana musicians from the Echoplex scene and digging deep into his own upbringing in Cajun country Melancon's sophomore effort is passionate and produced with precision worthy of T- Bone Burnett. The songs are deeply personal 5 minute movies, reminiscent of the grandeur and intimacy of James McMurtry. "Duck Festival Queen" the first cut, is a warm up...it only gets better "Marella", "Curve Lounge", the truly ominous "Mad Talkin' Man", Wanna Go For A Ride" and the superb "Different Man" may make this the Americana breakout CD of the summer.
Dead Winter Carpenters - Dirt Nap - (Self Released EP)
This is acoustic twang sort of Deadhead/Poco/New Riders country from Nevada City/Tahoe. The band is breaking in on the dead/phish circuit and they are fine pickers but not too original. The Irish inspired ballad "West Shore Town" is my fave, and the up tempo tunes "Triumph" and "Bootleg Jack" are fun.
Pete Molinari - Theosophy - (Ingrooves)
With songwriter kudos from Sprinsteen and the omnipresent Dan Auerbach (who sings on this CD) and heavy hitting L.A. Management you'd think that Brit Molinari would be the next big thing, but he's still a sort of humble English mid-level act with a cult. With songwriting skills akin to Alex Chilton and appropriate arrangements mixed with a Buddy Holly earnest voice one could expect great things. The fact that he has two truly sincere but religious tunes on this outing may scare some away, but that prejudice would exclude them from enjoying a fine talent. The hits are "So Long Gone"and "I Got Mine". Other great songs include "Evangeline", "I Got It All Inded, and "When Two Worlds Collide". The religious tunes, "What I am I am" and "Mighty Son of Abraham" are powerful as well.
The Far West - Any Day Now - (Medina River Records)
As the CD title implies, any day now The Far West should break into the main stream. Hey they already have good bookings and the next local gig for them is the Santa Monica Pier in September. The CD starts off very well produced and beautifully played but the first couple of tunes feel a bit empty, forced, impersonal, trying too hard to break through. But by cut 4 this record takes off and the Prine like songwriter(both lyriclly and vocally) Lee Briante gets personal and real. "The Bright Side", "Words From A Letter" "Forged In Iron", "She's Gonna Leave Him Too", "Across The Bed", and especially "These Arms Will Be Empty" shine shine shine.
Buena Vista Social Club - Best of Buena Vista Social Club Vol. 2 - (ARC)
A mix of old and new releases, a couple of generations of iterations of the bands. "Sonero de Verdad" is a classic with horns meandering and punctuated with gongs. "Lagrimas de Licor" is hypnotic and on down the track list you'll find definitive Afro-Cuban standards. World.
Tammy Lynn & Myles High - Turn My Music On - (Self Released)
New Hampshire rockabilly/old timey country bar band. "Box it Came In" (the Wanda Jackson classic) is the best cut. "I Ain't Drunk" and "Maryann" are good too.
Saor Patrol - Open Air Assylum - (ARC)
I'll admit it. These guys send a release every three months or so and I totally ignored them because the covers are CHESSEY. I'm sure it's going to be lame assed bagpipe music, and after all the bagpipes were originally invented as an instrument of torture, a way to repel invaders like haggis and golf. However I broke down and listened. With blistering guitar leads (excuse the Rolling Stone prose) and other macho accoutrements this music becomes well musical, even interesting.
Altai Lelio - Secrets of Bohemia - (Self Released 2011)
Muddy psychodellia...I'm unsure if he is sending this out again or whether he spaced going to the post office for three years. Anyhoo it has a lot of promise...Velvet Underground/George Harrison admixtures and subtle and captivating arrangements pop up in the strangest places. Feature Tracks "In the Morning", "Through the Garden", the instrumental "Portland" and "Memories".
Hafez Nazeri and the Rumi Symphony Project - Untold - (Sony Classical)
This is perhaps the type of music that will be remembered as 20th/ 21st century classical. Exquisitely performed and brilliantly produced neo-classical music that calls on the traditions of Persian music, minimalism, and electronica, while being passionately sincere. The 20th century saw the inclusion of non-European musics into the canon, specifically with the acceptance of American and Afro/American influences. This release represents a melding of the world's various classical music traditions and electronic/post modern culture. I hope that portions of this music could be of interest to a variety of programmers here... sample a bit and hear how RPM meets world meets classical meets jazz.
Letizia Gambi - Introducing Letizia Gambi - (Jando)
Produced by Lenny White and featuring Ron Carter, Chick Corea, Wallace Roney, Patrice Rushen, and other names this is a strong outing from this Neapolitan. The arrangements are primo, and Gambi has Sarah Vaughn like chops and phrasing. My faves: "Passione", the ballad "The Love of Your Life","My Town" and "Appocundria".
Ferenc Illenyi and Gypsy Dream - Gypsy Dream - (Mesa Bluemoon Records)
Illenyi is a first violinist with the Houston Symphony Orchestra and he has first rank jazz and gypsy players join him in an evocation of subtle and nuanced melodic structure. It's all grand. The flamenco tune "Boabdit, Bulerias" is astonishing. It is quite a technical feat to translate flamenco guitar to the violin. Fritz Kreisler's "Gypsy Caprice" is another highlight. and I also suggest folks play the jazz tunes "A Minor Swing" and "Gloomy Sunday".