a review of cool new music
by Jeff Pinzino
Special Contest! Stump Pandora at http://casuallistening.blogspot.com
! Nicholas Payton – Into the Blue (jazz)
A soulful, brooding jazz opus that’s gorgeous from top to bottom. This is cool jazz, which means spare, transparent lines suggestive of powerful feeling, but intentionally restrained. Cool is the haiku poetry of the jazz world, and Payton’s trumpet shows both the instrumental and emotional mastery necessary for the form.
! Jack Rose – Dr. Ragtime & Pals / Self-Titled (folk)
Some of the best acoustic and slide guitar work you’ll ever hear. Rose’s progenitors are the great blues guitarists of the early 20th century – Blind Willie Johnson’s bottleneck slide and Mississippi John Hurt’s Piedmont-style fingerpicking. He references these and more while still managing to create something new. Rose’s stringwork sparkles like a diamond, each facet reflecting a different quality of light as you turn it over in your hand.
* Dive Index – Mid/Air (electronica)
Warm, expressive vocals contrast well with an electronic chillscape. This is high-quality downtempo – you’ll be listening to this one while the new Portishead gathers dust on your shelf.
* Phil Vassar – Prayer of a Common Man (country)
Catchy backroads tunes with a surprisingly wide emotional range. “This is My Life” is one of the best political songs in any genre to come around this year. Vivid slice-of-life stories and a love ballad to…his Chevy truck. This album shows how good
Barry Adamson – Back to the Cat (rock)
Evocative of rat-pack era hip swagger, this blues-lounge set is fantastic mood music. Electric keyboard, horns, occasional strings, and assorted electronica give this release a tuxedo-and-martini kind of feel.
The Death Set – Worldwide (rock)
Behold, the spawn of Devo. Over the top Atari-esque skronk with an offbeat sense of humor.
In the blog this week: Stump Pandora Contest
* highly recommended
! highest recommendation