Thursday, April 2, 2009

Casual Listening -- Rodion Shchedrin, John Parish & PJ Harvey, Queensryche

Casual Listening

a review of cool new music

by Jeff Pinzino

April 3, 2009

! Rodion Shchedrin: The Sealed Angel (classical)

Choir of Gonville and Canius College, Cambridge, Geoffrey Weber, conductor

Choir of King’s College, London, David Trendell, conductor

This a capella choral masterwork has a fascinating backstory that includes the re-emergence of religion in 1980’s Russia and the clandestine practice of sacred painting. Don’t worry about the story. Connoisseurs of Russian choral music will recognize echoes of Rachmaninoff’s Vespers and the sacred works of Tchesnokoff. Don’t worry about the history of Russian choral music, either. This is a transcendent work with the power to move you regardless of what you know about it. Let this piece seep into your soul.

Listen to Rodion Schchedrin “The Sealed Angel: III

* John Parish & P. J. Harvey – A Woman a Man Walked By (rock)

Harvey lends her eerie vocals to Parish’s distorted guitar textures. The resulting angular rock arrangements smolder with the energy of sunlight focused through a magnifying glass.

Listen to John Parish & P. J. Harvey “Black Hearted Love

Sleepy LaBeef – Roots (country)

An old chestnut of a musician takes on a set of traditional folk and gospel songs with similar staying power. LaBeef has a rich baritone paired with an acoustic guitar that you can imagine listening to curled up in front of an old AM radio.

Listen to Sleepy LaBeef “Cotton Fields

Kelly Joe Phelps – Western Bell (folk)

Phelp’s idiosyncratic vision of roots music on solo guitar invokes the spirit of the singular, powerful stringwork found on John Fahey’s America. It’s a challenging listen that strays far enough from tradition to give a new perspective on it.

Listen to Kelly Joe Phelps “The Jenny Spin

Michelle Malone – Debris (rock)

My musical obsession with Michelle Malone led me to sneak into a show in Atlanta fifteen years ago, and I’ve been a fan ever since. This album is the bluesiest she’s done, with electric slide guitar powering a set of pro-feminist rock & roll.

Listen to Michelle Malone “Feather in a Hurricane

Queensryche – American Soldier (metal)

For as deeply as this country has been involved in war in recent years, this is a rare album dedicated to music from a soldier’s point of view. Screeching falsetto choruses and big guitar riffs are a legacy from the ‘80s, which seems just the right speed for this tribute.

Listen to Queensryche “Hundred Mile Stare

* highly recommended

! highest recommendation

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