Thursday, November 19, 2009

Casual Listening - Dave Rawlings Machine, Them Crooked Vultures, CAGE MATCH: Lady Gaga vs. Kid Sister

Casual Listening

a review of cool new music

by Jeff Pinzino

November 20, 2009

* Dave Rawlings Machine – A Friend of a Friend (folk)

Best known as Gillian Welch’s guitar-playing sidekick, Rawlings shows he can kick out the back porch jams. Tight harmonies, lots of mandolin, and an enthusiasm reminiscent of The Band brings on a big hippie grin.

Listen to Dave Rawlings Machine “To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High)

* Them Crooked Vultures – Them Crooked Vultures (rock)

A Frankenstein of a rock project. With superstars from bands like Nirvana and Led Zeppelin grafted together, the full assembly is menacing, but it’s alive. Sludgy guitar riffs and a trashcan drum sound make for a heavy but inventive set of tunes.

Listen to Them Crooked Vultures “Elephants

Alan Lomax – Alan Lomax in Haiti (folk)

An enormous time capsule from one of the most important documenters of the world’s traditional music. Ten discs of field recordings from the island made in 1936 and 1937 are being made available for the first time. There are whole albums of voodoo music and carnival music, as well as three songs sung by folklorist and writer Zora Neale Hurston. It’s worth just picking through a few tracks at random to give yourself the sound of another place and time.

Listen to Alan Lomax in HaitiWoy-O Woy-O Plus Ochan

Grupo Pesado – Desde La Cantina (Latin)

While most only encounter the radio version of Nortena music, to catch its true spirit you need to hear it live with friends, accompanied by a few beers. Grupo Pesado’s new album comes as close as I’ve heard to capturing that setting. Perfectly harmonized ballads and brawny accordion solos show off a band playing their hearts out.

Listen to Grupo Pesado “Cielo Nublado

Larry Sparks – I Just Want to Thank You Lord (country)

Gospel numbers have always been part of bluegrass, and Bill Monroe always had several hymns among the ballads and breakdowns. This album is all bluegrass gospel, in the best old traditional style. High and lonesome with plenty of serious picking, it’s also a window on an era when church music was one of the universals of rural life.

Listen to Larry Sparks “Little White Frame Church

CAGE MATCH: Lady Gaga: The Fame Monster -vs- Kid Sister: Ultraviolet

The Contest: Dance Dance Revolution!

On the left dancepad, the new darling of dance-pop, so cool you need a refrigerator just to dig her, Lady Gaga! (GAGAGAGA!!!) And on the right dancepad, the princess of the hip-hop underworld, patron saint of nail technicians everywhere, Kid Sister! (HOOYAHH!!!!)

Lady Gaga drops a mid-tempo disco noir. Step-step, twirl (you’re doin’ great!) Stomp to the beat! Stomp to the beat! (you’re on fire!) Now she’s signing like Madonna! Hophophop-step (let’s do it again!) That score’s going to be tough to beat.

Kid Sister punches up the electro beats (let’s dance!) Step-step-jump! (all riiiight!) Bop to the left, Bop to the right, feel the funky flow (your moves are refreshing!) and the screen shuts off! Her stare is too seductive for the computer to handle!!! Kid Sister wins!!! (HOOYAHH!!!!)

Listen to Lady Gaga “Bad Romance

Listen to Kid Sister “Right Hand Hi

Giuliano & I Baroni – Faccia d’Angelo (rock)

Every once in a while, I run across an album so unbelievably bad, I can only marvel at the evil geniusness of the artist who concocted such a monster. This is hands down the worst album I’ve heard all year, possibly the most horrendous album I’ve heard since I started reviewing music. From the embarrassing cover photo to the pop trash sung in Italian, this is a true tour de farce. And if you think the album’s a nightmare, the YouTube video will have you screaming.

Listen to Giuliano & I Baroni “Piccola Stella

Or if you dare, go to the website and watch the YouTube video of “Arrivano I Cow Boy

* highly recommended

! highest recommendation

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