Today Margie Baker is 74, but back in 2004 when Live at Rasselas was recorded, she was only 67. Either way, she’s a jazz vocalist so close to perfect that it’s not surprising that she’s been singing for the past forty years or so.
I've never been a huge fan of progressive rock, but I have always been impressed by just how far bands in this genre will go to seem more progressive than the last. I guess Proghma-C didn't get the memo, because their latest release Bar-do Travel belongs in the genre sound-wise, but it's the opposite of progressive.
John McNeil and Bill McHenry Chill Morn He Climb Jenny
John McNeil and Bill McHenry team up for a second round of classic jazz covers on Chill Morn He Climb Jenny, a jazz album that will make you dust off your copies of the originals and delight in comparing the two versions.
Afew summers ago, I was a nanny for two kids obsessed with the Disney Channel. Rather than playing commercials, Disney plays interviews with their stars, and one they constantly played then was a group of their young actors and actresses singing about how great the world is and giving kids tips on going Green. That's pretty much how Human Beings, TryanGem's newest release, sounds – like a mess of people who don't know how to sing all singing at the same time.
Big Joe & The Dynaflows You Can't Keep A Big Man Down
Not to be confused with Fat Joe, Big Joe Maher heads up the Dynamos, a jazz-y, blues-y band that will keep you swinging and dancing for the duration of their latest release, You Can't Keep a Big Man Down.
One of my favorite things about Weezer has always been Rivers Cuomo's ability to rhyme, whether the words really fit the song or not (he manages to get “bitch” and “kids” to sound exactly the same on “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived”). The lyricist for Fortune 500 must be a huge Weezer fan, because he manages to spend most of Flavor of the Year rhyming for no reason.
Elisabeth Lohninger has a much deserved following in the jazz world, but even if you aren't big on the genre - you'll still enjoy her beautiful, soulful voice and wise words. Songs Of Love And Destruction isn't exactly a pick-me-up, but it is a stunning work of art that showcases Lohninger from start to finish.
There's something about re-releases and remastered albums that just makes my stomach churn. But even I have to admit that Melted, a release of twelve remastered live tracks played by Wax in 1971 and apparently lost until a few years ago, is a great listen and an important homage.
Jimmy Bowskill is a talented musician, that's a fact. He's been compared to just about every blues guitarist you can name, and even tackles B.B. King on his band's latest release, Live, and does a pretty impressive job.
There's a lot to take in about Herman “Ze German” Rarebell's album Take It As It Comes before you even listen to it. There's the artwork for one, but deeper than that, there's the fact that the album was released outside the United States four years ago as I'm Back. I guess Herman is back again.
Howard Wiley & The Angola Project 12 Gates to the City
12 Gates to the City isn't just another jazz CD – it's a jazz CD with an intense message. Howard Wiley, a saxophonist and composer, has gathered together thirteen songs that express the lamentation of prisoners at Louisiana’s penitentiary, Angola.
There's something weird about the Adult Contemporary genre – you can picture your dad jamming out to and really identifying with the lyrics, but you can't help but love it yourself. It's a genre I like to call Dad-Rock, and it's this loveable charm that's made bands like Coldplay, Jimmy Eat World, and Kings of Leon so radio-friendly, and could easily do the same for Jason Ayres.
Nancy Tyler is a refreshing delight; her album Let Go is filled with smart lyrics, skillful guitar and mandolin picking, and her beautiful voice. Tyler is in her 50s and has been playing music since she was seven; her skills and wisdom are the lessons of a lifetime, and it shows.
Even if you don't know Jimmy Webb by name, you've probably heard some of his beautiful ballads. Webb is a timeless musician, captured on Jimmy & Me in the form of twelve cover songs performed by Doug Howell.
If you're a fan of the darkest kind of black metal, then you'll enjoy Skeletal Damage. They make pretty standard heavy rock, with vocals that are mostly noises, and drums that are a little too loud, but it fits the genre, and if it's something you seek, you'll like Skeletal Damage just as much as Eyehategod.
Di Evantile has done a brave thing with Transformations – an instrumental album broken down into “episodes”, all of which is done with electronic instruments or classical instruments that have been put through some sort of electronic treatment, and not a spoken word through nine tracks.
There's something about A Chance of Fireballs. Perhaps it's their college-aged vibe and the Hellogoodbye-esque cutesy graphics splashed on their album cover and website, or maybe it's their endearing YouTube videos obviously taped by a friend that still somehow manage to capture their charm. This is a band of young guys who enjoy what they're doing, and you'll enjoy listening to it.
Bill Bachmann would be hard-pressed to find a more fitting title for his sophomore release. Folk 'n' Roller perfectly describes the extraordinarily clever way Bachmann tells stories while playing complicated and interesting music at the same time.
I knew from the first note of Forgotten Door's debut album, Unlocked, exactly what kind of music it was – straight to the point classic rock. The album's opener, “Masquerade” sounds like Zeppelin if the original members of Skynyrd were alive to cover a song or two. I mean that as a compliment, however – classic rock is nothing if it's not technically proficient.
There was a glorious time in music history, almost twenty years ago, when bands like Weezer were popular with the underground, college-aged kids – before the terms “emo” and “pop-rock” existed. But then Pavement broke up and Weezer stopped really trying and Fall Out Boy came out with the worst conundrum in radio music – catchy songs that you loathe. Maybe that's why I found Octoberbabies so ridiculously refreshing – it’s a blast from the past made recently.
If you grew up in a concert band environment, even in middle or high school, you probably appreciate the talent it takes to participate in classical music, while you might not enjoy listening to it (or, perhaps, playing it yourself). Imagine an album that took that talent to the next level and made listening to music played on a classical instrument interesting and exciting.
There's a reason that John C. Reilly's character bursts into a room in his recent movie, Cyrus, screaming, “This is the greatest song ever recorded!” while George Michael's “Faith” plays in the background. George Michael may have originally released the song in 1987, but some songs just never get old.
Music websites across the internet recommend Eleanor Fye for the listener who likes Sara Barellies or Norah Jones, but both singer/songwriters could take a page out of Fye's book and make better albums in the future. Fye has a beautiful voice, a smart, witty way of writing, and has created an album that will lift you up while still giving you something to think about.
When I saw that Robert Hurst's newest album was called Bob Ya Head, I assumed it would be a hip-hop album that would make me shake my head in a disgruntled way. I was wrong, however, because I spent my time listening to the album bobbing my head, tapping my feet and thoroughly enjoying it.
There's something comforting about a musician as talented as Jeff Cochell. It's almost as if his obvious gift at playing the guitar makes listening to his debut album, Between the Lines, all the more pleasurable. The only downfall is that the lyrics and vocals aren't quite up to par with the musicianship found on the album.