Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What's New?: 12.27.2011

Andrew Hill — A Beautiful Day (2002)
Pretty decent post-bop, free-leaning stuff. And yeah, I know these are all Andrew's original compositions, but I've never really liked when he got so attached to the horn arrangements, like he does here. Most of the arrangements are dominated by the horn charts, in fact. But when Andrew takes a solo, wowweeee! That rare occurrence on '5 Mo' illustrates just why the man is a legend. It's almost like he deliberately creates these scenarios where he must rebel. The song's head is one of the more chaotic of the bunch here, so he appropriately takes a wandering, melodic solo in the face of otherwise dissonance. He is not up front for most of the proceedings here, but the tunes are all nice, if not a little more leaning towards his more rambunctious side. 'Faded Beauty' and the title track are both the sort of kind of free, mostly just searching tunes that Andrew used to make his own voice. Certainly not his most approachable work, but darn good for the already converted.

Jónsi — We Bought a Zoo (2011)
I've become such a big fan of Jón Þór Birgisson and his band Sigur Rós over the past two years that I am essentially at a clamoring state right now for anything new. I had high expectations for this one, perhaps foolishly. As far as the new material, it is definitely in soundtrack mode, as it essentially sounds like outtakes from what Jónsi does otherwise. Unfinished song ideas that don't sound totally right without the visual accompaniment. But still, it's music written in the style that will be familiar to fans of his previous work, so there's plenty for us dorks to latch onto. Most of the new material is instrumental with fleeting "Oooohhhhh aaahhhhhhh" vocals, but there are a couple of genuine brand new, fully fleshed out tracks here and they're surprisingly lost in the shuffle of the rest of the album. I mean, I like them just as much as anything else here, but they're not completely standouts, y'know? (the tracks in reference here are 'Ævin Endar' and 'Gathering Stories'). Still, even though this music probably serves its purpose quite well in the film —and yet, is somehow disappointing to me as a fan of the musicians creating it— I have to say that this will keep me satisfied for at least a little while. It's not a major revelation —or, indeed, a revelation at all— but it's still darn good. And it definitely has that feeling to it (the one that keeps me coming back to anything with Jón's name on it in the first place).

The Cure — Bestival Live 2011 (2011)
New Cure album and who gives a shit? ME! Because I'm a hardcore fan and I'm clearly who this 2 disc, 32-track, 140-minute behemoth was aimed at. I will keep my comments brief, because it is just a live album after all (despite that it's their first official live album in nearly twenty years and it marks as an account of an official lineup change [Porl Thompson is back out and Roger O'Donnell is back in!]). They sound infinitely better when hitting those earlier songs. Cons: crappy drum sound, predictable hits being played up front, Robert's 'spoken' vocals. Pros: jesus, are they having fun or what?, 'PUSH'!!!!!!!, the whole concept that they just played this show a few hours before I was at this show is somehow awesome to me, all the songs that they haven't played regularly in forever and finally 'THE LOVECATS'!!!!!!! Audience singalong FTW! Seriously, the FREAKING LOVECATS!!! YES!!! Overall, it's nothing that will appeal to anyone except dorks like me, but enjoyable as all hell. The fucking Cure, man. They're one of my favorites for a reason. All profits go to charity, buy it.

Solbakken — Music for Lost (2004)
They are the Mighty Bakk. And I love them. This is probably the Mighty Bakk's most post-rockin' affair, as it's easily their most instrumental album. It's also a soundtrack, so there are a few songs here that I knew previously (namely, 'Entertain the Elderly' and 'House Been Taken' from Klonapet and 'Your Cave' from their In the Fishtank session with the Black Heart Procession). But besides those, everything else was new to me (this is the only album of the Mighty Bakk's that I didn't buy at the time because it was brand new, ungodly expensive and nobody had it). The instrumentals range from short and sweetly bleak vintage numbers ('Hell Impro Insect Outburst' and 'Saloon'), to goofy (the pseudo-rockabilly sendup cover of 'Ring of Fire') to just downright incredible moments ('Birth of a Jumper'). The new vocal songs are dark and gloomy, but with that great injection of catchiness that the Mighty Bakk is just perfect at. If this is to be their last album (which is most likely), it's a strange one, but still exceptionally good. I still find much to go back to on this one, even with the recycled material. They are quickly becoming one of my favorite bands of all time.


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