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The latest album by jazz pianist Ellen Rowe has her joined by four powerful musicians (Pete Siers on drums, Kurt Krahnke on bass, Ingrid Jensen on trumpet and flugelhorn, and Andrew Bishop on tenor sax and clarinet) and getting accompaniment from trombonist Paul Ferguson and the University Of Michigan Chamber Jazz Ensemble. Courage Music (PKO) sounds like the kind of music you’d expect to hear on albums by McCoy Tyner, Dave Brubeck, and Brian Blade, where things are cool and laid back and the whole vibe is about that easy feeling, with intense interaction between everyone involved. Songs like “Golandrinas De Los Horcones” and “Gentle Spirit” has Rowe playing in a way that truly speaks to you, and when she brings in Jensen or Bishop to play solos or perform in unison, you can really see and hear what she and they are trying to do. This is the kind of music you might hear on NPR on Friday at 11:30 and go “wait, what was that?” and then you go out to find out how to get the full album. It’s music that not only has courage, but gives courage to the musicians who are playing it, something that leads to peace and freedom.
The Call Of The Cosmos (Fire) is an interesting album by Sterling Roswell because:
1) it sounds more like an EP than a full length album
2) the album is a blend of decent songs and trippy interludes, if you want to call it that
3) the interludes are trippy soundscapes and seem to balance the album/EP in a unique way
4) its direction is somewhat uncertain, at least at first.
It’s a 38 minute project where I found myself wondering what direction things would be going, only for me to say hey, even if there is no obvious direction, I’ll listen to it as is and come up with whatever conclusion I have at the end. I’m still slightly confused, but as a creative piece of work, it’s not odd as it is quite… I don’t know if flabbergasted would be the word I would use, but it’s the first I came up with. Whatever the call is towards the cosmos, this is one of billions of pages that help to create this dialogue. Collect all 100,000,000,000.
Viewfinder are a band that sound like other bands I’ve heard before, such as Suicidal Tendencies, Seaweed, and Weezer, which to me means they play hard and abrasive in some moments, understand the power of a good pop tune with quality choruses and verses, and when they let loose, they know how to keep themselves under control. Do You Even Want Anything could easily be a question the band could or should ask fans, because while they are capable of giving what they want to rock out for rock’s sake, I’d like to think they’re able to do a bit more if they give a bit more effort. What I did find interesting was the pop tendencies in their music, although they don’t tend to incorporate pop with their aggressive rock’n’roll, they are doing the pop thing quite nicely, thank you. I’d be curious to find out where they will be in coming years.
Henrietta’s The Trick Is Not Minding could sound intriguing by title alone but unfortunately, that’s the only thing that is intriguing about this release. Granted, these guys are competent and are able to sing, play, and write songs, but they come off like every other bar band that does the exact thing, and I want to hear something that goes beyond that. Maybe I’m the one who is wrong. Okay, as far as playing like a bar band is concerned, let’s get out of that. These guys make powerful pop/rock songs that could easily be used for any amount of television shows or movies as a means to catch the ear of a scene or something, and maybe these songs will be remembered as a key moment. The only problem I find is that it has too many key moments and it gets lost amongst one another. I don’t hate it, but there’s not enough here that will make this listen to me repeatedly, or months from now. Check in in ten years and we’ll see what happens.
Hoax Hunters sound like a band who listened to the good stuff out of bands, songs, and albums, and approach their own style with a “no bullshit whatsoever” approach, as they show on Comfort & Safety (Cherub/Negative Fun). They play rock as if the world was going to end in four minutes or less and when it doesn’t, they rock it out again. It’s like grunge without the glam or fame, or punk rock without the glamour or facades. When they do get melodic and technical, it only draws you in towards the harder parts of a song, and you can’t wait until they blow shit up and get distorted. Comfort & Safety is something that happens rarely on the album, or at least things are under control for the most part until they let the floor below them crumble and forget the risks involved. They are very tight but when the openness comes through, you just want to swim and dwell in their ocean until they throw a bottle in your face.
Nobody’s Smiling (Def Jam) is what I would call “comfort zone Common”, in that everything on this album is what Common fans have come to expect from one of Chicago’s all time best MC’s. The flows remain strong, the lyrics are poignant, and the songs hold up from start to finish. There are no surprises and nothing mindblowing, but don’t think it means that this is bad. By all means, this is a solid album from start to finish and there are no disappointments whatsoever, it’s the type of Common that has made people want to hear more, the songs that may be bold and daring but make a swift turn around to let you know he’s still the classiest and styling man around. This is the Common you loved 10 to 15 years ago, and he shows why he understands what people want to hear.
If you’re looking for something negative in this review, let’s see if I can come up with something. At this point, it’s hard to say if people want to hear a bold and daring Common, if they expect to hear him do some dance tracks or throw in some dubstep or do a duet with Ariana Grande, and maybe that can happen with the next album, EP, or song. For now, no thrills, it’s straightforward and to-the-point Common so if you want to expect good music, this is him in his comfort zone. It’s hard to say if someone like him would be willing to throw out different expectations, especially at a time when MC’s are more of a risk factor for musical efforts than ones involving publicity. It may be one of many reasons why this album is called Nobody’s Smiling, no one wants to be involved in doing bullshit and this is a no-bullshit album. Maybe next time, he’ll throw out the unexpected but for now, not now.
While rapper Bobby Shmurda was arrested for gun possession last night, Haviah Mighty decided to take one of his songs and turn it into something new. The song is called “Hot N***a” and now it is presented here in the form of a remix and as you will here, it’s a lot better.