Top ? Records

 

          This is my long threatened music blog, mostly the four wheeled listening room that is my car. Tune in next week, and nag me if there are no changes: I decree this shall happen on Friday every week, unless I get distracted and forget. If anyone knows of similar sites, please let me know: apart from NPR and Amazon, there is almost no way for me to find out about new music, these days: I will not listen to what passes for radio, other than online, and I’ve always depended on word of mouth. To be fair, Pandora is pretty good. So - please, feel free to point me at things you love. Enthusiasm is contagious!


A new wrinkle: as a fledgling Machead I am increasingly immersed in iTunes, so we will talk about individual songs. Now I need to be really specific, and it expands into the top ?. Am I optimistic, or just deluded?


1) Burt Bacharach, Elvis Costello, Cassandra Wilson: Who Are These People? Stage two of the brilliant Costello/ Bacharach collaboration, this is Bacharach’s protest song without censorship. His unmistakeable arrangement, with vocals from Elvis and Cassandra Wilson lulls you into a hypnotic state of comfort, a perfect setup for the abrupt end. Oops: guess I blew the surprise....

                                                                                                                                                                                                      

2) Annuals: Carry Around. The editors at Performing Musician have taken over where the now defunct Musician left off, in offering the most astute, worthwhile, performance based reviews of every music you can imagine, having access to stuff you couldn’t find five years ago. They love these guys (and gal: Adam Baker, Kenny Florence, Mike Robinson, Zach Oden, Anna Spence, Nick Radford) so I checked ‘em out: And so do I. Catchy, melodic acoustic music with Adam Baker drumming in Keith Moon style seems wildly incongruous until you hear it: then you can’t stop grinning, like the first time you discovered cannabis. I’m not sure who the yeller is (as in person who yells, not old dog), but much of the joy is listening to him gulp in air and holler.  Such Fun is their latest offering. (note: Now Performing Musician has disappeared into the chasm our economy has slid into. Any suggestions? Anybody?)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 3) John Batdorf: Home Again. Long ago, in my misspent youth, I was a DJ at WRAS, radio Georgia State University. Batdorf and Rodney were one of my favorite discoveries: an acoustic California duo clearly owing much of their modus operandi to Crosby Stills and Nash. John Batdorf primarily wrote and sang the songs; Mark Rodney played tasteful, inventive lead and sang harmony. (You could accurately say Jim Schwartz and I patterned our duo Summerhill along these same lines.) This is Batdorf’s first solo album - some forty hears later - with guest spots from Rodney, and the song dates back to 1971. Inventive musically and melodically, this update has a twelve string, open-tuned shimmer that sparks when Rodney kicks in his first lead. See if you think John sounds a bit like Graham Nash, at least vocally.



  1. 4)Cy Timmons: Bilbo. In the early 1970s, Jim Schwartz turned me on to Cy, playing at a restaurant called The Tree on Peachtree in Atlanta. His gut-string guitar playing was Brazilian influenced with a strong percussive groove, augmented by otherworldly vocal effects that truly must be heard for belief. Dead-on vocal impressions of trumpet, flute, sax and synthesizer mixed with the aforementioned percussion on his tour de force The World’s Greatest Unknown will cause you to shake your head in wonder, but - it’s ALL recorded LIVE. This CD (Cy Timmons) is relatively new - all but one song is unknown to me - but his songwriting is characteristically impressive, and his voice is.....numinous would have to be the overused word.


5)Panic at the Disco: She’s a Handsome Woman Panic! at the Disco began patterned after Green Day style new wave, punk - whatever the current label may be. Here, the guys channel the Beatles from different periods of their career, particularly Revolver in this one song. Never too close to any one instance musically or lyrically, I do hear faint echos of Taxman after serious consideration. I haven’t heard anything this creative in a long time - since Phish, or late eighties XTC - the heavy handed attack in the intro merging into the perfect verse; Call and response breaking into staccato R&B flavored ninth chords. “Go on: grab your hat and flash a camera - Go on: film the world before it happens.”


I’m looking forward to anything these guys do next.