Thursday, June 29, 2006


Frank London's Klezmer Brass Allstars: Carnival Conspiracy (Piranha, 2006). The difference between your basic bar mitzvah band and the truly unique world-vision eastern-European Yiddish band the Klezmatics became famous for may be a fine line, but damn if London doesn't skirt it brilliantly. While I confess to being no expert on the history of the music, its Ukrainian folk roots aided by a mix of Brazilian rhythm put this album over the top for me. In deed, I'm thinking it's this years Gogol Bordello. A little less anarchic, but still steeped in the Gypsy tradition. A

Rhett Miller: The Believer (Verve Forecast, 2006). Like Paul Westerberg before him, he finds life in the solo lane to be both liberating and challenging at the same time. Unlike Westerberg, he's up for the challenge. While I still miss the Old 97's, if for no other reason that I still feel a good, tight band is both essential and rare these days, Miller's vocals can front better than most singers in the biz. And lyrically, he's matured quite nicely. In "Help Me, Suzanne" he laments, "I've been living on the memory of a dream I once had." And then he goes on to thank her for helping him find his way out of his despair. He's humble, if nothing else, another rare quality among otherwise talented singer/songwriters. A-

Arctic Monkees: Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not (Domino, 2006). Musically, as well as lyrically, Alex Taylor reminds you of Kurt Cobain. There is a definite "Nevermind" connection here I can't quite get out of my head. And, like Nirvana before them, they have a penchant for the sardonic. Check out the lyrics in the "hit" track, "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor." "Your name isn't Rio, but I don't care for sand." But my personal fave is "When the Sun Goes Down," if for no other reason than they poke fun of Sting: "And I've seen him with the girls of the night / and he told Roxanne to put on her red light." Anybody who can jump from Duran Duran to the Police, and who technically wasn't even born when those two groups were around is on to something I want to be a part of. A-

1 comment:

steve said...

I love the older, 20s-30s klezmer with the wailing clarinet. That licorice kicks!