Archive for the ‘CD Reviews’ Category

JAZZ2K: Top Discs for September, Part I

Friday, September 5th, 2014

Reviews by J Hunter

Okay, I’ve been sloughing off on this feature for WAY too long! And since September is essentially Jazz Month in Greater Nippertown (with the Albany Riverfront Jazz Festival, Jazz at the Lake, and – of course – the return of A Place For Jazz), here are a few discs I’ve been meaning to talk about for some time. Next week, I’ll talk about some new stuff on the way, some of which you can see performed live this month! Until then, feast your eyes and feed your ears:

Stanton Moore: ConversationsSTANTON MOORE
Conversations (Royal Potato Family)
When I heard Galactic drummer/leader Stanton Moore was doing a straight-ahead release, I was decidedly unenthusiastic. Then I saw the liner notes for Conversations and exclaimed, “Stanton Moore AND David Torkanovsky? FUCK yeah!!” Torkanovsky’s one of those righteous NOLA pianists who proves technical excellence and downright fun are not mutually exclusive. Moore does play it (kinda) straight, with killing takes on bassist James Singleton’s waltzing “Lauren Z” and the Herbie Hancock cruiser “Driftin’,” but dancing tracks like “Carnival,” “Tchefunkta” and “Big Greaze” have that Galactic “LET’S PARTY” attitude in full force. A piano trio disc you can party to! Who knew?



New Release Rack: Stephen Trombley’s “Tea for Three”

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

Stephen Trombley: Tea For Three

Review by Thomas Dimopoulos

ALBUM: Tea For Three
ARTIST: Stephen Trombley

There’s a noticeable twang to upstater Stephen Trombley’s newest CD – and with good reason. Tea For Three is the Saratoga-raised songwriter’s first release since bolting from the Empire State for the music city skyline of Nashville, Tennessee. And while the six-song EP was written and recorded south of the Mason-Dixon line, Trombley’s studio comrades are men of the world – much like the author, filmmaker and musician himself.

The CD features drummer Charlie Morgan, who spent 13 years pounding the skins behind Elton John; just-north-of-Syracuse A-list bass player Mark Prentice; and multi-instrumentalist Jim Hoke, a native of Schenectady.

“It’s a great upstate invasion of Tune Town, plus a hands-across-the-water U.K. pal on drums,” says Trombley, whose creative co-writing foils include veteran hit-makers Fred Koller (who’s been covered by everyone from Jerry Lee Lewis to Dave Edmunds), Angela Kaset (Lorrie Morgan and Wynonna Judd have performed her songs) and one-time Patti Smith guitarist Oliver Ray.


New Release Rack: The Arthur Holmes Blues Band’s “I’m Waiting”

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

The Arthur Holmes Blues Band: I’m Waiting

Review and photographs by Wanda Calagy

I’m Waiting is the new CD recently released by the Pittsfield-based Arthur Holmes Blues Band, offering unique guitar sounds with moving lyrics sung and written by Arthur Holmes, bolstered by a strong bass style from John Worth and rhythmic beat from drummer Brian Forfa. Former bandmate Gary Smith also adds his flair on his Hammond B2 organ to the mix.

The band’s third album tells some moving stories, with all but two selections originals, and Holmes is proud of this latest accomplishment. The beginnings of this CD started a couple of years ago.

“I enjoy songwriting,” said Holmes. “We have been playing ‘Sand Road’ out at a few gigs before the release. That song is a condensed version of my life – much of my music is.”

Holmes’ favorite tune on the album is “Crying Time.” “When you listen, you will hear how I held onto certain notes for a long time,” he added. “We were in the studio for weeks, and a couple of pieces, such as ‘I’m Waiting’ had been stuck going around inside my head forever. The first two songs came easily, though I had not laid them all right out. I’ve worked with John for years, and he is a solid bass player. Brian joined the band a little over a year ago and is a great fit. I had worked with him in the past.”


The Capital Land Crate Digger: “The Monkey’s Head in the Corner of the Room” (1982)

Monday, July 14th, 2014

The NeatsReview and photograph by Ross Marvin

The Capital Land Crate Digger brings you reviews of vinyl obscurities found for $10 or under at Capital District record stores, thrift shops, garage sales, and junk emporiums. The vinyl archeologist behind this column is Ross Marvin, an English teacher and music enthusiast who lives in Saratoga County. Ross has over 1,000 pieces of vinyl, is running out of shelf room, and can be found getting his fingers dirty in a box of records near you.

ALBUM: The Monkey’s Head in the Corner of the Room EP
ARTIST: The Neats
LABEL: Ace of Hearts
YEAR: 1982
PURCHASED: Feeding Tube Records, Northampton
PRICE: $8.95
DATE: July 3, 2014

One of the greatest ironies about Feeding Tube Records on King Street in Northampton is its location next to a Subway restaurant. The indescribably hip record store is financially backed by former Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore and run by rock scribe and scenester extraordinaire Byron Coley. Thus, it feels more like the kind of shop that would be located adjacent to a subway stop in Lower Manhattan than a place where you can get a $5 foot-long.


New Release Rack: Gordon St’s “The Electric City”

Friday, June 20th, 2014

The Electric CityGordon St is gearing up for this weekend’s release of their sophomore EP, The Electric City, and the rockers are celebrating with a free concert at Freedom Park in Scotia at 7pm on Saturday (June 21).

Titled for the band’s Schenectady base of operations, The Electric City is a diverse collection of three original songs – “Motion of the Ocean,” “Such a Fool” and “Ripcord” – that showcase Gordon St’s talent at blending multiple rock genres, all underscored with a danceable beat.

“The songs are a bit more grown-up, but they don’t sacrifice the underlying aspect of fun that has always summed up what we’re going for,” explains singer-bassist Dan Noonan. In addition to Noonan, the band features guitarist Ritch Harrigan, drummer Dennis Fatato and keyboardist Mark Bertini.

The Electric City – the band’s follow-up to their 2012 debut, Telenovella – was recorded with engineer John Chiara at Albany Audio.

And if you can’t make it to Freedom Park on Saturday for the band’s CD release party, you’ll have another chance to catch Gordon St in action at 6:30pm on Friday, June 27 at Cafe NOLA in Schenectady.

The Capital Land Crate Digger: “Duck and Cover” (1990)

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Duck and CoverReview by Ross Marvin

This is the first installment from the Capital Land Crate Digger, who brings you reviews of vinyl obscurities found for $10 or under at Nippertown record stores, thrift shops, garage sales and junk emporiums. The vinyl archaeologist behind this column is Ross Marvin, an English teacher and music enthusiast who lives in Saratoga County. Ross has collected more than 1,000 pieces of vinyl and is running out of shelf room. But he can still be found getting his fingers dirty in a box of records near you…

ALBUM: Duck and Cover
ARTIST: Various
YEAR: 1990
PURCHASED: The River Street Beat Shop, Troy
PRICE: $10
DATE: April 19, 2014 (Record Store Day)

By 7:30am on Record Store Day, I was the tenth digger in the queue outside of Jack’s Rhythms in New Paltz. The assembled masses were not pretty people, and all of us were wiping sleepers out of our eyes and salivating for the limited-release vinyl that awaited us inside. People drove down Main Street and thought something was wrong. Why were these troll-looking folks lining up before breakfast outside of that detritus store? Had it finally filed for bankruptcy and decided to give everything away?

To the contrary, Jack’s was ready to do steady American commerce. People had long want-lists that ranged from Joy Division to Sunny Day Real Estate. I had only one request — a modest one — the Cure/Dinosaur Jr. “Just Like Heaven” 7-inch split on white wax. After waiting an hour and a half in the elements and being forced to make small talk about UK pressings and 180 gram reissues with some record nerds, I was bummed to learn that the little 45 of my dreams had been snatched up by the time I got in the door at 9am.


CD Review: Wussy’s “Attica!” Holds Beauty Amid the Tension

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Wussy: Attica!

Review by Ross Marvin

At the end of March, mere weeks before Paul McCartney sold out the entire Times Union Center in 10 minutes, Cincinnati rockers Wussy played for about 40 people at the Low Beat. Bassist Mark Messerly actually took a picture of the crowd from the NO PEPPER stage as though the modest turnout was a triumph by band standards. With today’s (Tuesday, May 6) release of their fifth album Attica! (Shake It Records), I can’t help but wonder how much longer the group will remain a well-kept secret among music critics, underground rock snobs and record collectors.

But, I do understand why critics like Robert Christgau fawn over these guys. They have a cool backstory: Veteran indie rock guy Chuck Cleaver and Lisa Walker start a band. The band is critically acclaimed, and Walker and Cleaver become a couple. Walker and Cleaver breakup, but keep the band keeps going. It’s an unlikely trajectory, but with music this good, you can understand the desire to stick around. Attica! is filled with one earworm after another, clever lyrics that border on the aphoristic, and the best kinds of rock and roll tensions — the ones that come from a relationship within the band.


New Release Rack: The Matthew Shipp Trio’s “The Root of Things”

Friday, March 14th, 2014

The Matthew Shipp Trio: The Root of Things

Root of Things
(Relative Pitch Records)

Regardless of the format – solo; with such saxmen as Roscoe Mitchell and David S. Ware; or with his trio of drummer Whit Dickey and Michael Bisio – prolific pianist Matthew Shipp conjures up a brainy brand of jazz. But what sets his work apart from the strict proponents of math-jazz is that Shipp and his bandmates pour their hearts into their playing. It’s passionate stuff – adventurous and often angular, but certainly not inaccessible.

And that comes through loud and clear on Root of Things, slated for release on Tuesday (March 18).

There are a half dozen tunes on the disc, each reflecting moments of eloquence, elegance and experimentation. “Jazz It,” for example, is built on a solid foundation of traditional swing, thanks to Bisio’s walking bass. And that makes it all the more exciting when the threesome reach for the stars and take it all stratospheric. “Path” is Bisio’s showcase, as he takes the lead with a five-minutes-plus unaccompanied bowed bass solo that seamlessly segues into rumbling trio ruminations.


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