It’s been a busy month with AXPONA and all, but music is what gets us through. And it’s been a busy month for Qobuz also, not only did they attend and provide streaming service for AXPONA, they seem to have outdone themselves with new musical offerings, which leads to this month’s list:
1. “Prayer Factory” (“Dance Fever” – Florence + Machine – 24-bit/96kHz – Qobuz) Florence + Machine’s latest offering “Dance Fever” is spectacular and the crowning achievement of her career so far. Picking just one song for this list was a challenge from the soulful pulsating “King” to the upbeat pop “Free” to the eclectic ambient introspective “Choreomania”, but “Prayer Factory” short and sweet captures the heart of the album as well as my own.
2. “Night Shift” (“Amaryllis” – Mary Halvorson – 24-bit/96kHz – Qobuz) With a kinda jazz version of Gentle Giant meets Pierre Moerlen’s Gong sound, Mary Halvorson’s sextet of Patricia Brennan on vibraphone, Nick Dunston on bass, Tomas Fujiwara on drums, Jacob Garchik on trombone, Adam O’Farrill on trumpet, and Mary on guitar is definitely just up my alley. As an improvisational musician myself, I am totally entranced with her music.
3. “The Weight” (“Carry Me Home” – Mavis Staples & Levon Helm – 24-bit/44.1kHz – Qobuz) In 2011 two music giants, gospel god Mavis Staples & folk-rock legend Levon Helm, met in a barn in Woodstock (less than a year before Levon Helm passed on) to rehearse, 11 years later this performance has been released. While the whole performance is a tribute to these incredible talents, “The Weight” shines out capturing all the import of the song in a package that would make The Band proud.
4. “Cello Concerto (2021 Revision)” (“A Gathering of Friends” – John Williams – Yo-Yo Ma – New York Philharmonic – 24-bit/96kHz – Qobuz) John Williams and Yo-Yo Ma, how could I pass it up. Made up of four movements “I. Theme & Cadenza”, “II. Blues”, “III. Scherzo”, and “IV. Song” it reflects all the brilliance that is these two mega-stars.
5. “Spiders” (“Altar” – Jo Schornikow – 24-bit/44.1kHz – Qobuz) There is something pleasant and soothing about Jo Schornikow’s lightly raspy alto voice that is both intimate and friendly, like a modern-day Melanie. While her songs are simple indie-folk-rock tunes, there is a complexity to the orchestrations that offer overlapping rhythms. “Spiders” stands out with its ambient guitar and keyboards backed by continuous drum and cymbal rolls in the distance.
6. “Searching For You” (“Weird Nightmare” – Weird Nightmare – 24-bit/44.1kHz – Qobuz) It is always a treat when contemporary punk bands mix a bit of old with a bit of new. While all of Weird Nightmare’s tunes will have your head bopping, “Searching For You” has a wonderful blend of Shonen Knife and Johnny Lydon.
7. “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself” (“Love Letters EP” – Bryan Ferry – 24-bit/44.1kHz – Qobuz) Bryan Ferry is my absolute favorite vocalist. There is just something about his duo-tone baritone that just speaks to me, and none of those dulcet tones have diminished with age. “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself” drips with everything I love about Bryan Ferry, from the slow pulsating pace to the melodic soulful melancholy interpretation.
8. “Slow Intro” (“Multiversum” – Jimi Tenor – 16-bit/44.1kHz – Qobuz) Unlike most EDM bands, Jimi Tenor’s songs don’t sound all alike with the same electronic drum beat and rhythm structure, in fact, every song has its own beat and rhythm with an element of jazz to the woodwinds that flow through each tune.
9 “Where Is Yesterday” (“The United States Of America” – The United States Of America – Jimi Tenor – 16-bit/44.1kHz – Qobuz) The United States Of America was one of the first Electronica bands, which made it a great surprise that I had never heard of them. Recorded in 1968 their album was groundbreaking, exploring the edges of psychedelica. Opening with monastic chanting “Where Is Yesterday” exemplifies their sound.
10 “Pig” (“Volume Two” – The Soft Machine – 16-bit/44.1kHz – Qobuz) The Soft Machine was an early progressive rock trio (keyboards, guitar, percussion) of epic talent, though Hugh Hopper replaced Kevin Ayers for their second album, this seemed to have absolutely no negative effect on the band’s sound, while I could have picked any song from their early albums, “Pig” is particularly accessible for those new to the genre.
That wraps it up for this month; until next, remember it’s all about the music.