With T.H.E. Show 2022 and CanJam Chicago 2022 back to back, this has been an extremely busy month and I really didn’t have the time for this review this month, but I didn’t want to disappoint regular readers, so here it is.
1. “Raindrops” (“Home, before and after” – Regina Spektor – 24-bit/48kHz – Qobuz) Regina Spektor is probably my favorite contemporary artist so it was with great excitement I greeted discovering that she had released a new album. “Home, before and after” is everything I love about Regina, quirky, intense, layered, and complex with virtuoso performances and timing. I could put the whole album as my top ten for the month but I will limit myself to two. “Raindrops” is classic Regina, centered around her fantastic piano playing, gentle and upbeat, one side of a dialog, like a love letter to a separated friend.
2. “Spacetime Fairytale” (“Home, before and after” – Regina Spektor – 24-bit/48kHz – Qobuz) “Spacetime Fairytale” is a deep thoughts conversation with a lost mentor to a backdrop of neo-classical orchestrations with evolving tempo and rhythms.
3. “Blood Count (Live)” (“Trios:Chapel (Live)” – Charles Lloyd – 24-bit/96kHz – Qobuz) “Trios:Chapel (Live)” is apparently part one of a three part project named “Trios of Trios” and was recorded live December 2018 at Coates Chapel in San Antonio, hence the title. The trio made up of Charles Lloyd (Saxophone), Bill Frisell (Guitar), and Thomas Morgan (Bass) gently weave their drifting melodies together to create something that is at once thought provoking and relaxing. This is definitely after midnight jazz at its best. Again, I could have chosen any track off this unbelievable album, but “Blood Count (Live)” struck a chord with me, with its staggered pacing and slightly atonal note bends.
4. “Jenny” (“The 45 King” – Westbound Beats – 24-bit/48kHz – Qobuz) Westbound Beats is billed as Hip-Hop/Rap but has elements of neither, instead being a rich instrumental blend of Funk, R&B, and ‘60s Soul set to Post Punk percussion. “Jenny” opens to a classic ’60s Rock epic outro that repeats until the eventual fade out. It is just something that needs to be heard.
5. “San Francisco is a Lonely Town” (“Color Me Country (Sun Records 70th/Remastered 2022)” – Linda Martell – 24-bit/96kHz – Qobuz) Linda Martell was apparently the first black female artist to perform at the Grand Ole Opry in 1969 and despite a fairly successful run, the rampant racism of the time eventually drove to give up music but not before she recorded “Color Me Country” in 1970. Shades of Joan Baez with Janis Joplin phrasing color “San Francisco is a Lonely Town” and vocal range that leaves both in the dust for the melancholy tune.
6. “Ignorance No Plea (I Should Have Known Better) [6th Demo]” (“Not About To Die (Studio Demos 1977-1979) – Wire – 24-bit/44.1kHz – Qobuz) This was actually the second old punk album release that I came across, though this one was definitely more seminal, and of course previously unreleased. Recorded at the height of the Punk wave “Ignorance No Plea” is an example of Lou Reed style spoken word Punk with a driving beat and dripping angst.
7. “Blood” (“Vaxis II: A Window of the Waking Mind” – Coheed and Cambria – 24-bit/48kHz – Qobuz) If you put together an album of action movie climax scene songs it would be “Vaxis II: A Window of the Waking Mind”, every song is over the top high energy and intense playing to the back row. “Blood” is only an exception because its cinematic placement would be the melancholy flashback sequence.
8. “Silk Chiffon” (“Muna” – Muna – 24-bit/48kHz – Qobuz) Muna is a three piece “girl” band with a cast of supporting characters. Despite being self-titled “Muna” is actually their third album. “Silk Chiffon” is pop ballad in the tradition of bands like The Bangles, Bananarama, and Cyndi Lauper and like the title implies feels good against the skin.
9. “Just the Same (Radio Session 1975) (Bonus Track)” (“Playing the Fool” – Gentle Giant – 16-bit/44.1kHz – Qobuz) This live recording of “Just the Same” exemplifies the peak of Gentle Giant’s performance years. Dissonant and arrhythmic they shine as one of Progressive Rock’s burning beacons.
10. “Schooldays” (“Three Friends (2011 Remaster)” – Gentle Giant – 16-bit/44.1kHz – Qobuz) “Three Friends” was the last of the Phil Shulman’s albums and “Schooldays” highlights his choral vocal gymnastics along with some wonderful vibe/guitar duets and a fantastic piano interlude.
Well, that’s it for this month, until next month remember it’s all about the music.
Manley Absolute Headphone Amplifier, Audio-gd R2R-1 DAC, Cardas Iridium single-ended RCA interconnects, Cardas Iridium power cords, Core Power Technologies A/V Equi=Core 1000, Cardas Clear USB cable, iFi Purifier 3, Dan Clark Audio ETHER2 headphones.