MUSIC REVIEWS: Sunset Rubdown, Santero, Eddi Reader, Roni Size, Moving Mountains
Dragonslyer is the fourth LP and sixth release from Sunset Rubdown, the solo project of Wolf Parade co-frontman Spencer Krug. Let me start off by reiterating that I’m a pretty big Wolf Parade fan, and that their second album (At Mount Zoomer) was a bit of a let down for me, primarily because I loved the first so much and my expectations were high.
That being said, Dragonslyer reminds me of the drama and exuberance conveyed in Krug’s songs on Apologies; he constructs fragments of chaos and indeterminate tempos to create really beautiful and distinctive songs with magnificent crescendos. Case in point, “Black Swan”: a kinetic romp through the seemingly, bashing of various instrumentation back to a muted beat of steady guitar thumbing, finishing with a blistering eruption. That’s the shit I like. It feels so cathartic, like a virtual release. My second fave, “You Go On Ahead” is onomatopoetic to me, if that makes sense. It just sounds like what the name implies: “Danger’s behind us, you go on ahead, I need to take care of some shit.” That’s an accomplishment; it’s the hallmark of good, poignant songwriting. The remainder of the album is a full-bore of quality mish-mashed songs of electro-fuzz grounded in a rock framework that zig and zag through your conscious to be interpreted as you wish.
Overall, I really like this album, and it grows on me with each successive listen. I’d say pick it up if you enjoy early Wolf Parade or just off-kilter songs in general. Thumbs up.
Santero’s new release El Hijo De Obatala is certified hot. Hearty Latin percussion, gritty dance beats, a mixture of jazz, hip hop, reggae, funk, soul and rhythm and blues all work feverishly to make this album one that is hard to catch one’s breath, even while sitting. Quite possibly the most scorching of dance albums, Santero has taken the best of various genres and created a truly extraordinary record ready to take the most timid of wallflowers and make enthusiastic movers out of them. Born in Central America, Santero also comes from a family of Latin musicians and deejays. El Hijo De Obatala, from track to track is fun, positive, exuberant and musically engaging. The trade-off between Spanish and English lyrics and vocal harmonies electrify the album, adding an authentic international fusion of sound. There is a freshly crisp sonic beauty to the instrumentation and beats that vibrate speakers at almost any volume. “Cabio Sile” moves like a sweltering Miami Beach house party full of sun, sexiness, energy, swaying palm trees and sparkling sand. The lyrics fit nicely around the salsa wind of beats and soaring trumpets. The grinding piano riff is addictive and bright. Songs switch between breezy sauntering affairs, such as, “Babe Ade,” to a more R&B, club-inspired, “Oba” and the spiritual “Madre de 9” that trade off Santero’s lyrics against a longing female solo that asks a very profound question. Very much a blending of hip hop and salsa music, this record is able to convert anybody and everybody to move.
You have to love Scotland. Sure it gave us such hardcore delights as the Highland games, Soccer Riots, and the Deep Fried Mars Bar. But! It’s also given us singer/songwriter Eddi Reader, and her newest album Love is the Way.
At its heart this is a charming, ethereal collection of ballads from the Scottish Songstress. It opens on a great note with the beautiful “Dragon Flies,” and keeps the charm coming with “Silent Bells” and “New York City.” Love is the Way features some of the most beautiful guitar I’ve heard in a while, and standout “Dandelion” is the best song written about dandelions since Audioslave took a crack at it on Out of Exile. Also great are “Over it Now” and “Fallen Twice” which make for some cute, romantic listening. Perhaps the best part of these songs is their breezy nature and accordion accompaniments; they really take the listener to a different place. Listening to the album feels like having coffee in a Parisian cafe. Its only downfall is the final tracks: “Roses,” “My Shining Star,” and “I Won’t Stand in Your Way” which are pretty uninspired, bland ballads. Otherwise, this is a great breezy album certainly worth a listen or two.
Roni Size and a group of DJs, rappers, singers and musicians form Reprazent and together have been pioneers of genre bending music for years. Size, a British producer and DJ began refining the nature of drum and bass music when he stepped onto the scene in 1997. New Forms 2 is his latest release and is a re-edited version of New Forms, an album released 10 years ago. The new album features four new songs and a re-working of 13 original tracks. The title song “New Forms” features a deliciously silky rap delivery by Philly rapper Bahamadia and is laced with a jungle inspired smattering of drum and a churning of sly mysterious bass twists. “Share the Fall” is a breezy sensual tune with vocals by Onallee. A mild jazz guitar riff and warm piano finds its way into the sunshine of club beats and positivity. For those unfamiliar with Roni Size, his music has a very slick seamless production. Instruments actually breathe.
Enough influences outside of drum and bass, jungle and club music allow the album to sound energizing and innovative. This gift allows the music to take on a new style of sparkling fresh and squeaky clean branding. When not being swept up by wicked break beats and mind-thudding low end acoustics, enough soft heady soulful grooves emerge like clouds. Each song is a new droplet of some genre you have heard before but it rings through in yet a more evolved stratosphere.
Four tracks make up Foreword, the latest from Moving Mountains but each song is an epic thesis on a very realist and raw heart versus brain discourse poetically put and beautifully composed. Lyrically more emo, musically more rock escapade or post-rock, Moving Mountains has dimensions, many dimensions. Cascading, layered orchestral rock inundates, Foreword. Atmospheric, bending and musically heavy, Moving Mountains creates a sound that is boundless and engaging. Rivaling guitar riffs dip and dive, echoing drums and a pushing bass along with symphony hall acoustics amplify each track. At times the music leaves one alone amidst tortured vocals by Gregory Dunn or just the heaviness of a throbbing bass. When the windstorm of instruments pummels each other in a dramatic odyssey, the album is at its finest. With Nicholas Pizzolato on drums, Mitchell Lee on bass and trombone and Frank Graniero on guitar, the enigmatic collapse and build of each song feels like a monumental task executed by whimsically talented musicians. The lyrical build is a deeply personal dichotomy of love and anguish. It is a residual spiritual declaration that seems to say while in the midst of love, our human pieces are the ones that mess us up sometimes but that same declaration pulls us closer. With those kind of lyrics and music that is so reaching, Moving Mountains appeals to the thinking person and the emotional one, and for those who are just about the music, there are few finer soundscapes.