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Thursday, July 5th, 2012
Music Reviews

7.5.12 - The Beat’s Record Roundup - Bryan Kennedy, Treme and More

Bryan Kennedy


Cowabunga Boy

Beachcomberland can use more singer-songwriters that know how to turn a clever phrase, and if most of these don’t have you laughing, they’ll certainly keep the smile from falling of your face. The title track is good enough to make you wonder why co-writer Ray Stevens didn’t keep it for himself, and the Western swing arrangement on the Luckenbach song packs more oomph than the 30A song (still, it’s better than anything a Bangle could come up with). Kennedy saves his best move for last—“Land of Cotton” starts out being about football and ends up taking on racial equality. It’s the kind of song you want to let the whole world know about.

- Christopher C. Manson

David Kikoski, Christian McBride and Jeff “Tain” Watts


Criss Cross

This was my first album by New Jersey jazz pianist Kikoski, but anybody that can enlist the magic McBride on bass and Marsalis alumnus Watts on drums is worth trying on faith. Consequences is a trio connoisseur’s dream recording. The nine-track album offers some satisfyingly lengthy (but never boring or self-indulgent) tunes, seven composed by Kikoski and two by Watts. As with any carefully chosen performance set, mood and tempo are nicely varied, and everyone gets a shot at center stage. This is three masters at the top of their form.

- Bruce Collier

Randy Newman

Live in London (2011)


“Nobody is retiring in rock and roll,” says the great man as he introduces “I’m Dead (But I Don’t Know It),” one of many highlights on this in-concert career retrospective. The best-known classics are mostly accounted for—“Short People,” even—as well as treats like “Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear” and “The World Isn’t Fair.” Would-be songwriters can learn a lot about the craft from this set, and would-be performers can learn even more about witty between-song patter.

- Christopher C. Manson

Soulive & Karl Denson


Royal Family

The trio of Soulive—guitarist Eric Krasno, drummer Alan Evans and keyboardist Neal Evans—adds a fourth, saxophone/ flute player Denson, to Spark! It’s a fourtrack release, clocking in at 35 minutes, but they make maximum use of the time with a strong, insinuatingly nostalgic blend of soul and brawny funk, leavened by Denson’s supple reedwork. Three of the four tracks are covers of previously recorded pieces by Yusef Lateef, Freddie Hubbard and Art Farmer. Among the titles are “Nubian Lady” and “Soul Sides,” which ought to conjure up images of Pam Grier and Richard Roundtree. If not, listen again.

- Bruce Collier

Treme: Music from the HBO Original Series – Season 2

New Rounder

You don’t have to be a fan of the best show on TV to appreciate this set of stunners from the likes of the Subdudes, the Radiators, Jon Cleary and Rebirth Brass Band, among others. Only Steve Zahn’s DJ Davis turn doesn’t work well outside the context of the program. A celebration of New Orleans music, much of it recorded live…appropriately enough. Not a lot of big names, outside of Dr. John and ex-cast member Steve Earle, but Kermit Ruffins’ “What Is New Orleans” packs enough punch to make you consider relocating.

- Christopher C. Manson

...and speaking of New Orleans...