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Friday, June 8th, 2018
Music Reviews

Mingus, Monkeys, Russian Transcriptions and More... The Pauseandplay.com Record Roundup

Musicians: Send your CDs, vinyl and/or cassettes to Beachcomber, P.O. Box 5707, Destin, FL 32540-5707. Email MP3s and streaming links to chris@beachcomberdestin.com.
 

Arctic Monkeys

Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino

Domino Recording Co.

This is not what I had even remotely suspected the new Arctic Monkeys album would sound like. Alex Turner has a history molding each album in a distinctively new direction, especially with 2013’s AM. Produced by James Ford, TBH&C is the British indie rock band’s sixth full-length studio release, decadently dark and their most sonically captivating work to date. The LP is metaphorically themed, with Turner residing at some remote, languid hotel and casino on the moon, and the sci-fi theme works great throughout the entire album. The spacious chords, subtle fuzzy guitar riffs, moody piano progressions, and Turner’s well-executed lyrical misdirections all add a uniquely enigmatic flavor. A brilliant album that I’d recommend to anyone, but it probably isn’t for everyone.

- Chris Leavenworth

Vyacheslav Gryaznov

Russian Transcriptions

Steinway and Sons

Russian pianist-composer-arranger-transcriber Gryaznov’s Russian Transcriptions is a kind of grand chamber exhibition of Big Name Russian masters. The featured transcribees are Borodin, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev and Glinka. The playlist includes program pieces often played by full orchestra, tailored for piano by Gryaznov. There’s fantasy (from “The Nutcracker”), romance, more ballet (“On the Dnieper”), and, of course, melancholy. It would be enough of an accomplishment simply to arrange these works for a single instrument, but Gryaznov takes it beyond that—he calls the tune, and plays it. His playing moves easily from narrow and quiet to broad and bold.

- Bruce Collier


Love the Hate

Burn

Independent

Mobile, Alabama rockers are back with a new full-length of melody driven, blaring, hard rock tunes. It’s the kind of music that’s fun to listen to really loud—possibly loud enough that your neighbors can hear it, too. With a steady pulse, tight riffs, and vocals that maintain a certain live energy, this is an all-around win for Love the Hate. Well done, gentlemen.

- Nikki Hedrick


Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks

Sparkle Hard 

Matador

Malkmus might not get the same recognition as Thurston Moore, Beck, or any of his other indie rock veteran contemporaries, but any major dude will tell you his contributions to the genre are just as massive. In certain circles (the ones I pretend to be in), he’s the real Daddy-O of ‘90s indie rock and one of the most talented songwriters of our time. He’s a legend for his work with Pavement and involvement with Silver Jews, and yet some of his most refined (and tragically overlooked) work has been with the Jicks over the past decade. Sparkle Hard is no exception. Everything here is safely within Malkmus’ broad creative reach—with a bit more self-reflection—and I’m good with that.

- Chris Leavenworth


Geraud Portal

Let My Children Hear Mingus

Jazz Family

Bassist Portal and his sextet—Cesar Poirier and Luigi Grasso (sax), Quentin Ghomari (trumpet), Vahagn Hayrapetyan (piano) and Kush Abadey (drums)—pay French tribute to Charles Mingus. The live album was recorded at the Parisian club Duc des Lombards. Ten tracks offer a sampler of Mingus’ best stuff—“Fables of Faubus,” “Haitian Fight Song,” “Moanin’,” and others. Mingus wrote notoriously challenging music, but Portal’s combo, especially the sax players, have a fine time. There’s an edge of almost theatrical nostalgia here. But, like Mingus said, “Let my children have music! Let them hear live music. Not noise.”

- Bruce Collier


Jordi Savall

Musica Nova

Alia Vox

The subtitle of Savall’s Musica Nova is Harmonie des Nations 1500-1700. It’s a slight misnomer, considering all the wars that took place then. Maybe it’s a Bernsteinian hope for peace through understanding. I reviewed Savall’s dazzling La Sublime Porte in 2011, and was moved by the combination of scholarship and artistry displayed in it. Who’d listen to 600-year-old Ottoman court music? Me, for one. Now he’s paying tribute to Venice’s musical influence on European culture, which wasn’t limited to conquest and commerce. The 26 tracks include works by Dowland, Charpentier and Gibbons, everything from laments to dances.

- Bruce Collier


Slow Low Crow

Live at the Wilbury

Cat Family Records

Recorded live in Tallahassee, these fellas serve up country blues with an emphasis on harmonica. Awash in authenticity, Slow Low Crow is a rock band for country fans who aren’t afraid of a few hard truths. They slip in a couple of covers, too, including Jason Isbell’s low-key modern classic “Decoration Day.”

- Nikki Hedrick


Zachx

Heart

Independent

Melding a dark synth sound with modern pop vocals, the Pensacola one-man project excels in the unconventional. The contradictory styles create a balanced cacophony, and frankly, it’s nice to have an artist creating music so far outside of the typical genres. In the quest for self-expression Zachx should be lauded for fearlessly making music on his own terms.

- Nikki Hedrick


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