Our staff CD picks for July/August

Another eclectic mix from our librarians during these dark winter months:

Cover imageHouse masters.
As fans of the House dance music genre will tell you…”house music is a spiritual thing”…. and Charles Webster is the one to lead the congregation! He helped develop the genre known as deep house with its characteristic soulful vocals, jazz influenced samples, dubbed out electronics and relatively slow grooves and has lovingly curated, edited and programmed this double CD compilation from his own personal archive of remixes and original productions. Smooth and sultry, this is a beautiful late night ride into the heart of a lush dance music sub-genre. (John)

Cover imageThe Magic Band plays the music of Captain Beefheart.
The legendary Captain Beefheart died in 2010 and it was fair to assume that his live show died with him, however, ex-musicians of his Magic Band got together to perform some of their favourite Captain’s songs live in London to an enthralled audience in 2013 and recorded the concert .The band are in fine form and, surprisingly, original ‘Trout Mask Replica’ drummer, John “Drumbo” French, actually does a pretty good take of the Captain’s infamous vocal and harmonica style across 13 tracks, drawn from the Beefheart back catalogue, including ‘Hot Head’ and ‘Click Clack’. A fitting tribute to a key figure in contemporary musical history that will help his memory live on, and after you listen to this seek out the original albums, all of which are included in the library’s collection…..(John)

Cover imageFour directions / Marc Cary Focus Trio.
This year Downbeat has voted him as a rising star of the keyboard, but Marc Cary has been around more than two decades, enjoying a low-keyed but stellar career. He was a right-hand man of two outstanding black female singers: Betty Carter and Abbey Lincoln, whom he made a tribute album for. He also worked with neo-soul and hip-hop artists such as Erykah Badu, and played on Q-Tip’s masterpiece The Renaissance. ‘Focus Trio’ is one of his main projects and probably most loved one. Apparently his ‘focus’ is ‘to bring indigenous rhythms together with American Jazz to create new ‘palettes of sound’, and in fact, he integrates a lot of sounds such as Indian raga, African, Native American as well as electric fusion into his bop-based jazz world. His acoustic piano play shows shadows of Herbie Nichols and McCoy Tyner and he uniquely uses synthesizers and Fender Rhodes on some tracks. This tremendous trio seems to change their style and character on every track like a chameleon, but generate rare spiritual, bluesy grooves throughout which no one else does. Fantastic. (Shinji)

Cover imageCheatahs.
A squall of raucous twin guitars announces the arrival of this London band that has taken five years to produce their first album. The breathy melodic vocal lines buried under swathes of rich textured noise recall the heyday of early ‘90’s shoegaze and college rock and they recreate that sound so well that on first listen this could be mistaken for a lost ‘90’s recording. However, further listening reveals a band transmuting those influences into something, while not original, exciting and compelling, like the missing link between My Bloody Valentine and Dinosaur Junior. (John)

Cover imageLive in NYC.
Daughter of Frank Zappa band, The Mothers’ bassist Dave Parlato, Gretchen Parlato won the Thelonious Monk Institute International Vocal Completion in 2004, and since then she released three acclaimed albums and appeared on more than 70 recordings. Taking new standards of jazz such as Herbie Hancock’s Butterfly and Wayne Shorter’s Juju in her prime repertoire, her fresh approach to create a hybrid urban jazz makes her one of the most successful jazz singers today. This CD/DVD set contains her well-known repertoire including aforementioned tunes and Lauryn Hill’s All That I Can Say and sums up her career to the date. Led by her whisper voice, it showcases her mellow and lyrical world, which soul, hip-hop and Brazil essences are subtly blended into modal-jazz. She uses her voice as an instrument as a part of the total sound, and the chemical of the band is marvellous. They are all young exciting musicians in NY jazz scene today where abound in new talents, and extremely sensitive on every sound they make (accompanying DVD clearly shows it). Mesmerising. (Shinji)

Cover imageHot dreams.
Canadian band Timber Timbre’s fifth record finds this excellent collection of musicians hitting their stride. Imagine the soundtrack to a Spaghetti Western directed by David Lynch and you get some idea. The pace is alt-country slow, the vocals are reverb laden, the guitars twang and the entire production is just nicely askew enough to create an original surreal take on Southern Gothic via ‘50’s Americana. “This is Bates Motel schmaltz, with the entire record a decrepit, cobweb-clogged anthology of past styles and vintage genres”. (John)

Cover image6 feet beneath the moon.
A young British musician. Kind of post punk, reminiscent to me of Joe Strummer, but with a modern edge and intriguing vocals. Some of the tracks lean towards Jazz and Electronica. Very interesting, particularly love the first track Easy Easy. (Kim)

Cover imageSunbathing animal.
The follow up to 2012’s excellent ‘Light Up Gold’ finds the band tighter, more confident but just as wonderfully wonky and off kilter. Their sound is derived from the spiky, angular post punk of bands like Wire and the Fall, with the chug of VU and the quirkiness of the Modern Lovers all channelled through Pavement, but theirs is a post-modern version, powered by scratchy repetitive guitars and super smart lyrics they are, to quote Pitchfork, “using the past to write their own version of the present”. (John)

Cover image4-bands split. Vol. 1 / Naam, White Hills, Black Rainbows, The Flying Eyes.
As the title suggests, four bands share a CD that serves up the some of the best of the current crop of U.S. heavy psychedelic stoner rock. Trippy, hypnotic tracks evoke shimmering desert scapes and/or the cold emptiness of space. Fuzztastic… (Neil)

Cover imageEntropicalia / The Soundcarriers.
It is no surprise that the latest album by UK band, the Soundcarriers, is released on Ghost Box, a label dedicated to the very British sub genre known as ‘hauntology’, which references Jacques Derrida’s idea that ‘the present exists only with respect to the past’. Consequently, influences abound within the Soundcarriers hallucinatory dream-world, including the Hammond organ sound of the swinging ‘60’s, the jazz flute of ‘50’s tropicalia, the sweet vocals of Pentangle and the rhythmic drive of the Velvet Underground. With Stereolab no longer around it’s great to know that the ‘Soundcarriers’ are there to continue the retro future space jazz folk revival! (John)

Cover imageWe Are Catchers.
Freed from the restrictions of hobbits and orcs, Peter Jackson has made a splendid little album of piano and vocals. Ok, this is a different Peter Jackson. The Liverpool singer-songwriter has crafted a simple but heartfelt reverb-drenched record that calls up Brian Wilson through a porthole on the Mersey ferry. (Neil)

Cover imageOnly lovers left : Detroit et Tangier.
Whatever you thought of indie film director Jim Jarmusch’s recent take on the vampire genre it’s hard to deny that the soundtrack was fantastic, a moody and invocative collection of tracks by no other than the director’s own band SQURL and lute player, Josef van Wissem, which won the 2013 Cannes Film Festival Soundtrack Award. The guitars are overdriven, the pace is generally pretty slow and the tunes unfurl like dark flowers. The movie is set in Detroit and Tangiers and the soundtrack is correspondingly divided into two halves – ‘Detroit’ featuring a dense murky sound with lots of feedback, while ‘Tangier’ is lighter, featuring middle-eastern influenced plucked strings. Overall, a soundtrack that stands alone as an accomplished musical work. (John)

Cover imageNightclubbing.
Grace Jones’ 1981 album ‘Nightclubbing’, was recorded at Compass Point employing the legendary Sly and Robbie as rhythm section and became one of those rare records that helped define a generation. This 2014 re-issue features two discs – one a beautifully crisp remastered version of the original recording and the second containing a collection of extended versions and remixes. Has it aged well? Like Grace Jones herself – definitely! And, in what must stand as a high water mark for Sly and Robbie, it still sounds as funky as hell. (John)

Cover imageAldous Harding.
Aldous Harding sings like an angel. A very unique singing style that in some of the tracks I had to listen closely to see if she was singing in English or not (she was). Vocals backed by folky, atmospheric music. A beautiful album. (Kim)

Cover imageT. Rex.
Another good retro re-release is the 1970 record that saw Marc Bolan transmutate from the acoustic elfin hippie of Tyrannosaurus Rex to the electric proto glam-rocker of T. Rex, inspiring a young David Bowie on the way. This is an interesting record that captures an artist in transition – well illustrated by the disparity between the hippie mysticism of the opening track “The Children of Rarn”, which closes in true hippie fashion with an “OM”, and the cover version of Eddie Cochran’s rock ‘n’ roll classic, “Summertime Blues”. The make-up, cross dressing and primitive rock beats of Glam Rock that followed is rock history, with Marc Bolan attaining super-star status, and here is the early genesis. (John)

Cover imageDo it again / Royksopp & Robyn.
A perfect marriage of electro-pop & dance floor beats fuel this short 5 track 36 minute mini-LP from Royksopp & Robyn that prefaces an upcoming tour. From the sunny summer pop of title track ‘Do It Again’, to the atmospheric late night club vibe of ‘Inside The Idle Hour Club’, the 5 tracks demonstrate a range of styles & moods that make you wish for a full album’s worth of tracks. Addictive. (Mark)

Cover imageFabric 74.
The latest in the very popular Fabric DJ Mix series features veteran ambient techno producer David Moufang in his Move D guise, who delivers a compelling set of crowd-pleasing, lush, groove laden House as much selected from the genre’s past as from its present. While technology has spawned an era over-run with dj mixes, this is possibly the most enjoyable, danceable and listenable mix released so far this year. ‘Fabric 74’ is an expertly curated history lesson from a genuine member of ‘da old skool’, a very cool document affirming that, as dance fans, we’re all here to have a good time in the end. (John)

Cover imageAventine.
I don’t know how to describe her music, I just love it. The songs grow on you and you keep discovering more and more depths to them. Amazing voice. (Kim)

Cover imageArtificial sweeteners.
This is the Brighton based UK trio’s fifth album of intelligent beat-driven, post-Krautrock, dance grooves and one reviewer has asked “how does a band this good continue to remain a cult concern?”. They arrived fully formed on their first record and since then have refined their analogue synth, bouncing bass lines, krautrock rhythms and trademark arch, near-whispered vocals to deliver yet another excellent record. If you like up-tempo grooves that appeal both to the hips and the mind then dip into this or anywhere in their back catalogue and you won’t be disappointed. (John)

Cover imageThe best of 1981/1997.
Terry Hall is one of the great but hugely underrated songwriters and singers of the last thirty years. This 2-disc collection collects some of his best songs from his post-Specials work with Fun Boy Three, Colourfield, Vegas, Terry Blair & Anouchka, as well as solo material. (Neil)