Saturday, July 31, 2010

One Week's Worth of Recordings

13 recordings in a week- I love the age of the free streaming on the internet.

Artist: Cecilia Bartoli
Album: The Vivaldi Album
Recording #238
Stream the album here

Another recording from the opera genre that I actually enjoyed. Tom Moon talks about her "agility," and I think that I know what he means-- the way she trills her voice is pretty incredible. And I like the tone of her voice, a little lower, which is different. The last track is the only one I recognized as a famous opera, but this one was pretty nice.

Artist: Paul Bley
Album: Fragments
Recording #239
Stream the album here

Another free jazz album- this was like the background music to a film noir detective film. It was equal parts annoying and weird.

Artist: The Chemical Brothers
Album: Dig Your Own Hole
Recording #240
Stream the album here

Back with another one of those block rockin' beats!" If you were a teen in the 90's you knew this song, even if you didn't know the sample was from Schooly D (I only know him as the rapper who does the intro to the TV show Aqua Teen Hunger Force). The Chemical Brothers, while not my cup of tea, were a force to be reckoned with back then, along with like-minded bands Fatboy Slim and Daft Punk (the latter the only one to still have selling power currently). This album is a bit dated, but just like the title of Daft Punk's album, sometimes you have to do your "homework" to see why electronica is where it is today.

Artist: Clifton Chenier
Album: Bogalusa Boogie
Recording #241
Stream the album here

This is the 2nd cajun album, and this one is much preferred to the first, Buckwheat Zydeco. This album leans a lot more on the blues influence and really feels like a New Orleans party I could get into. If live music with lots of accordion is your thing, check this one out.

Artist: Don Cherry, Dewey Redman, Charlie Haden, and Ed Blackwell
Album: Old and New Dreams
Recording #242
Stream the album here

Oh wow, this is pretty God-awful stuff. More free jazz, and clearly there is skill involved to squeeze the noises out of the instruments like they do, but this was bad. It started out pretty palatable, and quickly became unlistenable. Unless you are a free jazz connoisseur, tread lightly here.

Artist: Vic Chesnutt
Album: Is the Actor Happy?
Recording #243
Stream the album here

I really wanted to like this album-- it's 1995 but it really doesn't sound that dated. In the end though, this alt-rocker left me wanting a little bit more. The album starts out sounding a little like a slow Blues Traveler song, or the Flaming Lips at their most accessible, but eventually it sounds more and more like Patterson Hood's songs for the Drive-By Truckers. Despite the favorable comparison, in the end the songwriting wasn't as solid, even if the lyrics are interesting. Check it out though, if you like alt-country or just the country tinged pop song.

Artist: Chic
Album: C'est Chic
Recording #244
Stream the album here, search for the rest on youtube

Well I had heard this band on Saturday Night Disco back on the Q104 when I was a kid ("Le Freak"), but I didn't know the name of the band, let alone that they have some extremely catchy dance music. Disco may be laughed at now, but listen to your Franz Ferdinand or your Bravery or your Phoenix. Where do you think they got those funky basslines? This album comes screaming out of the gates with "Chic Cheer," built around a great guitar riff that just keeps becoming more and more compelling, and next is the more universally recognized "Le Freak." The rest of the album is solid, even if none of the songs are as memorable, and I need to hunt down a copy. If you want to start a dance party, put this one in.

Artist: Chicago
Album: The Chicago Transit Authority
Recording #245
Stream this album here

If "You're the Inspiration" is what you think of when you think of Chicago, I was right there with you. But on this debut the band has some muscle-- both with a stellar horn section and blistering guitar work. I did end up recognize a couple songs ("Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?" and "Beginnings") but most of the songs were new to me. I really liked this one, although the freestyle guitar was a little much, even though it was interesting, and I can see why Jimi Hendrix was a fan of Chicago's guitarist.

Artist: Frederic Chopin
Album: Ballades and Scherzos
Recording #246
Stream the album here

Unfortunately had to skip a couple recordings I couldn't find (including some interesting sounding Hawai'ian guitar) but on the bright side I found out that I enjoy Chopin. These Ballades and Scherzos are pretty and short, filled with lots of tempo and theme changes (the first has a tempo change that comes out of nowhere) and were overall very nice to listen to and a good introduction to this composer's works.

Artist: Frederic Chopin
Album: Nocturnes
Recording #247
Stream the album here

If the last Chopin was easy listening, this one is music for comas. In fact, the 2nd Nocturne is the music that plays on my son's mobile with bird songs. They can be a little slow and "one-note" at times, but they are often pretty. There are some nice piano trills courtesy of Maria Joao Pires, who is nice and steady throughout, but again, sometimes the whole thing is so quiet it's hard to hear much differentiating the songs. This was the perfect soundtrack, however, to a day when my son slept in my arms during an afternoon thunderstorm. So I will have fond memories of this recording, and when I need something to put me at ease, and possibly unconscious, I'll return to this one.

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