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This Month's E-Music Acquisitions...

John ColtraneLush Life”Re-Mastered

Two words best to describe John Coltrane's 1958 "Lush Life", casual elegance. This newly remastered release on the Prestige label is perfect for an autumn night and a well-mixed cocktail. Coltrane's playing is contemplative and restrained, while still harboring the questing spirituality he would soon begin exploring in subsequent recordings. The absence of a piano player on the first three tracks clears the way for Trane's emotive runs. Tone, pure and bluesy, is the focus on "Lush Life". The last two tracks feature the addition of Red Garland on piano and Donald Byrd on trumpet. At close to 15 minutes the title track hints at some of the more adventurous playing Coltrane would be known for. But this record finds him contented, in all his nuanced glory.

Flying Lotus1983

After reading a lot of the hype surrounding the recent release of Flying Lotus’ (aka Steven Ellison) “Los Angeles”, I decided to go back to his 2006 recording “1983” as a primer. Flying Lotus’ music is comprised of bleeps, glitches, and fuzz, most seemingly generated from a Casio keyboard circa 1983. His inspiration seems to be divined as much from Atari 2600 as Aphex Twin. While the “skip beat’ stagger of most of the tracks give Flying Lotus a signature sound, it feels like ambient wallpaper. There is nothing very compelling about “1983”. Comparisons to J-Dilla seem unwarranted other than both are lo-fi aficionados. “1983” would be better suited to background music in a trendy wine bar than a club. In the sub-genre obsessed universe of electronica, Flying Lotus may be an Indie darling but to these ears there is little to celebrate.

The Last Shadow PuppetsThe Age of the Understatement

This collaboration between the Arctic Monkey’s Alex Turner and the Rascals’ Miles Kane really delivers on the promise of both of these songwriters. Many reviewers cite David Bowie as a key influence on “The Age of the Understatement” but I would offer Ennio Morricone, LA psychedelic band Love, Britain’s The Coral and the sounds coming out of swingin’ London in mid 1960’s, as the guiding lights for this recording. Vocally, these two front men sound perfect together. In fact, I hadn’t realized how good a voice Turner was in possession of, inflecting more melody into these songs than is evidenced in his work with the Arctic Monkeys. The acerbic wit both songwriters are known for is still there but some of the sting is masked by the ornate orchestrations and galloping tempos. “Standing Next To Me” would fit nicely on Love’s Forever Changes and “Calm Like You” might have Tom Jones considering another comeback attempt.

Animal CollectiveStrawberry Jam

What do you get when you place Brian Wilson, Philip Glass, and Dan Deacon in a blender and push puree? You might get Baltimore transplants now residing in Brooklyn, Animal Collective. Last year’s release “Strawberry Jam” is one of the most confounding and brilliant examples of laptop rock. Critical darlings to be sure and worth the accolades, main songwriting forces Panda Bear and Avey Tare craft layered, inventive, joyous whimsy. Animal Collective reference “Smile” era Brian Wilson, celebrating the druggy glory, they offer an alternative universe for those voices in his head. The variegated playground these musicians inhabit is a feast for the ears. Soaring harmonies mix with world music influences, which are then left to swim up the bit rate stream. The songs on “Strawberry Jam” begin as innocent experimentation, quickly escalate into addiction, have you finding God and then relapsing back into the magical world of Animal Collective.

Shudder To Think “Funeral At The Movies/Ten Spot”

This combined release of 1990’s “Ten Spot” and 1991’s “Funeral At The Movies” on Discord (Minor Threat, Fugazi, Rites of Spring) is a nice indoctrination into Shudder To Think’s divergent art-punk. Never really in step with the rest of the Discord catalogue, these first records turn on singer Craig Wedren’s soaring, psuedo-falsetto. The tracks on both recordings point to the triumphs that would be captured on 1994’s “Pony Express Record”. Future guitarist and songwriting force Nathan Larsen would join Shudder after these releases, forging the unique and supremely creative partnership with Wedren. The two would solidify the symbiosis that would bridge metal, art-rock, and indie-rock. Always inventive, this recording is ground zero for those looking to discover the creative genesis for this one-of-a-kind rock band.

Cold War KidsLoyalty to Loyalty

There has already been a ton of press surrounding Cold War Kids sophomore offering “Loyalty to Loyalty”. Most reviews are looking to draw blood on a band that received so much hype after 2006’s “Robbers & Cowards”. The backlash seems totally undeserved and reactionary. This record is much darker sonically-as most second records tend to be- revealing a band that is serious about being taken serious. “Loyalty to Loyalty” bears repeated listening to get at the core of CWK’s malcontent. The production is reverb heavy with the guitars taking prominence. They have an almost Hawaiian sheen to them, locking in with the bass in syncopated rhythmic stutters. Nathan Willet’s vocals are soulful in a Jeff Buckley way and really are the centerpiece of Cold War Kids sound. This is a band that is still in the process of refining their sound but unlike many other bands they have their own sound to refine.

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