Plan 9 Music - OUTSIDE THE HEARD JULY 2012

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Rachael Sage
Haunted By You
MPress Records

 
Rachael Sage’s tenth album, Haunted By You, is a song cycle about passion. As the NYC-based artist explains, “I fell recklessly in and out of love multiple times while writing this record. I broke a couple hearts...and I also had my heart broken pretty badly.” Nonetheless, the crystalline-voiced singer/songwriter says she has no regrets, revealing she was “due to feel as deeply again as when I first started making music.” For Sage, who is also a poet, actor and visual artist as well as a longtime record label owner (she founded MPress Records in 1996), music has always been her primary form of self-expression. Sage wrote the dozen songs on the album after separating from her boyfriend of four years. Alone, reflecting on her breakup, the 3-time Independent Music Award winner found herself suddenly prolific. "California", "The Sequin Song" and "Confession" show a more vulnerable, raw side of the singer - one that reckons both newfound freedom and inevitable loneliness. Dar Williams guests.
 
Walk The Moon
Walk The Moon
RCA

 
“It’s okay to play,” insists Nicholas Petricca, lead singer, songwriter, and keyboardist of Ohio quartet Walk the Moon. It's a hard point to argue upon listening to lead single "I Want! I Want!" a dance-rock extravaganza that will have you dancing quick. Very quick. So it is no surprise that the response to the band has been just as immediate. Walk the Moon shows are nothing short of electric. Petricca, with bassist Kevin Ray, guitarist Eli Maiman and drummer Sean Waugaman, (all Ohio natives) streak, dot and smear their faces in paint before every performance. Eager crowds predictably join in the fun - and, by the end, even the staunchest skeptics are in the colorful mix. Respected regulars in the Cincinnati and Columbus club scenes, the boys, all in their early twenties, have garnered notable respect from fans and bands alike in their first few ventures to major markets. Walk the Moon combine impressive musicianship with what the New York Post deems their “unrestrainable love for performing.” It is a truly contagious mix. After all, they possess an enviable spirit: One devoted to just plain having fun. And who doesn’t like fun?
Arild Andersen
Celebration
ECM
 
Bassist Arlid Andersen shines as the principal soloist in this celebration of music from the legendary ECM label. Celebration highlights specially-commissioned new big-band arrangements of well-known pieces by Dave Holland, Chick Corea, Trygve Seim, Jan Garbarek, and Keith Jarrett in addition to some soon-to-be classics. The resourceful Tommy Smith adds powerful tenor solos, arranges Garbarek’s “Molde Canticle”, and directs the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra. Andersen’s composition “Independency” is a 16-minute highlight, in a sensitive and powerful arrangement by Mike Gibbs. Furthermore Makoto Ozone, Christian Jacob, Geoff Keezer and Trygve Seim/oyvind Braeke all of contribute sterling arrangements -each likely to enter modern jazz's big band repertory book. Recorded live at Glasgow's Royal Conservatory, Celebration should not only be of special interest to long-time followers of this legendary label but to newcomers hoping to expand their jazz horizons.
 
Morning Parade
Morning Parade
Astralwerks

 
Heavily tipped at the beginning of 2011, Morning Parade side-stepped the trap befalling many a buzz band (i.e. rushing out a quick debut album) and instead took its time to write the album the band wanted to make - all whilst building a solid and loyal fanbase across Europe. The result is a breathtaking statement of intent - one that demonstrates songwriting chops and a lyrical depth that has become increasingly rare amongst many up-and-coming artists. It is a purposeful, heartfelt and honest collection of songs: From the bristling and driving rhythms of “Us and Ourselves” to the feel good anthem “Under the Stars”, the album takes you on an emotional rollercoaster, meandering between different textures and dynamics.  The rousing no-holds barred rock’n’roll of “Blue Winter” and “Headlights” pack a considerable punch as album openers while the delicate ode to unrequited love that is “Monday Morning” juxtaposes with the life-affirming show-stopper “Born Alone.” Recorded with acclaimed producer David Kosten (Bat For Lashes, Everything Everything).
Grouplove
Never Trust A Happy Song
ATL
 
Hannah Hooper met Christian Zucconi had both been living in New York for years and had never crossed paths before. Soon after their connection Hooper was invited to an art residency in Greece on the island of Crete and Hooper insists "without any hesitation" she invited Zucconi to join her on this journey. On Crete, in a small remote mountain village, Hooper and Zucconi met the members of their future band Grouplove a year before it was officially formed. Sean Gadd, a natural songwriter and guitar player, born and bred in London instantly bonded with the two eccentric New Yorkers. Andrew Wessen, a pro surfer and musician from Los Angeles and his childhood friend Ryan Rabin, an accomplished drummer and producer, were also at the residency and quickly joined in. The summer ended and the five friends scattered back to their homes all over the globe. Grouplove then pulled their funds together and made their way to in LA to record their album - and the result, Never Trust A Happy Song, is an incredibly special album where soaring harmonies coupled with sweeping anthems lead you through their powerful journey. Like the members of Grouplove, Never Trust A Happy Song is diverse in influence and style but bound by an undeniable kinship.
 
John Surman
Saltash Bells
ECM
 
John Surman is an exceptionally versatile musician and his instrumental prowess has proven itself time and time again in a variety of musical contexts... Yet his solo albums may be the best sources for insights into his melodic imagination - and Saltash Bells ranks with the best of them. This time around the compositions were inspired by the West Country of John’s English childhood: Memories of special places - and sounds. The title track refers to the ringing bells of a Saltash church echoing around the Tamar River valley - located at the border of Cornwall and Devon. "Whistman's Wood," meanwhile, evokes the mysterious petrified forest of Dartmoor... And on it goes: Ancient haunts inspiring vivid new music. Listen close and get swept away.
Delta Rae
Carry The Fire
Warner Brothers

 
Delta Rae were signed by the legendary Seymour Stein - his the first in quite a while. Stein's keen eye for new talent is well-reknowed - evidenced by his hand in the careers of such iconic artists as the Ramones, Talking Heads, the Pretenders, Madonna, and The Smiths. Delta Rae's music is an original mix of blues, country, and a healthy chunk of rock. "I hate labels," continues Stein, "but if forced I would have to call their music 'Original Americana,' not unlike what the English are sending over via Mumford & Sons and others. I know you will love Delta Rae and their music as much as I do." Given Carry The Fire's soaring vocals, splendid harmonies, loving Delta Rae will come pretty easy. Fans of Mumford and Sons, Fleet Foxes and The Civil Wars will especially find much here to love.
 
Louis Sclavis Atlas Trio
Sources
ECM

 
Louis Sclavis' band of the season is the Atlas Trio - an ensemble who's reach included chamber-improvisation, polyrhythmic grooves, minimalistic pulse patterns, enveloping ambience, rhapsodic piano and funky Fender Rhodes, distorted guitar, clarinet soliloquies, contrapuntal themes, free jazz... A lil' bit of everything! Sources may have a wide aesthetic, but its multi-facetted music manages to be both exploratory and involving without completely loosing the plot. Recorded in the South of France last September, Sources is Louis's ninth for the freaks at ECM - and it's a doozy.
ROUGH GUIDE TO HIGHLIFE
ROUGH GUIDE TO HIGHLIFE
World Music Network
 
Highlife music conjures images of African nightclubs in the 1960's and 70's: A time of shiny dance floors, champagne, fine clothes, and the spirit of hope and expectation that marked the end of the Colonial era. The name itself hints at the vibrant sound this popular guitar-led dance music of West Africa which was primarily rooted in Ghana and Nigeria. The Rough Guide to Highlife surveys this vibrant scene by featuring some of Highlife's biggest stars and greatest hits. Give it a listen - you've earned it!
 
Fly
Sky & Country
ECM
 
Sky & Country is the ECM debut for Fly - a leaderless collective featuring three of American finest modern jazz musicians: namely saxophonist Mark Turner, bassist Larry Grenadier, and drummer Jeff Ballard. The group was called into existence by drummer Jeff Ballard in the mid-1990s, but draws on a longer history of shared projects. All three players write music for the group. Says Turner of Fly's modus operandi: "Sometimes it's the saxophone carrying the melody. Other times it's the bass or drums. We spread out the frontline duties among us." Indeed. As you may have noticed, this is yet another exciting release from legendary progressive jazz label ECM... And we hope they keep cranking 'em out.
Sophie B Hawkins
The Crossing
Lightyear

 
The Crossing is the brilliant new studio album from legendary singer/songwriter Sophie B. Hawkins. Since her instantaneous breakthrough with her acclaimed debut album, Tongues and Tails, and it's indelible hit single, "Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover" Hawkins has proved an enduring artist with who has remained steadfastly true to her own authentic history and experience while pushing her art ever forward. This comes to the fore as Hawkins breaks open her heart without reservation on The Crossing - her first album of new songs in several years. A searching, lush and startlingly naked chronicle of the most intense period of Hawkins' life, The Crossing's songwriting and vocals brings together elements brash, and poignant in fresh ways. Contains 13 new songs plus 4 bonus tracks, including new acoustic versions of her biggest hits.
   
As a visual artist, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, native JD McPherson is well versed in the process of working within clearly defined formal parameters, and he employs a similarly rigorous discipline with his music. On Signs & Signifiers, McPherson's seductively kickass debut album, seamlessly meshes the old and the new, the primal and the sophisticated, on a work that will satisfy traditional American rock 'n' roll and R&B purists while also exhibiting McPherson's rarefied gift for mixing and matching disparate stylistic shapes and textures. Never has an album of so-called "retro" music been laced with such a rich payload of postmodern nuance... But that was precisely the intent. Of course, pushing the genre envelope doesn't work unless the artist has the chops and feel to capture the form in its pure state to begin with. Check out, for example, "Dimes for Nickels," McPherson's vital evocation of the very moment when R&B and hillbilly music had a baby and they called it rock 'n' roll, or the Jackie Wilson-meets-Elvis exuberance of "Scratching Circles," or the lascivious ecstasy of the Little Richard doppelganger "Scandalous." This cat is wicked-clever-and man, can he ever deliver this righteous shit.

JD McPherson -
Signs & Signifiers

Rounder/Concord  
moremusic

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