Dark of Days
The unfortunate band name, Bourbon Princess, brings to mind some boozy rock ‘n’ roll chick, but actually, the music of this Boston-based band comes from a very different space.
Deep-voiced lead singer/songwriter/bassist Monique Ortiz has written a set of dark, moody tunes that are somewhat reminiscent in spirit to The Doors, Patti Smith and Nico-era Velvet Underground, as well as the Boston band Morphine, whose drummer, Jerome Deupree, plays skins in Bourbon Princess. Sax player Russ Gershon also brings some of that Morphine vibe, while guitarist Jim Moran lays down haunting lines that snake around the extremely prominent bass parts supplied by Ortiz. At times jazzy, other times more rockin' and hypnotic, Bourbon Princess has made an album that is both unique and uncompromising.
Producer: Bourbon Princess. Engineer: Paul Q. Kolderie
— Blair Jackson
Snakebite: Blacktop Ballads & Fugitive Songs
This is the best solo album yet from the one-time leader of Wall of Voodoo. (See “Classic Tracks.”) Yes, there's still some electronic weirdness here and there, and a tune or two that shows the powerful influence that Sergio Leone still exerts on Stan Ridgway, but by and large, this is a rootsy, mostly acoustic affair, with Ridgway demonstrating considerable chops on a variety of blues- and folk-based tunes. Petra Wexton contributes a wide range of keyboard textures to great effect. As the title implies, these are mostly story-songs — evocative pictures of various unusual characters on the run and/or following a dream. And Ridgway is right in there with them, facing “The Big 5-0” on one track and layin' out “Talkin' Wall of Voodoo Blues, Pt. 1,” a whirlwind account of WOV's history. A real find!
Producer: Stan Ridgway. Engineer: Baboo God and Ridgway. Studio: Impala (Venice, CA). Mastering: Doug Schwartz/Mulholland Music.
— Blair Jackson
Live In Montreal
Recorded live in July 2004 during Le Festival International de Jazz de Montreal, Canadian rumba flamenco guitarist Jesse Cook's Live In Montreal reveals him to be a talented and charismatic performer. Playing songs from his previous five albums, Cook is in his element, riffing off of the crowd and supporting band (drummer Paul Antonio, percussionist Art Avalos, bassist Collin Barrett, violinist/vocalist Chris Church, guitarist Nicolas Hernandez and guests).
Despite a few gratuitous solos, Live In Montreal shines with Cook's virtuosity and segues from haunting (channeling Dead Can Dance and Peter Gabriel's score Passion) to energetic and sexy (a lá Gypsy Kings). The only questionable choice on Cook's part is the closing song — Crowded House's early '90s hit (sung by The Rembrandts' Danny Wilde), “Fall At Your Feet.” Though the instrumentation lends a certain spice, its pop sentimentality prematurely breaks the mood of an otherwise beautiful world music release.
Recorded at the Métropolis Theater, Montreal, by Live Wire.
— Breean Lingle
The Single Petal of a Rose: Duke Ellington for Solo Guitar, Vol. 2
(Out of Time)
Fifteen years ago, the brilliant acoustic guitar stylings of Steve Hancoff would have rightfully found a home with the Windham Hill crowd: Ackerman, deGrassi, Hedges. He's that original, that good. His latest takes him to familiar territory, a second CD of Duke Ellington pieces performed on solo guitar. Now, this is not an easy proposition: Ellington's arrangements were often quite intricate, his rhythms complex. Yet Hancoff fearlessly tackles the Duke with both imagination and gusto. Whether he's mixing rhythmic thumbing with silky lead lines or bright chording with bell-like harmonics, Hancoff keeps the music interesting and swinging. The repertoire is largely unfamiliar to me, spanning the 1920s up to the early ‘70s, but Hancoff's entertaining and enlightening liner notes taught me lots.
Producer and engineer: Steve Hancoff. Mastering: Richard Roeder/Roeder Studios.
— Blair Jackson
(Yep Rock Records)
C.C. Adcock revisits some of his most trying artistic times in Lafayette Marquis, his second record. More than 10 years ago, the talented guitarist from Louisiana was signed by Island Records A&R exec-turned-mentor Denny Cordell to record a debut CD, which was released to acclaim. After Cordell's death, Adcock's career stalled. He formed new bands, and collaborated and compiled material for an eventual follow-up record, which remained incomplete until now.
With Lafayette Marquis, Adcock has released a collection of strutting, beat-driven, danceable songs full of tension and release — part rock, part roots. The Jack Nitzsche — produced effort combines electronic beats, accordions, guitar solos and plenty of percussion, as unfettered and sultry as one of the Southern nights Adcock lives to carouse in.
Recorded in various locations; see www.mixonline.com for details. Producer: Jack Nitzsche. Engineers: David Rachou, Jeff Treffinger, Mark Linnet. Mastering: Brent Lambert.
— Breean Lingle
Fly Between Falls
I just finished listening to San Francisco Bay Area band ALO's (Animal Liberation Orchestra) fourth D.I.Y. disc and I'm hungry. “Welcome to your barbecue,” keyboardist/vocalist Zach Gill sings on the lead track, “Barbeque,” which bounces with funk-influenced keys, jazzy guitar licks and ample grooves. The hooky live favorite actually refers to unfulfilled dreams — a spiritual barbecue — but gets the juices flowing nonetheless. Later on, the quartet teams with artist/surfer Jack Johnson for the soulful “Girl, I Wanna Lay You Down,” with its tasty line: “You're smooth and creamy, like peanut butter.” Tracks such as “Shapeshifter” draw on a bit of psychedelia with their extended jams, but overall, the group understates the improv, keeping most songs under five minutes and focusing on solid pop songcraft and excellent musicianship. And now, lunchtime!
Producers: ALO, Scott Theakston. Engineers: Theakston, Dave Simon Baker. Studios: Laughing Tiger, Ex'pression. Mastering: George Borden.
— Heather Johnson