Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Derangers - The Legend Of Daphne Blue And The Westernmental Sound (2014)

The Derangers - The Legend Of Daphne Blue And The Westernmental Sound (2014)

Conjuring the feel of a bygone era in America, when neon lit the evening sky along Route 66 and a cowboy with no name rode across a Drive-In movie screen... The Westernmental Sound! It's the debut CD by longtime Boston instrumental combo The Derangers. Spooky instrumental themes, encompassing spaghetti western, surf, spy, and more. Call it desert surf or Texas surf...

“The Legend of Daphne Blue” is a retrospective of the best Derangers instrumental music spanning more than two decades. 1990’s original spaghetti western-styled theme, “Rio Sangre” is the collection’s oldest track, and the band’s twangified cover of “Wichita Lineman,” recorded in November of 2013, is the newest.
The music ranges from straight early ‘60’s California surf with tracks like “Santa Monica” and “Monkey Island” to the exotic spy jazz and Arabesque motifs of “Ether Cocktail” and “The Impaler.” There’s “’69 Firebird’s” hot rod sound and the lush tropical layering of “Agave Rain.” But the main wave of the Derangers’ sound is their “Westermental” themes. Tracks like “Rio Sangre,” “Tears of the Seneca,” “Twang ‘em High,” and “El Chupacabra” conjure cinematic images of a lone rider emerging over the desert horizon, making his way toward a doomed desert town, accompanied only by danger. Front and center is Drew Townson’s steely, reverb-clad guitar, supported by a cast of some of the best players in the New England music scene.

"To hell with 'spaghetti western' soundtracks. The Derangers have an original take on high-atmosphere twang that's fueled by Texas barbecue and dust. Guitarist Drew Townson's melodies evoke not only the open spaces of the prairies and deserts, but the sound of the surf, balancing retro-cool with a lean modernity that keeps the band's sound fresh and timeless." ~ Ted Drozdowski, Guitar World

Track List:

01. Tears of the Seneca [03:56]
02. Twang 'em High! [02:53]
03. El Chupacabra, Live on WMFO [03:00]
04. Santa Monica [02:30]
05. Rio Sangre [03:43]
06. The Impaler [03:32]
07. Monkey Island [03:04]
08. Ether Cocktail [04:52]
09. Magdalena, NM [02:45]
10. '69 Firebird [03:19]
11. Agave Rain [02:46]
12. Wichita Lineman [03:54]
13. The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly, Live [02:58]

Monday, October 12, 2015

Tortoise - It's All Around You

It's All Around You is a solid maturation of the Tortoise sound. It's their fifth album and the compositions are surer, bolder, subtler than any of their previous work. Where their earlier tracks were often whimsical and wandering, these are thoughtful, artfully produced works that don't need to lean on their pastiche or irony or 21st century genre fusion to be respected. The triptych that opens the album is some of the most breathtaking work they've ever done, as audacious and ambitious as anything you've heard from them. The first track is a latin-infused tapestry of guitar and vibe melodies, while the second is a sibilant electronic dub brain massage. The third is a bold, sweeping Zappa anthem that will have you shaking your head in wonderment. This is Tortoise's most cohesive album yet, good for focused end-to-end listening while having tracks that are capable of standing on their own.

All the usual elements are here: the mesmerizing blend of instruments to the point where you are surprised where one ends and the other begins, the fun sometimes screwball rhythms, the jazz inspired melodies and some great rock-out moments. Instrumentation hasn't changed: two vibraphones, two drum kits, bass, synth/effects, twang and jazz guitar.

Its mood wanders from joyful heights to angsty darkness and back. Tortoise's production values improve with each album they release, and this is no exception - you will greatly benefit from playing this album through a quality sound system or headphones, and make sure you're reproducing the bass properly because it's sublime.

John McIntyre's drumming is on showcase here, building to a wild crescendo with the album's closing track. The electronic expression of Tortoise is more finely represented here than on any previous album.

This album showcases some of their most subtle, melodic and consistent work to date. If you like Friends of Dean Martinez, Calexico or M83 give this a try. If, not - try it anyway - it's that good.

Track Listing
    "It's All Around You" – 4:09
    "The Lithium Stiffs" – 3:59
    "Crest" – 4:21
    "Stretch (You Are All Right)" – 5:14
    "Unknown" – 5:38
    "Dot/Eyes" – 3:46
    "On the Chin" – 5:21
    "By Dawn" – 1:51
    "Five Too Many" – 4:33
    "Salt the Skies" – 4:45

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