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Reviews > CDs

Published: 2003/06/26
by Jesse Jarnow

Holding The Bag- Tony Capri, D.C. & Co., Ralph Diekemper, Granian, The Holy Goats, Mighty Fine Wine, Pauls Apartment, Rerun, Rick Ray Band, Waylandsphere

self-titled – Tony Capri
Here’s a lullabyic disc that doesn’t break a lotta new ground artistically,
but is still a neat little package. With idyllic song titles like "Into My
Heart" and "Grahammy’s Song," its sleeve epigram of "It’s like the sweet air
of Springtime, the wind will carry your load," and a picture of Tony Capri
with (presumably) his son, the record seems designed as warm, comfort music.
And, a way, it is — even beyond the cues of acoustic guitars, gentle
mandolins, and delicate vocals. It’s a homemade project. And that somebody
can make this music as a keepsake, something to hold onto and say "I did
this," is cool — a quality which is oddly transferred to the music, and
makes it an enjoyable listen despite its lack of grand innovation.
Charmingly modest. Oblique Strategies sez: "Simple a matter of work." More info…
Ain’t That Somethin’ – D.C. & Co.
With their old-style big-band balladery, Dave Costrarella’s D.C. & Co. is a
sweet, sentimental band, and Ain’t That Somethin’ is a sweet,
sentimental record. Sometimes innovation is just finding a new way of
staying traditional in an ever-changing landscape. And though D.C. & Co.
surely do have some rock tendencies, they’ve assimilated them as a style in
the same way that jambands have assimilated funk or drum-n-bass. The disc is
low-key music for, oddly, families. There are few superstar pretensions here
and little wanking. The mood is almost of a ballroom in the Poconos, which
is as strange a place as one can be transported to as anything conjured up
by Amon Tobin or any other crazy electronic producer. Oblique Strategies
sez: "Into the impossible." More
It’s Only Time – Ralph Diekemper
During my senior year of college, Tommy and I and a few other people went on
a roadtrip to Graceland. On the way, we stopped at a friend’s parents’ house
and crashed in the living room. We looked around, glancing at remnants of
their lives – soccer trophies, framed family pictures, random souvenirs – and basked in voyeuristic bliss. As such, Ralph Diekemper’s website is an odd
little world to poke into — his journal, gigs in hotel bars, day jobs
(presumably), and this music holding it together. It’s Only Time is a
personal record, a taste melodramatic in its delivery, but a compellingly
weird combination of New Age and jazz piano, faux-classical synthesizers,
and who knows what else, all played by Diekemper. It’s no doubt creative,
though not necessarily accessible. It’s hard to get by some of the keyboard
sounds; either comforting or disheartening to know that New Age isn’t the
sole product of corporate marketing groups. Oblique Strategies sez: "Make a
blank valuable by putting it in an exquisite frame." More info…
Live Sessions – Granian
Granian is a Sensitive Dude for a post-Dave Matthews/Guster/John
Mayer/Hootie/Adam Durtiz world. And if you really thought that the
submission that those fellas bombed the country into was anything besides a
complete annihilation, that there was some sorta charred and flattened
American landscape left worth exploring to find more of the same and the
same of more, then perhaps Granian’s sensitive acoustic stylings might be
just exactly the kinda thing to put on when the long, dark weekend of your
soul is bearing down and tumbling like a big mother stock crash or a
girl/guy/manthing that’s mistreated ya in a vague way and your eyes are
glazing and your mouth is numb and there’s nothing to prevent the sky from
falling but your bared forearms shielding your crumbling facade. Peace.
Oblique Strategies sez: "Choose nothing and continue with immaculate
consistency." More info…
self-titled – The Holy Goats
And I’m speaking frankly here, but I’m still confused by the Black Crowes. I
can dig the sound. Yeah, swampy early ’70s stuff, I get it. I even like a
lot of it. But why so popular? I guess it’s the traditionalism (which is an
odd branding for something less than 50 years old, really). Anyway, The Holy
Goats are in there too — frozen somewhere between Mick’s pauper shtick
about "what can a po’ boy do, ‘cept for sing for a rock and roll band" and
the time him and the Stones packed up their trunks and lived like kings as
tax exiles on the French Rivera. The Holy Goats do it pretty well. It’s
enjoyably gritty blues-rock outta Jersey — though calling ‘em Black Crowes
knock-offs seems to be missing the point. Though I’m not sure what else to
call ‘em. Oblique Strategies sez: "Ghost echoes." More info…
Now Hear This – Mighty Fine Wine
Mighty Fine Wine’s second full-length is a well-done dollop of roots rock.
The songs hit the major images – "Lonesome Road," "4 Days and 7 Nights," and
"Lost at Sea" are all titles – and have the band has the basic sound right,
as a performing unit. What’s more, though, in the case of this record, they
manage to capture it in a way that is a performance all on its own. Even
when the band falls to clichNow Hear This is almost always
eminently listenable. Distorted harmonica, blasting horns, and textural
banjo fill the arrangements out with a swampy determination that thankfully
comes off as effortless. The album’s got a couple of killer hooks ("Death &
Taxe$") and a few slow bummers ("That’s The Kind of Song (I Like)"). It
balances out. Oblique Strategies sez: "Simply a matter of work." More info…
Utilities Included – Pauls Apartment
Utilities Included, Pauls Apartment’s sophomore release, crams in 12
tracks of dense sextet bluegrass. With a rather fill line-up o’ pickers, the
music stretches in the way only mutually reinforced picking can. A couple of
the tunes stretch out over the five minute mark and, while the band’s
dynamics aren’t filled with fireworks, they do manage to keep things
somewhat engaging on the longer numbers. Though "Sic" (an amusingly titled
song for a band without an apostrophe) meanders considerably, there are
enough low-key changes within the song’s rhythmic drive to make it
worthwhile. More notable is the David Grisman-like "Kitsch," which follows
with swirling Middle Eastern scales. Oblique Strategies sez: "Humanize
something free of error." More
self-titled – Rerun
There’s nothing particularly wrong about this disc of music by these
Jersey-based Chicago ex-pats. Its ten tracks hold to a steady course, fusing – well, um – fusion with the slightest hints of the live electronic thing.
Mostly, though, it’s just ultra-clean funk stuff. Not much differentiates
one track from the next, unfortunately, though the playing seems more than
competent. Eathan Janney’s Rhodes is warm, but not too warm. Likewise, John
Fee’s bass seems like an effects pedal simulation of the warmth of an
upright. The cues don’t particularly get in the way, though, once one gets
used to them as the norm (the same way American Mexican food becomes its own
entity after a while). Oblique Strategies sez: "Allow an easement (an
easement is the abandonment of structure)." More info…
Into The Hands of Sinners – Rick Ray Band
A pretty steady stream of releases by Ohio guitarist Rick Ray has arrived
here over the past year or two. Not all of them, for sure. A xeroxed
catalogue on the inside of the decidedly homemade Into The Hands of
Sinners lists 26 releases since 1999. Lemmee spell that out:
twenty-six. Now, don’t gimmie that quality/quantity bullshit —
anybody who’s got the gumption to have his act that together is at least
moderately cool (validity of the music be damned). Into The Hands of
Sinners falls towards the Zappa/Hendrix side of progressive rock, with
nary a dollop of pretentious classicalism. And though Ray’s guitar is
clearly at the center, he’s not a showboater. (I guess, with an average of
six releases a year, he can pace himself.) Instead, his effects drenched
guitar melds nicely with the Ian Underwood-like reeds of Rick Schultz.
Surprisingly lo-fi for this day and age, with little gimmickry. Worth
checking out if you’re into that sorta stuff. Oblique Strategies sez: "Lost
in useless territory." More info…
Salt Works Meditation – Waylandsphere
On their debut, Waylandsphere present six cuts worth o’ abbreviated Southern
jamming. Fairly traditional, as this stuff goes,
in the sense that they’re following Panic-derived/new Southern rock
formulas. Within those boundaries, they do a pretty decent job, though,
finding creative nooks — a dirty l’il jam in the disc opening "Halpern,"
some neat textural palm-mute stuff under the verses of the pastoral rock
fantasy of "Bradley Creek." Oblique Strategies sez: "Look at the order in
which you do things." More

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