Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Chris Parrello + Things I Wonder (Stray Dog Music, 2011)

An international cast of characters makes up the group led by New York City based guitarist and composer Chris Parrello, and the group creates an enchanting amalgam of indie rock and modern jazz. Consisting of Karlie Bruce on vocals, Ian Young on saxophones, Kevin Thomas on bass, Aviv Cohen on drums, Rubin Kodheli on cello, Greg Glassman on trumpet and Rich Hinman on pedal steel, the unusual instrumentation allows the band to create varied and continually shifting sound-scapes. “Choices” opens the album with wordless vocals and strong guitar propelled by excellent drumming. “Anymore” features subtle lullaby like guitar playing, developing a gently emotional ballad, with soulful moans and haunting string accompaniment. “Open Out” has strong saxophone and breathy vocals over slinky groove, while slow moaning vocals (with lyrics) permeate “Broken Shell” with violin and acoustic guitar “In Spite of You” builds a guitar – bass – drums trio in a shimmering dynamic, with guitar building strong neon shards of notes through the charges musical atmosphere. “She Laughs” is a short interlude for haunting vocals and acoustic guitar. Vocals emoting plaintive and longing are featured on “Undone,” with a languorous groove that builds around the singing with subtle horns accenting. “My War” roars into indie rock territory with slashing guitar drums and guitar and strong evocative vocals. Soft cello and acoustic guitar provide a slow and graceful coda on the concluding “Welcome Home.” Pulling together the best aspects of modern rock and jazz the group has created unique and compelling album. Bruce’s vocals are excellent throughout, sounding at times like an adventurous Chan Marshall of Cat Power, and other times a Nico like chanteuse. Fine stuff, recommended to adventurous jazz and rock fans. Chris Parrello + Things I Wonder - amazon.com

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