Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Short Reviews: Sean Noonan, Logan Richardson, PJ Harvey, Parquet Courts

Sean Noonan – Memorable Sticks (For-Tune, 2016) Noonan is an Irish-American drummer and vocalist who presents this project of trio jazz and his own original spoken word along with Alexis Marcelo on piano and Peter Bitenc on bass. The spoken accompaniment to the music has an extemporaneous quality, recalling a jazz and beat poetry combination. Inspired by a famous Polish salt mine where miners made incredible sculptures of religious iconograpgy, Noonan develops a lyrical fantasia that can go from alluring to annoying and back again. Honestly, it is when the words stop flowing that the music really takes flight, this is an excellent instrumental trio and they are tightly attuned to one another and the music they are making. Memorable Sticks - For-Tune
Logan Richardson – Shift (Blue Note, 2016) Saxophonist Richardson risked being a guest at his own party by being placed in the heady company of guitarist Pat Metheny and pianist Jason Moran along with drummer Nasheet Waits and bassist Harish Raghavan on his first album for Blue Note. The music moves in a vague and atmospheric direction throughout most of the album, and only at the end everybody got a chance to let go on “Untitled” where first Metheny, then Richardson are set free to solo unfettered. The music is pleasant enough, but seems skewed and hopefully Richardson will get another chance and the opportunity to use his regular band instead of a group of ringers. Shift -
PJ Harvey – The Hope Six Demolition Project (Island, 2016) Harvey is one of the most highly regarded British rock musicians of her generation, and she doesn’t shy away from risk taking. This album is a collection of songs written after researching the aftermath of American poverty and war in Kosovo and Afghanistan. Her songwriting is as spiteful and insightful as ever, and if it doesn’t click as gracefully as some of her earlier work, perhaps it is because she it is because she is writing about knottier subjects that cannot be resolved gracefully. She’s also rocking out on guitar and occasionally saxophone, which is great to hear, as the last few albums featured her on dulcimer and piano. The Hope Six Demolition Project -
Parquet Courts – Human Performance (Rough Trade, 2016) The angular rock of Parquet Courts has gelled to the point of making them one of the more interesting American rock bands. Guitar, bass and drums with some droning keyboard music that recalls the brisk jolts of Gang of Four or the hypnotic nature of Can, and this is their most mature album, from the blasting leadoff song “Dust” and the enigmatic “Berlin Got Blurry.” Insistent bass and snarling guitar propel “Two Dead Cops” into a terrifyingly deranged punk overload and the flat out weirdness of “I Was Just Here.” They are able to make a wide range of influences into a cohesive whole on a fine album. Human Performance -

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