Capsule Wednesday 6

By: JamBase Staff

Sir Richard Bishop: Polytheistic Fragments (Drag City)
As eclectic, varied and ambitious as his regular duties with the Sun City Girls, guitarist Sir Richard Bishop is a contemporary guitar virtuoso with a gift for gently colliding worlds together. Most of the tracks are just him solo but still feel like there are multiple guitarists picking away as Polytheisticharmonizes the spheres of Gypsy, flamenco, Latin jazz and Indian music, coming off like a hoedown in New Delhi. Okay, the Queen didn’t officially knight him but one listen to this record and you’ll see where the “Sir” comes from. (Chris Pacifico)

Sleeping States: There The Open Spaces (Misra)
Everything within these luxuriant, perversely inviting Spaces is slightly askew. Even as the guitar reverberates and twinkles in the foreground and the singer trills like a man with a few Marc Almond records in his collection, the air shifts, crackling like a mood rising, sweating electrical beads and sputtering distantly. Sleeping States is one-man show Markland Starkie, beloved of Grizzly Bear and Klaxon alike, and the maker of what could be a lost Factory album. All the ratios, certain and otherwise, add up on this quietly beguiling dream walk. (Dennis Cook)

Bebel Gilberto: Momento (Six Degrees)
Overly repetitive and plainly melodic, Bebel Gilberto‘s 11-track Momento is like listening to a 42-minute long song that never seems to end. Ambient and relaxing like CD machines at big box stores that offer sleepy rain forest soundtracks, the Brazilian-influenced disc is calming but easily ignorable. Singing in English, Spanish and lengthy moans, her vocals are airy and beautiful, yet painstakingly slow-paced. If Gilberto’s goal with Momento was to create an island atmosphere inside a doctor’s waiting room, then this disc undeniably succeeds. If not, then your time will be much better spent listening to “YEM.” (Carlye Wisel)

Judee Sill : Live In London (Water)
Over the years, Sill has become a cult figure for those enamored of late ’60s/early ’70s chanteuses. Her tiny catalog has long vexed fans but the fabulous Water label has once again unearthed hitherto unknown Sill recordings, this time a series of unutterably gorgeous BBC live tracks from 1972-1973. In this solo setting we hear an unnaturally natural musician with an arsenal of stunning, sunshine stoked songs and a real ear for retuning other’s work (notably The Hollies’ “Jesus Was A Cross Maker,” offered in two striking versions here). Her introductions are illuminating, both about her own work and the craft of songwriting. Sill’s Christian leanings come out here but in a way that’s joyously Gnostic – passionate, humorous, engaged without fear. Stripped of production, there’s grand intimacy to these recordings that fully exposes Sill as the nuanced, mysterious and endlessly interesting peer to Carole King she was. (DC)

Dalek: Deadverse Massive, Vol. 1: Dalek Rarities 1999-2006 (Hydra Head)
Yup, most rarities collections suck. Sometimes artists need quick cash, but a crew as original as Dalek could have a bunch of studio outtakes of them ripping ass into a porcelain jar and still find some way to make it sound amazing. They’ve been called everything from “leftfield rap” to “alternative” to “glitch-hop” but at the end of the day Dalek is Dalek. These relics and remixes, mostly lifted from 12 inches over the past seven years, are like an archeologist stumbling onto a lost word of beats that float at the pace of looming smoke with deep rhymes that are as hazy as they are brainy. Slow churning at moments and downright dubby and chilly at others, you don’t need to be a longtime fan to nurse on this jawn. (CP)

Olav Larsen & The Alabama Rodeo Stars: Love’s come to town (Hyena)
A harmonica culled from Neil Young’s Harvest ushers us into sweet, soulful country daydream. “May you always find strength to carry on/May you always be free,” intones Larsen in a pure, unforced voice. When he’s joined by Mazz Swift‘s fluttering violin and cherry female counterpoint it’s enough to make you swoon. The quotations from Johnny Cash and John Prine on the band’s website give some clue to their sound but they give wings to their influences, utilizing plainspoken language in consistently ear-snagging settings. This is a hayride that bucks convention, elevating this beyond just a sturdy homage to grizzled pickers. Peppered by electric piano, soprano sax, pedal steel and dobro, this Norwegian group’s deeply pleasing version of roots music in moments suggests a gentler Wilco. Here, beauty and communion are clasped tight with big, strong hands that soon open and freely share what they’ve captured. (DC)

Sly and the Family Stone: There’s a Riot Goin’ On (Reissue) (Epic)
During the turbulent ’60s, Sly and the Family Stone epitomized musical and racial harmony with an interracial and mixed gender lineup whose music proselytized hope for a harmonic unity through psychedelic funk and feel good soul. But, as the decade winded down it was obvious that the dream was over. Ranking up there with Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On and the O’Jays Backstabbers, 1971’s There’s a Riot Goin’ On is a dark funk masterpiece that Sly made as a reaction to his disillusionment and disappointment over the setbacks of Civil Rights movement and the lost dream of a utopian society. Most of the percussion was done through a toad sounding drum machine or “rhythm box,” as it was known back then, and a springy organ that pricks the ear. The album was extensively overdubbed, and some hiss remains on this remastered reissue, which includes bonus tracks. There is guest instrumentation from Ike Turner, Bobby Womack and Billy Preston. Even though Sly was in a deep haze of cocaine and PCP, There’s a Riot Goin’ On delivered the hit single “Family Affair,” which joins Earth Wind and Fire’s “September”as a staple at every inner city summertime barbecue and family reunion. (CP)

Mark Olson: The Salvation Blues (Hacktone)
Each person deals with pain and loss differently. Some slump under life’s blows, and others, like ex-Jayhawks co-founder Mark Olson, who bravely rise up even when things get heavy, singing, “Some people come here to die/We came here to live/There’s a hope in our heart/There’s a future in our souls.” A-freaking-men! This long awaited solo debut shares has the vibe of Jackson Browne’s 1972 debut, instantly appealing emotional explorers who get into the thick of the human condition. Using uncomplicated but not unsophisticated language, Olson gives us phrases that haunt and help us through our troubled days. Cleanly produced by Ben Vaughn and bolstered by accomplished players like Greg Leisz, Salvation is powerful juju that goes down like mama’s milk. (DC)

Lee “Scratch” Perry: Panic in Babylon (Narnack)
When you’re legendary dub mastermind “Scratch” Perry you get the last word. And when you step out from behind the mixing board to grab a microphone that last word may be a string of absurdist free-associations. Spanning the Hindu pantheon, global politics, a trip to the supermarket and a standard plea for legalization, Panic is more than just another Jah worshipping romp through echo chambers. It’s no surprise that Perry still rules the dub universe, but when he actually says something intelligent it will make your bobbing head turn. (Josh Potter)

Be Bad: Vision Correction (Divorce)
Straight from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Be Bad prove that the province isn’t a quiet place. This is loud, guttural, post-hardcore that’ll shatter your ears, if not the windows in the room. Playing a brand of rabid post-hardcore that bounces from the walls with the guttural screams of a raving derelict being tied in a straightjacket, Be Bad are loud for the sake of being loud. Somehow their spiky, compacting riffs with a barrage of colliding drums exhibit a raucous strand of youthful energy filled with piss and vinegar, where a balance of panic mode playing and early Boredoms-like spazzcore brings bliss from being so bad it feels good. (CP)

The Drams: Jubilee Dive (New West)
Blink and you missed this debut from former Slobberbone honcho Brent Best last year. I gave it half a chance when it came out but very surely over the months this album has revealed itself for the rock & roll jewel it is. There’s enough brash choruses and bold riffing to make any Hold Steady aficionado raise their glass in salute. As roughly enjoyable as Slobberbone was, The Drams are the grander beast with Best offering tunes that equal the finest by Ryan Adams and the Drive-By Truckers. Every track is good (and rewarding of repeat spins) but a few are actually fucking glorious, namely “When You’re Tired,” “September’s High,” “Wonderous Life” and “Des Moines,” which is possibly the best touring life tune since Journey was pumping them out. How something this good wasn’t raved about everywhere is a mystery but then again it took 10 years for people to take notice of Richmond Fontaine. Please don’t let The Drams wait that long. (DC)

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