Fuentes, Rumel – “Corridos of The Chicano Movement” – [Arhoolie Productions]

humana   1/9/2010   A Library, CD

Thanks to Arhoolie, some voices will not be silenced. Rumel Fuentes wrote these ballads (corridos) to raise awareness of the Chicano Movement. The upbeat melodies executed by Fuentes on guitar and vocalized by him and his wife at the time (c. 1975), Jo Zettler, are heartbreaking when you read the notes on each song. Treating subjects such as Cesar Chavez, Jorge I. Sanchez, Joaquin Murrieta, police brutality, unfair political and social conditions, Fuentes??? music underscores the importance of Mexican-American liberation and empowerment.

Lo Moda – “Replica Watches” – [Creative Capitalism]

humana   1/8/2010   A Library, CD

Fresh and refreshing: Hooks indeed–each song draws you in from the first note. This Baltimore band includes deft percussion from Scott Braid, distinctive bass from Antony West, Scottish-tinged keyboards from Gillian Quinn, nimble viola from Raili Haimila, voices from Peter Quinn delivering lyrics you wish you could read, and guitar from Christian Sturgis that binds the others together in an alchemy that is edgy (3, 5), energetic (2, 10, 11), and sometimes poppy (9). You???re sure to find your brand of gold somewhere in here.

Emergency String (X)tet, The – “Meridians” – [Setola Di Maiale]

humana   12/20/2009   CD, Jazz

Jazz: For this incarnation, the Emergency String (x)tet is a quintet, featuring Adria Otto and Angela Hsu on violins, Bob Marsh and Doug Carrol on cellos, and Tony Dryer on double bass. This is a live recording at San Francisco???s Meridian Gallery on May 19, 2009. Skittering and spare free improvisation without structure is the name of the game.

Espers – “III” – [Drag City]

humana   12/17/2009   A Library, CD

Sometimes classed as ???New Weird America,??? the psych folk contained on this fourth release from Philadelphia band Espers is is transcendent and certainly leads you to believe that the musicians possess the paranormal abilitles their name suggests (ESPers, or extrasensory perception practitioners). The gorgeous folk vocals of Meg Baird and Greg Weeks are set to amazing psych guitars, cello, violins, and percussion. The textures are mellow and each song has just the right amount of time to develop and run its course. True beauty.

Collectables Jazz Classics [coll] – [Collectables Records]

humana   12/12/2009   CD, Jazz

This is smooth and well-produced and absolutely accessible jazz. Tracks 1-10 feature the lovely jazz harp of Dorothy Ashby, accompanied by bass and horns. As one of the great jazz harpists and composers, Ashby forged ground in many ways. Tracks 11-14 were recorded live at the Top of the Gate in 1968 and treat us to the jazz piano of Junior Mance, whose illustrious career is ongoing. He is joined by David Newman on sax (13) and flute (14). Track 12 is a bluesy gem. You can???t go wrong with anything on this CD–it???s all swinging and meant for background music to good, upbeat times.

Eyes Like Saucers – “Parmallee, Tribute to a Dog” – [Ruralfaune Records]

humana   12/11/2009   A Library, CD

Jeffrey Knoch is Eyes Like Saucers, and he loved his dog, Parmalee, to whom this CD is dedicated. Knoch, once the Farfisa organist for Urdog, now specializes in modified Indian pedal harmonium (think pump organ), glockenspiel, toy piano, and other instruments (marimba?). These songs are quite lovely, all instrumental except the last song, a lilting, heartwrenching tune in which Knoch???s rich voice speaks and sings praises to his best friend, soulmate, and advisor.

Local Shakedown, The – Compilation Number Three [coll] – [Wax Trax]

humana   12/5/2009   A Library, CD

This is a treasure trove of eclectic selections in a 2-CD package compiled by KVCU Boulder, Radio 1190, the student-run radio station of University of Colorado, Boulder. Rock, electronica, folk, country–lots of genres that allow you to ???sit back and enjoy some of the best music Colorado has to offer??? (Disc One, 1). There???s something for everyone here. See inside for breakdown of songs by genre.

Pocahaunted – “Passage” – [Troubleman Unlimited]

humana   12/4/2009   12-inch, A Library

This is intensely relaxing music, the kind you expect to hear when you???re getting a massage. It whisks you to tribal visions and rhythms with gentle guitar and percussive drone, male chanting that summons images of chieftains dancing purposefully around a fire, and an earthy reverence. Amanda Brown and Bethany Cosentino are joined by Bobb Bruno and Cameron Stallones in this creation of ambient goodness. Side A is more tribal; Side B is more drone/trance. B2 is the most psychedelic.

Vlor – “Six-Winged” – [Silber Records]

humana   11/30/2009   A Library, CD

Vlor began in 1997 when Brian John Mitchell and Russell Halasz recorded guitar in a racquetball court. For this CD, Mitchell is joined by guests such as Jon DeRosa of Aarktica, Jessica Bailiff, Annelies Monsere, Martin Newman of Plumerai, Paolo Messere (and many others). The music is, for the most part, relaxing, reverby guitars (although 16 features an amazing bit of beauty produced by a dulcimer or lute). 8 is the oddball, in a great way, in that it???s the only fast-paced rock song in a sea of calm shoegaze. Just the thing when you have unpleasant houseguests.

Sonny & The Sunsets – “Tomorrow Is Alright” – [Soft Abuse]

humana   11/27/2009   A Library, CD

Out of San Francisco come the mellow, acoustic sounds of Sonny & the Sunsets. Guitars, keys, tambourines, bells, fingersnaps accompany the clear vocals of Sonny Smith, whose lyrics are stellar. There are nice back-up vocals from the Sunsets, all contributing to a consistently upbeat vibe that isn???t surf, but is reminiscent of the 70s and Bob Dylan on occasion. Definitely worthy of many a listen, especially since each song is likable in its own way.

T.D. Skatchit & Company – “T.D. Skatchit & Company” – [Edgetone Records]

humana   11/10/2009   A Library, CD

Tom Nunn and David Michalak are the maestros of the skatchbox, contructed out of cardboard boxes and played with combs. Is it dogs panting, or frogs croaking, pigs oinking, helicopters rotoring? A bevy of artists join these two creative people, adding voice, viola, trombone, sax, gongs, electronics, and slussomatic (which sounds like the computer from ???Lost in Space???). It???s a wild, weird ride, and it???s very KFJC.

Faun Fables – “a Table Forgotten” – [Drag City]

humana   11/8/2009   A Library, CD

Faun Fables??? web page describes its music as ???songtelling,??? and it is captivating. Dawn McCarthy???s gorgeous voice is the strongest instrument on this CD of songs that celebrate birthdays, memories, home life, and dreams. Violin, theremin, flute, guitars, and percussion are joined by the sounds of plates and silverware clinking, tea kettles whistling, and other voices adding to the jaunty, earthy richness (1, 3) or absolutely poignant, evocative mood (2, 4) created in this work of art.

Cursillistas – “Les Biches” – [Time-Lag Records]

humana   11/5/2009   A Library, CD

This is one creative 23-year-old. Matt Lajoie (who chose the name ???Cursillistas??? because it looked pretty) writes and performs all his own music in Portland, Maine. The flavor is ???folk-inspired psychedelia??? and features toy piano, guitar, and banjo, along with voices. Reminiscent of Devendra Banhart on 7. The experience is almost down-home religious at times. Enjoy.

Mantles, The – “Mantles, The” – [Siltbreeze]

humana   11/5/2009   12-inch, A Library

Mantles, The: The Mantles 12??? 33 rpm Siltbreeze (2009)
Garage/psyche: This four-piece out of San Francisco deliver some solid guitar work and lyrics on their debut full-length album. The lyrics are printed on the insert and worth reading–lots about break-up angst, but jewels like ???I???ve heard of love and romance and orders of restraint, but I never knew what they were until I met you??? (B3). I???ve starred my picks on the back cover.
– Pax Humana

Painting Petals On Planet Ghost + Mykel Boyd [coll] – [Somnimage]

humana   11/5/2009   7-inch, A Library

Side A is a lovely descent into peacefulness with Ramona Ponzini providing vocals, Japanese bells and wind chimes, Maurizio Opallo offering acoustic guitar, and Roberto Opallo supplying outer space. Highly relaxing and indeed aptly titled ???Losing Consciousness.??? On Side B Mykel Boyd manipulates sounds using field recordings from a cemetary in the snow–it???s very quiet and I???d suggest mixing but it has beauty alone, as ???Silence Takes the Simpler Form.???

Bats, The – “Don’t You Rise” – [Slumberland Records]

humana   11/5/2009   7-inch, A Library

Pop folk/rock: When you???ve got a good thing going, why change? Together since 1983, the Bats have a nice, mellow sound. Side B is my favorite with its easy-going pace. Robert Scott on vocals, guitar, Kaye Woodward on guitar and backing vocals, Paul Kean on bass, backing vocals, and Malcolm Grant on drums deliver. Alastair Galbraith on violin on A1. A2 has some nice wah-wah, and B4 has masterful bass.

Black Time – “Midnight World” – [In The Red Records]

humana   11/3/2009   12-inch, A Library

Punk: Although the lyrics are sometimes hazy and screaming, the prevailing mood is not anger but driving energy. Lemmy Caution on guitar and vox, Janie Too Bad on bass and vox, Mr. Stix on drums, Red Exposure on organ. Short bursts of energy, some of it dance-worthy, and my picks feature the excellent bass work of Janie Too Bad.

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