As someone who has played on over 50 recordings so far, jazz composer, filmmaker, and multi-instrumentalist Tom Abbs still remains a name that is mostly known to connoisseurs of modern jazz and new composition. Hopefully, Hawthorne, his most recent album under the moniker Frequency Response with a shifting cast of musicians and released in September 2018 will widen that circle.
Never ventured into the magical world of Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band? Where do you look for the entry point? With many artists and bands, it could be anywhere, with others it is in the middle, with some it is actually at the end. While quite a few listeners are mystified and a bit hesitant with all the stories of his truly avant-garde masterpiece Trout Mask Replica and a few other albums, as well as his idiosyncratic character and studio/live/private life stories, the entry point into his music is quite simple. You start at the beginning. And the beginning, the ‘official’ one, as if the word official can be stuck in front of the good captain’s name (his real name is either Don Vliet or Don Van Vliet - he stuck to the latter) is with his album Safe As Milk.
In these online days, it is not such a big problem to make a choice of what music you want to get. You can always find a preview or a video of a song, or even a whole album. The choice is easy.
Screaming is a national art in Finland. They even have a men's choir (30 members strong) that shouts everything from pop hits to national anthems. But then Finland is also the country with the strongest Tango musical line after Argentina. You also have everything in between. So it might be no wonder that the newest Circle album, Terminal (one of the 52 they made, although some accounts say it is over 60!) includes almost any modern rock style imaginable (screams included, of course). No tango though, a shame, I think they could have fitted it in!
Let’s start with a simple introduction this time around. The Carousels are a band from Scotland and Sail Me Home St. Clair is their second album. Looking at the album cover, you’d expect a ton of whiskey flowing around and a bunch of sea shanties. The whiskey might have been flowing around in jugs but sea shanties are nowhere to be found. You see, The Carousels sound like one of the better 70s style country rock bands from the West Coast with all these gentle strumming guitars, pedal steels, and ever-expanding harmonies. Scottish weather is not exactly known for too many sunny, balmy days but you wouldn’t guess it by listening to this album.
Enter any record store (yes, they are still called that) these days and you’ll have the impression that the CD stalls are dwindling, hit by reserving vinyl on one, and DVDs on the other. Or, try taking a stack of CDs that are collecting dust on your home shelves to a secondhand store. Chances are that when the owner sees that you are bringing CDs, he won’t even let you through the door, let alone give you anything that will even resemble a decent price for them. Who would have thought that as we were entering the 21st century CDs were practically everywhere, still hailed as the best ever advancement in sound reproduction? These days, mirroring the dooming fate of vinyl LPs in mid-80s, it seems people are just leaving entire CD collections by the dumpster, hoping that somebody will be merciful and at least save the music recorded in those laser tracks. The official data is no less damning. According to LA Weekly, in the period from 2001 to 2014, only in the US the sales of CDs dropped by 80% and LP sales are up a staggering 800% since 2004. What did the hell happen?