Waxahatchee: Out In The Storm
Out In The Storm, Katie Crutchfield’s fourth album as Waxahatchee and her second release with Merge, is the blazing result of a woman reawakened. Her most autobiographical and honest album to date, Out In The Storm is a self-reflective anchor in the story of both her songwriting and her life. As Crutchfield prepared for the release of her Merge debut Ivy Tripp, she found herself depleted emotionally and professionally amidst the dissolution of a noxious relationship. “Ivy Tripp doesn’t really have any resolution. It’s a lot of beating around the bush, and superficially trying to see my life clearly, but just barely scratching the surface. Out In The Storm digs into what I was going through without blinking. It’s a very honest record about a time in which I was not honest with myself.” The album was tracked at Miner Street Recordings in Philadelphia with John Agnello, a producer, recording engineer, and mixer known for working with some of the most iconic musicians of the last 25 years, including Dinosaur Jr. And Sonic Youth. Agnello and Crutchfield worked together for most of December 2016, along with the band: sister Allison Crutchfield on keyboards and percussion, Katherine Simonetti on bass, and Ashley Arnwine on drums; Katie Harkin, touring guitarist with Sleater-Kinney, also contributed lead guitar. At Agnello’s suggestion, the group recorded most of the music live to enhance their unity in a way that gives the album a fuller sound compared to past releases, resulting in one of Waxahatchee’s most guitar-driven releases to date.
Offa Rex: The Queen of Hearts
The Queen of Hearts is the debut album from Offa Rex, an adventurous project featuring English singer/multi-instrumentalist Olivia Chaney and The Decemberists. Produced and recorded by Tucker Martine (Modest Mouse, My Morning Jacket, Neko Case) and Colin Meloy at Martine’s studio in Portland, OR, the album draws largely on traditional English-Irish-Scottish repertoire to create a transatlantic musical conversation that flirts with psychedelia and folk rock while maintaining it’s own inimitable identity.
Charles Lloyd Quartet: Passin’ Thru
NEA Jazz Master saxophonist and musical truth-seeker Charles Lloyd reconvenes his remarkable New Quartet with pianist Jason Moran, bassist Reuben Rogers, and drummer Eric Harland and takes us on another mystical journey with this live recording of Lloyd’s original compositions. Passin’ Thru is his third release on the Blue Note Records label – Wild Man Dance and I Long To See You. He had spent the previous 25 years recording for the ECM label. Though he primarily plays tenor saxophone and flute, Charles Lloyd has occasionally recorded on other reed instruments, including alto saxophone and the Hungarian tárogató.
Nick Lowe: 2 Reissues
~Nick the Knife is a 1982 album by Nick Lowe. The album was Lowe’s third solo LP, and his first since the 1981 breakup of his band Rockpile. However, the record still has several Rockpile ties, as Lowe’s former bandmates Billy Bremner and Terry Williams play on the album. In addition, Lowe does a slowed-down remake of the Rockpile song “Heart”; the original version can be found on the band’s album Seconds of Pleasure sung by Bremner.
~Abominable Showman was recorded with his post-Rockpile touring band Noise to Go. Following the blueprint of Rockpile, the band also featured a second lead vocalist in erstwhile Ace frontman Paul Carrack and had been featured on the Lowe-produced Carrack album Suburban Voodoo (as well as on this album s duet Wish You Were Here). This unit could play hard driving rock & roll and soulful pop music, all in evidence here from the opener (and concert favorite) Raging Eyes to the full on pop-soul of Time Wounds All Heels. And the band barnstormed the USA opening for the likes of The Cars and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers which yields the bonus EP of live tracks from Cleveland s Agora.
Yoko Ono: 3 Reissues
~What you hear on Fly is Yoko Ono’s disarming combination of opacity and visceral, personal transparency in full bloom. It’s one of the most unbridled, most captivating soul albums ever made. And that’s right where she wants you: vulnerable, wide open to any-and-everything, ready to have your world tipped onto it’s head. She’s a master of spinning your head around. First, you get the Bar Band from Hell of “Midsummer New York” to kick things off. It’s about the last thing you’d expect from Ono coming off Plastic Ono Band. But here you are, listening to Ono channeling Elvis. Why am I all of a sudden bopping along to it? At 16-minute-plus, the tranced-out, motorik-inspired boogie “Mind Train” is rough-and-ready for your next basement get down. Movement and perspiration required. Then, we have the absolutely gutting blues of “Don’t Worry, Kyoko (Mummy’s Only Looking For Her Hand in The Snow).” Full of ache and raw emotion, the song is a love note, a plea for forgiveness, to her estranged daughter Kyoko shot across the universe on a flaming arrow. Ono follows this stampede of emotion with the self-referential torch song “Mrs. Lennon,” a wounded song that gets right into the Universal Loneliness. And so here you are. You’re devastated. You’re exhausted. You’re exhilarated. And you’re only 1/4 of the way up the mountain that is Fly. Dig deep, traveler, it’s worth the climb.
~There’s a fury at the core of Yoko Ono’s 1973 rock opus Approximately Infinite Universe that was not apparent on previously recorded efforts. Ono has always been a master of turning pain and sadness into art, but here, there’s a clenched-fist intensity that sets it apart in her deep, unparalleled catalogue. Ono is angry. She proved that one can carry a boundless love for humanity and still be furious – furious at male/female relationships, at war, at your partner. Meanwhile, on a sonic level, Ono ups the ante on the more centered rock-n-roll sounds she approached with 1971’s Fly. The album is one of the most traditional-sounding rock chapters in Ono’s sprawling catalogue. There are moments here that absolutely rival Jersey legends the E Street Band ever dared tread. Approximately Infinite Universe is an essential and progressive piece of Ono’s output, both in the advancements she made as a songwriter/conceptualist, and as a solidified statement of her staunch feminist role within the very male-dominated mainstream rock ghetto of the mid-1970’s.
~Feeling the Space is Yoko Ono’s fourth solo album, her last one on Apple Records and her last release of the 1970s. (A fifth album, A Story, would be recorded in 1974, but not released until 1997). The entire album adopts a feminist theme, focusing on the plights of women in the 1970s. It’s liner notes parody adult advertising, giving the telephone numbers, birthdates and vital statistics of the male band members. (John Lennon appears as “John O’Cean”, with his number listed as “Not for Sale”).
“We might end up with a President The Rock, and a Senator Kid Rock.
A pillow fort feels like the only sane response.”