12 Releases I’m Looking Forward to in 2012

The month of January was named after the Roman goddess Janus who had two faces.  Like the goddess, January is the month of the year when we both look back on the previous year that is over as well as ahead to the year coming up. I just posted my favorite releases for 2011— here is a list of releases that I’m looking forward to in 2012.

The Right Now – sophomore release (April 21st) – The Chicago R&B group The Right Now has had a pretty great run since their first album Carry Me Home came out in 2010 (which I was the Executive Producer on). They’ve played some pretty great headlining shows as well as opening for many of the bigger R&B acts touring. They flew out to L.A. in 2011 to work with Sergio Rios of Orgone at his studio for their 2nd album. Most of songs for this album have had their fair share of live workout and it shows– as someone who has seen the band a lot over the last year, the new songs have already become standards. The album will be released on Record Store Day.

Jeff Parker – Bright Light In Winter (February 2012) – The guitar-slinger for post rock fountainhead Tortoise is releasing his third solo album on Chicago Blues/Jazz label Delmark. Jeff Parker’s first solo record Like Coping was released on Delmark, with his second solo record The Relatives on Thrill Jockey. Credited as the Jeff Parker Trio, the album will feature Chris Lopes on bass and Chad Taylor on drums.

BTW: Don’t get me wrong– I’m a Thrill Jockey fanboy of the first order, but when was the last Jazz release from Thrill Jockey? (It was Chicago Underground Duo…) Thank goodness for Delmark, or we wouldn’t get these crucial releases from Chicago’s Jazz scene!

Garbage – title TBD (March or April 2012) – I reported on this previously. The new fifth album from Garbage is apparently in the can and mastered. There have been reports of an extensive tour in 2012 as well.

Snow Patrol – Fallen Empires (January 10) – After developing a big crush on the Tired Pony record, I was waiting expectantly for this album as it was produced by Jacknife Lee who also produced R.E.M.’s album Collapse Into Now, and with all of the ties to R.E.M.– Pete Buck was in Tired Pony, Michael Stipe helped Gary Lightbody get through some writer’s block– I was hoping for something great. The first song from Fallen Empires was “Called Out in the Dark” which has an unstoppable beat and build to it. I think that the promise of Tired Pony delivers on Fallen Empires.

Poliça – Give You The Ghost (February 14) – Technically, this album is already out as it is available as digital download from iTunes and Amazon. But, the debut album from GAYNGS lead vocalist Channy Leaneagh’s (formerly Channy Moon Casselle) new band Poliça will be officially released on CD and vinyl on producer Ryan Olson’s record label Totally Gross National Product on Valentine’s Day 2012, complete with sold-out shows at First Avenue. If you are a fan of the vocoder-laiden production of GAYNGS and Bon Iver (Mike Noyce from Bon Iver helps out on vocals on a couple of tracks, too), then you’ll love this album as much as I do! The lineup of two drummers, bass, vocals and keyboards gives the band a very unique sound, but also pretty reminiscent of 90’s trip hop from bands like Morcheeba, Sneaker Pimps and Portishead.

The Pines – Dark So Gold – (January 31) – The third album from The Pines on Red House Records find principal members Benson Ramsey and David Huckfelt living in two different cities. This doesn’t prevent them from turning out their best collaboration, yet. I caught three of their shows back in May and their stop at CSPS in September and got to hear songs destined for Dark So Gold, so I was already looking forward to hearing the studio versions of “Cry Cry Crow” and “If By Morning.” Produced again by Benson’s dad, Bo Ramsey. The Pines are kicking off a tour at the beginning of February in support of the new album and will be making stops at CSPS again as well as The Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis.

Cheyenne Marie Mize – We Don’t Need EP – (January 24) – What started out as a release on My Old Kentucky Blog’s label Roaring Colonel has been picked up by Cheyenne Marie Mize’s new label home YepRoc. I loved her last album Before Lately and managed to catch her at The Mill where she performed the percussion-plus-vocals “Wishing Well” which Consequence of Sound is debuting. You can also check out her Daytrotter session to listen to “Keep It” which is also on the 6-track EP available on 10″ vinyl and digital download.

Jacob Jones – Good Timin’ in Waynestown – (August?) – Jacob Jones is someone my wife and I met in Nashville during an overnight stop on a Monday night with Brendan of The Right Now. We were on a marathon road trip getting the mastering done and dropped off for the vinyl version of Carry Me Home. Brendan insisted we needed to hit this local-yokel  bar called the 5 Spot where they have this over-the-top dance party on Monday nights. This dance party called “Keep on Movin'” is hosted by Jacob Jones and his label partner Reno Bo and consists of mostly 50’s and 60’s country, R&B, garage rock and blues– typically spun on a turntable (though sometimes from a MacBook). The drinks are cheap, the folks are friendly and the floor is packed. Suffice it to say, it was one of the most memorable events we’ve been to, and certainly one of the high-points of the trip.

In addition to purveying this party, Jacob is also a singer/songwriter with a couple of pretty great Americana records under his belt. I introduced blogger Amber Valentine to his music and she wrote this really great review of his last release, which is a free download. When I was pinging folks for releases I reached out to Jacob and he told me about his 2012 release, Good Timin’ in Waynestown which is inspired by the 5 Spot Monday nights! “Good Timin’ In Waynetown” is about the good times. plain and simple,” Jacob told me in a recent conversation, “The songs are for dancing. drop the needle and get to work. The songs are filled with huge sounds of New Orleans and Nashville, Memphis and Mussel Sholes. They are about the finer things in this world like love and having good friends, that’s it, plain and simple.” Indeed, based on the couple of rough mixes he sent, this album has a big sound somewhere between Ray Charles, Chris Isaak, and Lyle Lovett. This release is going to come out on vinyl, too, so that is really exciting! A sure bet for my best of 2012.

The Diplomats of Solid Sound – TBD – I don’t have any details about the third release of Iowa City-Chicago-Austin band The Diplomats of Solid Sound with the Diplomettes other than it was recorded in Iowa City in 2011 and that they played some of the new songs at their gigs leading up to and on New Year’s Eve. I loved their last two albums, so there should be no reason to believe I won’t love this one, too!

Camper Van Beethoven – TBD – News of this release– their follow-up to 2004’s New Roman Times— was delivered with a run of tour dates starting this week. No other details other than this run of winter dates will include some of the songs from the forthcoming record.

Hiss Golden Messenger – TBD – As if  releasing the amazing 1-2 punch of Bad Debt and Poor Moon over the last two years wasn’t enough, M.C. Taylor is planning to come back in 2012 with another album! As part of one of the Poor Moon pre-order bundle he included a bonus digital EP called Lord I Love The Rain that included outtakes and demos, but also had early versions of tracks that will be on the next album. Though we’ll see if this is the next album or maybe another project he hinted at in a recent conversation!

The Horses Ha -TBD – In a recent conversation with Janet Beveridge Bean she told me that James Elkington and she were done recording the follow-up to the debut Horses Ha release The Cathmawr Yards which came out in 2009. I absolutely loved the jazzy folk harmonies from The Horses Ha. You can read my review of The Cathmawr Yards here. Watch my site for updates as I get them!

 

(Review) Chicago Odense Ensemble

Chicago Odense Ensemble Vinyl Jacket and Sleeves
In the last year or so it seems that a few groups that I follow have chosen as a template for their recent albums the genre-defining and game-changing 1969 Miles Davis album In A Silent Way. In the Davis oeuvre, In A Silent Way represents his first full-step into electric fusion jazz and the precursor to Bitches Brew. The album itself is two compositions– on the LP, one per side– which are made up of edits of a much longer recording session by legendary recording engineer Teo Macero.

In 2008  musicians gathered in Chicago to collaborate on a new work. The group consisted of Rob Mazurek of Isotope 217 and Chicago Underground, Jeff Parker of Tortoise and Isotope 217, Dan Bitney of Tortoise and Isotope 217, Matt Lux of Isotope 217, Brian Keigher, Jonas Munk of Causa Sui and Manual and Jakob Skott of Causa Sui. A joining of bands from Chicago and Odense, Denmark named Chicago Odense Ensemble.

In Spring of 2010, I started hearing about this album from the folks at the boutique French record label AdLuna. AdLuna makes very-small-run releases with gorgeous packaging– all labors of love. The label had releases by Thrill Jockey alumni, including Rob Mazurek’s solo work Abstractions on Robert d’Abrissel, and Jeff Parker (on Doug Scharin’s Activities of Dust project) and now Chicago Odense Ensemble. The ambitions of the label for the release matched the promise of the recording. This album was going to represent AdLuna’s first venture into vinyl– a media befitting the importance of the album, and would give them the ability to stretch their packaging chops with the larger canvas.

Chicago Odense Ensemble on the Turntable

An undertaking of a project this size was going to be a stress on the small label, so they reached out to the fans with a pre-order campaign in June. By November, the packaging and other details of the release were ready and they were only going to press 250 180g LPs and 500 CD’s making this a very limited release and very desirable for collectors. Today, out-of-print Thrill Jockey titles can fetch around $40, and those are usually limited to 1000 LPs per pressing. I can only imagine the future value of this release!

In April 2011, the album was finally completed and ready to ship the pre-orders. The folks at AdLuna felt especially generous and decided to give away six sets of the test pressings to some lucky fans who pre-ordered the release. These six sets required some special packaging and shipping materials, so the winners had their releases shipped a bit later. As it turned out, I was one of the lucky six! The package included the LPs as expected and also included the test pressings which were wrapped in very special paper and were personalized with a letter of ownership as well as each of the records having the owner’s name written on them. As I write this, I’m still astonished by the effort and personal touch put forth for this!

Chicago Odense Ensemble Test Pressing Wrapped

The test-pressings were wrapped in a special Himalayan paper called lokta paper made from the bark of the lokta bush or Daphne bush. The included letter says this:

The lokta paper has been made in the Himalayan region for over 1200 years. Handcrafted, the paper is made from the inner bark of the bush which grows at a high altitude of 6500 to 9500 feet. It is very strong and is an incredible eco-friendly choice. The Nepalese claim that the lokta paper lasts for 1,000 years if protected from sunlight.

 

Chicago Odense Ensemble Test Pressing Unwrapped

The Chicago Odense Ensemble album is the result of a coming-together of two camps of musicians from seemingly different genres. The album is more about the exploration of groove and improvisation than it is about strict composition. In fact, this album is partially inspired by the aforementioned work done by Miles Davis, if not the resulting proto jazz fusion that followed. In a similar way to the Davis albums Chicago Odense Ensemble was created by marathon recording sessions followed by Monk taking the recordings back to his studio and editing and massaging the recordings into the resulting tracks.

Taken in whole, Chicago Odense Ensemble is an impressively cohesive work, no doubt supported by the very fruitful original sessions recorded in 2008. Considering the improvisational nature of the original tracks, the editing brings these tracks into individual compositions with unique moods and movement.

Here are my listening notes for each of the songs:

1. Parallel Motions (9:50) – dual improv of cornet and guitar  over repeating and building bass, guitar and percussion.

2. Emanuelle (9:23) – almost a dub track with the rolling echo. In the last two minutes of the song it switches to a more organized finish with brushes on the eights and chiming clean guitar chords underneath a trumpet melody.

3. Spirals (1:36) – Melancholy little interlude. Arpeggio clean guitar and coronet with a bell mute.

4. Glide Path (4:30) Bongos and atmospheric guitars. Lots of Isotope 217 and Tortoise influence on this track. Pretty, if a bit incidental

5. Soup (6:19) First song previewed from album. Starts with a marching snare and circular guitars builds in a circular fashion adding in frenetic cornet runs and guitar to the end.

6. Spine Dots (3:20)  Ominous and unstructured, atmospheric and swelling fragments of instruments a lead-in to “Delivery.”

7. Delivery (11:59)  African rhythms – shakers and guitar and bass playing same notes. halfway though the rhythm becomes more loose/more jammy. Becomes more frenzied in last two minutes and cacophonous

8. Pretty Nice (6:35) Appropriately described by the song title which is in-turn inspired by the studio chatter included at the end. Nice bright track. mellow percussion. nice way to wrap up the album.

At the time of this writing there are less than 100 of the LPs remaining. Visit the Chicago Odense Ensemble website for ordering information. You can order the CD here as well. For any order, they have immediate digital download, too.

 

Chicago Odense Ensemble “Soup” by Adluna Records

Members of Tortoise, Isotope 217 & Causa Sui to Release Chicago Odense Ensemble

AdLuna Records is a label I’ve been following for a little while due to their ties with Thrill Jockey artists. AdLuna is a boutique-ish label out of France which has a penchant for free jazz and funk (well, and one folk release). They released their first three releases in 2008. Due to the low volume of releases from the label, they are able to focus on the packaging of the releases. All three CD releases are in a unique 5.5″ x 7.75″ book style cover– printed on high-quality card stock with a matte finish. In the case of Rob Mazurek’s Abstractions on Robert D’Arbrissel (AR001CD) release, there was a 10-page full-color booklet included in the cover. In the case of Doug Scharin’s project Activities of Dust, whose sidemen included Jeff Parker (Tortoise), Bill Laswell and Bernie Worrell, in addition to the CD of their release A New Mind (AR003CDDVD), a DVD titled “Return to the Original Matrix” which was produced by Doug Scharin.

Last week AdLuna announced that their next release would be an album from Chicago Odense Ensemble. Chicago Odense Ensemble is a group made up of Rob Mazurek (Chicago Underground, Isotope 217, Exploding Star Orchestra), Jeff Parker (Tortoise, Isotope 217, Exploding Star Orchestra), Dan Bitney (Tortoise, Isotope 217), Matt Lux (Isotope 217, Exploding Star Orchestra), Brian Keigher (aka DJ Warp), Jonas Munk (Causa Sui, Manual) and Jakob Skott (Causa Sui). Evidently derives its name from the fact that Mazurek, Parker, Bitney, Lux and Keigher all call Chicago home and Causa Sui members Skott and Munk are from Odense, Denmark.

I was not aware of Causa Sui until I heard about this release so I checked them out. They are spacy-stoner rockish instrumental group. Kind of Doors-meets-Hawkwind, I suppose. I’ve been listening to it quite a bit in the last week, and the influence of Causa Sui should make for a really great release! From the press release is a quote from Jonas Munk, “The closest reference for this kind of music is probably early-1970’s proto-fusion jazz that strived for a similar synthesis of jazz improvisation, psychedelic rock, Eastern and African sounds and the use of the studio as a musical tool instead of merely a recording facility.”

The release, which doesn’t have a date yet, will come out in CD and 2 180g LP versions as well as digital download. AdLuna sent me some pictures of the proposed packaging which they are still formalizing. I also included the pretty cool teaser trailer for the release.

Stay tuned for more details as they come.

Click Here for AdLuna Records which will release Chicago Odense Ensemble this year.

Click Here for Chicago Odense Ensemble’s MySpace Page.

B-Sides in the Bins #30 – Chicago – 9/12/08

Jazz Record Mart, Chicago

My wife and a friend of hers wanted to go to Chicago for a Gluten-Free Cooking Conference. This left her friend Sharon’s husband Bob and I with lots of time on our hands. Bob Najouks is one of the Sunday morning jocks on Kirkwood College’s Jazz and Blues station KCCK, so I thought a trip to the infamous Jazz Record Mart was in order. I hadn’t been to JRM in over two years so it was time for me to come back and Bob had never been there!

This weekend was wet. Lots of rain dumping on Chicagoland from Hurricane/Tropical Storm Ike pulled out of the Gulf of Mexico. Friday was blessed with small spots of light-to-no rain so hoofing it around downtown was an okay proposition. Our plans after breakfast was to hit Jazz Record Mart, lunch, and then to hit the Art Institute of Chicago then call it a day.

Bob teaches sketching classes at Kirkwood currently, but– in addition to his radio gig– also is a freelance artist. In the early 60’s he did some cover art for Franz Jackson who passed away in May. JRM had a number of still-sealed copies of Good Old Days by Franz Jackson and the Original Jass All-Stars (Pinnacle Recordings: PLP 109) that Bob did the cover art for, which was a neat dose of kismet. Bob picked up a copy to play– he still had the original 1965 pressing of the album at home.

Gorilla – Deal With It (CD, Thrill Jockey, Thrill 003-2, 1993)($5.99) Interesting find. Not Jazz-related at all. The third release on Thrill Jockey from back in the day. The mailing address was New York, so this is before Bettina moved to her current Chicago digs. Seattle Grunge band, I guess. Sounds very early-Nineties. Kind of punk, kind of retro 60’s sound with organ. Not great, but not horrible, really. Mostly a collector piece for me. It would appear that while the CD for this is very much out-of-print, the LP is still available?

George Freeman – Birth Sign (CD, Delmark, DD-424, 1993)($13.99) My first non-Thrill Jockey related Delmark purchase. This was playing on the stereo in the store while I was checking out and I impulse-purchased. George Freeman is the guitar-playing brother of tenor sax player Von Freeman (apparently the more famous of the two). Birth Sign is his debut album. Great album of Hammond-B3 fueled jazz typical of the late 60’s.

John Coltrane – Blue Train (LP, Blue Note, BST-91577, 1993)($11.99) This is the CEMA/Capitol Special Products pressing of the seminal Blue Note release. I own this on CD as well. In fact, my CD pressing of this is on 24-karat gold UltraDisc II from Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab. This is the album that broke open the gates of jazz for me.

Jeff Parker – The Relatives (LP, Thrill Jockey, Thrill 129, 2005) ($12.99) Wow, a really cool and rare find! The vinyl for this release has been out-of-print for a while, as is usually the case from Thrill Jockey vinyl. According to the price sticker, this has been in the bin since its release. Jazz Record Mart carries most of the Thrill Jockey releases, but it seems that a lot of the clientèle there don’t follow this label, which accounts for the fact that this release is still in the bins. I saw a couple of other rare TJ releases as well. Maybe I’ll come for them later.

The Dave Brubeck Quartet – Jazz: Red Hot and Cool (LP, Columbia, CL 699, 1954) ($3.99) This is an upgrade for me. My first copy was in pretty good shape, but this one is in much better shape and comes with the original Columbia paper inner-sleeve! The record is in immaculate shape and the cover is also very beautiful. I had never noticed before today that the vivid photograph of a young Brubeck entertaining a young, smoking (literally) woman leaning on his piano was taken by none other than Richard Avedon! Avedon, who died in 2004, took some famous shots of the Beatles and Marilyn Monroe as well as the well-known picture of Nastassja Kinski with a python.

All-in-all a good trip and it was cool to be there with a jazz afficianado. Bob and I will be back, I think.

B-Sides in the Bins #25 – eBay

Lots of Thrill Jockey-related purchases on eBay. Last month I finally finished my Tortoise LP collection! I found a guy who was selling Thrill 013 aka the first Tortoise album who had “TNT” as well. He runs a small record shop in Washington and apparently gets Tortoise vinyl from time-to-time! The only vinyl missing from my Tortoise collection at this point is the “Gamera” 12″ and Rhythms, Resolutions & Clusters.

Tortoise – Tortoise (LP, Thrill Jockey thrill 013, 1994) ($20) This is not the first pressing Fireproof Press brown cardboard with brown screening and tab close cover. This is not the 1996 white with green screen sleeve either. This copy is a light grey plain sleeve with orange screening. I have seen this version frequently on eBay, but I don’t know if this is also the second pressing or if it is a third one.

Tortoise – TNT (2 LP, Thrill Jockey thrill 050, 1998) ($30) This release is probably the most popular release from Tortoise, and as such seems to be driving the price of the vinyl up. Expect to pay upwards of $40 without shipping for a copy of this. I can now rest easy having finished this collection!

Tortoise – Universal Buzz presents… Tortoise (CD-R, Universal Buzz Radio / Quantegy, 2001) ($9) This is a CD for a syndicated radio show called Universal Buzz Radio. This seems to be a show from the 1998 tour. Unfortunately, there isn’t any information on the CD or a tracklisting or what venue or city. An interesting piece for my collection.

Chicago Underground Duo – 12 Degrees of Freedom (CD, Thrill Jockey thrill 060, 1998) ($4)

Chicago Underground Duo – Synesthesia (CD, Thrill Jockey thrill 077, 2000) ($4)

Chicago Underground Duo – Axis and Alignment (CD, Thrill Jockey thrill 106, 2002) ($4)

Chicago Underground Duo – In Praise of Shadows (CD, Thrill Jockey thrill 168, 2006) $4) All four of these came from one auction which closed around $17 after shipping. Chicago Underground Duo is the pairing of Rob Mazurek and Chad Taylor. These albums range from just the duo to albums with sidemen including Jeff Parker.

B-Sides in the Bins #15 – Cedar Rapids and Internet 9/11/07

I made a trip to CDWarehouse in Cedar Rapids on 9/11 specifically to pick up the new Joe Henry. I’ve also picked up some other titles from ‘Net…

Civilians – Joe Henry (CD Anti- 86890-2, 2007) ($13.99) Joe’s second release on Anti- is pretty much a continuation of the sound and style he established with 2003’s Tiny Voices.

“Oh Yeah” – Yello (12″ Mercury 884-930-1, 1985) ($0.50) This is why I love hitting CDWarehouse. John deliberately drops cool stuff in his cheap vinyl bin. Ever since I took a huge haul of early Eighties 12-inches from Goodwill a couple of years ago, I’ve been keeping an eye out for deals like this. MINT condition. It has the single version of the song plus a 5 minute “Indian Summer Music” remix and a 6:25 “Dance Mix.”

In the used vinyl bin there was a copy of Welcome to the Pleasuredome by Frankie Goes to Hollywood and another Yello title. If the FGTH title is still there next time I’m in, I’ll probably pick that one up. I still remember playing the “Relax” 12″ at home after I purchased it at Musicland in Dubuque and having Dad asking me why I was listening to that “shit.” A brother of a friend of mine bought the cassette of Pleasuredome and I copied it. I hadn’t heard anything like it at the time. That was the summer of Zang Tum Tum Records it seemed. Zang Tum Tum was the odd little label from the UK that had The Art of Noise, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, 808 State and Seal among other acts on it. There was kind of a mystery surrounding the label and its acts. I remember there were three or four versions of the “Relax” video– some of them not appropriate for Prime Time and I could catch them on Night Flight on USA on the weekends. Night Flight was how I heard about The Art of Noise whose “Close (to the Edit)” and “Beat Box (Diversion 1)” were also in constant rotation along with Yes’s “Owner of the Lonely Heart.” Apparently Madonna and Sean Penn used the AoN song “Moments in Love” as their wedding march. All of these songs and their albums were produced by former Buggle (“Video Killed the Radio Star”) Trevor Horn. AoN was effectively the house band for ZTT and backed FGTH and would later be the band for Seal’s first album.

Double Roses – The Court and Spark (CD Absolutely Kosher no catalog number, 2003) ($10) With the annouced split of the Court and Spark I figured I’d better pick up the titles I didn’t have. Double Roses is really more of an EP at nine tracks than a full album. It is a collection of some unreleased studio tracks as well as a couple of live ones. The packaging is hand-made and numbered. Mine is numbered 126 of 400. Along with the CD there is a URL which provides the actual liner notes. I should probably snag those pages and cache them in case the website goes down. Order this directly from Absolutely Kosher as it is the cheapest you will find this title. $10 included shipping!

Ventura Whites – The Court and Spark (CD Glitterhouse Records GRCD 504, 2000) ($13.80) This is the import release of the CD. Ventura Whites was distributed by Tumult in the US. Very OOP, unfortunately. Not really my favorite release from them. I think their sound matured quite a bit between this release and Bless You. Bought on Amazon.com from a seller.

Solitude – Volebeats (CD Safe House SH-2128-2) ($1.13) Exchanging e-mails with Dave from the 100’s got me looking at the Volebeats again. The 100’s cover “Annabel” by the Volebeats. The Volebeats are/were a band from Michigan who record a roots rock/country style. I had been doing some research on the Volebeats back when the movie The Shopgirl included one of their songs but never followed through to purchase anything. I seem to remember the Calexico/Friends of Dean Martinez-ish instrumental “Desert Song” being in some movie, too.

Westside Cabin EP #1 – Reminder (download Ropeadope Digital Release R509) ($7.99) Reminder is the solo project of Josh Abrams who lends his bass skills to Thrill Jockey alums like Town & Country, Prefuse 73 and was also on Sam Prekop’s solo record. I found out about this from Tortoise guitarist Jeff Parker’s MySpace page. Jeff lends his riffs to “Halfsies.” Jazzy, mellow, sample-based electronica. Good stuff and good price. You can either download this from Ropeadope or buy it from Reminder - West Side Cabin #1 - EP . The Ropeadope version is cheaper than iTunes and is DRM-free.

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