November 100-word Reviews, Part 4

My roundup of worthy albums that deserve coverage continues with five more hundred-word reviews. Each of these deserves deeper coverage, but “so much music, so little time.” Dig ’em all.

Jinx Jones – Twang-Tastic!
The vibe here: Link Wray meets Brian Setzer, with a bit of The Cramps and Los Straitjackets thrown in for good measure. Sonorous guitar sounds coupled with knowingly spare use of the whammy bar: those are just some of qualities found on this thirteen-track collection. Mostly originals here, plus a couple of well-chosen covers of tunes from Lionel Hampton and John Barry. Jones is a strong vocalist, too: “Nothing Left to Burn” is delightfully rocking/swinging in an early Elvis kinda way. Oh, but with hotshot guitar licks on top; he’s a master of many styles, all on prominent display here.

Pérez Patitucci Blade – Children of the Light
Tasty jazz instrumentals from a stellar trio – Danilo Peréz on keys, acclaimed bassist John Patitucci, and Brian Blade on the drum kit – fill this consistently enjoyable eleven-track set. Subtlety and assured, ambitious playing never gets too abstract, so this warm and inviting set should please listeners who demand adventurousness as well as those who like their jazz in the background. The disc features a nice variety of electric and acoustic instrument combinations, too, so things never get sonically predictable. The dissonant piano lines on “Sunburn and Mosquito” recall Thelonious Monk. “Lumen” is a bit reminiscent of Weather Report.

Ola Fresca – Elixir
The one-sheet that accompanied this review disc was completely en Español, so I’ll leave it to curious readers/listeners to seek out more details about Ola Fresca. What I can tell you is that the music features wonderful Cuban/salsa-style polyrhythms – the kind that only accomplished dancers can follow – and appealing vocals (lead and chorus) throughout. As is often the case with this style of music, it’s the particular beat of each song that provides the tune’s uniqueness, and Ola Fresca clearly have a bottomless well of appealing rhythms upon which to build their songs. Half originals, half outside composers.

The Jackals – People
Moody, midtempo indie rock with lots of echoey guitars, echoey vocals and (not-as-echoey) piano. Some interesting instrumental textures – cello and so forth – add interest. This outfit falls into the musical bag where Decemberists, Fleet Foxes and other thoughtful, contemplative and acoustic-leaning acts live. A strong sense of melody sets them apart from others. “Call Out Mellobird” sounds not completely unlike early 1970s Rolling Stones, and the superb “Ghost Soul Traffic” calls to mind 80s janglepop crossed with the Velvet Underground and late-period Byrds; it’s also the best track on the album. Pleasingly varied, it’s well worth a listen.

Brandon Schott – Crayons & Angels
The power pop / guitar pop community is quite the small, tightly-knit group. This album was mixed by Andy Reed, who also plays on the album. And it’s released on Curry Cuts, a new label run by Andrew Curry, mastermind behind some recent and worthwhile tribute collections. But This isn’t power pop, really. The Left Banke and “Your Mother Should Know”-era Beatles are more likely touchstones. There are strong whiffs of Jellyfish (“Verdugo Park”) and SMiLE-era Beach Boys, too. If those names intrigue, and you enjoy well-crafted, baroque- flavored pop, dig this. Ambitious, but not at the expense of accessibility.

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