Jordy Lane’s music, much like the Pavement song from which he derived his moniker
Time Out Bahrain staff
4/5 Here We Go, Down the Black Hole Jordy Lane’s music, much like the Pavement song from which he derived his moniker, is best absorbed through headphones while meandering through the suburbs on a cool, sunny winter’s afternoon. If you enjoyed Bibio’s recent release, Ambivalence Avenue (again with the street references!), chances are you’ll love this. It, too, is a sweet mix of folk and beats, with sampled sounds of chattering children thrown in for good measure. Channelling both Lou Barlow and Thom Yorke, ‘Who is the Host?’ is a clinky, lo-fi number à la Bubble and Scrape-era Sebadoh, while ‘Oh, Reality’ could be mistaken for Radiohead’s ‘Idioteque’. Instrumental track ‘Here We Go, Down the Black Hole’ is jam-packed with tasty, looped electronica goodness.
Fans of Death Cab for Cutie and The Postal Service are also accounted for – they will appreciate the upbeat synth pop tempo of the album and Jordy’s wistful, boyish vocals. But whereas Death Cab’s Ben Gibbard has a tendency to slap on the saccharine, Jordy isn’t lamenting relationships gone wrong and loves lost. It’s not a broken heart that he is suffering from, but existential angst. Scientific innovation, the existence of God and the meaning of life? All up Shady Lane’s alley. Joanna Lowry. Available to buy online.
Mark Weinstein and Omar Sosa
4/5 Tales from the Earth Omar Sosa, a Cuban pianist from New York, is all long robes and candles as he pursues a modern fusion that is informed by jazz, Afro-Latin roots and hip-hop culture. Brooklyn flautist Mark Weinstein has focused on post-bop and Brazilian jazz on recent discs. Tales from the Earth is a new collaboration from the two that exudes the mystery and authentic street energy of Afro-Cuban music, while reconciling the idiosyncrasies of both co-leaders.
In 1967, when Sosa was two, Weinstein (then a trombonist) recorded Cuban Roots, an influential session with Chick Corea. Soon after his mid-’90s comeback as a flautist, Weinstein offered Cuban Roots Revisited, featuring Sosa. Tales is a reunion, but here, in a first, Sosa plays mallets. He locks in layered marimba patterns to complement Aly Keita’s balafon, and uses vibraphone and minimal piano for harmonic colour and subtle solo inflection. Drummer Marque Gilmore (of Sosa’s Afreecanos Quartet) builds a bridge from traditional rhythm to splintery, cutting-edge beat-making, and bassist Stanislou Michalak keeps his lines fittingly sparse.
Weinstein’s entrancing alto and bass flute work adds a sonorous darkness on several tracks, balancing the lively percussion and vocal incantations of Aho Luc Nicaise and Mathias Agbokou. Tales is also stamped with the earthy, stinging guitar of co-producer Jean Paul Bourelly, whose riffing on ‘Children at Play’ sounds straight out of Africa. David R Adler. Available to buy online.
Flight of the Conchords
3/5 I Told You I Was Freaky Flight of the Conchords are in a bit of a no-win situation. In the duo’s eponymous TV series, the musical numbers tend to speed by, leaving the amusing lyrics obscured in rapid-fire New Zealand accents and muddy television audio mixing. On the other hand, when the accompanying record of collected tunes is released with a helpful booklet of lyrics, the back-and-forth of Bret and Jemaine begs for visual aid. Well, we suppose that’s what the live show is for. And DVDs.
Of course the secret to the Kiwis’ success has not only been deadpan delivery, but also honest-to-God songwriting brilliance. FOTC put more thought and effort into their satirical numbers than the pop stars they ridicule put into their own sincere work. But the main problem with I Told You I Was Freaky is a more one-dimensional attack on horny R&B. There’s just not enough variety, and too many of the skits – er, songs – ride one joke (‘Angels’, ‘Demon Woman’). Fortunately, the Conchords peak on the repeatedly hilarious ‘We’re Both in Love with a Sexy Lady’. The daydreaming one and the dry one fight over a fine female like an argumentative Hall and Oates.
A sexy lady with a lazy eye and an epileptic dog? That’s funny no matter what the format. Brent DiCrescenzo. Available online.
The Mountain Goats
4/5 The Life of the World to Come Unofficially subtitled 12 Hard Lessons the Bible Taught Me, Kind of, John Darnielle’s 17th album as The Mountain Goats is hardly (ahem) a revelation: lyrically deft and musically sparse, it makes explicit his long-held fascination with religion. And, as befits a series of songs written by a Catholic-turned-atheist, the lessons are primarily based around loss, death, guilt and hope.
Musically, things are generally muted despite this being the second album since ex-Superchunk skinsman Jon Wurster became an official Goat, although the tense ‘Psalms 40:2’ is based almost entirely around the rhythm section. However, The Mountain Goats’ albums are always about the lyrics, and Darnielle has clearly had some fun with this conceit, even if it has led to some of his most affecting songs (which is no mean feat). The heartbreaking ‘Deuteronomy 2:10’ sings of (man-made) extinction from three perspectives, those of the thylacine, the dodo and the Costa Rican golden toad, each ending with the resigned line ‘There’ll be no more after me’, while the piano ballad ‘Genesis 30:3’ speaks of the simple love for the newly born. Elsewhere, ‘Romans 10:9’ is an upbeat song about unjustifiable optimism in the face of hopelessness and is either wonderfully inspirational or a vision of lunatic refusal to accept reality – or possibly both. The Life of the World to Come is frequently beautiful, always interesting, hard to stop listening to – much like every Mountain Goats album, then. Andrew P Street. Available online.