Fans of JJ Grey and his ever evolving band Mofro will be delighted that the Florida swamp sage lives by the dictum "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" on This River. If anything, Grey has doubled down on the grittier, funkier aspects of 2010's Georgia Warhorse, and brought the studio closer to the stage to boot. The sound on this record is live, crackling. Half of its ten tracks are crunchy uptempo numbers that flex their funky muscles. The rest is balanced between well-articulated soul tunes, a rock number, and back-porch ballads. Set opener "Your Lady, She's Shady" is a crusty, greasy funk attack, while "Somebody Else" walks some weird line between part of the melody from the Classics IV's "Spooky" (courtesy of the Atlanta Rhythm Section's cover), vocal phrasing by Wilson Pickett, and guitars, bass, and horns coming straight from Stax. Speaking of which, the horn chart and melody in "Tame a Wild One" come right out of the late '60s – and in the grain of Grey's whiskey voice, it feels right. "99 Shades of Crazy" is dirty-ass blues-rock inspired by Delaney Bramlett and Sticky Fingers-era Rolling Stones.
Manchester’s JP Cooper is a self-made, self-taught musician who manages to exist effortlessly within two scenes generally considered to be at varying ends of the sonic spectrum. Learning his craft on the Indie Rock scene, but later connecting with the Manchester Sing Out Gospel Choir, John Paul Cooper’s exquisite vocal seamlessly encompasses the best of both worlds.This is meaningful music from the mind of someone who’s lived life, loss and longing. The singer defines the idea of what it is to be a truly singular artist who both defies convention and resists comparison.
Gear Fab's excavation of the recorded history of Greenwich Village folkie Chris Wilson continued apace with this follow-up to The Grey Wizard Am I (itself reissued three years earlier by the archival label). You needn't be a total sci-fi/fantasy dork to enjoy that 1972-vintage album, though it certainly doesn't hurt. Those with less esoteric – okay, less geeky – tastes, on the other hand, probably felt the Tolkien-themed lyricism was more than a little bit twee and precious. Even more well-adjusted, down-to-earth listeners, however, might find themselves charmed by parts of The Tin Angel. Firstly, the music itself is more diverse and, consequently, has a far broader appeal…
German composer Paul Hindemith wrote concertos for nearly every instrument in the orchestra. Here you get a concert for one of the most common instruments, the violin, along with two distinctively textured orchestral works, the giant Symphonic Metamorphosis of Themes by C.M. von Weber and the somewhat obscure Konzertmusik für Streichorchester und Blechbläser (Concert Music for Strings and Brass Instruments), the earliest piece on the program (it was written in 1930).