Though perhaps best (or at least better) known for his work with the Police, guitarist Andy Summers seems to be doing rather well for himself. He may not be filling arenas and attracting screaming teenage girls, but their mothers can scream pretty loud as well, and as it is to them that Summers now appears to be playing, his maturity and ability to look forward work in his favor. Backed by bassist Tony Levin and drummer Gregg Bissonette, Summers works well as a frontman. A captivatingly atmospheric voyage round Summers's bleached jazz roots. Dominated unsurprisingly by Summers's intricate fretwork, these 11 instrumentals comprise chiefly originals and homages to jazz maestros.
Many a guitar fan would have predicted that a summit between legendary guitarists Andy Summers (the Police) and Robert Fripp (King Crimson) would result in a guitar solofest. But the music on their first collaboration together, I Advance Masked, stresses guitar textures and moods over indulgent soloing. Although the recording sessions weren't entirely enjoyable for Summers (who was experiencing marital problems at the time), some very beautiful music can be found on the resulting album. The music for the track "Girl on a Swing" does an excellent job of conveying the song's title in one's mind, and the duo's guitars weave wonderful polyrhythmic guitar lines throughout "China – Yellow Leader." "The Truth of Skies" is an atmospheric piece, created by a wash of keyboard sounds and guitar dissonance, while "New Marimba" would have sounded right at home on an early-'80s King Crimson album. I Advance Masked has a dreamlike quality to it, and is definitely not typical rock music. It's highly recommended to fans of these two great and original guitarists. ~ by Greg Prato
The National may sound like a garage band turned down, but there's as much primal energy lurking behind Alligator as in any mop-topped group of city kids with bloodstained Danelectros in a dusty warehouse. While Matt Berninger's lyrics and conversational delivery rely heavily on the kind of literate self-absorption that fuels so much of the indie rock scene today, he never comes off as preachy or unaware that the world would manage just fine without him; rather, he uses metaphor and humor as bullet points for a profound sense of displacement and anger. Out-of-the-blue statements like "f*ck me and make me a drink," from the brooding but lovely "Karen," are effective because the listener is brought into the story slowly, almost amiably, before being led to the plank.
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…
The Modey Lemon's Phil Boyd (guitars, Moogs, vocals) and Paul Quattrone (drums) invited Jason Kirker to join the band on bass and keys after he produced Thunder + Lightning. But that's not the only change on 2005's Curious City. In the band's earlier work, Boyd sang in a slithering rasp that matched Modey's blues-punk skuzz ably, if only satisfactorily. But on City his suddenly clearer vocals are the key hinge to mounting blasts of hellacious Moog noise and weird melodies that slink from under the belly of classic rock & roll. (On Curious they're weird even when quiet, as the downcast Animals redux "Countries" proves.) The background of "Fingers, Drains" warbles in heat and melting instrument noises, and Boyd's vocal on it is downright sultry. Meanwhile "Sleep Walkers" is some of the most efficient music Modey Lemon's ever made; it sounds like a lost Golden Earring B-side with its throbbing bass and insistent drum clap.