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Tuesday, Dec 8, 2009
Various Artists: Spiritual Jazz: Esoteric, Modal, and Deep Jazz from the Underground 1968-1977 - Now Again [$16.98]

Spiritual jazz was perhaps the ideological opposite of the self-destructive motions of free jazz. Rather than obliterate the self, it sought to link in body and spirit with others. Spiritual Jazz, which holds the surname Esoteric, Modal, and Deep Jazz From the Underground 1968-1977, stresses this globalism and represents it not only through Westerners looking outward, but outsiders looking in.  Artists like Sengalese percussionist Mor Thiam, Egyptian military bandleader Salah Ragab, and South African Ndikho Xaba (whose group the Natives refers to the Americans in the band, flipping the Orientalist perspective on its head) found themselves more than willing to bridge cultural barriers by adapting a shared sonic language.


As a result of a DIY aesthetic, the musicians who made this incredible music seem nearly as interesting as the tunes themselves. The folkloric liner notes themselves are worth the price of the CD to learn about which artists met after one of them escaped from prison or which one played for Richard Nixon. With the odds against them, it’s frankly inspirational that we’re still listening to them today. It’s like they had some force, beyond archival and excavational ones, ushering them into the modern world. You could call it God or simply the power of some seriously groovy music. Perhaps they’re even the same thing. Either way, it’s us who are blessed for this music’s continued presence. Spiritual jazz isn’t for everyone, but this collection is the perfect fit for anyone who fancies the genre.


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Monday, Dec 7, 2009
The Beach Boys - Christmas Harmonies - Capitol [$14.95]

This Christmas CD by the Beach Boys offers up a delightful mix of holiday classics and holiday originals by Brian Wilson. This CD is the perfect gift for the awkward office exchange—maybe your cubicle buddy will stop playing the N*Sync Christmas CD and spin this collection instead. With holiday hits like “Little Saint Nick”, “Merry Christmas, Baby” and “Melekalikimaka”, you’ll be jammin’ through your winter vacation.


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Thursday, Dec 3, 2009
Red Red Meat - Bunny Gets Paid (Deluxe Edition) - Sub Pop [$14.98]

Like so many other canonized rock albums, Bunny Gets Paid doesn’t do all the work. But once you shoulder some of the load, the returns it yields are immeasurable. This is not music that will be understood easily, or even fully, but it is deeply felt. It’s the rare kind of album where you can listen to it 100 times and you might just hear, and feel, 100 different things. There’re signs of blues and Americana and classic rock, but they’re so spare and so deeply embedded in the band’s sound as to be afterthoughts. To try to explain this sound is not only impossible, it is completely unnecessary. There is no other thing to call this music. It is purely Red Red Meat.


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Tuesday, Dec 1, 2009
DJ Shadow - Handmade CDs [$14.99] and Vinyl [$24.99] plus autographed DJ Hero Bundle [$159.99]

Really reaching out to his fans, DJ Shadow is offering up rare and previously unreleased live performances, remixes and alternative versions of his music via his website. In a unique touch, the CDs and vinyl LPs are “created and customized for the buyer, literally “handmade” and assembled on demand, as the order is placed. Additionally, each item is personalized with the buyer’s name inscribed onto the packaging.


Shadow is also a featured remixer in and on the well received DJ Hero video game. He offers up an exclusive autographed edition on his site as a plain format or additionally as a special bonus bundle, including a Shadow avatar t-shirt, some stickers and a rare exclusive vinyl. All Shadow collectors should want this rarity whatever it is. Signed versions are available for all current generation consoles.


DJ Shadow Site


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Tuesday, Dec 2, 2008
The Lemonheads: It's a Shame About Ray (Collector's Edition) - Rhino [$24.98]

The Lemonheads released It’s a Shame About Ray in 1992 and 16 years later it’s gotten the Collector’s Edition treatment. For an album that clocks in at just under 30 minutes, its raucous energy and catchy melodies makes it sound fuller than one might expect -– this album has held up very well. The Collector’s Edition contains demos of almost all the tracks and a second disc DVD that includes videos from this album, as well as from Lovey and Come On Feel the Lemonheads. The 1993 documentary, Two Weeks in Australia, is also included.  This re-release is an opportunity for old fans to rediscover a great album and for new fans to discover an underrated gem.


AMAZON


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