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11 July 2006


Tied & Tickled Trio, a.r.c. (Morr Music)
This group of post-fusion, neu-kraut, alt-jazz rockers are neither a trio, nor are they... well, they certainly don't seem tied to anything but the heady, modal grooves laid down by rhythm section Micha and Markus Acher, who you may know better as two of the guys from the Notwist. They might well be tickled, though. If I were part of this creative nonet, which is filled out by four horn players, an organist, another bassist, and a member dedicated to electronics, I would probably giggle with glee every time I stepped into the practice room. Especially when the players are this good. T&TT combine the composed-yet-tribal jazz of Charles Mingus with the freewheeling, but also minimalist, rock of Can. Their emphasis is less on melody than on mood, an introspection fermenting toward revelation. a.r.c., which combines a 20-minute, one-track CD with a fully loaded DVD, showcases the more improvisational aspect of Tied & Tickled Trio. Their very good 2003 album, Observing Systems, had more of an acid jazz feel, with tighter and more organized song structures. By comparison, on both the title studio cut on the CD, and certainly in the live performances captured on the DVD, the group engage in extended jazz-rock jams, recalling the early electric era of Miles Davis. The music is very good on both media. And, while it's fun to see T&TT on stage and in action, the visual thrill wears off pretty quickly. At nearly an hour, you'd have to be a big fan to watch the concert more than once (plus the live "bonus" scenes). And, although the three promo videos are campy, cute, and cool (in turn), I would have preferred a higher ratio of audio to video on a.r.c.. Nonetheless, the music throughout is exciting, making for a worthy addition to the Tied & Tickled Trio disc- and videography. [Insound]
      — Michael Keefe
multiple songs: [streaming]
multiple songs: [MySpace]
Jazz / dub  

The Chambermaids, The Chambermaids (Modern Radio Record Label)
Previously known as The Shut-Ins, this Minneapolis trio is a well-rounded rock band that seems to mix great Midwestern rock with the likes of groups like The Strokes and The Killers. "City Predators" is a great opener that has Neil Weir and sister Martha Weir providing lead and sweet harmony vocals, respectively. "Dog Army" is another foot-stomping rocker that is quite clean and polished, bringing to mind a cross between Blondie and Blur, resulting in a tight but grandiose piece of work. Not quite new wave, the group nails the Velvet Underground-ish "21st" that soars from start to finish. Several of these are short, choppy numbers, but "Park" is a gem that could be filed right alongside The Organ and Interpol, a minimal vocal with a wall of guitar behind it. The same can be said for "Mystery" as well. The highlight might be "The Holy Terrors" that is relentless and brimming with indie rock pizzazz while "Sleeper" is a slow, deliberate tune that settles in for a long run. [Insound]
      — Jason MacNeil
multiple songs: [MySpace]
multiple songs: [official site]
Indie / rock  

Merrie Amsterburg, Clementine and Other Stories (Q Division)
On her third full-length, Merrie Amsterburg does 11 traditional folk tunes. Her style turns the old numbers into more urbane and contemporary-sounding numbers, but the songs don't always survive the transition. "Clementine" steals the show as Amsterburg's steady vocals allow the electric guitars to shift the lyrical sadness into musical anger in a very intriguing re-working. "Simple Gifts" benefits from a quick, looped drum pattern and the inclusion of electric and toy pianos. As fascinating as her arrangements can, Amsterburg sometimes just delivers the old songs with too little novelty or insight. It's still a pleasing listen, but with songs we've all known since third-grade music class, it takes something more to keep them captivating. [Insound]
      — Justin Cober-Lake
multiple songs: [MySpace]
Folk / pop  


Merrie Amsterburg - Clementine [live at Club Passim, Boston]

Judge Jules, The Global Warm-Up (Koch)
Perhaps nowhere in music as much as in dance music is the divide between populism and progressiveness so wide. Judge Jules sits firmly on the populist side of dance music - he's been churning out the same hard trance/house stuff since I was in seventh grade. The Global Warm-Up, named after his weekly BBC1 radio show, represents Jules' return to the U.S. domestic market after 12 years without a release, and we've missed? Nothing. It's not unpleasant, and at least K90's "Red Snapper" is self-assured, driving forward with surging intensity, but there's a clinical quality about this mix that totally fails the listener. Everything is version lite: E-Craig's "Call It a Day" - "Silence" lite; Solid Globe's "Blackwood", trance lite. Matt Darey's "Eternity" has the operatic vocals that were in vogue, maybe, Sydney Mardi Gras 1999, the "Flower Song" re-cut and re-imagined, that stage when we loved the techno remix of famous songs Andrea Bocelli, or Carmina Burana or the bloody Braveheart theme. We're over that now, I hope. Popularist dance music has the potential to be exquisite, but instead Jules - who should know better - has just given us a mix that is purely dance-by-numbers. [Insound]
      — Dan Raper
multiple songs: [MySpace]
Electronic / trance  


Judge Jules - Around the World

.: posted by Editor 8:42 AM


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