CD reviews: They Might Be Giants, Doug MacLeod, Jimi Hendrix
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
They Might Be GiantsNanobots/Idlewild/Megaforce
For more than three decades now, the Brooklyn, N.Y., band They Might Be Giants has been releasing its own brand of music to an ever-growing audience.
The do-it-yourself mentality of core members John Linnell and John Flansburgh has resulted in a variety of musical styles and concepts.
One of the more curious recordings came on the band’s 1992 album “Apollo 18.” Called “Fingertips,” the song was actually 21 different songs, each lasting just a few seconds. It has remained a fan favorite, especially when performed in its entirety live in concert.
On They Might Be Giants’s latest, “Nanobots,” the band revisits the “Fingertips” idea with nine of the album’s 25 tracks clocking in at under a minute, and while they don’t pack quite the same novelty punch as “Fingertips,” the songs demonstrate that the two Johns still have what seems to be a bottomless well when it comes to song writing.
As for the rest of the music on the album, songs such as “You’re on Fire” and “Replicant” will remind longtime TMBG fans of classic albums such as “Lincoln” and “Flood.”
Local fans will be able to check out some of the new material firsthand when TMBG performs live on April 11 at the Music Farm.
Key Tracks: “You’re on Fire,” “Lost My Mind,” “Replicant”
Doug MacLeodThere’s a Time/Reference
One of the best parts of reviewing music is the chance to discover an artist whose work was previously unknown to me.
This week’s discovery is blues guitarist Doug MacLeod. He’s been recording and performing music for more than 30 years, and on his latest release, “There’s a Time,” the musician delivers a set of deceptively placid tunes played mostly with acoustic guitars.
Where some blues artist such as Stevie Ray Vaughan and Buddy Guy like to wail on their electric guitars, MacLeod takes the strong, quiet approach.
MacLeod’s effectiveness as a performer comes just as much from his voice as it does from his guitar. That voice, with its unidentifiable drawl (MacLeod was born in New York and lives in Los Angeles), is as smooth and thick as honey, and is perfectly suited for telling stories while MacLeod’s fingers pick out a melody on his guitar.
Standout tunes on the new album include the bouncy “Rosa Lee,” the positive “The Up Song” and “The Night of the Devil’s Road,” which benefits beautifully from the haunting sound of MacLeod’s resonator guitar.
Listening to “There’s a Time” shows why MacLeod has been at his trade successfully for the past three decades, and this new album is a great jumping-on point if you, like me, were not previously aware of MacLeod’s talents.
Key Tracks: “Rosa Lee,” “The Up Song,” “The Night of the Devil’s Road”
Jimi HendrixPeople, Hell & Angels/Legacy
Make a list of the greatest rock guitarists in history, and chances are that Jimi Hendrix will be at the top of it.
The late musician certainly deserves that honor.
Although he really only made music professionally for about seven years before his untimely death in 1970, Hendrix changed the way guitar players think about creating music.
The surviving members of Hendrix’s family keep a pretty tight rein on the rights to his recorded material, and while it might seem like we’ve heard everything the artist recorded in a studio already, the slow trickle of studio material continues.
The latest release, “People, Hell & Angels,” calls itself a collection of 12 previously unreleased studio tracks.
In reality, while the music we hear on this new album might be made up of unreleased recordings, the fact is that many of the songs have appeared on other releases.
Sure, what we heard on those earlier albums might have been a different take or even a completely different studio recording, but what we’re getting here are retreads and tracks that are in some cases cobbled together from several takes.
“Let Me Move You” is one of the few truly new pieces of material, and Hendrix doesn’t even sing on the track.
For the Hendrix completist, this is OK to add to the collection, but casual or first-time listeners would do well to look elsewhere.
Key Tracks: “Somewhere,” “Let Me Move You,” “Hey Gypsy Boy”
By Devin Grant