Various artists The Lone Ranger: Wanted/Hollywood
With “The Lone Ranger” opening to lackluster reviews, there is a silver lining (or is it silver bullet?) in this dark cloud of Disney’s making.
I’m guessing that the release of the compilation “The Lone Ranger: Wanted” has a lot less to do with the increasing popularity of Americana music and more with the money-making machine that is Disney.
Still, if this album gets even a few people to listen to great acts including Dave Alvin, Lucinda Williams and Iron & Wine, then it will all have been worth it.
In addition to those aforementioned Americana stalwarts, “The Lone Ranger: Wanted” features some unexpected additions that ultimately end up working well with the rest of the material. Shane MacGowan’s “Poor Paddy On The Railway,” Iggy Pop’s “Sweet Betsy From Pike” and Grace Potter & the Nocturals’ “Devil’s Train” are all examples of this.
The best moments on this surprisingly solid album come with songs such as Alvin’s “Lonesome Whistle,” Pete Molinari’s “So Long Gone” and especially The Rubens’ “Cowboy,” which features some lovely whistling that will likely remind you of an Ennio Morricone score from a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western.
None of the songs on this album are featured in “The Lone Ranger,” but instead were “inspired by the film.” I’d honestly like to know how many of these tunes were actually inspired by a bloated, special effects-laden turkey of a movie, but for now we’ll just agree to disagree.
Key Tracks: “Lonesome Whistle,” “So Long Gone,” “Cowboy”
Pretty Lights A Color Map of the Sun/8 Minutes and 20 Seconds
In a music genre well-known for sampling the music of other artists, electronic music DJ Pretty Lights (aka Derek Vincent Smith) has done something pretty nifty with his latest release, “A Color Map of the Sun.”
Instead of mining old vinyl records for source material to sample, Pretty Lights recorded his own music with artists from New Orleans, Denver and Brooklyn, N.Y., and then samples that original material.
The resulting collection of music creates an aural conundrum, in that you feel as if you’ve heard some of the snippets before, even though every note is new and original.
From the melodic opening track, “Color of My Soul,” to heavier tracks “Let’s Get Busy” and “Done Wrong,” this is an amazingly hypnotic collection of music.
As an added bonus, Pretty Lights also includes an extra CD that features some of those original recordings that were made for use on the album. It’s interesting listening to the various grooves being laid down and figuring out where they fit in on the actual album.
While Pretty Lights is certainly not the first electronic music artist to record his own material to use on an album, his insistence that everything on “A Color Map of the Sun” be organic rather than recycled makes an already interesting album all the more so.
Key Tracks: “Color of My Soul,” “Let’s Get Busy,” “Go Down Sunshine”
John Scofield Uberjam Deux/Decca
Although he is primarily categorized as a jazz artist, the truth is that guitarist and composer John Scofield is just as at home among the jam band culture as he is playing with the likes of Miles Davis and Charles Mingus.
Scofield’s latest release, “Uberjam Deux,” sports a title that might make it sound like a sequel to the 2002 John Scofield Band release “Uberjam.”
In reality, the new album is the third in the series, the second being 2004’s “Up All Night.”
In all of those albums, Scofield digs deeper into the whole jam band sound. The resulting music on “Uberjam Deux” is interesting in that it deftly straddles the admittedly narrow gap between jazz and jam.
Returning musicians from the original “Uberjam” release include drummer Adam Deitch and keyboardist John Medeski. They are joined on “Uberjam Deux” by guitarist Avi Bortnick and bassist Andy Hess, both of whom played on “Up All Night,” as well as drummer Louis Cato on a few tracks.
For jazz fans, the music presented here would definitely fall into the more modern definition of that music genre. The music has a lot more in common with material from jam bands like Medeski’s own day gig, Medeski Martin & Wood. There are definite elements of funk and soul in the mix, as well.
Scofield’s guitar anchors the songs, but everyone participating gets a chance to shine.
Standout tracks include “Boogie Stupid,” which sounds like a wordless long lost Steely Dan track, as well as “Cracked Ice” and “Snake Dance.”
The appropriately named “Al Green Song” makes the listener feel like the reverend’s silky voice might kick in at any moment.
For fans of jazz and jam band music alike, this is definitely worth a listen.
Key Tracks: “Boogie Stupid,” “Cracked Ice,” “Al Green Song”
By Devin Grant