RATING MUSIC AS CHIPS AND
SALSA- a code key:
^^^^^ = Five chips Fresh
crunchy chips for homemade peach salsa with the freshest ingredients.
^^^^ = Four chips Not quite
as crunchy or fresh. But, then again, it's not microwaved burritos.
So there's some nutritional value, yes?
^^^ = Three chips Oh, come on! So a few of the chips are
a little limp and the salsa's been sitting in a bowl in the hot
kitchen. It's still peach salsa, man!
^^ = Two chips It physically resembles chips and salsa, but
it ain't quite it. Don't feel bad if you miss hearing this.
^ = One chip It seems to resemble a foodstuff, but who knows
what it is anymore? If you must, crane your neck briefly to take
notice of this, as you would a car wreck on the highway.
No chips It's actually a microwaved beef and bean burrito
with that nasty "green chile sauce" that actually seems to have
been made from tree bark moistened in tomato juice. Eeww. You're
not going to eat that, are you?
Los Lobos has been around since the
late 1970's. That's the late 1970's, people! I don't know how many
of you knew that, but it just blew my mind afresh… The only rock
institution I could think to compare them to stylistically, aside
from the unique place they hold in the post-Tex-Mex rock and roll
firmament, is the Band. It just seems that David Hidalgo, like Robbie
Robertson, always at the very least displays a solid musicianship,
and a thoughtful approach to his art. The same goes for his frequent
co-writers Cesar Rosas and Louie Pérez. Personally, I think their
most fruitful period was that when they worked with the great and
rarely considered producer Mitchell Froom, particularly on their
last major studio projects for Warner Brothers, Kiko and Collosal
Head. And Froom is one of a virtual firmament of stars appearing
on their latest great album, The Ride. ^^^^½ Other guest
stars of note, include Little Willie G. (late of 60's band Thee
Midniters, lending his soulful vox to a funk filled reworking of
Lobos' "Is This All There Is?" , a highlight of the album), Dave
Alvin (of the cult-fave Blasters), soul legend Bobby Womack (who
joins in on a medley of Lobos' "Wicked Rain" with his own "Across
110th Street"), Ruben Blades, Richard Thompson, Elvis Costello,
Mavis Staples, Tom Waits, the Band's own Garth Hudson, and even
the band Café Tacuba. And, yes, if you hadn't already noticed, this
session finds Hidalgo and company revisting some old favorites,
which is as close to a weakness as this album betrays. But what
time they didn't seem to spend on songwriting… well, who cares?
They just sound great! "Wreck of the Carlos Rey" makes great use
of the tremulous voice and tuneful guitar of Thompson (another frequent
collaborator of Froom's). Elvis Costello belts out a version of
"Matter of Time" with great depth of emotion over a simple piano
and pedal steel backing. Mavis Staples brings the soul to Lobos'
Rhythm and Blues-y, horn drenched "Someday." Café Tacuba jam out
on the latin-y rocker "La Venganza de Los Pelados." This album effortlessly
switches gears from latin flavored musics, to guitar pop, to blues.
It's a musical chameleon act that Los Lobos makes look easy, and,
more importantly, fun, while still bringing more feeling to their
playing than we have a right to expect from any entity that has
been around this long. The late 70's! Geez…!
All right. If you're like me, you're probably
getting bored with the fact that Brazilian artist Arto Lindsay
has been putting out such persistently funky wonderful stuff for
years. I mean, come on, can't this guy just do a nice boring album?
No? (PHHHPHHHT!) Figures! Oh, all right, I guess I'm not really
bored with Arto Lindsay at all yet. His latest is Salt (Righteous
Babe) ^^^½, another funky exercise in electronica and a further
development of the samba and other rhythmic influences that turn
up in Lindsay's work. Perhaps one weakness (mine, really) is that
he lyrically will be bilingual (Brazilian Portuguese and English),
without providing a translation. Not that much of an impediment,
though, when he throws down his breezy vocals on tunes like "Habite
Em Mim," the album opener. The eternal samba rhythms are revisited,
with touches of electronica, on the sex drenched "Personagem" (which
he kindly translates as "Character"), as well as "Combustivel" (with
tinges of forro-esque accordion), and, more abstractly, in the programmed
rhythyms of "Salt." Lyrically, Lindsay remains in the orbit of themes
of sex and frequently visited in Brazilian music, but Lindsay remains
on the forward looking edge of Brazilian/ North American pop fusion,
always with a grasp of dance pop, and a great depth of imagination.
Check him out.
And I suppose the first question many of
you… a few of you… well, not that many but some may have is: Who
is Tom Kazas and why should I care about him? Tom Kazas was
one of the principle movers/ shakers behind a cult neo-psychedlic
pop band of the 80's from Australia, known as the Moffs. Still not
ringing any bells? If you plug the name into "All music.com" it
spits back a sparse acknowledgement of someone who worked on comedy
albums of one kind or another. Not the same guy. O.K., his biographical
material online has not been exactly complete. Maybe all you need
to know is that he has a solo album out that he has self released,
available on import only, called Telemetry ^^^½. Oh yeah,
and that he is principally a singer and guitarist, but that the
album is quite a nice mix of guitar/ mellotron layered post-psychedelic
pop, with its' head clearly in the stars… which is a nice place
to be. Take "She's from Fornax," a trippy ode to a far out lady
from a not wholly evident rock-opera sci-fi opus about a doomed
alien race ("there's no pain she's not seen/ and no joy she's not
been/ she could be the last of our line/ hope we save her in time").
"The Enlightenment Machine" recalls King Crimson (the "buggled"
version, if you know what I mean). It's a funky animal of shifting
rhythms thrown into high gear, bringing (as usual) mellotron and
guits along for the ride, until a tenser wrap up that wouldn't be
out of place on a Mike Oldfield album. Are we recalling Syd Barrett
yet? Robert Fripp? The Flaming Lips? A little Brian Eno on "End
as Begining [sic]"? All of the above comparisons fit Kazas' album
pretty well. Kazas songs reflect bits of private meditation which
fly off in frenetic little explosions. Telemetry may be hard to
find right now, but if you like the spacey, the far out, the imaginative
(say, Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree), then this one may
be for you. (Editors Note: find out more at www.tomkazas.net, you
can get Telemetry from www.freakemporium.com, happy listening, Susan.)
Well, that's all for this issue. Please
join me for more attempts at musical guff every Friday night/ Saturday
morning from Midnight to three a.m. on the "Call It Thing"
show, in the Friday Gothics slot. Until next time, see you on the
Copyright © WWUH: Program Guide, 2005