Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Kicking like the Donkeys

I reviewed the first self-titled Donkeys album a couple of years ago when they were on Antenna Farm and liked it, and now this San Diego country-pop band has a full-length on the much larger, much higher profile Dead Oceans...oddly, it seems very much the same -- that is, Band and Byrds-esque, lazy summer day tunes -- but I liked it less. I may be burning out on new records.

Here's the Dusted review:

The Donkeys
Living on the Other Side L (Dead Oceans)

The Donkeys make music for late summer, harmonies lofted by the smallest hint of a breeze, tempos dawdling in August sloth, country-lazing guitar lines bubbling up, then subsiding. No effort is required to listen - nor is it rewarded. Living on the Other Side sounds as good the first time through as it's going to, perfectly pleasant but slight. No risk of jolting you out of your hammock at all.

The languid "Dolphin Center" is, perhaps, the best song here, paced at a ramshackle, Band-like shuffle, with torpid blues guitar melting over a fog of organ tones. It's best, actually, if you don't pay much attention to the words. Surely a song this hazily melancholy could find a better way to end the chorus than, "I don't mind the passing weather / I might end up in a Dolphin Center." You might ask, why a Dolphin Center? Why not a community center or a movie theater or possibly a 7-11? No idea. There is nothing in the song to explain it.

The rest here.

"Walking through a Cloud"

And, for something completely different, here's a single review of two new-ish albums from Wayne Horvitz, the avant-jazz, new classical composer and sometime John Zorn collaborator.

Wayne Horvitz Gravitas Quartet
One Dance Alone
US release date: 22 April 2008
UK release date: 5 May 2008

Wayne Horvitz & Sweeter than the Day
A Walk in the Dark
US release date: 22 April 2008
UK release date: Available as import
by Jennifer Kelly

Downtown jazz and uptown avant classical ... inspired by the same groove
Pianist Wayne Horvitz has been in about a dozen leading jazz-avant-classical ensembles, from early days with John Zorn's Naked City, through groove-oriented Zoney Mash, to solo collaborations with his wife Robin Holcombe. His Mylab project, with producer and percussionist Tucker Martine, filtered diverse genres, from African proto-blues to bluegrass, through an ebullient aesthetic. Horvitz maintains that all these projects are united by a single vision. In a recent interview, he commented that, "I am infatuated with certain harmonic, melodic and rhythmic devices, and those devices are the backbone of everything I do."

This year, as if to test this hypothesis, Horvitz has released two separate albums with wholly different ensembles. His self-released A Walk in the Dark reassembles the Sweeter than the Day quartet of Horvitz, plus Timothy Young on guitar, Keith Lowe on acoustic bass, and Eric Eagle on drums. One Dance Alone convenes Horvitz' newest ensemble, the classically-leaning Gravitas Quartet with Peggy Lee on cello, Ron Miles on cornet, and Sara Schoenbeck on bassoon. Even better, the two recordings include a handful of common songs.

The full review.

"A Walk in the Rain"

"A Fond Farewell"

No comments: