Phew…! What a year, and we still have a few days to go before the fat man with the white beard sings, “ho! ho! ho!” down the chimney of every good child in the land.
Looking for new sounds over the festive period?
Then look no further than these three. you’ll find there’s something for everyone.
We’ll start off with a band from Boston whose lead vocalist could have, by all account almost fronted for ‘The Spiders From Mars‘ and ‘The Cars.’ Oh, okay… I might even throw in Elvis Costello to boot. You’ll understand why when you hear his voice and as they like to call it, the ‘Glam-Nouveau’ atmosphere created for your listening pleasures. Say hi to lead vocalist, guitarist and songwriter, Seth Goodman and his band. This is The Grand Undoing and they released another album titled ‘In A Vigil State,’ their fourth with ten songs on offer. It’s an easy mixture of pop and ballads to keep it interesting. You could even throw in elements of Prog and Punk infused throughout these songs. Goodman certainly likes to mix it up starting with the first track, “Into the Glitter.” An intro of pedal slide guitar with whammy bar and slices of Mellotron to back it up. It’s an interesting combination that bodes well for the rest of the album.
To be honest, a good number of Punk bands back in the day weren’t my cup of tea, but The Grand Undoing have an interesting spin, literally, grabbing elements of it by the Doc Martin bootstraps and fashioning it into something else throughout these other nine tracks. It’s one of those albums where you really can’t define the sound into whatever pigeonhole which makes it an interesting listen on the first go. Probably my go to track on this one is ‘Darkness‘ with a heavy presence of Mellotron. Sure, it’s a vocal album but Seth keeps it interesting with the musicians he’s working here on here. There’s plenty to pick up on here with each listen. Well worth the listen.
Seth Goodman (vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards)
Dave Westner (bass on tracks 1, 3, 4, 6, 9, keys on tracks 1, 3, 4, 6-10, drums on tracks 4, 5, percussion on tracks 1-10)
Ted Powers (background vocals on tracks 1-4, 6-8, 10, keys on track 2, guitar on track 2)
Andy Plaisted (drums on tracks 1-3, 6-10)
Chris Coughlin (keys on tracks 1, 3, 4, 7, 8)
Dana Colley (saxophones on track 4)
Chris Nole (keys on track 10)
Tom Heneberry (guitar on tracks 4, 8, and 9)
BJ Cole (pedal steel on tracks 1, 3, and 4)
1. Into The Glitter (5:18)
2. A Little Piece Of Ground (2:36)
3. Highway (You Can Ride Away) (4:32)
4. Wave (4:38)
5. See All I See (3:04)
6. Darkness (4:03)
7. Sunsetter (4:40)
8. Silver Songs (3:18)
9. Step In (3:14)
10. Giving All My Things Away (4:35)
Released by Secret Candy Rock Records
If Santana had ever joined Frank Zappa’s band i imagine this is what it would have sound like especially on the album title track, ‘Zobop.’ Why Swedish artist, Henrik Cederblom Zobop put it near the end I have no idea. It would have been the ideal track to start the ball rolling on this 2019 album. Well, at least set the mood. Just as it’s hard to pinpoint Frank Zappa to any one genre, you’ll have a hard time tying this one down also. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as it goes, but plays havoc to writers wanting to secure a sound with moving parts without having to list a hundred or so subgenres. As Harold Callahan once said – “a man’s got to know his limitations.” We don’t only work to deadlines but also to word counts. Kidding! This can be as long and as short as we like. Which is the same that could be said for this album of varying sounds ranging from Jazz-Rock to Folk songs. And by folk tunes I mean traditional. And by Jazz-rock I mean taking these folk songs like ‘Fillevaeren (Traditional Norwegian folksong)’ and throwing in an urban beat and groove with saxophone and guitar over bass.
On this one you’ll find Henrik Cederblom on electric guitar, Tapha Ndiongue on drums, Viktor Turegard on bass,with Sten Kallman wailing away on tenor and soprano saxophone. Very much in line with Cederblom’s other band he was in, Den Fule (‘The Ugly One’) back in the 90’s that were a folk group who took it to a jazz-rock and world music level of creative performances like Zappa to some extent. So if you’ve come across Den Fule before you’ll know where Cederblom and the band is heading with this, their new album.
Their music nowhere resembles Jethro Tull when it comes to the Folk meets Prog road connotation. More your Weather Report doing ‘Thick As A Brick.’ Probably not, but thought it sounded cool anyway. As do these songs. They’re really upbeat and you can tell they’re having fun with it. Almost improv in parts and nice interaction between saxophone and guitar in tandem. Take for instance the track that starts the album off, ‘Giragale.’ here’s them playing it live
All and all, a very pleasant listen in jazz fusion overlaid with Folk intention and dance in mind. The new with the traditional. World Music with Scandinavian flavours.
If you like your music served in a dark, smokey room three in the morning with a half empty bottle of Scotch Whiskey on a lamp-side table and a rainy view of the Manhatten skyline then Pablo Embon‘s new album, ‘Harmony Tales‘ will be right up your alley. Hearing this bought back happy memories of doing a Sunday Contemporary Instrumental/New Age weekly show on local radio back in the late 80’s. This would fit right in with the Narada label smooth Jazz selections. Embon was born in Argentina and took up piano and guitar lessons at the age of seven. He was tutored by famed classical guitarist, Eduardo Isaac, and played in several bands and on his own projects. He’s lived in Israel for the past 30 years and released, well depending on who you’re talking to, anywhere between 16 and 20 albums (I checked his website and it’s definitely twenty albums). So this is his new one filled with Instrumental light Jazz tracks including my favourite ‘Calling Out.’ It’s just one of those upbeat, cruising numbers you can dial into while having it playing in the background to suit the vibe of the moment. Pick a mood. That kind of George Benson meets Pat Methany time you have always loved before orchestra comes in with a good blend of guitar and piano to suit.
As for the rest of the songs, there is a warm flow of Latin music thrown into the mix but definitely not in your face, or ears for that matter. The tempo varies often from Bosa Nova to Rock to Creole, and that’s just on one track (‘For the One’s You Love‘). Martini anyone? And then we have a kind of, as I like to call it, “A Winter in Vermont mood” developing on the next track, ‘Midnight Lullaby.’ It’s very melodic and the amazing thing is he’s playing all the instruments himself. Drums, double bass, guitar, piano, keyboards, and other musical items of interest. I mentioned moods before and it certainly is an album of ever changing moods with each of the twelve songs. if you’re a fan of the Windham Hill stable of artists or Narada, you’re going to take this under your wing for those moments you want something peaceful and ambient regardless of what time of day or season it is. ‘Vintage Lover‘ is another good track he’s tagged right at the front of the album, and a good one to start off with.
Do check out his website for all his other releases. I’ve earmarked this album to have on while sitting out in the sun over the holidays with a cold beer and a good book. Looking forward to it. Oh, and I just checked out his Facebook page and Pablo has announced his next album, ‘In Your Skin‘ will be released February 27th, 2021. Here’s a preview of it just to whet the appetite.