August 30, 2006
When David Bowie dubs you as his favorite band of right now, you have to be doing something right; but when Mr. Ziggy Stardust himself sings vocals, background vocals at that, on your new single you are on your way to your own "Space Oddity."
Such is the case for Brooklyn band TV on the Radio with their sophomore effort, Return to Cookie Mountain, an album that hits on a medley of genres. The album, however experimental it can seem, is accessible; from the opening track "I Was a Lover," an orchestral layering of sitars, trombones and heavy synth pumped smoothly along by its drum sample beat to the final track "Wash the Day Away," a bath of static noise.
The rich versatile voice of lead singer Tunde Adebimpe paired with the consistent pulsating rhythm threads the album together. If you are looking to rekindle some of that old rock dance feel, like the tracks from their first album Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes, try listening to track "Wolf Like Me." For a track that showcases the vocals over orchestral experimentation (or if you just want check out Bowie), listen to the single "Province."
Solo artist Chan "Cat Power" Mitchell's seventh album, the Greatest, proves to be a sultry southern shot of Jack Daniel's. The album is a surprising jolt of country soul, aided by a Memphis-based back-up band, from an artist usually more interested in exploring the intricacies of her songs with a lone guitar or a bare piano.
This album, with the exception of the track "Haze," a more traditional Cat Power song in which her voice is matched with a bluesy edged guitar, is a distinct departure from her other albums. Cat Power first received widespread notoriety in the indie music scene with her release of You Are Free in 2003, which garnered her comparisons to Nina Simone. In relation to the Greatest, "You are Free" explores many genres and textures creating a more fragmented album, one which is held together by her stark vocal delivery.
On the Greatest that husky monotone voice, a voice which innately resonates melancholy, is also present yet is not the fundamental unifying thread. Rather it is the infusion of southern rock and blues, brought about by her Memphis band (who have played with Neil Young, Aretha Franklin and Al Green), which provides a steady platform for that voice, moving the album along seamlessly from song to song. For the best representation of this collaboration check out the track "Living Proof," a blend of trumpets, electric guitar and background vocals, a song in which Cat Power is heard at her "greatest."
PETER FRAMPTON, Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center, September 1, 8:30 p.m.
Peter Frampton came alive in the late 70s and never died. An instant rock icon with the greatest selling live album of all time, Frampton Comes Alive!, Frampton impressed his audience with long guitar solos and range of musical styles, from pop rock to arena rock to jazz. Frampton's work before and after Comes Alive! has been overlooked (perhaps annoyingly so), so you can expect to hear many of those songs that set live-rock standards.
Pop-rock singles such as "Baby, I Love Your Way," "Show Me the Way," and "Do You Feel Like We Do?" continue to infiltrate every classic rock station; even those who weren't one of the original 16 million buyers will be able to sing along with Frampton's still strong voice and appreciate his guitar riffs. But tracks from Frampton's other albums, such as I'm in You and his most recent Now, will most likely be incorporated in his set of classics, which may prove to be rather refreshing.
Why that picture was chosen for the cover of Frampton Comes Alive! is unclear; thankfully, he doesn't look like that anymore (sorry to those who thought he was "dreamy") so don't be afraid to see him play on September 1. He has a good live reputation.