Since Julie Lawrence already extolled the virtues of the second disc by Sweden's The Sounds, suffice it to say it's been spending a lot of time gnawing away at the battery power in my iPod.
But so have these:
Recently, while searching the Internet to find out what had become of Cinnamon, one of my favorite Swedish pop bands, I stumbled on the site of Frida Diesen, singer of the now-defunct group and learned she's got a sort of homemade EP on Tender Objects. The self-titled, five-track disc is scrappier than Cinnamon's discs, but her distinctive pop coo and eclectic melodies and instrumentation remain and the EP is charming and addictive. Diesen appears to be using the disc to draw label attention and perhaps these songs will reappear in the future with more elaborate production. That, however, won't necessarily be an improvement on these earthy versions.
Find it at fridadiesen.com.
If you grew up in the late '70s listening to British music, you certainly remember the inimitable Television Personalities with their quirky tunes, heavy accents and ramshackle instrumental skills. A quarter century on, Dan Treacy and company are still working in a similar vein. The group's new disc, "My Dark Places" (Domino) -- its first in eight years -- was written entirely by Treacy during his stay in a floating Thames prison. Part Syd Barrett, part Sex Pistols, "My Dark Places" is starkly simply and direct and a window into Treacy's unique personality.
Keep your Lucinda Williams and keep your Bonnie Raitt. For me, the voice of southern rock is Garrison Starr whose new disc "The Sound of You and Me" is her second for Vanguard. Starr can rock hard and she excels at rootsy ballads, too (not unlike Aussie Kasey Chambers). She's sassy and sensitive and her songwriting skills are unmatched in her milieu. Someone once described Starr's plaintive music as "roadtrip music" and it certainly conjures vision of rolling down the windows in summer and heading out into the country at top speed.
With such radio-friendly tunes, it's hard to imagine this disc won't be a hit. But the same was true of her most recent work, too, and it passed with little fanfare, sadly. C'mon America, get with the program.
Italian band Yo Yo Mundi has not only never been afraid to talk politics, it has built its concept discs and tours around unionism and other such issues. Only Billy Bragg has been as persistent about keeping his music topical. YYM's most recent disc was a 2005 mini-LP of songs related to the partisans who liberated northern Italy in 1944 and '45 as the Allies worked their way up the boot after landing in the south. After it came out the band began to tour a show based on these tunes.
Now another EP of music from "Resistenza: La Banda Tom e Altre Storie Partigiane" has arrived and includes two thundering remixes of "L'Ultimo Testimone" (The Last Witness) -- on Mescal Records -- with new tracks, "La Casa Del Freddo" (The House of Cold), "Se Muoio Stanotte: Ettore alla Battaglia di Porta Lame" (If I Die Tonight: Hector at the Battle of Porta Lame) and the hard-hitting musical narrative "La Moglie di Alfredo: Ci Siamo Liberati da Soli" (Alfredo's Wife: We Alone Liberated Ourselves) which tells the story of the Nazi murder of a freedom fighter, from the point of view of his wife. This is emotionally charged material for many Italians but even English speakers won't be able miss the passion at work here.
As always a couple jazz reissues have been spinning almost non-stop, too. First are two Japanese Blue Note reissues (readily available via the Internet) of organist Baby Face Willette's "Stop and Listen" and "Face to Face," both of which are fueled as much by Grant Green's sizzling guitar runs and Ben Dixon's funky-fresh drumming as by Willette's surging, bubbling Hammond lines. Willette worked in Milwaukee for a few years and was sorely under-recorded. Luckily, these two works endure. "Face to Face" was his first record and is one of more profound organ jazz records as Willette develops ideas with far more skill than many jazz B-3 men (and women) did. "Stop and Listen," however, is one of the funkiest records ever made in any genre. Pop it in the changer and the party will start itself.
Finally, Milwaukee native Cheryl Pawelski is now working the catalog at Concord/Fantasy and so we can expect the gems to start flowing from the vast archives of Prestige, Riverside, Pablo, Stax/Volt, Specialty and other labels now owned by Concord. One of the first fruits - even if she didn't produce it -- is a two-disc set of Red Garland's trio live "At the Prelude" in 1959.
Recorded shortly after his stint with Miles Davis, Garland was at the top of his form and supported by drum and bass, he's in the spotlight showing off his considerable skills as a jazz and blues pianist. These tracks -- recorded on the same night -- were previously spread across four LPs and are reunited, along with some unreleased tunes, for the first time.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.