Tag: contemporary classical

Album review roundup: The Zombies, Build, and the Cars

Album review roundup: The Zombies, Build, and the Cars

Music
The Zombies -- Breathe Out, Breathe In (Red House) Well this was surprisingly pleasant, although nowhere near the greatness of the original incarnation of the group. The opening title track is a dead ringer for latter day Steely Dan, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. But that's not really the Zombies that people are expecting to hear, is it? Still, it's clear that founding Zombies Colin Bluntstone and Rod Argent -- who receive featured billing status on Breathe Out, Breathe In -- still have plenty of songwriting gas left in the tank, as evidenced by strong songs like the prog-tinged rocker "Another Day," the delicate and melodic "Any Other Way," and the surprisingly effective and overtly religious "Christmas for the Free" -- the last of which comes damn close to recreating the vinta...
Album cover of the week: Glassworks

Album cover of the week: Glassworks

Album Cover of the Week, Music
Some days I can handle Philip Glass, others not so much. His music can be a tough nut to crack, and his trademark minimalist style is certainly not for everyone. But 1982's Glassworks is an excellent album, hands down. Oh yeah, did I mention I like the album cover too? Because I do. It's simple yet arty at the same time. Say, that reminds me of a lot of Glass's music! How about that! The cover design for Glassworks is credited to Henrietta Condak, with photography by John Paul Endress.
New release roundup (feat. Midlake, Stone Temple Pilots, and Maya Beiser)

New release roundup (feat. Midlake, Stone Temple Pilots, and Maya Beiser)

Music
Sigh.  Once again there's so much music and so little time.  In fact, most of albums on this list can't properly be considered "new" anymore, but that's life. Dave King - Indelicate (Sunnyside Records) King has already established himself as a jazz percussionist par excellence with the Bad Plus and Happy Apple, but here he decides to carry the entire load himself.   While I'd love to say that Indelicate is a prime example of a talented artist finally allowed to break free from the shackles of the group format, that isn't really the case here.  King's muscular and primal rhythmic approach to the drum kit carries over to the piano but it becomes clear fairly quickly that while King has a number of good ideas (among them the simple but engaging "Homage: Young People" and the bouncy "I
Album review: Amy X Neuburg & The Cello ChiXtet – The Secret Language of Subways

Album review: Amy X Neuburg & The Cello ChiXtet – The Secret Language of Subways

Music
Just when I start to pat myself on the back for expanding my musical horizons so much over recent years, along comes an album like The Secret Language of Subways to set me straight.  The record, a collaboration between English-born composer and vocalist Amy X Neuberg and the Cello ChiXtet, is billed as "a song cycle about the inane and perpetually unfinished businesses of love and war - and New York."  I'm not really sure what that means, but it sure sounds impressive. Make no mistake, this album is definitely Art with a capital A.  The opening track, "One Lie", unfolds slowly before reaching an almost martial crescendo.  It sets the stage for Neuberg's elastic, Kate Bush-like vocals and the playing of the ChiXtet (Elizabeth Vandervennet, Elaine Kreston, and Jessica Ivry), which is alte
In Concert: Andrew McKenna Lee and QQQ

In Concert: Andrew McKenna Lee and QQQ

Music
In celebration of two new CDs from New Amsterdam Records, four of the label's acts took to the stage last Friday night at Joe's Pub, located in New York City's über-artsy NoHo district.  Despite having already heard music from three of them, I still wasn't sure what to expect from the evening.  After all, classical guitarists and modern chamber groups are not the types of shows I usually see in the Big Apple. The evening got off to a rather interesting start as, one by one, the three members of opening act Janus took the stage and contributed a few lines to a spoken word loop that comprised the vocal foundation for a piece called "I Am Not (Blank)".  It was a rather startling way to begin a performance to say the least.  The trio's style (comprised of viola, harp, and flute) is not for
Album reviews: Unpacking the Trailer… & Gravity and Air

Album reviews: Unpacking the Trailer… & Gravity and Air

Music
It's certainly too early to predict whether or not 2009 will best last year in terms of quality musical output, but a pair of new releases from the fledgling New Amsterdam label already has it off to an interesting start.  The imprint, which opened its doors in January 2008, has become a showcase of sorts for a diverse group of artists based in the greater New York City area. The first of these acts with a new release is QQQ, a modern chamber quartet made up of two husband-and-wife teams (Dan Trueman on Hardanger fiddle, Monica Mugan on classical guitar, Beth Meyers on viola, and Jason Treuting on percussion). When I gave a spin to the group's debut album, Unpacking the Trailer..., the first comparison I thought of was with Build, another New Amsterdam act.  QQQ's style of music is a
2008 – The Year in Recorded Musical Performances

2008 – The Year in Recorded Musical Performances

Music
A few months into this year I couldn't shake the feeling that 2008 just wasn't going to be the great year for new music that 2007 was.  And so here I am, about a week away from 2009, and I still feel the same way.  It wasn't a total wash mind you, as there was definitely some quality to be enjoyed.  So here's my take on the 2008 music year - good, bad, and ugly. The Best of the Best (Albums) Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes (Sub Pop) Yeah, this seems like an obvious choice, but it's also a damn good one.  I'm always up for listening to good vocal harmonies, and this band has them in spades.  The music is gorgeous to boot, and is a highly engaging blend of folk titans like CSNY, America, and early '70s Fleetwood Mac.  The vocal round of "White Winter Hymnal" is worth the price of admission
The Killer Bs – two new albums worth checking out

The Killer Bs – two new albums worth checking out

Music
From two completely different ends of the musical spectrum comes a pair of albums - one new and one upcoming - that both get the coveted GFS stamp of approval. First up is the self-titled debut EP from Build (New Amsterdam Records, 2008), a Brooklyn-based indie classical quintet formed in 2006.  Now I know what you're thinking: "Classical music?  Boring!"  Stop thinking that, you're wrong.  This are modern, tuneful compositions that bears precious little resemblance to your father's classical music. For those familiar with Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Build takes a similar approach to their music.  It's never stuffy or rigid, although it's far from poppy or light.  Composer/violinist Matt McBane has written five songs that are challenging enough to reward multiple listens, but aren't