Listen up

By JIM MACNIE  |  December 18, 2007

Band Of Horses | Cease To Begin
Some records simply whittle away at you, and with each spin this disc’s aura became more and more seductive. Like a cross between U2 and the Jayhawks, the Horses give their chiming guitar anthems a little bit of clop-along grit. It’s all kind of a surface beauty, but at times it’s overwhelming.
Les Savy Fav | Let’s Stay Friends
If Talking Heads made Fear of Music in 2007, it would sound a little sumpun like this. Indie kids and dedicated rock rats know that the Brooklyn boys’ fragged examinations of the world at large are fueled by a cranky confluence of electrobeats and snare cracks and yelping that enjoys clutter but often reaches for the brass ring, melody-wise.
Manu Chao | La Radiolina
The cosmopolitan icon remains a boho experimentalist with a yen for high-flying horns and bouncy bass lines. He’d love to rub your face in some incendiary headlines, but at no point on this ever-shifting program does he allow the groove to dissipate — even while he chants how politik kills or hollers slogans such as “Senor presidente George Bush: Cuidado!”
Mekons | Natural
You can almost see them headed for the campsite in the dusk, candles out, wisecracks consistently bubbling up. They think they’ll never come back, and so the songs they make up are flecked by gloom and guilt. But between the harmonica, fiddle, and off-key vocals, they’re always investing in immediacy . . . and therefore bound to consider tomorrow.
Bonzo Dog Band | Tadpoles
Moby Grape | Wow
Culture | Two Sevens Clash
David Crosby | If I Could Only Remember My Name

Joe Lovano & Hank Jones | Kids: Live At Dizzy’s
A pair of sublime improvisers trounce the notion that there’s a generation gap in jazz. Prioritizing grace and wit, they make their cozy sax and piano duets gleam with invention.

Maria Schneider | Sky Blue
The composer-arranger’s work has been getting increasingly eloquent with each year, and in this salute to flight, nature, and the heavens, she has her large ensemble reveal how waxing expansive is an engaging way of explaining specifics.
Abbey Lincoln | Abbey Sings Abbey
She shelved the piano trio and took up with Larry Campbell’s nuance-smitten twang ensemble, proving one person’s heresy is another’s revitalization. The philosophical tunes that Lincoln has long been known for resounded anew.
Jewels And Binoculars | Ships With Tattooed Sails
The third edition of this trio’s venture into Bob Dylan’s songbook tickles as aggressively as its predecessors. It’s a collective effort, but reed player Michael Moore’s plush clarinet and urgent alto sax provide lots of the allure. From “Father of Night” to “One More Cup of Coffee,” they bevel the edges and burrow into the center of these tunes.
David Torn | Prezens
Like Teo Macero doctoring Miles’s studio performances in the early ’70s, the prog guitarist edited the files born of free-improv session with Tim Berne’s band. Elongating riffs, shredding passages, and amending tones and textures, he created free-floating space symphonies and jumbled shriek-a-thons — unholy blends that examine the poetic side of cognitive dissonance.

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