Casual Listening


A review of cool new music


By Jeff Pinzino


May 28, 2010


My apologies for the delay – I’m on the other side of a job transition, and hopefully ready to settle into a little more regular writing groove.  You’ll be getting the best of three weeks of music today.


Also expect a special edition later today with an essay on the re-release of The Rolling Stones’ “Exile on Main Street” by Casual Listener Steve McManus.



! Bettye LaVette ­— Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook (R&B)


LaVette finds layers of soul in familiar British rock tunes that you never knew existed.  Her gospel-soul singing does wonders for Pink Floyd, the Who, the Moody Blues and others, turning down the attitude and turning up the heartbreak, in most cases completely re-inventing the song.  Her version of Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed” is definitive, which is itself amazing given the sterling quality of the original.


Listen to Bettye LaVette “Maybe I’m Amazed


! The Dead Weather — Sea of Cowards (rock)


A thick slab of unvarnished rock & roll from Jack White & Co.  Punishing guitar riffs, defiant vocals, and wave after wave of delicious noise.  You’d be hard-pressed to find another artist working today who connects to the red-blooded heart of rock music as consistently as Jack White.


Listen to The Dead Weather “Die By the Drop


! B.o.B — B.o.B Presents The Adventures of Bobby Ray (rap)


B.o.B’s grounding is in rap, but he has the ambition to create the kind of indelible, genre-crossing pop music that Michael Jackson was best known for.  Although he doesn’t quite reach the level of Jackson, he’s at least as catchy as anything that Coldplay has put out recently.  This album deserves every bit of radio airplay it’s going to get.


Listen to B.o.B “Nothing on You


* Arturo Sandoval — A Time For Love (jazz)


Sandoval leaves behind the trumpet acrobatics on this album, instead playing in the cool, reserved, emotionally intense style most closely associated with Miles Davis.  Strings back the combo, and Sandoval uses trumpet mutes on several tracks.  This is an “evening in front of a fireplace with a bottle of wine” album.


* Nas & Damian Marley — Distant Relatives (rap)


Two socially conscious rappers – one from Jamaica, the other stateside, put on a tour de force of wordplay and globally inspired beats.  The two styles complement each other well, and Dancehall rhythms give a bounce to the beat that’s missing from much rap today.


Listen to Nas & Damian Marley “Tribes at War


Also good recently: Regina Carter, LCD Soundsystem, Elizabeth Ayoub, Bo Bice, Otis Taylor, Jim Lauderdale, Dr. Lonnie Smith


 all albums reviewed are recommended

* highly recommended

! highest recommendation


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