Casual Listening

a review of cool new music

by Jeff Pinzino


March 5, 2010


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BONUS – Jeff’s review of the Carolina Chocolate Drops concert at Huffington Post




* Shooter Jennings & Hierophant – Black Ribbons (rock)

* Raheem DeVaughn – The Love and War Masterpeace (R&B)


I can’t resist a good concept album, and this week we’ve got two doozies.  Time for…




The Champion: From Doom Mountain, the backwoods illusionist whose mind-bending nightscapes leave opponents begging for mercy, the destroyer of worlds, Shooter Jennings!!! (oooooooooh!!)


The Challenger: From Zephyr’s Cave, the seer of invisible realities, windwalker, prism of righteous light, Raheem DeVaughn!!! (Ra-heem!! Ra-heem!!)


The Contest – Magic: The Gathering


Shooter begins by deploying his spoken-word avatar, Stephen King!  King shape-shifts into a radio announcer, the last voice of freedom in an imagined fascist dystopia dropping word-bombs on The Man for 5 points of damage!!!


Raheem counters with his own spoken-word avatar, Cornell West!!!  West introduces the theme of peace, then wraps himself in the Shield of Grassroots Democracy, reversing the damage and scoring 3 points for The People!!!  Folks, this is going to be a titanic struggle.


Shooter releases Pink Floyd!  Waves of psychedelic rock wash over the field, trapping all within earshot in the fourth dimension!  I hear bells, dogs, lasers, feedback!  Shooter’s stage band Hierophant absorbs 4 energy points from the Floyd!!!


What’s going on?!?!?!?  Raheem drops Marvin Gaye!!!  Enhanced vision allows Raheem to see clearly the oppression in the social system, plus two bonus sexy points!!


Shooter unleashes a hailstorm of Nine Inch Nails!  The sound of industrial havoc penetrates all opponents.  7 points of merciless rawk.  Ouch!!!!


Wait, here comes Jill Scott!!! No, really, she’s on Raheem’s album! “Why are we fighting???  This is senseless!  Let’s all chill out and love each other!  Give peace a chance!!!  Can’t we all just get along????”


She’s right!!!  Both sides lay down their weapons and hug!!!  When the cage is lifted, everybody wins!!! (but really, Raheem wins by a little bit.  Ra-heem!!  Ra-heem!!)


Listen to Shooter Jennings & Hierophant “Triskaidekaphobia

Listen to Raheem DeVaughn “Nobody Wins a War


* Peter Gabriel – Scratch My Back (rock)


“You do my songs, I’ll do yours” is the deal Gabriel has made with a dozen songwriters, from Neil Young to Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon.  Gabriel is the best he’s sounded in years, with moody orchestrations of rich material.  Nearly as interesting as his slow deconstruction of “Boy in the Bubble” is Paul Simon’s simple rendition of “Biko.”  In these swaps, everyone comes out ahead.


Listen to Peter Gabriel “Boy in the Bubble

Pick up Paul Simon’s Biko at iTunes


* Blake Shelton – Hillbilly Bone (country)


Shelton has learned the secret of the great country musicians – don’t take yourself too seriously.  In this short set, the joke’s on him while he still pulls off ridiculously catchy hooks, vivid stories, and some creative arrangements.  I give you permission to enjoy this one.


Listen to Blake Shelton “Almost Alright



Krishna Das – Heart As Wide As the World (new age)


Kirtan is Hindu-inspired devotional singing, and Krishna Das is one of the biggest names in this little-known but intensely spiritual style.  While most of his work is suitable for your yoga workout, this album draws on his American roots to meld chant-song and rock & roll.  It works more often than not, and his reassuring voice evokes transcendent overtones from songs you wouldn’t expect.


Listen to Krishna Das “Narayana/For Your Love


Texas Tornados – Esta Bueno (Latin)


This north-of-the-border group combines Mexican nortena-style accordion with country-rock guitar and bilingual lyrics, a peppery combination that lives in the same neighborhood as Los Lobos.  Their laid-back sense of humor is hard to resist.


Listen to Texas Tornados “My Sugar Blue


* highly recommended

! highest recommendation

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