The Avalanches were a one-off studio group formed around Los Angeles studio players Billy Strange and Tommy Tedesco on guitar, future Bread main-man David Gates on bass, and legendary Wrecking Crew drummer Hal Blaine. The original instrumentals offered here (in addition to the themed covers, “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and “Winter Wonderland”) are the sort of studio rockers that populated dozens of mid-60s albums and exploitation film soundtracks. Strange and Tedesco blaze away in their respective twangy and fuzz-soaked styles, and the rhythm section burns down the slopes. There’s little here that’s really surf music, aside from a few moments of half-hearted staccato picking; the occasional jabs of pedal steel suggest Alvino Rey and the electric piano leans to the soul rave-ups of Ray Charles. But mostly this sounds like incidental music from a low-budget AIP teen-film. And that’s a complement. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]
Posts Tagged ‘Instrumentals’
This is indeed the sound of an escapade in space, if it were to be accompanied by sprightly melodies and lush, string-heavy arrangements whose vibrations somehow transcended the vacuum of outer space. Throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s, arranger/conductor Les Baxter lent his touch to all manner of musical trends, including exotica, jazz, folk, show tunes and film soundtracks. This 1958 entry plays up the theme of outer space with its cover art and song titles, but musically it’s akin to Baxter’s intricate orchestral music rather than the space age pop of Esquivel or the piano early experimentation of Ferrante & Teicher. The percussion and the pizzicato of “The Commuter” sound more like a busy day in New York than a Mars fly by, and “Saturday Night on Saturn” suggests the oppressive, syncopated work of Raymond Scott’s “Powerhouse” rather than the idle living of a modern society. Like many of Baxter’s albums, this is perched on the edge of kitsch; but also like many of Baxter’s albums, the listener’s ears are rewarded by the quality of the maestro’s orchestrations. Those who picked up El’s 2009 mono CD will be happy to learn that this MP3 collection is in full-spectrum, space-age stereo. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]
Less than a year after their release of Fate Unfolds, Tristeza returns with a new full-length album of enveloping post-punk prog-rock instrumentals. Their press release name checks Spacemen 3, Felt and Talk Talk, but the strains of Televsion, Can, Stereolab and Tuxedomoon are also strong. The opening “Raise Your Gaze” threatens to transition from space into a blinding cacophony, but pulls back as the tune burns off the last of its fuel. James Lehner and Luis Hermosillo (drums and bass, respectively) provide the impulse drive, with the guitars adding a psychedelic overlay. The group adds syncopation and a Latin rhythm to “A Traves de los Ojos de Nuestras Hijas” (a title that alludes to the group’s collection of five daughters), but its funky bass line keeps things quite modern. The repetitive figures suggest post-punk instrumentalists like Pell Mell, but the intricacy of the playing reaches to jazz and prog-rock – but freed of the bombast that often sunk the latter. This is lush, melodic, rhythmic, thoughtful and enveloping. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]
Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub) and Euros Childs (Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci) are pleased to announce details of their debut album together as Jonny. Inter-twining the musical DNA of two of Britain’s most gifted songwriters, Jonny’s debut album proclaims the advent of an irresistibly infectious new strain of psychedelic pop. The self-titled, co-written album will be released via digital download on February 1st and in stores on April 12.
Blake’s Teenage Fanclub and Childs’ Gorky’s toured together in 1997, and when Blake contributed guitar and vocal harmonies to Gorky’s bitter-sweet How I Long To Feel That Summer In My Heart in 2001, Euros remembers “it just felt like he was part of the band… from that point on it always felt like we might do something together in the future, it just took a few years to actually get it organized”. Euros eventually made it up to Norman’s house in Glasgow in 2006 to record “what we thought was an EP”, and the duo played a handful of rapturously received live shows, before finally getting down to putting a whole album together early in 2010.
The album artwork (image above) is also revealed to be the inspiration behind their unusual name. Blake came across the image on a friend’s website “and thought it would make a great record sleeve… and name for a band.” “Sleeve first, band-name after”, confirms Childs, “that’s always the best way.”
To kick things off, Jonny are giving away a free, four-track download EP of non-album songs.
Despite the graphics of the album’s cover, Liberace’s 1969 album of then-contemporary covers remains truer to his theatrical piano style than the flower-power of his material. While these orchestrated tracks may not have garnered a younger audience, it was a canny idea to forage for new material among modern songs. Many of the tunes, such as B.J. Thomas’ “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head,” Richard Harris’ “MacArthur Park,” and the Classics IV’s “Traces” were already crossover hits, and thus familiar to older listeners; hipper selections, such as CS&N’s “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” provided an interesting challenge for Liberace, and the suite form fit his classical background. The arrangements mix classical orchestration with soulful strings and fuzz-rock backings, often overshadowing Liberace’s piano. Still, his trademark cascades can be heard paying out Steam’s “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye,” and things almost get crazy on the title track. When Liberace does step to the fore, such as on the Beatles’ “Here, There and Everywhere” and “Something,” his style is terrifically florid. A larger dose of piano would have elevated this further above the era’s generic easy listening collections, but even in limited quantities, Liberace’s playing adds his unique signature. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]
This is the original music composed for the 1960’s Addams Family television series, as written by noted television and film composer Vic Mizzy. The familiar vocal version of the main theme is presented at album’s end; the longer, instrumental version that opens the album is more in line with the jazzy themes and incidental music that Mizzy scored for the show. Alongside the trademark harpsichord (most prominent on “Gomez”), Mizzy mixed a healthy dose of electric guitar, jazzy woodwinds and bouncy bass into his charts, but the female chorus and tympani will remind you that these are easy instrumentals in the vein of Neal Hefti, Nelson Riddle, Billy Mure and others. If you’re a fan of the television show you’ll quickly recognize the character themes and incidental music cues, many of which were used in abbreviated form – here you get the entire tunes. This is a great find for Addams Family fans and anyone who collects ‘60s easy-pop. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]
Two Gallants’ drummer Tyson Vogel shows off his skills as a guitarist with this mostly-instrumental solo debut. Unlike his group’s lo-fi electro-acoustic punk-folk, Vogel’s solo work is a great deal more meditative, shorn of Adam Stephens ragged, adrenaline-charged vocals and the crack and ringing of Vogel’s own drums and cymbals. His acoustic guitar, which suggests Will Ackerman and John Fahey, is joined by guest players on violin, cello and vibraphone, but it’s his own syncopated picking that gives the album its hypnotic core. The rare vocal of “Misericordia” arches into an anguished tone, but the words are stretched across the backing in exhaustion and listlessness. Vogel hangs the resonances of his guitar strings in the air, letting a note’s decay reveal textures not evident in the initial pluck. Anton Patzner does something similar with his violin on “Morning Due,” drawing the bow slowly and shading each note with the friction of horsehair rubbing steel. The album finds a few moments of discordance in its second half, with wordless voices giving way to a shouted crescendo on “Your Confused Beauty Upon My Cheek,” distorted piano and electric guitar chords on “Heart: The Inevitable Music Box,” and a sense of agitation opening “Buildings of Heart” that evolves into a more optimistic theme. If you have a favorite place to sit quietly and think, even if it’s just between your headphones while reclining on the couch, this album will provide interesting accompaniment to your brain’s pondering. [©2010 hyperbolium dot com]
These set is a budget-priced MP3 version of the 4-CD set Complete Sessions issued on the Fine & Mellow label. It collects 102 tracks recorded by Jackie Gleason and Bobby Hackett between 1952 and 1959, with Gleason conducting an orchestra and Hackett adding his trumpet. The set includes the original albums “Music for Lovers Only” (1952), “Music to Make You Misty” (1953, and not including the tracks featuring saxophonist Toots Mondello), “Music, Martinis and Memories” (1954), “Music to Remember Her” (1954), “Music to Change Her Mind” (1956), “Music for the Love Hours” (1956), and “That Moment” (1959). The last two, which were the final two pairings of these artists are previously unreleased. The last of the albums is also the only one originally released in stereo, though it seems to be reproduced in mono here. Even stranger, most of the tracks from “The Love Hours” seem to be broader than plain mono, but not really stereo. One channel or two, Gleason’s orchestrations are lush, with relaxed tempos and dramatic string arrangements that provide a compelling place for Hackett’s languid playing and smooth tone. The material sticks mostly to standards, and though Hackett has a jazz background, this is very much easy listening music. A hundred-and-two tracks (over five hours of music) may be more than the casual mood music fan can use, but for Gleason fans or anyone looking for hours and hours of pleasant background music, this set is a steal. Note that the track ordering does not follow that of the original albums, and the detailed booklet supplied with Fine & Mellow’s CDs are completely absent. [©2009 hyperbolium dot com]
What says “The Holidays” more than a primo wave of tremolo guitar and a rockin’ backbeat? If you’re the masked men of Los Straitjackets, nothing says Christmas better than super-stoked versions of holiday classics. They first rocked the holidays with their 2002 release ‘Tis the Season for Los Straitjackets, but this time out they’re melding iconic melodies with the rhythms and riffs of iconic rock instrumentals. “Deck the Halls” takes on the rhythm guitar signature of “I Fought the Law,” and “We Three Kings” is given the buzzing, single-string treatment of Dick Dale’s “Misirlou.” Los Straitjackets translate “Oh Tannenbaum” into the Latin instrumental “Que Verdes Son,” give “Joy to the World” the Stax treatment, borrow the opening riff and guitar styling of “Buckaroo” for “Jingle Bells,” and play “O Come All Ye Faithful” as if the Tornadoes broke into “Telstar” at the company Christmas party. This is a fresh spin from start to finish, and will add some much needed rock ‘n’ roll spice to your holiday music carousel. [©2009 hyperbolium dot com]
Those who once found themselves entranced by the post-punk instrumentals of Pell Mell, the hypnotic elements of Television, the Neats, Feelies and Raybeats, the melodicism of Love Tractor, the spacerock of Can, and the electronics of Stereolab and Tuxedomoon, will be happy to meet the instrumental quintet, Tristeza. Riffing guitars, solid bass lines and full-kit drumming open the album with the powerful “Castellon.” The band crosses Latin and lounge flavors with the rock jamming of The Doors in “Floripa,” and mixes traditional guitar/bass/drums with electronics throughout. You can hear the textures, tones and rhythms of progrock, surf, spacerock, jazz, ambient, dub, and highlife threaded together, with repetitions that draw big, hypnotic pictures from small circles of melody. If you’d forgotten how powerful instrumental post-punk can be, Tristeza’s latest release will quickly absorb you in its grasp. [©2009 hyperbolium dot com]