Thursday, February 5, 2004
Dangerous Magical Noise
In The Red Records
If nothing else, the release of The Dirtbombs’ third album, Dangerous Magical Noise, proves that frontman Mick Collins is well on his way to learning how to play his guitar. As with Iggy and the Ashetons, the Dirtbombs’ sound is defined by the members’ technical limitations, and they, of course, try to make up for it in uninhibited rock-and-roll-wildness and enthusiasm.
Songs like “Stuck in Thee Garage” open up fast and with fuzz-driven leads that don’t apologize for being lifted from decade-old Mudhoney records, and “Motor City Baby” is almost idiotic enough to be an old Gories’ song.
But listening to Dangerous Magical Noise gives the sense that their live show is powerful.
Leadbelly once explained that recording a song is like mounting a butterfly in a glass case, that in order to do so one sticks a pin through its heart and kills it. In this instance he is right, because whatever excitement the Dirtbombs raise at a live show seems to have perished in the killing jar/recording studio.
DAROL ANGER AND THE AMERICAN FIDDLE ENSEMBLE
Republic of Strings
Over the course of his career, Darol Anger has become something of a polyglot. Anger’s style expunges genre lines allowing him to freely perform a sweeping range of material that includes Stephane Grappelli, Amadeus Mozart, John Coltrane, Bill Monroe, Indonesian gamelan, and Cape Breton fiddle music.
Anger’s latest project, Republic of Strings, finds him teamed with eclectic prodigies like wunderkind cellist (and Carmel native) Rushad Eggleston and teenage violin prodigy Brittany Haas. Fast, sharp, and markedly inventive, the duo augmented by guitarist Scott Nygaard take the most innocuous Monroe fiddle tune (“Old Dangerfield”) and create a context where each soloist can add a smattering of dissonant scales.
Given the youth, there are missteps. On Anger’s jazz original “Sneezin’” and the traditional “Evening Prayer Blues,” the quartet tends to sound stuffy. More successful are the world music attempts.
The same can be said of Republic of Strings chosen rock covers. On Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground,” the quartet slides and scratches their way along, teetering between jazz vagrancy, rock hall heroics, and the suit-and-tie set. Somehow, like most of Republic of Strings, it never descends to the dreaded world of dentist office horrors.
Raizes do Brasil
The popular Santa Cruz band SambaDá is known to get the crowd dancing and the party jumping during their live performances, bringing together elements of rock, funk, hip-hop, salsa, and samba.
Their new CD begins and ends with the foundations of samba: the rhythm. The percussion tracks set the tone for the rest of the album, with the songs composed around the rhythms, ranging from sensitive bossa nova ballads to funky upbeat dance numbers. The music is well-composed and masterfully performed, and bandleader Papiba Godinho, singing in his native Brazilian Portuguese, makes the catchy sing-along choruses easy enough for most gringos to follow.
It’s clean, crisp and well produced, almost to the point of being over-produced. It’s relaxing to listen to, but devoid of the raw urgency of a performance.
The closest thing to their live magic is “The Cruz,” a three-part song that showcases every part of their repertoire: beginning with the naked percussion rhythm, it breaks into a call and response, then launches into an extended instrumental jam, cuts back to percussion, and tapers off with Godinho’s expertise calling.