Monday, December 20, 2010

Parlour - "Simulacrenfield" CD

From the fertile musical landscape of Louisville, Kentucky, Parlour arose over a decade ago from the same indie scene as bands like Slint, Crain, and Rodan. In fact, founding member Tim Furnish was also a member of Crain, and has played with Papa M/Aerial M, among others. This full-length is their first release in 5 years, and it's a well-done collision of seemingly disparate musical influences. Parlour are a rock band who don't play rock music. The instrumentation is there -- guitars, drums, clarinet, sax, and synths. But the music reveals itself to be more like a post-rock, proto-jazz soundtrack. There are no vocals, as Parlour let their music do the talking, so to speak. And that's fine by me, as this album proves to be an exceptional melange of moods, textures, and rhythms.

The muscular "Destruction Paper" opens, with a densely-mixed music box effect (a combination of keyboards and guitars) circled by tight, propulsive rhythms. Also particularly effective is the swelling and melodic "Wedder", which drives into a beautiful climax of chiming guitars and clarinet squalls. Fans of Explosions In The Sky will appreciate the textural dynamics here. The 10-minute closer, "Sea Of Bubbly Goo", is a spacy and thunderous confluence of Krautrock-style pulsations (think Neu! or Can) and modern post-jazz broadstrokes (ala Tortoise). An incredible track, and a fitting conclusion to this wonderful recording. (Temporary Residence)

Parlour's site


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Happy new beer!

Sure, it's a wee bit early to be celebrating the new beer, or is it? This month sees a few of my recent personal tastings, more of which can be found on my page. Ratings run the gamut from 1 (nasty, dirty, horrible) to 5 (a taste experience to relish). With that in mind, beers of a 3 or 4 are excellent and worthy. Remember to taste responsibly, and to support your local and craft breweries. Forget BMC corporate "beer" and their monopolizing tactics! Argh! Sermon over and out.

LEFFE BLONDE (Belgium) - 3.5
This traditional abbey-style ale flows with a heavy lacing and a sweet, fruity, yeasty scent -- typically indicative of the style. Points there. The flavor is sweet, with a hint of spice and ripened fruit -- maybe orange. Somewhat on the heavy and sweet side, but definitely drinkable.

BELL'S WINTER WHITE ALE (Comstock, MI) - 4.0
First impression here is with the nose - all flowery citrus zestiness - instantly appealing. Pours a cloudy, murky pale gold, with a rich froth. Taste is sharp and spicy, with hints of clove and orange, but if you're thinking Blue Moon, think of it's bigger, stronger brother. This beer is bold and distinctive, and a definite winner.

Served only slightly chilled in my New Belgium ale glass, this big and hoppy IPA has a deep, grassy, floral, herbal nose, with huge lacing. Attractively amber in color, this one is smooth and easy up front, followed by a swift kick of hoppiness. But it's not a hop bomb as this may suggest. It's really a steady and balanced flavor, with hints of citrus and spice. Very delicious and a superlative IPA.

STELLA ARTOIS (Belgium) - 3.0
Belgian in origin, but not at all representative of the region's preferred/famous style, this pale golden lager with a thick lace does manage to stand out among the plethora of mainstream lagers out there. The scent is almost floral - a definite spicy, hoppy sharpness and presence. The taste follows this, with more complexity and depth than similar brews. Not half bad, and a solid step in-between mainstream and craft beer.

"America's Music Legacy - Dixieland Jazz" DVD

Looking at this uniquely American conglomeration of styles and influences, fans of Dixieland may be dismayed upon viewing this mid-80s TV showcase. As with previous editions of this series, the historical context of the genre is only briefly examined, with the bulk of the program devoted to live performances from (then-contemporary) artists (often marginally related to the genre).

Standouts here include Scotty Plummer's banjo madness, and the immortal Scatman Crothers (who some may know more from his acting in little gigs like "The Shining"), who proves he was a showman of the first order. Also included here are Della Reese (who's songs seem more Vegas than Dixieland), Al Hirt (who hosts), Gene Estes, and the New Orleans Jazz All-Star Band. As a word of caution, there's a lot of filler here, with little of lasting substance. You're better going elsewhere for a serious examination of the style. (MVD Visual)