But first, two quick reviews of CDs I was sent recently:

Richie James Follin “Battle” – Follin’s solo debut is admirable for a couple different reasons. First, this front man of The Willowz was able to break away from his group and create something different. Second, all of the album’s twelve songs were recorded in one day. Pretty impressive. And Follin’s sound (think of a softer and whinier Jack White, or a modern day take on old school Lou Reed) works well with the band of musicians he put together to record with. My only complaint, and it’s something you’ll rarely hear me say, is that the album could have been produced a tiny bit more to give it more of an overall cohesive sound. I’m typically not one for noticeable production–and I’m all about the idea of recording an album in 24 hours in a house filled with fun, friends and fried chicken–but I think there could have been just a bit more care taken after the instruments were set down.

Here We Go Magic “Here We Go Magic” – If the now-defunct Beta Band were once fronted by a mid-eighties Paul Simon, they would sound a little something like Here We Go Magic’s self-titled debut LP. I’ve listened to this disc three times now and with each listen I’m liking it more. I might even keep this CD, and that’s saying a lot for me. Here We Go Magic is, essentially, Brooklynite Luke Temple. Together with Baptiste Ibar on bass and Peter Hale on drums, this trio has created an album that hearkens back to the long-lost days of Porno for Pyros. In fact, the track “I Just Want To See You Underwater” could seriously be a B-side from “Good God’s Urge.” One of the glowing qualities of this disc is that, while it contains lyrics, it doesn’t feel the need to cram them in every nook and cranny of each song. I appreciate  when a musician knows when to sing, and when to shut up and just let the music speak for itself. It shows that Luke Temple knows a thing or two about making music, which is more than I can say for about 90% of the people out there doing it today.

And now, in the player today:

Disc One: The Ornette Coleman Double Quartet “Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation by the Ornette Coleman Double Quartet” – Two tracks: a 37-minute classic called “Free Jazz,” and a 17-minute first take called, appropriately enough, “First Take.” Both tracks were recorded live and in their entirety in the studio with two quartets playing simultaneously. The first quartet (Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, Scott La Faro and Billy Higgins) can be heard exclusively on the left channel of your stereo; the second quartet (Eric Dolphy, Freddie Hubbard, Charlie Haden and Ed Blackwell) can be heard on the right channel. Together, these eight musicians perform free-form jazz that sounds as if it’s anything but. For fun, listen to the disc three times in a row: first, just through the left channel; next, just through the right channel; and finally, with both channels playing simultaneously.

Disc Two: Beck “Guero” – Shit, man, Beck can do no wrong. I don’t know what he puts in his music that makes it so addictive, but everything this kid puts out, from the rough-cut days of “Satan Gave Me A Taco” to the fully-realized masterworks off “Modern Guilt,” is virtually flawless. After impressing me with nearly ten albums of solid material, the odds of me disliking something from Beck in the future are pretty slim. “Guero” is no exception.

Disc Three: Various Artists “Ghost World (Soundtrack)” – Classic blues mixed with Bollywood theme songs. “C-H-I-C-K-E-N Spells Chicken” by The McGee Brothers is one of my favorites, but it’s not as good as the disc (and movie) opener “Jaan Pehechaan Ho” by Mohammed Rafi. But that might also have something to do with watching Thora Birch dance around in cat glasses and a red nightie. Purrr….

Disc Four: The Roots “Things Fall Apart” – I know people always refer to this album as being one of the quintessential hip-hop albums of the late nineties, but… they’re right! I always dug “Things Fall Apart,” but I think the older I get the more I like it. Is that possible? Will I eventually want to marry it and have it bear my children? Lordy, I hope not, because that would be really uncomfortable. Mostly for me. This disc is proof that The Roots will be remembered as one of the most influential hip-hop acts during the turn of the century. That is, if they can shake that whole “Jimmy Fallon’s House Band” stigma.

Disc Five: Os Mutantes “The Best of Os Mutantes” – Late sixties Brazilian psychedelic rock! Not your cup of tea? It will be. Want proof? Just try not tapping your foot to the classic track “A Minha Menina”, which McDonald’s recently raped in this commercial for Happy Meals:

I knew you wouldn’t be able to do it!

Pois ela é minha menina,

-Shady