New Music Revue – 9.7.18

Time for another New Music Revue wherein Music Enthusiast stops hoping for a resurgence of blues-rock bands like Cream and looks beyond the end of his own nose. This time, without really trying, I think I came up with an unusually eclectic mix. See for yourself. 

First up, Alyndra Segarra & the Special Men. Segarra is a Bronx-born singer who “developed an early appreciation for doo-wop and Motown. (My kinda gal.) Her mother is a former New York Deputy Mayor! According to Wikpedia, “she left her home in the Bronx at age 17, spending time crossing North America, hopping freight trains.” Don’t tell me this lady isn’t tough. She did a couple of solo albums and then started a New Orleans-based band called Hurray for the Riff Raff who got some play on the HBO series, Treme.

As near as I can figure out, the Special Men are a NOLO-based band (backed by a label) who have embarked on a series of singles with singers they like. This article explains it nicely. These guys heard Alyndra singing with Riff Raff and immediately realized that it needed a woman’s voice, especially one who could nail the ’50’s soulfulness. And on this tune, “Don’t Tell Me That It’s Over,” I think she’s nicely in the pocket:

Spotify link

“Calling You” is a song from the 1987 film Bagdad Café where it was nominated for an Oscar for best song. This version is by the German-born singer/songwriter EnaFay. Per her Facebook page: “Based in London, EnaFay independently released ‘Arwen’ this Winter.

After an exceptional EP launch show where she brought together music, dance, poetry, and theatre, she is now doing smaller gigs in Central London as well as releasing remixes while writing and working on new material. This Autumn she will be releasing her new single ‘August Is Not Over Yet’.”

“Calling You” is her first cover and it’s a really nice version. I watch singers on TV who have about a hundred dancers spinning around them and it does nothing for me. Because for my money, you can’t beat a piano and a torch song performed by an excellent singer. I can picture hearing this in a small, smoky jazz club in the Village:

A desert road from Vegas to nowhere
Some place better than where you’re been
A coffee machine that needs some fixing
In a little cafe just around the bend
I am calling you
Can’t you hear me
I am calling you

A hot dry wind blows right through me
The baby’s crying and I can’t sleep
But we both know a change is coming
Coming closer, sweet release
I am calling you

SoundCloud link

I am indebted to Crotchety Man blog for cluing me in to this next tune which is one of the strangest creative efforts I’ve ever heard of. There is a Danish band called Between Music whose “creative work involves an international multidisciplinary network of musicians, physicists, engineers, instrument makers, neuroscientists and others, who inspire and ensure the high quality and integrity that characterizes Between Music’s artistic work.”

Why do they need that team? Well, they have a production called AquaSonic. From their website: “Five performers submerge themselves in glass water tanks to play custom-made instruments and sing completely underwater. Transformed inside these darkly glittering, aquatic chambers, they produce compositions that are both eerily melodic and powerfully resonant.”

I’ll say. Their music is, understandably, strangely eerie and likely impossible to imagine sounding like this were it not underwater. They had to create new instruments (carbon violin) and learn how to sing without drowning. And I believe they even somehow recreate this mesmerizing other-worldliness live:

The next band is called the Skiffle Players. Genre: non-skiffle. Their Facebook page says “We play traditional folk music, but at the same time are trying to create our own tradition, as we all are together now and in the past and future. Peace to the musicians who came before us, and to all those who join us and follow us.”

One of the musicians, Neal Casal, plays with the Chris Robinson Brotherhood as well as Phil Lesh and Friends. I found this song “Dearest” to be a nice, gentle love song which I thought sounded an awful lot like a Buddy Holly song. And it turns it – it is! But it’s one I didn’t know:

Spotify link

From their website: Wax Jax and the Midnight Snax (pictured on top of post) are a psychedelic funk rock group born out of one of the many ramshackle share houses in Melbourne’s inner east. (I wish I knew someone who could elaborate on that).

Drawing influence from psychedelia to pop, jazz through to soul, the five-piece have been steadily working their way through the Melbourne live music scene since their formation in early 2017. You’ll find them turning heads at house parties, pubs and clubs around the city with their boogie inducing beats, wild guitar solos, and hard-hitting soulful vocals.”

Ok, you gotta hear that, right? Here’s “Watch Out,” and yeah it’s a funky slice:

SoundCloud link

I occasionally hear from people interested in being featured on the blog. Don’t publish too many but this note sure caught my eye: “Hello! We are “All In Orchestra” from Saint-Petersburg, Russia. Our style is a mix of electronic music with live classical instruments. Recently we presented our second release “Etudes” in the Lutheran Church of Annenkirche in St. Petersburg.

We have achieved some success in Russia and are striving to enter the international scene. Perhaps our live-video from the last concert may be of interest to you and your audience.”

Well, sure. If we’re gonna explore new music, let’s do it. An unusual, enchanting sound for sure.

Below is a SoundCloud link with a “play” button. Give it a listen:

22 thoughts on “New Music Revue – 9.7.18

  1. Again, some interesting stuff here. Pick of the bunch for me, though, is Alyndra and the Special Men. Hurray for the Riff Raff are very, very good. Very good.

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  2. That underwater Danish group is something else! They claim “eerily melodic.” I hear eerie, but not much melody. Still, an interesting concept. And the Russian band is also unusual: Kraftwerk meets Tchaikovsky. Years ago I remember hearing a Swedish group that played California surf rock.

    As Louis Armstrong and Joey Ramone sang, “What a wonderful world.”

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    1. Yeah, I doubt very much I’d run out and pick up a copy of the Danish thing. But it was just so odd I figured this is an audience that would appreciate it. It’s an astounding amount of work they put into it. Likewise the Russian orchestra. You won’t necessarily hear tunes on ME that have a beat and you can dance to. 🙂

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  3. Nice choices, Jim, and definitely a lot of music in here that grabs my attention.

    Alyndra Segarra & the Special Men (gotta love that name as a ‘60s music fan) have a nice retro sound that seems to be right up my alley.

    I also think you are spot on about EnaFay – when you have an excellent voice, you don’t need some big production around it – on stage or in the studio! It’s gotta be the inner German in her!😆

    I’ve never heard anything like Between Music – I guess the closest would be some of the more experimental Pink Floyd stuff. That being said, it doesn’t really grab me, at least after the first listen.

    The Skiffle Players have a nice transparent guitar sound I really like.

    Wax Jax and the Midnight Snax, another great band name, play some groovy funk, and their lead vocalist has a capable voice.

    As for All In Orchestra, I don’t trust in anything coming from Russia these days, no matter how our dumb and utterly incompetent leader idolizes the Russian dictator – meddling in the country’s elections is enough, no meddling in music wanted!🤣

    I think I gotta have some music listening to do!

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    1. I kinda figured you would dig the more soulful ones. If you read the article about the Special Men, sounds like they’re a studio/sometimes live band working with singers they like. Intriguing idea.

      As to EnaFay, yes I had to listen to it a couple of times to really get into it but she definitely has the goods.

      I found Between Music so unusual that I felt compelled to share it. I may go back and listen to more of their stuff but probably when I’m in some more contemplative mood.

      Funnily, I did not know the Skiffle Players were doing a Buddy Holly song. Never heard that one. I like the feel of it though it’s uncomfortably close to Holly’s “Words of Love.”

      As to the Russians, I guess my feeling is somewhat like Paul Simon’s when he went to South Africa. Basically, let’s not confuse the citizens with the leadership. He went right to the musicians and said, Fuck it, I’m playing with you guys. So I can no more blame the orchestra for their thuggish KBG prick leader than I would want someone to disavow me because of our own lying, racist, loathsome president.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, Jim. My comments about Russians were a joke – admittedly a silly one! I don’t mind the Russian people at all, except their ex-KGB agent and present dictator Vladimir Putin. This guy is very dangerous, in my opinion, since is far more intelligent than the so-called the leader of the free world.

        As for the Russian people, I actually worked in neighboring Ukraine for more than two years in the mid-90s. While not surprisingly I predominantly met Ukrainians, I also met some Russians. In general, I found that most folks from both countries not only are warmhearted but also very well educated.

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        1. I figured they might be but wasn’t sure so I covered all bases. 🙂 When we were younger propaganda got about Russia was 100% negative. Now we know that’s not all true. For example, their women do not all wear babushkas. Some of them are quite hot.

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  4. Eclectic mix indeed Jim. Thanks! I esp liked Watch Out. Re the Between Music group reminds me of this Norwegian artist named Terje Isungset – he builds all his instruments out of ice! He tours in Norway and Russia and usually shows up in a town a few days before a show to get huge ice chunks to carve the instruments out of. Then On to next place to repeat process. I heard a story about him on NPR Music. His music is on Spotify if you are so inclined. Beautiful contemplative stuff.

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