Thursday, February 10, 2005
"Sonic Snake Session"
Available at All That Jazz for $19.98
Newly re-mastered and re-released with a second live disc, "Sonic Snake Session" is pure skatepark music. SoBe Terrain Park music. This is adrenaline-pumping music. The kind you wear in your headphones while you zone out the world and lose yourself on the slopes.
Maybe I feel that way because that's how I remember Agent Orange. It was the music (the same music that you hear on this greatest hits album) blaring out of a dust-covered boombox in some parent's garage, mixing with the sound of wheels and trucks on plywood.
This album is soooo 1980s, but in a good way. These are the things we should remember about the '80s.
And for those who were true fans of the Agent, the real reason to buy "Sonic Snake Session" is for the second disc, a live recording from a show in 1986, when this band was at its best -- in the '80s and on stage.
Rated: For those who don't want to grow up.
"You Are Free"
Available at All That Jazz for $16.98
I don't know what I expected, but I had looked forward to the show since I first saw the poster. I walked into The Skinny, a porn theater turned hipster nightclub, and saw Cat Power sitting at an upright piano. She didn't speak to the crowd. She didn't even look at us. Just leaned in on the piano and played her sad, sad songs in a quiet voice.
I moved from the front of the room to the back and before I knew it, I was sitting in a booth with some friends, and Cat Power just fell into the background. I barely glanced her way the entire night.
There are bands that translate better on stage, whose live shows make you fans for life, and there are those who thrive in the studio. After seeing Cat Power frumping on the keyboard with her back to us, I realized how well produced she is in her albums. It took me years after that show to want to listen to her again. But this job heals many wounds. I saw "You are Free" chirping at me from the bin and decided to give her a second chance.
I'm glad I did. With a few guitars laid down behind her and a few other elements engineered in to fill that thick, uncomfortable void that hung around her in her live show, I enjoyed her music again.
Rated: Better with you eyes closed.
Available at All That Jazz for $17.98
When I opened the plastic for this CD, I was hit by the smell of amber and incense. It was probably an accident, the imprint of incense that was burning as they packaged the disc. But that smell stayed in the air as Youssou N'Dour began singing. "Egypt" is an all-encompassing album. It attaches itself to all the senses. It transports you to remote corners of Northern Africa where radios still play traditional music. It's a journey that needs to be taken, especially now as our visual images of this part of the world are clouded with stories of radical Islam and pictures of war.
With this album, N'Dour explores the history and music of the Sufi Muslims. In his liner notes, he explains that "Egypt" is an album that "praises the tolerance of my religion."
N'Dour is best known to Western audiences from Peter Gabriel's "Shaking the Tree."
His music always has been a combination of Western and Eastern sounds, making him palatable and popular to a U.S. audience.
But this album stays closer to home as he sings about caliphs and prophets of the Sufi Muslim tradition, combining music from his home country of Senegal with the more Arabic orchestration played by traditional musicians from Cairo.
Rated: Like listening to someone pray.
-- Autumn Phillips