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Jason Panella

Worthwhile music we missed the first time around

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I Love Math -- Getting to the Point is Beside It

This is a supergroup of sorts, at least if you consider the likes of Apples in Stereo, Old 97's, and The Deathray Davies the stuff of legends. It works for me. John Dufilho, principle singer/songwriter for The Deathray Davies, is the main voice here, and if he tones down the power pop leanings, he does nothing to dampen the singalong nature of his songs. These are primarily acoustic (but hardly dull) pop tunes, with Dufilho's voice double tracked and headed for Everly Brothers harmony territory. A pedal steel augments the acoustic guitars, and Phil Peeples, drummer for Old 97's, lays down some fine train rhythms. In spite of the unplugged nature, this one chugs right along, and the pop hooks are first-rate. I didn't pay attention when I first heard it a couple years back. I like it much better now. It's a modest album, and succeeds fabulously in reaching its modest goal: generating the kind of sweet pop music that stays in your head for days.

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The Romantics -- The Romantics (1980)

Well, sort of. Everybody, including me, has heard the big hit "What I Like About You." It's a classic takeoff on all those great garage rockers of the mid- and late-'60s. And every time I hear that one I want to go up down, jump around, think about true romance. But the whole album, which I've finally heard for the first time, has that primal garage rock quality that will never grow old. People really did make rock 'n roll in garages back in the day. I remember hearing Ricky Boles, at age 14 or thereabouts, bashing out chords with his bandmates in his garage four doors down the street from me. Ricky went on to make a couple blues-based rock albums and probably sold a couple hundred of them to friends and family. The Romantics sold considerably more than a couple hundred copies of their debut eponymous album, and with good reason. Sometimes you can't improve on three chords and a backbeat, handclaps, and band members who shout "Hey." Hey.

Edited by Andy Whitman

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James Blackshaw -- The Glass Bead Game

Okay, the first time around was just a few months ago. Nevertheless, this album has been sitting in a pile gathering dust, and I played it for the first time this weekend. And it's stunning. Blackshaw is a 12-string wizard, and his guitar work has been compared to that of Leo Kottlke and John Fahey. And that's probably what kept me from listening, in all honesty. Kottke's a great guitarist and a horrific singer, and Fahey could play an arpeggio into the ground for ten minutes at a time.

There's none of that here. The sound is surprisingly varied. Lavinia Blackwall, from Scots band Trembling Bells, adds lovely, wordless vocals. A cello and piano contribute to the chamber pop ambience. And Blackshaw whips up a swirling maelstrom, simultaneously playing a backing drone and ever-evolving modal melodies. It's all quite beautiful; soothing without becoming soporific.

Edited by Andy Whitman

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Grails is one of my favorite post-rock bands, but for some odd reason I gave only a very passing listen to their mid-2011 offering Deep Politics and never went back to it. With the upcoming release of Black Tar Prophecies volume 5, I've revisited Deep over the past few weeks and have just been blown away. For those that have a low tolerance for their doomy, middle eastern, Morricone-lite compositions, this album is a refreshing detour. One of my favorite albums of the year.

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Blonde Redhead's 23... Love the tune "SW". Sheesh, a full five years after-the-fact, but still a nice little musical detour this week

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On 10/2/2007 at 7:52 AM, Guest thom_jurek said:

Gabor Szabo

Just discovered this guy while listening to a compilation titled "All Day Thumbsucker Revisited : The History Of Blue Thumb Records". Finding Gabor Szabo made me wonder why hadn't I heard of him before. Really enjoy now two of his albums, "High Contrast" and "Spellbinder" both inexpensive as MP3s. Two other good artists/albums, unknown to me before, found by that same compilation, were a Phil Upchurch jazz album "Darkness Darkness" and Albert Collins blues album "Truckin with Albert Collins". His "Ice Pickin' " album is good too. But I don't think as highly of the general output of those two. Szabo is the best discovery of those mentioned, more of his discography shines.

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