After expanding his intimate indie folk sound about as far as it could go on the last Iron & Wine album, Kiss Each Other Clean, Sam Beam (and trusty producer Brian Deck) take a step back on Ghost on Ghost and deliver something less suited for large arenas and more late-night jazz club-sized. The arrangements on that album were stuffed with instruments and seemed built to reach the back row; this time there are still plenty of horns, violins, and female backing vocals in the mix, but they are employed with a much lighter touch. Working with jazz drummer Brian Blade and a standup bass and mixing together elements of country, jazz, indie rock, and soft rock, the album has a much more intimate feel that suits Beam's quietly soulful vocals much more naturally.
While Bill Frisell has released plenty of albums under his own name, this is his first true solo album – the first on which he plays all of the instruments himself. These include electric and acoustic guitar, six-string banjo, and bass, as well as the occasional looped sample. To call the music he creates on this album "introspective" would be something of an understatement. This won't come as a complete surprise to his fans – there has always been a gentle and meditative quality to his music, and even when he's gotten wild with his trio or with downtown pals like John Zorn or Vernon Reid, those moments of abrasive abandon have always seemed like detours from his more natural, but no less inventive and interesting, sweetness and good humor.
The intoxicating debut from Frozen Ghost commingles Great White North album-oriented rock with a classy new wave chill worthy of their mysterious moniker. Not as artsy as Duran Duran, not as emotive as Ultravox, this pair may be the Canadian answer to Tears for Fears, only better than that sounds. Opening minor hit "Should I See" might as well be the Fixx, but it's actually brainchild Andre Lanni establishing his way with ruminating rhymes and mechanical melody. He came from Sheriff, where he wrote their posthumous smash "When I'm With You" and, after three fine FG works, went on to become a powerhouse producer (King's X) and mentor (Our Lady Peace). Except for the radio number mentioned above, Frozen Ghost fell off the face of the planet instantly. A shame, as the world missed out on the mysterious stranger lurking in "Yum Bai Ya," the military melancholy of "Soldiers Cry," and "End of the Line," a flat-out great pop tune not related to the Traveling Wilburys hit of the same period or even the Roxy Music song (though Roxy roots appear elsewhere). Actually, every track is rock-solid and probably gone forever, further adding to the mystique of one of the all-time should-have-beens.
Robert Walter continues to balance on twin peaks of dance and jazz cultures with Giving Up the Ghost, whose breezy grooves cool sizzling keyboard and sax lines down to a simmer. The band includes alumni from Black Eyed Peas, T.J. Kirk, and Walter's own Greyboy Allstars, which means that the playing is consistently top-notch. There's enough angularity in the arrangements to bear occasional comparison to Medeski, Martin & Wood.
ESOTERIC RECORDINGS imprint Cocteau Discs, the home of BILL NELSON’s catalogue between 1971 and 2001, continues their series of on-going releases with the newly remastered and expanded release of his 1986 album "GETTING THE HOLY GHOST ACROSS”. Released in 1986, the record was Bill’s sole album for the Portrait label, and was a superbly realised work. Previously released on CD as strictly limited edition of 500 copies on Bill’s Sonolux label, the album is hugely sought after on CD by collectors.