A Tonic in Florida

I am in the belly of the beast, in Orlando, Fla., paying tithe to Disney. By day, I’m herding kids around under steamy, overcast skies and/or trying to avoid torrential rain. At night, I’m unwinding with a beer and my trusty MP3 player, my portable radio station away from home. I should probably try tuning in to college radio as well, since I’ve got free, decent Wi-Fi at my disposal.

Here’s a taste of random things that popped up on MP3 shuffle play, balms against a day’s worth of Disney overstimulation.

Jenny Scheinman — “The Audit” — Mischief and Mayhem (Tunecore, 2012) ….. First song that comes up on the first night. A touch of slow, sad Americana, with Scheinman’s violin and Nels Cline’s patient electric guitar winding their way through the colors of sunset across open fields. Don’t miss the eMusic interview with them about this album.

Julie Doiron with Radiogram — “Some Blues” — V/A: Endearing Vol. 11 (Endearing) ….. Introduced to me by KZSU DJ Escher around the turn of the century, Doiron sings folk songs with an airy voice that’s like a subtle breeze blowing across the prairie for miles and miles — her voice is quiet, but towering in its emotional scope. This soft, sad track came to me through a promo compilation by the Endearing label, folks who promote a lot of good pop from the middle regions of Canada. (Their website is currently under reconstruction.) Paper Moon and the defunct B’ehl come to mind, two bands with female vocalists, good pop energy, and a touch of sophistication.

Sonny Simmons — “New Newk” — Burning Spirits (ESP, 1970) ….. Something about bebop, brisk and bright, makes for great late-night listening. It’s even better when the soloist is someone like Sonny Simmons, taking his sax through tangled and turbulent soloing adventures. Lonnie Liston Smith’s piano and the firm, fluid drumming by Clifford Jarvis push the experience even further. Twelve minutes of rejuvenation.

Lisa Mezzacappa and Nightshade — “Delphinus” — Cosmic Rift (Leo, 2011)….. Opens with the comforting clatter of a bass bow’s wooden side being tapped against the strings. Little things like that, you take for granted until you’re drowned in flashy “family fun” atmosphere. A patient composition and some open-ended group soloing, the band members drifting together with a definite direction in mind. More about this album here.

Art Pepper — “Come Rain or Come Shine” — Intensity (Contemporary, 1963) ….. What was that I was saying about bebop? This track is slow but not too slow, not too ballad-like and even comes with a touch of blues attitude in Pepper’s sax solo. Soothing without being cheesy.

Yuka Honda — “How Many Times Can We Burn This Bridge?” — Eucademix (Tzadik, 2004) ….. Kind of a midtempo rocker of an instrumental, but I find myself really rocking out, head-bobbing to the crunchy beat and the repetitive, spiraling guitar line that serves as the song’s backbone.

Brahms — “Hungarian Dance No. X” ….. My MP3 player from Creative came with a handful of classical recordings by the Beijing Central Philharmonic Orchestra, and it won’t let me delete them. So, shuffle mode sometimes comes with a taste of classical, sometimes rather overplayed and trite classical. They didn’t choose track titles well; many, such as this one, get cut off before the end. So I don’t know which Hungarian Dance this was. Probably the most famous one.

Brains — “Spilth” — Gristle and Skins (Edgetone, 2011) ….. RRRrrrrrHHHH. GKGKGKGK. QeeeaaaaAAAAaaa.

Cheer-Accident — “The Autumn Wind Is a Pirate” — Introducing Lemon (Skin Graft, 2007) ….. One great service of Signal To Noise magazine was to introduce some of us to prog iconoclasts Cheer-Accident. I’d never heard of them, but they did two soaring, longer-than-20-minute suites on this album, “Autumn Wind” being one. Great episodic stuff that takes you on a little journey. I love the pretty acoustic guitar pattern that dominates the first half. Later phases include a Crimson-like tangle of guitars, and some unexpected horns over a ’70s-sounding jam. The same album includes the absurd “Camp O’ Physique,” which, as StN pointed out, might have caused many a critic to toss the CD, but I like it.

(“Camp O’ Physique” came up three songs later. 100% true. “Then they make you run through the bushes and throw glow-in-the-dark frisbees at your neck.” I love it.)

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