Ceramic Dog, Your Turn (Northern Spy)
Will the real Marc Ribot please stand up? His closing solo acoustic guitar set at last June’s Suoni per il Popolo festival ranged from Ornette Coleman quotes to impeccably authentic Depression-era blues, and from a sweet “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” to scratchy extended techniques and false tones. His three evenings at the 2011 Jazz Fest included a funk-a-fied tribute to John Cage, a night of Cuban jazz and his schizophrenic rock band, Ceramic Dog.
Your Turn, the band’s second album, features further furious genre mash-ups, a swirling vortex of no wave, jazz, Californicated funk, folk, ska and yeah, even the kitchen sink, as Ribot claims water audibly rushes through the pipes of their basement recording studio. The band draw from the Blank Generation one moment (check out the Quine-like solo on the women’s labour anthem “Bread and Roses”) and the Guess Who the next. Am I only imagining that their cover of Brubeck’s “Take Five” not only starts with a riff almost stolen from “American Woman,” but mimics its guitar texture, even if it all shatters at the end?
The reveal is in the details, as distorted punk and field recordings are grafted onto protest folk, while Django Reinhardt-esque cool jazz follows a drum heavy electronic noise ditty with an Arabic snake charmer’s theme. Refusing to be pinned down to one idea even within a single stanza, this music is in motion, imagination run amok.
The album’s spark comes not only from the unexpected twists and turns within a rock format, but also from the politically charged lyrics. Lines like “Download this music for free/We like it when you do/We don’t have homes or families to feed/We serve the Masters of the Internet” address the dilemma of releasing music in the digital era while accusing ISPs of larceny on par with the record label moguls of yore.
But, mostly, there’s big fun in the chaos as guitar lines scatter about while Shahzad Ismaily (bass and electronics) and Ches Smith (drums) swerve through Ribot’s jagged course. Ribot may be all over the map, but he is right on target with this album.
Best Coast, “Fear of My Own Identity”
This is the A-side of the Record Store Day single by L.A. duo Best Coast, a pleasant burst of sunny pop with ’90s grind to steel its spine.
A-Trak & Tommy Trash, “Tuna Melt”
Oh my God. For this latest video by MTL son A-Trak, director Ryan Staake and, moreover, the Rube Goldberg masterminds at Kinetic King, should be commended (if not awarded) for this brilliant creation. It’s most definitely deserving of a snazzy statuette, and not the bogus kind that you have to pay to be nominated for.