Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Music Library: Kanye West, Karate, Kate Bush, K. McCarty, Kehoe Nation, Keiji Haino, Kelly Hogan, Kelly Willis

Kanye West - The College Dropout (2004), "Gold Digger," and Graduation (2007). Oh, you've heard of this guy?  Although the President of the United States thinks he's a jackass, he's a remarkably talented producer and songwriter and a fairly mediocre rapper and singer.  But he uses his skills for all he's got, and man, is he entertaining.

Karate - In The Fishtank 12 (2005).  I've not heard any other Karate albums, but this Fishtank recording, which includes "Strange Fruit," several Minutemen songs, "Tears of Rage," and a couple of others, has first-rate material, good performances, and yet cannot match the greatness of the originals of these songs.

Kate Bush - Hounds Of Love (1985). Beloved by a lot of people who aren't me.  I don't hate it.  But I certainly don't love it.

K. McCarty - Dead Dog's Eyeball: The Songs Of Daniel Johnston (1992).  This album I do love.  Kathy McCarty is the former lead singer of Glass Eye, and this album, produced by Brian Beattie (also of Glass Eye), takes Daniel Johnston's songs and gives them the rich production and powerful vocals that they deserve.  This is one of the rare situations where the cover version is much more pleasing than the original, because Johnston is the rare performer who writes material that's more sophisticated than he can play.  Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant stuff here.

The Kehoe Nation - Music For Livers (2004). This is an odd album by an odd band.  The Kehoe Nation plays music that veers from alt-country to guitar heroics to Eastern European polka music, all with a leering, jokey singer.  I'd say offhand that they're big Zappa fans.

Keiji Haino - Vol. 2 (with Loren Mazzacane Connors, 1996) and Black: Implication Flooding (with Boris, 1998).  The first of these has Haino and Connors circling gently around each other in two 15-minutes improv pieces.  The second has Haino and Boris creating a harsh howling drone, which is more typical of Haino's work.

Kelly Hogan - Beneath The Country Underdog (with the Pine Valley Cosmonauts, 2000) and Because It Feels Good (2001). Mark Deming at Allmusic says of the later of these, "If you're looking for updated honky tonk, this might not be your cup of tea, but if you want to hear a gifted and imaginative singer make the most of a diverse collection of fine tunes, then Kelly Hogan's Because It Feel Good deserves a place in your CD player."  I couldn't have said it better myself.  Hogan recorded these albums for Bloodshot, the former with Jon Langford's big-band Pine Valley Cosmonauts and the latter with Andrew Bird, among others.  But her take on alt-country is as traditional as Charlie Rich's take on country music.  Which is to say that these are - more or less - classic R&B takes being cast as country music.  Both albums invoke the hallowed name of Stax with their country guitar-meets-R&B horns styles.  And Hogan is a amazingly gifted singer able to wreak these songs for what they're worth without ever tipping over into histrionics.  Wonderful stuff.  Nine years is too long a time without a new album, though.

Kelly Willis - What I Deserve (1999).  Willis sings beautifully, but her Americana production leans towards the easiest of approaches.  I mean, she wrote most of these songs with Gary Louris of the Jayhawks, covers both Nick Drake and Dan Penn, and yet there's not much here to catch my ear.  Lovely voice, though.


My photo
Cary, NC, United States
reachable at firstname lastname (all run together) at gmail dot com

About This Blog

From Here To Obscurity, founded ca. 2003, population 1. The management wishes to emphasize that no promises vis-a-vis your entertainment have been guaranteed and for all intents and purposes, intimations of enlightenment fall under the legal definition of entertainment. No refunds shall be given nor will requests be honored. Although some may ask, we have no intention of beginning again.

  © Blogger templates Brooklyn by 2008

Back to TOP