by Mark Maxwell Abushady, NYC
A BOX OF EVERYTHING
Retro-rock sound with a Dylan-esque lead singer, featuring harmonies, harmonicas and, at times, raw, driving rhythms make up A Box of Everything. There is a familiarity to the sound, but an individuality as well, as the boundaries of rock are pushed, at times in the way of Bowie (Good Thief, Light a Way), at other times simply by virtue of the talents of Joziah Longo (lead vocals, acoustic guitars, harmonica, jaw harp, mandolin, banjo), Tink Lloyd (accordion, cello, ukulele, melodica, Theremin, flute, vocals), Sharkey McEwen (electric, acoustic and slide guitars, mandolin, bass, keyboards and vocals), Eric Puente (drums and percussion), Tony Zuzulo (drums), Chen Longo (bass, vocals), Orien Longo (piano, bass and vocals). They, in turn, are joined by several “guest artists” who contribute such varied instruments as Uilleann pipes, calliope, trombone, and more. (Check out the rock epic Talking to the Buddha.) Fun and thoughtful lyrics round out this fine offering.
These guys really have something. Lighthearted, sweet and sincere … so refreshing! Sometimes less is more. Here we have two brothers, playing ukulele, guitar, banjo, some percussion … and having fun. That’s it. But that’s all they need, as their songs are joyful, clever, and the voices are fine and blend nicely. These guys are musicians as well as songwriters.
Specifically, The Lords of Liechtenstein are Noah and Dan Rauchwerk. Their lyrics are earnest and self-effacing; at times irreverent, at others serious, but always well sung. Siberia, a paean to the bad romance, will have you laughing out loud! Standouts, for all sorts of reasons, also include Folk Song, When I Don’t Know Who I Am, Where Are You Going, My Low Self Esteem (another great comic song), The War to End All Wars (which may bring tears), The Last to Die, and more. I can’t wait to listen to this one again (and again).
Smart, sophisticated, romantic, ambient, cinematic, ethereal, mystical just begin to describe the musical journey presented here by Peter Calandra. The music almost seems channeled … from a larger, timeless place. And the music will transport the listener there, if given the chance.
The composer, who graces the album with piano, electric keyboards, electric & acoustic guitars, synth bass and acoustic percussion, is joined by some fine musicians, including Joy Askew (vocal choir), Ralph Farris, Junah Chung, Raga Petursdottir (violins, violas), Peter Prosser (cello), Kermit Driscoll (acoustic bass), Kathleen Nester (flute), Julia DeRosa (oboe), David Weiss (Blackwood flute, Kingma bass flute), and Howard Jones (percussion). First Light is an excellent title for this offering, as it seems full of light and space; brightness and air. A strikingly beautiful album.
Solo Piano Improvisations and Compositions Inspired by Love is the subtitle of this collection of lovely tone poems by outstanding composer and pianist Peter Kater. Track titles – ‘love,’ ‘innocence,’ ‘deeply,’ ‘intimacy,’ ‘mystery,’ ‘tenderness,’ ‘safe haven,’ ‘turbulence,’ ‘passion,’ and more – provide the starting point for each of Mr. Kater’s excellent and evocative musical meditations. Always a joy to listen to, Mr. Kater’s piano seems to reach new heights of brilliance in these recordings. Subtle details and individual voices expressed by the piano are impeccable. Liner notes by the composer further elucidate the emotional environment about each recording and, with the music, provide a window into the heart and soul of Mr. Kater and, indeed, all who would allow themselves to feel deeply.
OR ... HOW
USA GET SO
Last week, I went to see Michael Moore’s latest film, Where To Invade Next, and we were heartened by the positive – yes, positive – message. Iconoclastic Moore traveled the world looking for ideas to “capture” on behalf of the USA, and the result was a glimpse into the relative “sanity” of the rest of the world, compared to the USA.
There was Italy, where ordinary working people enjoy at least six weeks paid vacation, and France, where school lunches consist of REAL food, Slovenia where higher education is free, and Norway where maximum security prisoners are greeted with a video where the guards and other prison employees sing, “We Are The World.” Seriously. Not tongue in cheek. Then there is Iceland, where banksters were put “on ice” and got to serve prison terms for their perpetrations. And lots, lots more.
Moore does a good job relating disenfranchisement of black males via prison to the southern states remaining largely Republican. (In most European nations, prisoners still have the right to vote and candidates actually campaign in prisons!)
In every one of these cases where our common wealth could have been spent to enhance the wellbeing of the commonwealth, in the USA that money has been scarfed up the military industrial complex, the medical industrial complex, drug companies, agribusiness, the petrochemical industry, and of course corruption and speculation.
The movie begs the question, how did the American people get so %#&&@ STUPID? One clue emerges during Michael Moore’s visit to Germany, where children get an unflinching look at the Holocaust. Some 70 years ago at Nuremberg, the world’s eyes were opened to the Nazi’s perpetrations. Instead of shrinking from this horrific moment in their history, the Germans have “owned it.” They have nothing to hide. They have scanned and scoured their history, and they are spiritually richer for it. No skeletons in the closet. No closet.
~ Reviewed by Steve Bhaerman