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CD Reviews

New releases from Boilermaker Jazz Band, Discuss, and The Cynics

Boilermaker Jazz Band
Nice Work If You Can Get It
( Phonolithic Records)
(On-line version)

Celebrating 20 years on the scene, this augmented six-piece combo gets nice things out of American popular song-book standards (e.g., the Gershwins, Rodgers & Hart, Harold Arlen, etc.). Working the traditional and swing side of the street, they bounce, ramble and stroll down memory lane in 19 tracks. In front is clarinetist Paul Cosentino, a classy player whose conceptions equal better known peers everywhere. Plus, from The Big Apple come the always inventive, delightful cornet playing of Prairie Home Companion's Jon-Erik Kelso, and Michael Hashim who adds alto sax sauciness. Guitarist Joe Negri also plugs in his tasteful guitar. Clearly the aim is entertainment, not extended improvisation (despite capable talent), with three or four minutes worth of each song, and vocals on all but two. Jennie Luvv does well by seven. Cosentino ably takes on six. Alas, pianist Mark Kotishion sings five; he should stick to the keyboard. 

-- Gordon Spencer


Full Moon Remedies

Discuss's most recent release, Full Moon Remedies, is a beguiling blend of pretty melodies and heavy bass ecstasy -- an emotive ride that, track for track, offers up something different, but feels almost like a mixtape, it's stacked so smoothly. The album maintains a steady 90-120 bpm range of speed; it's dance music, but it's also lounge music, chill and vibrant, deep yet melodically glistening. One standout track is "Radiohead + Seconal," a 3-minute-and-44-second blast of a quick percussive background overlaid with tricky samples from Radiohead's "Exit Music for a Film." The samples are barely noticeable unless your ear is extremely well versed in the nuances of Radiohead. Listen on quality speakers to let the low end flourish; you will be drawn to move … and think.

-- Kate Magoc


The Cynics
Spinning Wheel Motel
(Get Hip)

In "Zombie Walk," the album's best song, Michael Kastelic laments, "Everything I want to do has been done." To that, he could probably add "by me." The Cynics here stick to the jangly '60s garage rock they've spent the past couple of decades perfecting -- avoiding, sometimes narrowly, the danger of self-parody that all long-lived outfits face. Nobody's breaking new ground here, but that hardly matters. Spinning Wheel Motel is a fun summer record, and a chance to feel like the '60s never ended.  

-- Margaret Welsh