Last weekend, Walter Becker died. I spent the next week listening to his project, Steely Dan. In case you wanna know, these are the fellows who spent years gloriously littering the pop landscape with jazz and funk embued rock music. They did so authoritatively, leading me to wonder if anything like that aesthetic is present in the contemporary music scene. My question was answered upon listening to Hijack The Static, the latest from Burque hip-hop rockers Bandwidth No Name. Playfully crammed with skronky guitar interludes, an audaciously sycopated rhythm section, rambling yet incisively coherent keyboard licks—like on opener “Kill The Radio”—soulful backup singing, horns that kill and the irreverent and acute flow of Nick FuriouStylz and Epic Beats, BNN adds a socially conscious hip-hop sensibility to a format that was aging well under Becker’s leadership, but actually sees growth and evolution in the hands of this awesome septet.
Bandwidth No Name: “Kill the Radio”
The Angel BabiesDeath of a Star(Roswell Records)
Luxuriously dark and relentlessly driven by keyboards and guitars deliriously floating on a veritable ocean of rhythm-section antics that may or may not include gated reverb effects soaked in longing and reminiscence, the new release by The Angel Babies, Death of a Star—a duo comprised of Nuevo Mexicanos Frankie Medina and Calida Salazar—has an authentic Nueva York new wave feel to it, even though it was recorded at Rancho de Corrales, N.M. This Austin duo, who recently transported themselves back to the rarefied air of El Norte for good, sure as hell know how to evoke ghosts that gambol and slither through the listener’s mind and linger in the night air. For evidence of that dusky, danse-macabre magic, try out track number six, “Oh Darling,” while anticipating closer “The Line,” a minor-key, evening-time air marking the entrance to that other world. Highly recommended, comrades.
Eileen & The In-BetweensWe Ain't Giving Up(Self-released)
The long-syllabled, social justice oriented musings of singer/songwriter Eileen Shaughnessy dominate this recording in a fashion that allows Shaughnessy’s vocal range—and the ensemble of rolling, rambling instruments that accompany it—to aid in demonstrating that Americana need not be a wholly derivative form. Throughout the folk outfit’s new recording We Ain’t Giving Up, Eileen and her cohorts—13 of them at last count—display an inventiveness and laconic lyricism that rises and falls with provocative precision as the listener is floated through tunes about peace, love and understanding. A discursive songwriting style propels the whole schmear and tunes like “Cathy,” “Keep It in the Ground” and “Water and Bones” yield musically meaningful, political thoughtful rewards for listeners interested in the voice of America.