Alibi V.28 No.47 • Nov 21-27, 2019 

Sonic Reducer

Michael Allan Baca Christmas Time in New Mexico (Michael Allan Baca Music LLC)

Christmas Time in New Mexico

The phrase “home for the holidays” takes on new and surprisingly spicy meaning on this disc of Christmas favorites—plus a couple of original seasonal ditties—by longtime local singer-songwriter and sometime band leader Micael Allan Baca.

Baca succeeds on making these songs—which range from orchestrated arrangements of classical works like Handel’s “Joy to the World” to American Song Book favorites like Irving Berlins “White Christmas”—by processing each through his singular, folkishly detuned musical vision and tremelo-laced vocals.

Sometimes the effect of these two, in combination, can be oddly dissonant, even disturbing, as in the tunes “Frosty the Snowman” and the aforementioned Bing Crosby favorite. There’s certainly room for introspection, even some darkness in all the light of season, Baca’s work seems to croon out to listeners and the original tunes on this collection, bookending the disc, are jaunty yet thoughtful.

Marshal Lawrence Death The Moon (Self-released)

Death the Moon

Rocanrol is going through a phase about reiteration. The popular music vanguard continues to be taken up by hip-hop, which is so full of innovation and is evolving so quickly before our nation’s stunned ears, that it’s almost possible to forget about rock.

That said, this record is a great example of why listners shouldn’t forget about rock when it’s damn good—like here—even if the music itself is heavily drawn from models of what came before.

Competently played, groovy tuneage like the opener “Sink or Swim” seem to emerge gloriously from the pop music ether but in fact they sound very much like what local acts on Lance Records (The Kreeg, Linoln Street Exit) were getting on with 50 years ago. But when Lawrence final strips away those sorts of inherited chains and rocks the funk out on closer “Moon Sick” it’s with massively redemptive effects.

Cactus Warmuth Tumbleweed Guaranteed (Self-released)

Tumbleweed Guaranteed

Fuzzy and funky like thoughts that may roam a human head in the middle of the night when sleep eludes, with weird noises coming from under the bed and in the back room, this album demonstrates how it’s totally possible and totally cool to subvert the dominant paradigms in rocanrol, transgress all over their sticky emanations and then make a record filled with that process and way of life.

I talked a little about derivation in rock music in the last review and I admit I can’t listen to this dude without thinking about Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band. But still, this work doesn’t even hint at being derivative. I would rather think that Warmuth and Beefheart are in touch with the same transdimensional entities. I don’t know how else to explain the bizarre grandeur of tunes like “Turquoise Artifact” or “Silver Tongue Sicko.”