June 1, 2003

David Lindley and Wally Ingram
Twango Bango III
The king of polyester and greasy guitar delivers another round of musical mayhem on Twango Bango III—his latest disc with funky drummer and trusty sidekick Wally Ingram. On this eclectic outing, Lindley drills through a rollicking mix of songs and instrumentals that careen from Texas boogie (“When a Guy Gets Boobs”) to Hawaiianized spirituals (“I am a Pilgrim”) to Hindu hillbilly (“The Johnson Boys”) to mutant reggae (“Tokyo Bootlegger Man”). Whether he’s playing skanky electric, slack-toned acoustic, snarling baritone slide, jangly oud and bouzouki, lonesome lap steel, or tinkling tenor banjo, Lindley has a riveting sound that blurs the distinction between genius and jester. On Twango Bango III, his trademark blend of ace musicianship and lunatic lyrics sounds cooler than ever, and, as a bonus, daughter Rosanne adds a soulful vocal, and fellow fretmeister Ry Cooder lends a hand with some songwriting. Big fun from a profoundly original picker. D.L. Records.

—Andy Ellis

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks
Pig Lib

Following-up his much-heralded solo debut, Stephen Malkmus, the former Pavement “singer/strummer” cum indie-rock icon has turned in an adventurous, sprawling, guitar-laden record with Pig Lib. In the Jicks, Malkmus has a band that provides loose, swinging accompaniment to his increasingly complex tunes that always surprise you with an arrangement quirk—an unexpected (and extensive) angular solo, munchkin voices, and a general preponderance of clever guitar parts bobbing and weaving in and out of the mix. Pig Lib’s guitar tour de force, however, is the track “1% of One,” which, at times, sounds like the Mahavishnu Orchestra played at half-speed, and ends up with Malkmus going nuts with a crazed wah-wah excursion and backwards guitar madness. Matador.

—Darrin Fox

Dave Douglas
Freak In

On this simultaneously retro and modern-sounding recording, immensely innovative trumpeter/composer Dave Douglas takes more than a page from the early-’70s Miles Davis playbook. But he updates everything with samples, loops, electronics, and other contemporary colors, and morphs it all into intriguing and occasionally stunning arrangements using cutting-edge, computer-based editing techniques.
Joining Douglas are keyboardist/programmer Jamie Saft, bassist Brad Jones, drummer Joey Baron, electronic percussionist Ikue Mori, and guitarist Marc Ribot, with additional contributions from a half-dozen others (including master sax men Seamus Blake and Chris Speed). The CD opens with the title track, an up-tempo blitz featuring Ribot’s blistering electric guitar blasts, Douglas and Blake’s sinuous intertwining melodic lines, electronic washes (including backwards cymbals), and Karsh Kale’s percolating tablas. Following this is “Culver City Park,” which juxtaposes the heavier electronic sounds with some gorgeous acoustic guitar work by Romero Lubambo. Other highlights include the percussion loop-based “Eastern Parkway,” the lovely, “In a Silent Way”-like ballad “Porto Alegre,” sound-collages “Wild Blue” and “The Mystic Lamb,” and “Black Rock Park,” which spotlights Ribot’s ultra-kinetic guitar lines. Binding everything together is Dave Douglas’ singular compositional vision and brilliant trumpet work. Don’t miss it! RCA/Bluebird.

—Barry Cleveland    

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