Vieux Farka Touré
Celebrating the musical heritage of his homeland
Mali (Mon Pays translates as “my nation”), the
renowned guitarist and vocalist returns to his roots
in the company of some of that war-torn nation’s
greatest artists, including kora virtuoso Mamadou
Sidiki Diabate, whose father collaborated with Vieux’s father, the great Ali
Farka Touré. This is a spectacular album, brimming with intricate rhythms,
enchanting melodies, deeply soulful vocals, and consummate musicianship.
The guitar work is immaculate, of course, paying homage to tradition
while at the same time embodying a contemporary spirit. Six Degrees.
It’s widely known in the industry that Earl Klugh is
not only a great player, but also one of the nicest
cats you’ll ever meet. His friendly nature is on display
on his latest release, which sees Klugh playing
duets with some of his friends: Vince Gill, Bill Frisell,
and Jake Shimabukuro. Klugh sounds great on his own, with his uncanny
ability to play lilting melodies over deep changes in fine form. But the collaborations
are simply awesome. He and Frisell do a breathtaking version
of “Blue Moon.” The duet with Vince Gill on “All I Have to Do Is Dream,”
takes elegant simplicity up several notches, and Jake gives Klugh a run
for his nylon-string money on the best version of “Hotel California” since
The Big Lebowski. Concord. —Matt Blackett
From the opening onslaught of “North,” the French
guitarist and electronics innovator (who also holds
a PhD in philosophy from the Sorbonne) sonically
rails against what he terms the “teknofascism”
currently ravaging Europe. Armed with a modified
’Roland GR-303 guitar and a sophisticated effects and looping system,
and conspiring with six likeminded audio provocateurs (including guitarists
Oren Ambarchi and Noel Akchoté), Pinhas generates wave after
wave of dense, droning, and darkly foreboding noise sculptures that are
often as starkly beautiful as they are abrasive and disturbing. Cuneiform.
It’s easy to compare Rival Sons to a lot of classic
rock bands—the echoes of Zep, Free, Purple, Grand
Funk, and even the Zombies are readily apparent.
The good news is, guitarist Scott Holiday is totally
carrying on the tradition of awesome tones, weighty
riffs, and clever lines that his influences pioneered several decades ago.
The sinewy lines of “Keep On Swinging,” the mellow acoustic and dreamy
trem of “Jordan,” and the seat-of-the-pants pentatonics of “Three Fingers”
are only a small sampling of the rock offerings this record brings.
Earache. —Matt Blackett
A rarefied few guitarists can claim to have conceived
and manifested a genuinely original sound
and approach to their instrument, and equally few
composers are able to produce works of astonishing
harmonic depth and technical complexity that
are at the same time alluring and accessible to less-learned listeners.
On his fifth album, Monder, whose extraordinary right-hand technique
alternates between classical-style and flatpicking, continues to explore
fluid, continuously evolving arpeggios that cascade into fascinating formations,
sometimes folding in on themselves like sonic singularities.
His single-line work is also profound, here blending beautifully with the
voices of Theo Bleckmann, Gian Slater, and Martha Cluver. Sublime.
Sunnyside. —Barry Cleveland
The Rock Monsters Guide to Playing
This instructional book offers a fun and engaging
way to learn the basics and beyond when tackling
the 6-string. Don’t be misled by the cartoon
monsters—this isn’t just for kids. Anyone who digs
into this book will get clear and concise lessons
on tuning, chords, scales, arpeggios, picking techniques,
and much more, plus cool bio/history lessons on great players
like Hendrix, Van Halen, Clapton, etc. Anyone who has found instructional
books boring, confusing, or lacking rock attitude should check
this out. It’s a cool spin on the age-old question of how to learn guitar.
therockmonsters.com. —Matt Blackett