The Scorseses, LLC.
Magnumopus, the first LP by NOLA-Ska/rockers The Scorseses, sees the band travel down a more rugged, alt. rock-centric road then their more pop-punk debut EP Presenting…The Scorseses. The lyrics are more direct and definitive, less subtle and animated; the musician-ship is rawer, and strikes ruthlessly with a sense of fearless improvisation and experimentation. Yes, Magnumopus is the product of a band that has grown since their last effort. Fans of Presenting…, don’t fret. The Scorseses have not reinvented their sound, but taken the time to harness their confidence into a personal statement that holds nothing back. Openers “Harbinger” and “Boards” are prime examples of the bands unhinged musicianship. The drumming is noticably more technical than their earlier work; more notable though is the horn section, which sounds strikingly more like a New Orleans brass band than what you’d hear from a typical, LA-based ska-band. While this album definitely hits harder and heavier than anything they have done before, it is the slower songs that are the often the most memorable. The introspective “Bitter” – which ends in a thundering tsnuami of guitars and raging brass wailing – and the reggae cadence of “Get Some Culture” are two of the collection’s grooviest and lyrically dense songs. Magnumopus is at its most fun, though, on the fast and funky “Counterfeit Battleship” and “It’s Time to Call the Wolf." An amazing, unpredictable album from a band that was already at the top of their game. —Greg Roques
Invent the Future
New Orleans Hip Hop mainstay Truth Universal comes back with his newest record, Invent the Future, released on October 8. A thirteen track foray into positive mind states, Truth doesn’t deviate at all from his ongoing mission to inspire social change; both in his hometown of New Orleans and beyond. Track 1 opens up with an intro which includes snippets from an NPR interview and sets the pace for his eponymous song featuring New Orleans R&B artist Suave and singer Evelyn Champagne. The track is a bit haunting, but more like a mantra that sets the mood for the scope of the album. I especially like the quality of sound and am pleased to hear Truth still at it. “Motivated” is a refreshing romp which shows Truth isn’t losing much of his fire after over ten years in the underground. He is well aware of his situation and, with the help of Sybil Shanell, embraces it. “Praise the Lord” features fellow rapper Lyrikill and North Carolina producer extraordinaire Khrysis, whose style is heavy on the beat, but is enjoyable with crisp scratch work. “Letter to the Youth” is Truth’s message as a sage to the younger generations and serves a plea to stop the violence that plagues our city. The track, “Path of Least Resistance,” is by far one of my favorites on the disc with the tagline, “Take picture, Brother… ‘cuz we the revolutionaries…” Track 11, “Mics, Checks, and Balances,” which also features Evelyn Champagne, is a smooth joint on which Truth uses new rhymes and lyric schemes that may have people wondering if it’s still him as the song progresses. Whether or not it works should be left up to you. “Domestic Disturbance” serves as a cautionary tale and a domestic violence narrative. It takes the point of view of multiple family members fleshing out the situation masterfully. The final track, “Food Fight,” challenges the very real problem in New Orleans and around the world of food scarcity. With so many issues tackled on a twelve track release, one may think to wonder if a few songs didn’t make it on to Invent the Future. But as it stands, the disc serves as yet another jewel in the crown of the Progressive Underground King of the Crescent City. Some people may battle with the politics and viewpoints, but as his namesake reveals through ten years of practice, Truth Universal is only calling it as he sees it.—Craig Magraff, Jr.
The Preservation Hall Jazz Band
Sony Music Entertainment
It was over fifty years ago when the Preservation Hall was built. Since then, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band (PHJB) has performed and naturally become as imperative to the history of New Orleans as the genre itself. Beginning in 1961, PHJB has lost and gained musicians, but their reputation of mastering big band standards and Jazz classics has never faltered. After decades of performing and recording, the PHJB considers their 2013 album to be one of their most exceptional albums recorded; That’s It! Is “a record that will go down in history as their first album of entirely original material.” After spending a large facet of their careers recording, only now have they produced an album comprised of their own original collaborative work. From the notes to the lyrics, That’s It! is a display of the bands all-encompassing talent and skill. That’s It! is sensationally-developed and well thought out album; the eight member band connects with each other musically on levels that are so effortlessly controlled, yet authentic. With alluring vocal tracks like “Come With Me” and instrumentally charged tracks such as “Rattlin’ Bones,” PHJB engulfs the classic nature of big band music with the tropical styles and flare of the Caribbean. Their wide range of age and experience keeps the album fresh and timeless. That’s It! is surely a historic treasure. It’s easy to tell that PHJB experimented heavily with sound and technique to create the unpredictable, replicable of sound they receive in the Preservation Hall itself, but this time on a recording. That’s It! is exceptionally a first class album and a whirl wind of Jazz elegance. —Kimmie Tubre
The Plum Magnetic
Terra Animata is the type of music you’d listen to while watching flowers grow. No, really. I mean it. Following their twenty-six second introduction with “Spring,” The Plum Magnetic delves almost seamlessly into the dark recesses of your Coachella with the nine minute and forty-one second totally instrumental track, “Trece Leches.” This song is perfect for a day in the park or even at the beach as excuse to zone out of existence and into yourself. With totally original, string-inspired music, The Plum Magnetic consists of Trent Ciolino, donning an electric six string banjo and contributing vocals, Andrew McLean playing guitar and tabla, Jonathan Solomon on bass, and Oliver Burke on drums. Did I mention the tabla? After “Trece Leches,” things become a bit more straightforward with the four minute and fifty second long “Sweet Confusion,” on which Ciolino sings with the help of backing vocalists. There is a decided reggae feel to this song with a bit of rock thrown in. The guitar on the seven minute “Shesh Besh” is a stand out along with rock-ish feel of “Parallax,” which starts almost like upbeat blues before descending into jazz. “The Delicious,” the longest song on the CD at nine minutes and fifty seconds, is a dreamy foray into metaphysical fields of grain; I can almost see this one on repeat at a yoga studio somewhere. The title track, “Terra Animata,” serves as good closer to the album and will likely serve as the group’s signature sound. Granted, the length of most of the tracks may serve better for the coffee shop than the car (unless you like listening to the same song for multiple rides), it doesn’t detract from the promise of this group. If you’re looking for something alternative, you’ll definitely find it here. —Craig Magraff, Jr.