POINTS OF VIEW
Tom Kennedy, one of the most in-demand doublers, shows his musical range on his lithe latest project, surrounded by longtime associates that include rhythm partner Dave Weckl on drums, hornmen Bill Evans and Randy Brecker, keyboardist Charles Blenzig, and guitarists Lee Ritneour, Mike Stern, and Chuck Loeb. Among the highpoints are the angular funk shuffle “The Dark,” with nice solo turns by Evans on tenor and Kennedy on bass guitar; the moody, odd-metered “New July,” with Loeb and vocalist Karla Harris handling the melodies; and the title-track modal burner and the Randy Brecker-featuring ballad “I’ll See You,” both highlighting the Gotham ace’s nuanced support and solo work on upright.
From the moment this album kicks off with the buildup of “No Fun,” you can feel Incubus fans everywhere rejoicing that their favorite alternative rockers have returned to their roots. On their eighth album, Ben Kenney and company tighten their shoelaces and dig in for the band’s most inspired album in years. While Kenney commands the usual immaculate groove, tone, and feel we’ve come to expect, you can hear him truly let loose on “Nimble Bastard” and “Throw Out The Map.”
On paper, Dead Cross qualifies as a nascent supergroup—Mike Patton (vocals), Michael Crain (guitars), Justin Pearson (bass), and Dave Lombardo (drums)—but these guys play as though they’ve been in the trenches together for years. Pearson’s prodigious bona fides on the San Diego punk scene serve him well in tandem with Lombardo, who’s a cyclone behind the kit. “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” the frenetic “The Future Has Been Cancelled,” and the outstandingly titled “Church of the Motherfuckers” in particular showcase Pearson’s depth-defying tone, machine-gun chops, and uncanny ear for freeform polyrhythms.
[Play It Again Sam]
Danish alternative rock trio Mew returns with a driving new album filled with fast-paced movements and dreamy ballads. On “Candy Pieces All Smeared Out,” Johan Wolhert pushes his tone harder than we’ve heard before, his distorted pummeling eventually giving way to an airy second half. His experimental playing on “Twist Quest” shows that he can groove to any kind of rhythm, while his steady lines on “The Wake of Your Life” and “Learn Our Crystals” give us the traditional Wolhert playing.
PETER ERSKINE & THE DR. UM BAND
Credit drum great Peter Erskine for featuring burgeoning bass guitar talent on his albums, including his nephew, Damien Erskine, and Janek Gwizdala. His latest Dr. Um project, with veterans Bob Sheppard on sax and John Beasley on keyboards, is a veritable showcase for Benjamin Shepherd. Shepherd handles the “Teen Town”-like head on Beasley’s “Eleven Eleven,” summons Marcus Miller for the melody on Beasley’s Grolnick-esque “Not So Yes,” showcases his walking and post-bop blowing on Bob Sheppard’s “Did It Have to Be You?” and breaks out his fretless for the ballad melody on Beasley’s “Lida Rose.” Throughout, Shepherd’s fat, plucked, and palm-muted 5- and 6-string grooves have a vintage P-Bass warmth, and his octaver makes some judicious appearances.
BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE
HUG OF THUNDER
[Arts & Crafts]
As sprawling collectives go, Toronto’s Broken Social Scene has crafted a quirky sonic signature, throwing indie rock, folk, and electronica into a blender that brings the individual character of its many lead singers—among them Feist, Metric’s Emily Haines, and Amy Millan—surging to the top. Co-founder and bassist Brendan Canning is arguably the binding force on the group’s first album in seven years, whether he’s lightly plucking out a repeating line on the title track, or diving in with low-frequency crunch and Rickenbacker-esque tone on the psych-rock blaster “Halfway Home.”
BIG WALNUTS YONDER
Mike Watt doesn’t refer to Big Walnuts Yonder as a supergroup; he prefers to call it “worlds colliding.” We can now confirm that classification. Consisting of members from Wilco, Deerhoof, and Tera Melos, Watt’s new ensemble follows his lead into musical havoc, where wild tones and manic riffs are abundant. But the Minuteman makes sense of the chaos with his binding bass lines, which especially steer the ship on “All Against All,” “Forgot to Brush,” and “Sponge Bath.”
REVOLUTION COME … REVOLUTION GO
The spirit of Allen Woody hovers over every James Gang-like groove that Gov’t Mule has ever churned out, and Jorgen Carlsson, the second bassist to step into the breach since Woody’s death in 2000, still plays with vivid awareness of the shoes he was asked to fill nearly ten years ago. He also sounds born to the bluesy jam ethos of Southern rock. From the hard-driving opener “Stone Cold Rage” to the Allmans nod “Traveling Tune” and the sanctified “Dreams & Songs,” the fleet-fingered Swede gives frontman and lead guitarist Warren Haynes all the support he needs to fly high.