taking a listen
reviews of local & state music CDs
THE BRONZED CHORUS — I’m the Spring
Post-rock power trio the Bronzed Chorus possess a truly unique characteristic among their kind: There are only two guys in the band. Using only three limbs to generate an enormous amount of percussive punch, drummer Brennan O’Brien has proven to be far more capable at his craft than many of his peers who use all four. O’Brien is no Rick Allen, however; he merely reserves his left hand to round out the band’s rhythm section, churning out robust bass lines on a keyboard. He and guitarist Adam Joyce have put together a mind-boggling live act, but their second release, I’m the Spring, shows that such devices can be rendered rather ordinary within the album context. That’s not to say the music is merely commonplace, as the album’s frenetic ebb and flow can often be highly transfixing. It’s simply that knowing all of the album’s three primary components were laid down separately detracts from the element of astonishment a bit.
Regardless, there’s still plenty of satisfaction to be gained from Joyce’s chiming guitars and O’Brien’s explosive drumming skills. As far as experimental instrumental music goes, however, I’m the Spring does little to inhabit new territory.
THE BEAST — Silence Fiction
Usually, names like Billie Holliday, Diana Krall or Norah Jones spring to mind instantly when the term “jazz vocalist” is heard. There’s the kind of sultriness that is associated with it as if it can’t exist outside a smoky bar with a trio weaving together layers of brass and rhythm. In actuality, it’s the aural pairing that bestows that kind of context as proven by Durham jazz and hip-hop quartet the Beast on their debut full-length Silence Fiction. Despite the rapid-fire flow of vocalist Pierce Freelon, this is clearly a jazz unit. Bass, drums, keys and vocals, with some guest horns; none more important than the other and all working seamlessly within the greater context. Usually, that is. While Pierce brings strong enthusiasm and plenty of incisive lines throughout, he stumbles regularly. The listener has to exercise a kind of willing suspension of disbelief when he jumps from the Zack de la Rochian raging against the machine to cutesy Street Fighter II references. In addition, his relentless Beast name-checking gets heavy-handed after a while, but it’s all worth it when you get witticisms like “No I don’t like Bud Light/ but guess what we can make the bud light” on “Translation.” Regardless of the occasional lyrical slip-up or clich’, his highly polished bandmates always keep the track tight and tasteful, giving the hits that much more impact.
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