It wasn’t a fluke. Three years ago the Joy Formidable released one of the best debut albums in British history. Their sophomore effort, Wolf’s Law, just hit stores and it’s every bit as bracing. This is music that demands jumping up and down, preferably at a big concert. The Joy Formidable are a genuine power trio making loud, declamatory rock that’s still connected to the best Britpop traditions. These guys do NOT let up–I’m talking Pixies levels of pounding, in your face, melodic noise. And with Ritzy Bryan, their cute-as-a-button frontwoman, singer, and guitarist, the band has huge star potential. One of my absolute favorite bands working today.
Part of the reason I like the Bad Plus is how their albums, their song choices, their very existence give lie to the notion that jazz music ossified in the 1960s. Much as I admire Wynton Marsalis, he and his cohorts play mostly the same kind of stuff that Miles Davis made for Columbia 50 years ago. The Bad Plus face rock and roll head on and aren’t afraid to lead the vanguard in adapting it to jazz improvisation–witness their take on Radiohead’s “Karma Police” below, or check out their covers of Nirvana, Rush, and Black Sabbath. We saw them play in Burlington Saturday night and it was everything I hoped for. They’re energetic, disciplined, and tight as can be. Mighty big sound too for a piano, stand-up bass, and drums.
Bryan Ferry lookin’ sharp
Very interesting new project out from singer and Roxy Music frontman Bryan Ferry. The Jazz Age features some Roxy Music songs along with solo pieces from Ferry reworked as 1920s jazz tunes. If you didn’t know what to listen for you’d never guess that these songs had once been rock and roll–even distinctive songs like “Virginia Plain” and “Avalon” fit seamlessly into the smoky jazz club aesthetic. You can hear the whole album for limited time here at the NPR website.
I’ve been a big fan of these guys for a few years now. They’re a New York band that combines good-time New Orleans brass band music with good-time Indian party and film music. Absolutely infectious, groovy, and unique. Red Baraat’s new album is called Shruggy Ji, and if you’ve got Spotify you can listen to it here.