City Slang: Weekly music review roundup
Send CDs, vinyl, cassettes, demos and 8-tracks to Brett Callwood, Metro Times, 1200 Woodward Heights, Ferndale MI 48220. Email MP3s and streaming links to firstname.lastname@example.org.
El Dee’s Endearment (Quack Media) is a gorgeous little record. One would assume that the band’s name is derived from the initials of singer Lauren Deming, who has one of the most beautifully unique, emotive and damned sultry voices in the Detroit area. Their list of influences includes Ella Fitzgerald, Jon Brion and Joanna Newsom, and that all makes sense. For reference, you can add Amy Winehouse and even Goldfrapp. The band is at its best when it’s leaning heavily into the past while stamping one foot down in the now and even the future. For example, “Moon Eyes” could easily be a song from the ’40s, were it played on different instruments. As it is, the strong keys give it a modern feel. The whole album follows that theme, and the result is perhaps the best local album of the year so far.
If you’re aware of Danny D, you more than likely know him as a Rod Stewart tribute act. For a while now, though, he’s been trying to go the “originals” route. This latest album, Last Call (Vagabond) is a noble but ultimately flawed effort. There’s a country feel, and the style just doesn’t suit D. Check out the lyrics to opening song “American Pride”:
“I can still remember, sitting on daddy’s knee. He told me about America, the land of opportunity. He said I should be grateful, and to this land be true. So I pledge allegiance, to the red white and blue. Cause we’re still the greatest country, in the whole damn world…”
Full disclosure – this writer is English. But were those lyrics praising England, I’d find them equally as heavy-handed. Meanwhile, the ballad “Friendship Never Dies” is syrupy and frankly empty. D is a good singer and he surrounds himself with great musicians, but this album is beneath him.
The Charles Boles Quartet featuring Ron English’s Blue Continuum (Detroit Music Factory/Mack Avenue) is a beautifully delicate jazz record from Boles, who grew up in Detroit’s famed Black Bottom. “As a young student, Boles was mentored by the legendary Barry Harris, regularly sitting in on brutally challenging and exciting jam sessions at Harris’ house,” says the press release.
“There was always something going on over there,” says Boles. “Back then, jam sessions were mostly a learning experience, especially at Barry’s house.”
He was able to pick up tips from some of the best then, and it shows today. Along with guitarist Ron English, and a very good band, Boles has constructed an excellent jazz, post-bop and blues album.
Mr. J’s Sleep is Forbidden (DRiot) is a favorite this week for a few different reasons. First, the man dropped the CD here at the office, along with two signed posters. You have to love that cockiness. Also, he’s praying on the cover and displaying his “Straight edge” cross and wristband. You have to love that heavy-handedness. The music is ok – bearable but ordinary hip-hop. But he should get props for trying to keep the message positive.