2 September 2006
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Edel Fox and Ronan O'Flaherty stick to the basics of fiddle and
concertina on their self-titled CD debut. "Their self-titled CD is a
testament to simple arrangements of mostly traditional tunes, recorded
here without a lot of bells and whistles coming between the music and
the listener's ear," Tom Knapp says. "It's pure, it's well-constructed,
it's fun -- and it's the sort of thing anyone looking for the heart and
soul of Irish session music will crave."
Randall Bramblett has aspirations to be Rich Someday. "The sound is
mostly mainstream guitar rock, with soul, r&b and folk inflections,"
Jerome Clark says. "None of this sounds radically inventive, and you'd
have to be sternly misanthropic to object to any of it. It's all good
melodies, good lyrics and good arrangements, and Bramblett's graceful,
expressive vocals charm the ears."
Carrie Rodriguez may not know from the heads of pins, but she can fit
Seven Angels on a Bicycle. "Rodriguez is best known for her recordings
with Chip Taylor," Jerome states. "Though still recognizably a
folk-accented record ... Seven Angels manages to infuse rock, jazz and
classic-pop elements into the mix with altogether organic ease."
Naama Hillman invites us all into her Living Room for a bit of music.
"Hillman's voice instantly reminded me of Sarah McLachlan," Mike Wilson
says. "My initial feelings were borne out through the entire album, and
the similarity with McLachlan extends beyond the sound of their voices
to both the quality of material and production; Living Room is the
equal of anything McLachlan has produced in recent years -- a promising
sign given that this is Naama's debut album, and a self-produced effort
Kathryn Mostow believes there are Dreamers Everywhere. "Mostow has a
warm soprano voice that is smooth and easy to listen to; she also plays
the acoustic guitar on the CD," says Paul de Bruijn. "The music drapes
wonderfully around her vocals, supporting and giving back to her voice."
Petrella offers its Dreams of the Heartland with "a deep-dish country
sound," says Virginia MacIsaac. "She's definitely a country singer, but
her voice has an urban twang and you can't listen to her without
thinking of Tina Turner."
Brenda Russell finds herself Between the Sun & the Moon on this vocal
jazz recording. The album "mixes different styles to form a totally
new, interesting sound," says Ester Eggert.
Bob Masteller and his musical pals go live on The Jazz Corner Swings
Latin. "If you are looking for some good, safe jazz, this CD would be a
good choice," says Paul de Bruijn. "If you are in their neck of the
woods, go hear them perform live." Claps for Paul and his 150th
Faust is a band of three Swedish folk musicians who celebrated their
10th anniversary with the release of a new album, Vildsint. "Most of
the tracks on the album are traditional tunes, but you can also find
some modern compositions and traditional songs," Adolf Goriup says.
"The CD is a wonderful collection of original folk music from the
Corinne H. Smith invites us to join her to see Sammy Hagar and Michael
Anthony perform live in Scranton, Pa. "Hagar is hands-down the
fan-friendliest performer in popular music," she says. "Concert-goers
can't help but get caught up in his frenzy."
Joan Druett covers a great deal of ground in She Captains: Heroines &
Hellions of the Sea. "The story of the sea is dominated by men, but
Druett shows here how the numerous roles of women should not be
overlooked," Tom Knapp says. "Neither dry nor boring, She Captains is a
colorful tapestry of maritime history."
Hana Schank lays it all on the table in A More Perfect Union: How I
Survived the Happiest Day of My Life. "I read this book just a year
after planning my own wedding, and I had repeated moments of
identification with Schank's experience," says Jessica Lux-Baumann. "I
would have loved to have this book as a bride-to-be."
Sarah Monette picks up where she left off with Mildmay the Fox and his
half-brother Felix Harrowgate in The Virtu. "Like its predecessor, this
novel is narrated by Felix and Mildmay in turns, but there is never any
confusion as to which character is speaking. Both men are
reprehensible, and yet totally engaging and sympathetic to the reader,"
says Laurie Thayer. "Nor is characterization the only talent on display
here. Carefully detailed worldbuilding, right down to two differing --
but synchronized -- calendar systems, also helps to keep the reader
Julie Kenner's Carpe Demon "is an obvious riff on the Buffy genre," Tom
Knapp says. "What sets Carpe Demon apart is Kate's family circumstance,
as well as a busy lifestyle that doesn't leave much time for slaying.
But with the help of a geriatric former hunter, a martial arts dogo, a
spritzer of holy water and a fully-gassed minivan, she just might get
the job done and have time to make dinner, change diapers and tidy up
Cameron Dokey makes a new entry into Once Upon a Time with Golden --
but this one doesn't compare well to his previous novels, Jennifer Mo
says. "Golden is a pleasant enough way to kill an hour, though it
offers no brilliant reflections on "Rapunzel" and is easily surpassed
by other books even in the things it does modestly well."
Robina Williams makes her religious arguments through Jerome & the
Seraph. "Anyone who's read the Chronicles of Narnia or has taken a
basic philosophy course has already examined the questions that Jerome
and Quant spend pages debating in Jerome & the Seraph. These tired
epiphanies might be excusable if the debate between Jerome and Quant
were challenging or in any way novel," says Sarah Meador. "This
pedantry is more annoying because Robina Williams is not a bad writer."
Greg Bear makes his coming-of-age story special by adding a Dinosaur
Summer or two to the mix. "The pace of the book is quick, and character
development is quite good," longtime fan Chris McCallister states. "The
coming-of-age story is very well done, and it blends in seamlessly with
the adventure. The setting is also described lushly and elaborately,
without bogging the story down in detail."
John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany is a classic in good standing.
"What can be said about this literary masterpiece?" asks Jessica
Lux-Baumann. "Despite its length, the plot will grab the reader and
suck them in to the world of the one-of-a-kind Meany and the people who
were touched by his short time on Earth."
Sarah Meador ties up the loose ends between Firefly and Serenity with
Serenity: Those Left Behind, a fill-in graphic novel. "Will Conrad does
an excellent job of capturing not just the actors, but the characters,
with every expression and gesture recognizable," Sarah says. "The
dialogue and story by Brett Matthews and series creator Joss Whedon are
unsurprisingly faithful to the spirit and canon of everything that's
gone before. And for those who've seen the movie, there's a nice nod
towards what's coming next."
Tom Knapp sings a dirge for Gen13 with this September Song. "The Gen13
comic series had a couple things going for it -- two of them notably
exposed through the oft-torn costume of team leader Caitlin Fairchild
-- but the series ultimately fizzled and lost reader interest. Rather
than build on the title's strengths and improve the stories, WildStorm
opted to kill off the entire team ... and start fresh with a new batch
of teens," Tom says. "Enter September Song, an ill-conceived notion
from day one."
Tom joins up with the Great Lakes Avengers in Misassembled. "On one
hand, it's a comic approach to superheroing with a team of misfit
heroes, much like the Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis incarnation of
DC's Justice League," Tom says. "On the other hand, the book has a
darker side, in which several of these hapless good guys keep dying.
... The book has an edgier brand of humor of the sort that will drive a
good many parents into a frenzy."
Paddy O'Furniture takes a laid-back look at comics as they make the
transition from paper to celluloid. "If you've been to the movies in
the last few years -- or even if you haven't -- you're likely aware
that we're currently in the middle of a glut of films based on comic
books. So it stands to reason an unrepentant comic geek like me should
be quite pleased with the state of summer cinema these days, right?
Well, not so much." Find out why in this insightful rambling!
Tom Knapp wants to keelhaul the scurvy dog who doesn't know the
difference between Davy Jones and the Flying Dutchman -- and he has a
few more things to say about Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's
Chest. "Unfortunately, while Black Pearl offered a jolly mix of action,
humor and horror-lite, Chest has bungled the formula," he says. "There
is far too much action without purpose, based on the flawed theory that
an action movie can succeed as long as there is enough running around
to a bombastic score."
Daniel Jolley says it's no honeymoon with the 2005 remake of The
Honeymooners. "Here we have one of the most ill-conceived remakes in
history, a truly forgettable film exploiting a well-known, much-loved
commodity for money (and very little of it, as things turned out)," he
says. "Exploiting may not be the right word for me to use here,
however; it's not as if this movie sought out to make fun of the
original series, and the transformation of the Kramdens and Nortons
into middle-class African-Americans carries no kind of overt or
underlying statement whatsoever. The only problem with this odd movie
is its failure to be very funny."
Check back next week for another rollicking edition of Rambles.NET