5 May 2007
Here's what's new at Rambles.NET, your best source on the Internet for
roots and traditional music, fiction, folklore and movie reviews!
Go to http://www.rambles.net to access the new edition and much, much
more! (Our archives contain more than 10,000 reviews, interviews and
other bits of excitement.) See you there!
Rory Campbell makes an Intrepid foray into music this year. "The pipes
are rapidly becoming the instrument of choice with record producers,
and in Rory Campbell we find a true maestro," Nicky Rossiter says.
"This 14-track album gives us a broad picture of the artist as composer
as well as expert instrumentalist, and we also get some vocal pieces."
Anne Roos celebrates Mermaids & Mariners with the quiet, old-world
sounds of a Celtic harp, fiddle, guitar, viola and concertina ensemble.
" Mermaids & Mariners does not arrest the attention so much as it
beguiles it. Unpretentious, invitingly warm and thoroughly pleasant to
listen to, this is a perfect CD to unwind to," says Jennifer Mo. "The
packaging makes it ideal for gift giving, but you may well end up
keeping it for your own collection."
Margaret McClure sheds her Tears for Jack . "Overall, Tears for Jack is
a good album, a fine vehicle for the flexible talents of McClure as a
writer and a performer," Sean Walsh says.
Michele Dominguez Greene celebrates her bicultural and bilingual
background on Luna Roja . "It will appeal to lovers of more
traditional-sounding Latin music," says Wil Owen.
Pete Alderton "plays the blues on an acoustic guitar and harmonica --
which is not unusual, certainly, but add in the fact he's from rural
England and that throws a hammer into the machine," says Michael Scott
Cain. Unfortunately, on Living on Love , "the arrangements have a
predictability to them. After the first few bars, you've got it, and
since there is no variation from it, you find yourself anticipating
what comes next."
Nickel Creek sorts out the strongest tracks from three preceding albums
on Reasons Why (The Very Best) . "What this collection shows quite
clearly is the development of the band's sound from charming
bluegrass-influenced, mellow pop to a full-blown fresh and modern indie
sound that still retains those wonderful bluegrass leanings -- and all
this in the space of just three albums!" Mike Wilson says. "In
addition, there are two tracks recorded live and a seven-track DVD of
videos to their more popular songs."
The Dixie Bee-Liners "have fashioned a sound so distinctive that you
couldn't possibly mistake them for anybody else, certainly not another
standard-issue acoustic-roots outfit," on this self-titled CD , Jerome
Clark says. "A lot of contemporary bluegrass is little more than empty
hot licks, bland vocals and country-pop songwriting. The Bee-Liners,
who are anything but the just-cited, give contemporary bluegrass not
just a good name but a lesson in how modern and traditional sounds,
lovingly wed, can infuse old musical styles with fresh life in a new
Steve Cole takes us out for a Spin with this guitar-jazz album from
Narada. "This may not be the perfect CD for snuggling up with that
special someone, but it is a great CD for listening to some good music
-- one that will often find its way to the CD player," Sherrill Fulghum
Ramona Borthwick is turning over A New Leaf in jazz. "Steeped in music
from childhood and drawing together influences from three continents,
Ramona Borthwick brings us a distillation of the best in
easy-on-the-ear jazz," Nicky Rossiter says. "This cross-fertilization
of Asia, Europe and America makes for an eclectic mix in instrumental
and vocal performances."
Mark Holdaway takes a global view on Two Thumbs Up: Adventures on the
African Thumb Piano . "There's something about the kalimba, at least in
Holdaway's hands, that creates the feel of a sacred moment without
disturbing the everyday," Sarah Meador says. "It's a flexible
meditation perfect for a family dinner or a nightmare commute. Two
Thumbs Up is soothing on a bad day, uplifting on a good day, and just
plain beautiful to hear."
Danny Elfman goes symphonic with Serenada Schizophrana . "Elfman is one
of Hollywood's most talented score writers, with more than 100 movie
soundtracks under his belt," Tom Knapp says. "Commissioned by the
American Composers Orchestra, this symphonic piece gave the former
Oingo Boingo frontman a new challenge -- working without the visual
cues of a movie to inspire him. But, while the resulting tracks are
entertaining on an aural level, they still sound like a soundtrack to
The soundtrack to Because of Winn-Dixie "works equally well whether
you've seen the movie or not," William Kates says. "It's almost hard to
believe with the multitude of people listed on the soundtrack
production credits that any coherent collection could result, but such
good taste was exercised in the song selection that Because of
Winn-Dixie stands as one of the best movie soundtracks I've heard in a
very long time."
Michael Moynihan explores the roots of a movement in Lords of Chaos:
The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground . "Moynihan has
created an exhaustively-researched treatment of music, politics and
crime, says Jessica Lux-Baumann. "The book avoids sensationalism at all
costs and presents multiple points of view, especially in the dozens of
Sylvia Louise Engdahl takes her youthful protagonist on a Journey
Between Worlds in this novel republished nearly four decades since it
first saw print. "Engdahl's unusual SF novels are idea- and
character-driven, and Journey Between Worlds is no exception," says
Jennifer Mo. "There may not be much action, but Engdahl's well-realized
vision of Mars is a compelling reason to read the book. ... Because
technology is never emphasized, more than three decades after its
original publication, Engdahl's many-domed Mars still seems relevant
Jenna Solitaire concludes (for now?) her adventures in Keeper of the
Earth , the fourth piece of her Daughter of Destiny series.
"Unfortunately, this is not the shattering news I -- and Jenna -- could
wish it were," says Laurie Thayer. "While Keeper of the Earth is an
entertaining story for an hour or so, with moments of true pathos, it
is ultimately nothing more than cotton candy, sweet while it lasts, but
Rachel Caine signs a Devil's Bargain to launch a new series of
paranormal mysteries. "The story is fast-paced, the characters are
likable and the mystery is fun," says Gloria Oliver. "Guns, lawyers and
attitude! Who could ask for more in a paranormal mystery?"
Rick Buda invites you to buy a home in WolfPointe -- but don't expect a
quiet, peaceful life there. "Throw the possibility of a recidivistic
creature stalking the woods into the mix, and you have quite a tale of
mystery, greed, corruption and murder going on here -- and author Rick
Buda ties everything together quite satisfactorily in the end, making
Wolfpointe a pretty solid, suspenseful, action-packed novel," Daniel
Steven Manchester delves into the psyche of a dying man in his novel At
Best, Twelve Months . "The language is simple and easy to read, the
dialogue spontaneous and vivid," Liana Metal says. "The scenes have
action and are moving and full of emotions. They invoke feelings of
despair, then compassion, love and finally courage to face life as it
Marvel's New Mangaverse explodes with The Rings of Fate . "This
Mangaverse will never replace the main and Ultimate Marvel universes in
popularity, I think, but it's fun, refreshing and, dare I say it, cute.
It's a nice change, a treat to read and I certainly wouldn't mind
coming back for another visit," Tom Knapp says. "Of course, being
manga, the women are all small-bodied, big-breasted and possibly
underage, but hey, if you don't like that sort of thing don't pick up a
book with the word 'manga' on the cover."
Not everyone sees superheroes as a boon to society, as shown in Anarchy
, the fifth volume of Powers . "Before it's all sorted out, there are
more messy deaths -- par for the course with this title -- and a bit of
police brutality," Tom says. "There are tears, laughter and some
well-earned applause. And, by the end, you'll have a better
understanding of the mentality found in a world where the mighty walk
-- or fly -- among us."
John Constantine is Haunted by the ghost of an ex-girlfriend in this
story of magical abuse and revenge. "I'm not a big fan of artist John
Higgins' work -- his lines are stiff, and he seems to have some kind of
GQ ideal of Constantine's appearance -- but his style suits this tale
better than it did Son of Man , the final Hellblazer arc by Garth
Ennis," Tom says. " Haunted , written by Warren Ellis, is dark,
disturbing and a little grotesque, and it just may haunt readers even
as it sets poor Isabel's spirit to rest."
The guard at the heart of Honor & Duty stands largely in the background
as great events take place in the Star Wars universe around him. "
Honor & Duty is not about great events that shatter the Republic or
threaten the Empire," Tom says. "It's a stand-alone book that looks at
an average guy in service to the government, a man who believes in what
he's doing to the bitter end."
Michael Vance settles in for a slize of Pizzeria Kamikaze . A quest
through purgatory is the "darn interesting premise" of this book,
Michael says. "To sweeten the deal, the art is intriguing, the dialogue
(loaded with profanity) rings true and (thank God, thank God) this is
NOT a graphic novel about the battle between good and evil!"
Vicki Leon reveals the Uppity Women of Ancient Times in a fascinating
-- and also frustrating -- book. " Uppity Women of Ancient Times has
missed its calling as a coffeetable book," says Jennifer Mo. "Dazzled
by glossy colour photos of friezes, vases, coins and sculptures of
ancient women, what reader would be perturbed by the lack of
documentation or the laboriously hip prose of the text inside?"
The late Caroline Knapp ruminated on a great many things, and some of
her thoughts are collected in The Merry Recluse: A Life in Essays .
"The columns are presented thematically rather than chronologically, in
sections about family relationships, grief/recovery/sobriety, the state
of the world and personal reflections," says Jessica. "The true gems
are the essays that expound on the topics of her earlier works Drinking
and Appetites ."
John Scalzi de-Internets his blog with You're Not Fooling Anyone When
You Take Your Laptop to a Coffee Shop . Read it, Sarah Meador says,
"and you'll uncover the most judgmental, opinionated and outright
entertaining book about writing in years. ... Scalzi's writing is
tight, to the point and funny without being forced. It's also
recognizably true, sometimes to the point of discomfort."
Cynthia Highsmith-Hooks reveals great depth of feeling in The Soul of a
Black Woman: From a Whisper to a Shout . "After reading the poetry in
her book, one can't help but cheer for her," Renee Harmon says. "Her
poems were written to help her cope with a part of her life that had to
be very confusing. You'll find yourself wishing you could remember each
and every poem word for word."
Roger Ebert tells it like he sees it in Your Movie Sucks . "Love him or
hate him, he knows his stuff. And he doesn't pull punches; when Ebert
likes a movie, he is unstinting with his praise, but when he's not
impressed, you might want to check your ego at the door," Tom Knapp
says. "Suffice it to say, if Mr. Ebert ever wants to write a movie
review for Rambles.NET , we'll do our best to find him room."
Jen Kopf twirls and dips in a Mad Hot Ballroom . "The boy stands in an
elementary school gymnasium, shakes his hand, shivers his shoulders and
grimaces. You can almost read his mind: Cootieees! " Jen says. "He's
just been directed to hold a girl's hand as part of his ballroom dance
lessons and, in that brief moment, he encapsulates everything that's
great about Mad Hot Ballroom ."
More's on the way!
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]