4 August 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!
Chris Knight gets the folk spotlight with The Trailer Tapes . "Next to
Knight's, Bob Dylan's vocal style is as tranquil as Bing Crosby's. Even
so, this album compares favorably to Dylan's early work," Jerome Clark
says. "OK, there are Dylans and Prines and Springsteens out there, and
God bless 'em every one. But Knight can stare any one of them straight
in the eye, and I'll bet you a good chunk of change that he won't blink
first." Hey, hey, Jerome, that's review #250!!
Neko Case "is amazing" on Fox Confessor Brings the Flood , Katie Knapp
opines. "I love a voice that sucks you up in a whirlwind of feeling,
and she's got one. She's completely stripped clean, like the chimed
sound of true crystal. She's conversational, but so tuneful you have to
hang on each phrasing. Her lyrics often make no sense, but they make
Laura Wolfe has a Siren 's call for music lovers. " Siren was produced
by Steve Addabbo, who is best known for his work with Shawn Colvin and
Suzanne Vega," Dave Townsend says. "His production really allows Laura
to showcase her strong voice, which in her case is a very good thing.
While Laura is part of a fairly large group of female
singer-songwriters who write personal lyrics while experimenting with
different musical influences, her music is quite enjoyable and well
worth a listen."
Mark McKay is ready to Shimmer with this follow-up album to the
acclaimed Live From the Memory Hotel ," says C. Nathan Coyle. "With his
ear-catching vocals and vigorous rock style, McKay continues to prove
he's a consistently entertaining and engaging musician."
Donna Marie is ready to Paint the Sky with her songs. "Donna Marie is a
rootsy singer with a strong voice and wide vocal range," Andy Jurgis
says. "Her songs are appealing and accessible with an uncluttered funky
Watermelon Slim & the Workers are riding the blues with The Wheel Man .
"When 'more of the same' is about the toughest criticism one can level
at a new release by an artist as entertaining as Watermelon Slim, one
can safely assume the album is pretty darned good," Gregg Thurlbeck
says. "But pretty darned good isn't exceptional and that, in itself, is
a bit of a disappointment."
Soul Providers offer their Smooth Urban Grooves for the jazz-lover's
enjoyment. " Smooth Urban Grooves is a New York-centric compilation of
jazz arrangements/interpretations of R&B and hip-hop hits by Kanye
West, Mariah Carey, Usher, Alicia Keys, 50 Cent, Nelly and many
others," C. Nathan Coyle says. "Each track was picked not only for its
musical qualities, but also the original artists' connection to New
York City. You'll be surprised how good some of those songs are when
taken away from the context of the original artist/performer."
Joe Beck, Santi Debriano and Thierry Arpino get their jazz groove
flowing on Tri07 . "Most of the tunes on Tri07 are from the great
American songbook," Michael Scott Cain remarks. "Much of his material
may be rooted in the past but his playing is not. ... In all, Beck is a
gifted jazz guitarist and Tri07 shows his talents off very well indeed."
Rumen and Angel Shopov sing to the Soul of the Mahala . This, says John
Lindermuth, "is a CD of remarkable music played by superb musicians.
... This isn't commercial music. It's culturally deep-rooted and
soulful. You may not understand the language of the singers but --
trust me -- the music has a universal appeal bound to move the
Jennifer Mo pays her respects to a favorite author in Lloyd Alexander:
A Tribute to the High King of Children's Fantasy . "I read The Book of
Three when I was 8," she recalls. "As my first taste of fantasy
fiction, it really did change my life: I have been hooked ever since."
David Zindell retreads old paths seeking The Lightstone . "The story is
well written, flowing rapidly and smoothly, and the settings are
described in enough detail to create strong mental imagery. I like the
characters, although they fit well-used archetypes and resemble, for
the most part, characters in other, well-known epic fantasies," Chris
McCallister says. "If I had not read The Lord of the Rings, The
Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever , the legends of King
Arthur or ... many other epic fantasies, I would be saying, 'Wow! What
a great idea!'"
Alan J. Levine expounds on The Adventures of Short Stubbly Brownbeard .
"This here be a thrilling tale of unequalled derring-do,
timber-shivering adventure, rapacious skullduggery, etc.," Daniel
Jolley growls. "Basically, what I'm saying is that an enjoyable
pirating adventure is had by all -- and only the scurviest of scalawags
would want to miss out on all the fun."
Gary Alan Wassner continues his GemQuest line with The Twins . "One
cannot read this first book in the GemQuest series without being
reminded of Tolkien's immortal Lord of the Rings , but this epic
fantasy quickly succeeds in taking on a vibrant life of its own,"
Daniel says. "Wassner constructs this tale around a significant number
of characters, but he describes each of them so intimately that you
feel as if you know them."
Sheree Fitch lends a hand to The Gravesavers , a young-adult novel
aimed at mid-grade readers. "With its blend of romance, mystery and
creepy ghost story, The Gravesavers should appeal to the target age
group," Laurie Thayer says.
Jack Priest locks horns with the Night Witch in this contemporary
fantasy. " Night Witch was fun and interesting to read, and I ran
through it like a 50-yard dash, but it also left me only partially
satisfied," Chris McCallister says. "Too fast, too light, too much left
In the graphic novels department today, Mary Harvey and Tom Knapp offer
up a quartet of diverse selections.
The new Fantagraphics release La Perdida "is based on the adventures of
writer and artist Jessica Abel (author of Artbabe and Mirror, Window )
during her stay in Mexico City," Mary Harvey reports. "Using the
character of Carla Olivares as her mouthpiece, Abel weaves a tale as
colorful and rich as a Mexican blanket as Carla, driven by a sense of
urgency, travels to Mexico City to find her roots, her way, something,
anything, that will connect her to whatever is missing in her life."
The Atom disappeared during DC Comics' Identity Crisis event, but never
let it be said DC let a good name or costume stand idle for long. My
Life in Miniature introduces the new Atom, but Tom Knapp said they
should have thought a bit longer on this one. " My Life in Miniature ,"
he says, "is not a very good story. ... DC probably would have been
wiser to let the Atom costume sit in the closet for a few months.
Instead, they hurried this anemic replacement along and tarnished the
Atom's good name."
Marvel's adult-line release Zombie disappoints, Tom Knapp moans. "The
story quickly becomes a fairly mundane, typical zombie gorefest," he
says. "The story by Mike Raicht offers a few surprises, but not enough
to sell me on this book. Zombie does nothing to elevate it above the
rest of the shambling crowd."
Boba's dad gets his own brief spotlight in Jango Fett . "But for those
of us who saw the movies, Jango doesn't tell us much we didn't already
know," Tom says. "The art, too, is pretty bad, making Jango Fett a
must-have only for the staunchest of Star Wars completists."
Chris Tusa's poetry is just a little disturbing, Virginia MacIsaac
warns. "Have you ever been haunted by a face, an idea, a place or an
image that is disturbing yet beautiful? Haunted Bones is like that. It
tackles the big fears of our lives -- our cancers, our worries, our
children, our selves -- and slices them up and serves them on a platter
of beautiful words and phrases."
Steve Weber encourages the sale of readables with The Home-Based
Bookstore . "This book answers all the obvious questions," says John R.
Lindermuth. "So, if you've ever entertained the idea of going into the
used book business, this is one of the best sources of information
you'll find to get you started and keep you going."
Tom Knapp is not a fan of the books in J.K. Rowling's bestselling
series, but he does like the movies -- and today, it's time to look at
the fifth of seven, Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix . "There is
no lack of spectacular imagery and wonderful special effects, but
there's no question Order of the Phoenix lacks much of the joy and
wonder of earlier films in the series," Tom says. " Order of the
Phoenix is, despite all its darkness, an excellent and exciting chapter
in Potter's life -- and there are, after all, only two more to go."
Miles O'Dometer trots the globe with Syriana . " Syriana is based on
the book See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's
War on Terrorism . Just how much of the movie is fact and how much is
fiction -- well, given both the CIA's and Hollywood's penchant for
toying with the truth, that's impossible to say," Miles says. "But
there's no question it was framed to deliver a message."
Daniel Jolley is ready to end this edition with a jolly good Beerfest .
"You have to love any comedy that throws up a warning screen before the
opening credits -- in this case, it's a warning to leave the serious
beer-drinking to the professionals (or else you will die)," he says. "I
thought this movie was pretty hilarious."
More's on the way!
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