2 February 2008
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 11,111 reviews, interviews and
other bits of excitement.) See you there!
Niamh Ni Charra offers her fiddle and concertina On Da Thaobh (From
Both Sides). "This is what good Irish instrumental music sounds like,"
says Jennifer Mo. "There are a lot more than two sides to this
recording, which seems to redefine itself with each new track."
Brother collects a sampling of more than a decade of recordings on As
You Were. "Interestingly, despite the fact that some of the songs on As
You Were are more than a decade old, nothing on the album feels
particularly dated," Gregg Thurlbeck says. "This may be due to the fact
that the combination of bagpipes and didgeridoo has never become
associated with a particular musical movement or moment in time.
There's a timelessness to the band's sound."
Linda Thompson unleashes her Versatile Heart on her second recording
for Rounder. " is impossible to write about Linda without bringing up
ex-husband Richard Thompson," Jerome Clark says. "As one listens to
Linda's solo albums, one has no trouble discerning how much she has
learned from Richard's writing, not the least of it his mordant
sensibility, where love usually proves to be a particularly insidious
form of treachery. If Richard is a fine singer, however, Linda is a
great one. ... This may not be music for the kids, but it is the work
of an intelligent, gifted, grown-up artist who knows herself, knows
what she wants to say and says it elegantly."
James Durst may not be Internationally Unknown any longer. "With a
smooth, light and musically adept voice, Durst fills this CD with new
words and arrangements of traditional works as well as a few by other
writers," Virginia MacIsaac says. "This is definitely a timeless folk
CD with a message that crosses the attitudes of the 2000s with the
Marva Wright recounts the Katrina tragedy through personal experience
on After the Levees Broke. "And as this album proves, the people of New
Orleans -- especially their musicians -- will persist and keep on going
the way they always have," says C. Nathan Coyle. " After the Levees
Broke has that classic 'N'awlins' mix they've always had: humor, sass,
determination and that trademark laissez les bon temps roulez attitude.
And Marva Wright shows that they'll keep on having that defining
attitude, in spite of this post-Katrina life."
Karen Collins & the Backroads Band share a little Tail Light Blues.
"Far more men than women are reviving traditional country. That makes
Collins a novel presence, but she also happens to be a thoroughly
capable practitioner," Jerome Clark says. "I confess, however, that I
hope she has a bluegrass album in her somewhere down the road."
The Charlie Sizemore Band has some Good News to relate. "When it's
good, Good News ' news is good indeed," Jerome says. "I'm sure that
just about any bluegrass fan will take to it. Perhaps next time,
though, Sizemore will choose more consistently robust material."
Ken Zazpi (a band, not a person) bursts forth from the Basque territory
with Gelditu Denbora. "The Gernika-based group (the band name
translates as "Minus Seven") astonished a lot of people with this
acoustic-electric CD," David Cox says. "With the participation of
veteran folk musicians -- including Oskorri members Inigo Egia and
Xabier Zeberio, plus Arkaitz Miner from Tapia eta Leturia -- this CD
took the popular band in new directions."
Robert WindPony offers up some Native American flute on Moon Rider and
Sky Blue. "Windpony does not add nature sounds, synthesizers or
anything else to his CDs. There is only flute," Dave Howell says.
"Windpony provides more variety than you might think, however."
Sophia shares her Spirit Healing Chants with the masses. "There's
definitely something more going on here than the usual meditation
music," says Stephen Richmond. "Sophia, well known and deservedly so
among the new age community for her stunning Chakra Healing Chants,
follows that album's success with a luminous and numinous homage and
paean to the Divine Feminine."
Our coverage of the Celtic Colours festival continues this week with
Virginia MacIsaac's report on the annual Guitar Summit in Judique. "One
of the nice things about the Guitar Summit is the freedom it gives the
players," she says. "They can choose to be inventive and inspired, or
to let the audience relish the talents they're already best known for.
The lineup has never been less than superb."
Peter Cannon finds the inner babe magnet in H.P. Lovecraft in The
Lovecraft Chronicles. "This is a novel of manners, portraying Lovecraft
as a gentleman and a scholar, even attempting to come to grips with his
racism," Dave Howell says. "But Lovecraft himself, even in an alternate
universe, is not nearly as interesting as his monstrous stories and
visions. Hemingway, A. Conan Doyle or other authors might work in such
a tome, but not an impoverished letter-writer who in real life rarely
Matthew Hughes finds his voice in The Commons. "Jack Vance has perhaps
the most immediately recognizable style of any science fiction author,
so I was looking forward to seeing if Matthew Hughes was carrying on
the tradition as suggested by several reviews I'd read of his work,"
Ron Bierman says. "On the basis of The Commons, I'd say he can do Vance
when he wants to, but mostly he's his own man."
Tim Lebbon has been writing After the War in Noreela. "Continuing to
explore Noreela City from his 2006 and 2007 novels Dusk and Dawn,
Lebbon himself calls these stories noir fantasy," Mark Bromberg says.
"The reader won't need a deep knowledge of the Noreela novels but After
the War might whet your appetite for learning about the history of
Ventgorians, the Poison Forest and the Violet Dogs."
Harry Turtledove finds the next step in his Crosstime Traffic series to
be In High Places. "His writing style is rather simple to follow,
although he has a habit of repeating himself a lot," Wil Owen warns.
"Despite that, In High Places is the better of the two Crosstime
Traffic novels I've read. In fact, if time wasn't such a premium, I
probably would have read this book in one sitting."
Carlton Mellick III exposes the thrill of Sex & Death in Television
Town. "As with every book by Carlton Mellick III, this book is
intentionally, deliberately and forcefully strange, weird and so far
outside-the-box that the author probably lost the box. Besides the
rampant violence and death, and the incessant and flagrant sexuality,
there is sadism, masochism, fetishism and probably several other isms I
do not even recognize," Chris McCallister opines. "So, what did I like
about this quintessentially bizarre book? Despite all of Mellick's
forced offensiveness and obsessions with violence and sex, Mellick is
still a talented weaver of tales, and Sex & Death in Television Town
might be his best-constructed tale of the four I have read."
Isaac Asimov shares his Robot Visions with the masses. "It's both
interesting and disconcerting to revisit the work of an author as
revered as Isaac Asimov," Gregg Thurlbeck admits. "But in reading
through the 18 stories it becomes obvious that Asimov was an uneven
writer, occasionally able to craft a complex and layered story, more
frequently content simply to construct a tricky plot around a mental
puzzle. Too many of the stories here are populated by cardboard
characters delivering clunky dialogue in service of a punchline ending,
all too quickly forgotten."
InMidnight Sun, Tom Knapp says, "Charlie Huston continues his
reinvention of Marc Spector, a.k.a. Moon Knight, as a broken, hateful,
possibly insane and largely ineffectual hero. ... Sadly, Moon Knight
continues to be a boring, even distasteful read. And there's just no
good excuse for that failure."
The first volume of The Sleepy Truth "looks to be a lot of fun," Tom
says. "They don't have noses, there are no whites in their eyes and
they only occasionally have mouths. But the teenagers who produce The
Sleepy Truth, a Weekly World News -type tabloid for the small town of
Sleepy Hollow, New York, are endearingly cute nonetheless."
Timothy Zahn's novel Dark Force Rising was adapted into the graphic
novel Dark Force Rising and "does a pretty good job of standing on its
own," Tom says. "The story is tense and action-packed, but also filled
with intelligent dialogue and diplomacy. It also helps that the art by
Terry Dodson, while not the best I've seen, is easy on the eyes; unlike
many Star Wars artists, Dodson draws characters you can recognize from
The CrossGen series Sigil gets a spark of new life in Death Match, now
published by Checker. "While Sigil: Death Match is a delight to look at
-- Scott Eaton's art is downright superb -- the story is staunchly
fair-to-middling," C. Nathan Coyle warns. "It's not one of those
stories that will grab your attention and make you want to purchase the
previous volumes, nor will it have you looking for Vol. 6."
Billy Bragg is The Progressive Patriot in this "important, readable
book" in which English musician Billy Bragg "promises to take on the
question of what it means to be an English patriot on the left in the
era of multiculturalism, devolution and other harrowing change," David
Cox says. "At just under 300 pages -- a bit rambling at times -- this
is a landmark book. Above all it argues the importance of being a
patriot -- a progressive patriot. Not an easy thing to be."
John Leake makes the acquaintance of Jack Unterweger in Entering Hades:
The Double Life of a Serial Killer. "Leake has obviously done
exhaustive research on his subject. He does not shirk from describing
the horror of the crimes, but the main focus is Unterweger himself,"
Dave Howell says. "Fw books have captured a sociopathic personality as
well as this one." Oops! We posted a review of this by Jessica
Lux-Baumann just last week, but failed to connect the two. Now read 'em
both, side by side!
Asif Kapadia's The Return "does not lay things out plainly for the
viewer -- though neither is it as ambiguous as it might first seem,"
Scott Promish says. "I very much like films that make me think, even
more if they keep me thinking about them after they are over. ... What
I don't like are films that string me along for 80 minutes without any
idea of what's going on, or at least a feeling that it is building up
Jen Kopf isn't Keeping Mum about this flick. "If dark English comedies
aren't your thing, 2005's Keeping Mum will be an exercise in DVD-rental
disaster. Ditto if you're expecting Rowan Atkinson to reprise his
broadly bumbling Mr. Bean in his portrayal of Vicar Goodfellow," she
says. "Still, dark humor requires more depth than a straight comedy. It
requires comedy that's in the service of a bigger point -- and here,
screenwriters Richard Russo and Niall Johnson ably deliver. With more
up its sleeve than you might at first assume, Keeping Mum is a movie
that doesn't deserve to be kept secret."
There's more good stuff on the way!
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