Mitchell: Djangirov’s Rhapsody in Blue ‘must be heard to be believed’

From what I have read, Scottish band Glasvegas (a combination of their home town Glasgow and Las Vegas) used to have strong reference points to doo wop, rockabilly, and ’50s pop, but none of that can be heard on their second album.

Glasvegas: Euphoric, Heartbreak (Columbia)

From what I have read, Scottish band Glasvegas (a combination of their home town Glasgow and Las Vegas) used to have strong reference points to doo wop, rockabilly, and ’50s pop, but none of that can be heard on their second album.

Glasvegas became huge U.K. hype machine recipients when the big British pop music magazine NME (as in New Musical Express) named their song, Daddy’s Gone, as the second best song of 2007. The band released a debut album that showed plenty of promise and it even drew the attention of Elvis’ daughter Lisa Marie who recorded some sides with the foursome.

But this new album is nothing short of a head scratcher and a headache. This is really overblown, over-produced music as if the band and producer Flood (of U2, Depeche Mode, PJ Harvey, Smashing Pumpkins and dozens more) were trying to morph Phil Spector’s 1960s wall of sound using cheap compression techniques and too much gimmickry. The result is an over busy, confusing, artless mélange of annoying noise that creates dread for a repeated listen.

Not sure if the Glaswegians were trying to approximate Scott Walker on Lots Sometimes or trying on a few U2-isms on the histrionic Dream Dream Dreaming.

Don’t know, don’t care.

The overly melodramatic Euphoric Heartbreak is sure to stiff.

D

Eldar Djangirov: Three Stories, Solo Piano (Sony)

Russian born Eldar Djangirov is evolving into something of a phenom in the jazz and classical fields where he crosses over to both genres.

He is a very boyish looking 23-year-old but Djangirov has been recording since he was in his mid teens for the venerable Sony Masterworks Jazz label. This new album, his sixth I believe, is his first stickered as a debut solo as he used to record under just the name Eldar and he has earned Grammy nominations for his stellar work with backing musicians.

Three Stories is just Djangirov alone and the name augmentation may signal a change in his musical direction. This time out Djangirov plays just solo acoustic piano where he plays ‘three stories’ with classical, jazz and standard repertoire pieces such as Sammy Cahn’s I Should Care, Jimmy Van Huesen’s Darn That Dream as well as the piece de resistance, George Gershwin’s full length Rhapsody In Blue that must be heard to be believed.

Djangirov has been lauded along with fleet fingered jazz giants such as Oscar Peterson and Art Tatum, but Djangirov also plays with a romantic, lyrical style on his original Russian Lullaby and Gershwin’s Embraceable You.

Eldar Djangirov also proves his versatility on tunes via Bach’s Prelude in C# Major, Thelonious Monk’s playful In Walked Bud and Charlie Parker’s Donna Lee.

To my ears the Gershwin sides are worth the price of admission alone especially with the 15+ minute take of Rhapsody In Blue but there are gems galore on this 14-track 75 minute release.

A-

Scala & Kolacny Brothers: (Atco)

To my knowledge this self-titled album by Belgium-based woman’s choir Scala and the classically trained Kolacny Brothers, is their first to be released domestically.

The choir and brothers, Steven on piano and Stijn conducting, have released at least a half dozen well received albums in Europe. But one fateful day a couple of years ago the brothers got an email from film director David Fichner asking if he could use their cover of Radiohead’s Creep for the trailer to his soon-to-be-released box office smash Social Network.

For more than five years the Kolacny Brothers have been recording classic rock hits with just piano and choir and the results are often surprisingly delightful. There are nifty choir workouts of gems by Foo Fighters, Metallica, Nirvana, Dave Matthews, Peter Gabriel etc., while my fave three tracks on this new album includes an angelic Use Somebody from The Kings Of Leon, Champaign Supernova from Oasis and With Or Without You (the only song with some sweet strings) by U2.

These three tunes have indelible melodies that are well suited to a choral makeover and if you become a new fan there is a sizeable back catalogue to check out as well.

B

Kopek: White Collar Lies (Religion Music)

Fans of alt-blues rock such as The Kings Of Leon and Wolfmother might want to check out this superb debut album from Dublin’s hard rocking power trio, simply named, Kopek.

The group has been together for five years and have survived by continually winning battle of the band contests that provide touring and recording money and now Kopek have been signed by the small indie Irish label Religion Music (although this is not CCM rock) as distributed in Canada by a major, making this easy to find.

There are great blues rockers here from the garage-styled Love Sick Blues to the AC/DC-inspired Love Is Dead and the Kings Of Leon-like Floridian.

A fine little find and you know the band has its heart in the right place when they name drop their lost but not forgotten Irish guitar hero Rory Gallagher.

B+

bwcmitchell@shaw.ca

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