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CD Reviews:
Listening Room: Street Sweeper Social Club, Daddy and more...

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Sunday, June 14, 2009

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Street Sweeper Social Club, “Street Sweeper Social Club” (SSSC/Warner ILG) ***

Tom Morello doesn’t make many musical mistakes. The guitarist has struck gold — and platinum — with potent rock outfits such as Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave, and his protest-singing alter ego The Nightwatchman is as brave of a creative move as any mainstream rock artist has made. He’s scored another winner with Street Sweeper Social Club, a collaboration with rapper Boots Riley of the Coup (and Galactic’s Stanton Moore on drums) whose 11-song debut is fierce, socio-politically charged set that hews closer to Rage than anything Morello has done since that group stopped recording at the turn of the decade. Riley is, of course, a different animal than Rage’s Zac de la Rocha, but “Street Sweeper Social Club’s” street anthems bristle with passion and defiance as Riley delivers “100 Little Curses” to the privileged class and uses square dance motifs to turn “Promenade” into an anti-war do-si-do. Rather than harping on specifics, however, the album is more of an introduction and statement of purpose; “I spit the sound of a million fists inna pound,” Riley declares in the opening “Fight! Smash! Win!,” while in “The Oath” he pledges “to make the bosses cringe/Instead we’ll get some justified ends/I’ll fight ‘til the system is gone.” Morello, meanwhile, accompanies it all with his usual instrumental heroics, laying his guitar over taut rhythm patterns and sinewy grooves. Sliding, tracer-like licks fire through “Megablast,” while a bit of metallic grit undercuts the spacious “Clap For the Killers.” Some more melodic noodling precedes “The Oath,” and slinky verses explode into the anthemic, call-to-arms choruses of “Nobody Moves ‘til We Say Go.” In “Promenade” Riley suggests that listeners “grab on to that beat and grind/ try your best to stay alive,” and “Street Sweeper Social Club” is definitely worth the effort.


Daddy, “For a Second Time” (Cedar Creek Music) ***

They’re not exactly on the mainstream radar, but singer/songwriter/guitarists Will Kimbrough and Tommy Womack are pretty potent talents on their own — and together at the front of Daddy bring a rich American musical travelogue that’s hard to beat. On the follow-up to the 2005 live album “At the Women’s Club,” Daddy rolls through the loose, soulful grooves of “Nobody From Nowhere,” the goodhumored New Orleans-flavored step-time of “Wash & Fold,” the bluesy roll of “I Went to Heaven in a Dream Last Night,” the front porch grit of “I Want to Be Clean” (with guest Todd Snider), the blue-collar rock grit of “Early to Bed, Early to Rise” and a gospel-flavored interpretation of Mike Millius’ “The Ballads of Martin Luther King.” Drop the laser anywhere and you’ll find something to like; better yet, listen to the whole thing front to back and really dig in.

New & Noteworthy

Bobby Broom, “Bobby Broom Plays for Monk” (Origin): The Chicago-based jazz guitarist finishes a trio of albums paying homage to his roots with this tribute to Thelonious Monk.

Michael Buble, “Michael Buble Meets Madison Square Garden” (143/Reprise): The Canadian crooner’s live set includes renditions of Leonard Cohen’s “I’m Your Man,” Billy Paul’s “Me And Mrs. Jones,” Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and his own charttopping “Home.”

Devin Townsend Project, “Ki” (SPV): The former Strapping Young Lad member and Steve Vai vocalist brings out his latest creative enterprise on the first of a planned series of four thematic albums.

Dave Douglas & Brass Ecstasy, “Spirit Moves” (Greenleaf Music):

Trumpeter/composer Douglas bows his brass ensemble on his first studio album in three years.

Will Downing, “Classique” (Peak): The singer celebrates his 20th recording anniversary with songs by Barry White, David Ruffin and the Originals, as well as seven of his own originals.

Jill Hennessy, “Ghost in My Head” (self-released): The Canadian musician/actress recorded her first album of original songs in Austin with help from the Dixie Chicks’ Martie Maguire, R.E.M.’s Mike Mills and Texas music legend Lloyd Maines.

Incubus, “Monuments and Melodies” (Epic): A pair of new songs and a batch of rarities grace this two-CD retrospective of the California rock quintet’s four-album career to date.

Joshua James, “Build Me This” (Tate Music Group):

The second album from the 25-year-old, Nebraska-raised heartland rocker.

Sarah Jarosz, “Song Up in Her Head” (Sugar Hill): Ann all-star crew that includes Jerry Douglas, Stuart Duncan, Tim O’Brien, Nickel Creek’s Chris Thile and others helps the 18-year-old singer-songwriter from Austin, Texas, on her debut.

Jonas Brothers, “Lines,

Vines and Trying Times” (Hollywood): The sibling trio’s fourth studio album brings Nashville touches to the mix, but rest assured there will still be plenty of sweet pop and heartstring-tugging melodies.

Candy Kane, “Superhero” (Delta Groove): The blues belter’s new outing gets extra gravity and gusto coming after her successful battle with pancreatic cancer.

Davy Knowles & Back Door Slam, “Coming Up For Air” (Blix Street): Peter Frampton produced this second album by the youthful (22) British guitarist and his band, including a cover of George Harrison’s “Hear Me Lord” and a duet with Jonatha Brooke on “Taste of Danger.”

Christian McBride and Inside Straight, “Kind of Brown” (Mack Avenue): Last year’s Detroit International Jazz Festival’s Artists in Residence debuts his new acoustic jazz quintet for his first release on the Harper Woods-based Mack Avenue label.

Maura O’Connell, “Naked With Friends” (Sugar Hill):

The Nashville songstress welcomes an impressive array of friends — Dolly Parton, Alison Krause, Paul Brady, Mary Black, Kate Rusby and others — for a set of a capella performances.

Rod Piazza & the Mighty Flyers Blues Quartet, “Soul Monster” (Delta Groove):

Harmonica ace Piazza welcomes a slew of guests — Kid Ramos, James Gadson, Finis Tasby, the late Phil Guy and others on his latest release.

Poison the Well, “The Tropic Rot” (Ferret): The Florida hardcore band’s fifth studio album marks the recording debuts of guitarist Bradley Clifford and bassist Bradley Grace.

Rival Sons, “Before the Fire” (self-released): The debut album by the self-described “dirty” rock ‘n’ roll band from Los Angeles.

The Sippy Cups, “The Time Machine” (Snacker Disc):

The second set of original songs by the kid-rock troupe features songs about — what else? — growing up.

Sara Wasserman, “Solid Ground” (That Other Label):

The daughter of bassist Bob Wasserman delivers versions of her father’s songs with John Wesley Harding and the late Jim Capaldi on her debut album.

Holly Williams, “Here With Me” (Mercury Nashville):

The daughter of Hank Jr. wrote eight of these 11 tracks and name-checks grandpa Hank on the song “Without Jesus Here With Me.”

From the Vaults

Big Star, “#1 Record”/”Radio City” (Ardent/Stax); Ray Charles, “Modern Sounds of Country & Western Music Volumes 1 & 2” (Concord); George Harrison, “Let it Roll: Songs By George Harrison” (Capitol/EMI); Sonny Rollins, “Reel Life” (OJC)

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