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Apr 26, 2018







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 Fast Romantics, American Love (Postwar Recordings)

The third LP from this Toronto hayloft-rock sextet is, like their last album (2013’s Afterlife Blues), steeped in fascination with love found at the wrong times. But where ALB went over a topic that’s been tired for decades (trying to make friendship into something more), this time the band’s seized the opportunity to sift romantic love through the bulky screen of the last U.S. election (which dominated Canadian society as much as anyplace else’s), all in order to make a (mellowed out) Born to Run for the Certifiably Nuts Age. Toward this end, Matthew Angus’s off-the-rack Jarvis Cocker-ish baritone wants to be Springsteen, or at least make the poor-man’s-off-Broadway of opener “Everybody’s Trying to Steal Your Heart” into something magically electric, and it does come close, but not the way “Why We Fight” does (maybe because it’s faster and thus more akin to “Born to Run”). In the end, this stuff is valiant but not majestic, falling midway between Decemberists and Bruce at its best (which, come to think of it, is certainly workable in a way). A- 
— Eric W. Saeger




John Yao Quintet, Presence (See Tao Recordings)
CD reviews: May 11, 2017

05/11/17
By Eric Saeger news@hippopress.com



 John Yao Quintet, Presence (See Tao Recordings)

Third full-length from this New York jazz trombonist, continuing his dual approach of post-bop and lounge with one half-lidded eye toward prog. Dedicated to his recently deceased best friend, it’s nonetheless an upbeat jaunt, beginning with the herky-jerky, slightly cartoonish head-bonking bop of “Tight Rope,” which, if it wasn’t so tight, could have sounded like a scrapped Marty Cook outtake. That’s part of the rub with trombone jazz anyway, that “no, it’s not quite a sax” eeriness, which, while we’re here, is assuaged by returning sax player Jon Irabagon, whose shadowing of Yao’s trombone naturally expands the melodies, making some parts sound almost big-band, a nice changeup from the sleepier parts. The title track is of course melancholic in spots, talkative in others, all along displaying Yao’s dexterity with the instrument for which he abandoned piano. The actual ode to his friend, “M Howard,” is eight minutes of complicated sadness that Yao imparts like a champ. A  — Eric W. Saeger





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