A very interesting week for music both on record, and in person.
It started for me last Saturday, when I took in John Brown's Body's set in the Tralf Music Hall. The attendance was surprisingly sparse -- a mere few hundred folks showed up. But everyone who did make it was into it, big time. We all congregated in a large semicircle around the low stage, and by the third tune, the bodies were moving. Or skanking, to be more precise -- the glue-footed body shake that seems to be an involuntary physical response to dub and reggae music.
JBB was on fire that night. It seemed that the relatively small size of the crowd was not a problem for the band, whose members appeared delighted with the intimacy of it all. Singer/frontman/band shaman Elliott Martin served as our spirit guide for the occasion. He was helmed most ably by bassist Nate Edgar, who replaced founding member Scott Palmer, following Palmer's cancer-related death in 2006. Edgar is one of the finest reggae/dub players it has ever been my pleasure to have my cranium rattled by. Here, language comes close to failing -- what those bass lines do to a body seems to transcend whatever words might offer by way of description.
If you've never experienced John Brown's Body in concert, grab the opportunity when it presents itself. This is a special band.
UB Springfest snuck up on us out of nowhere -- which seems to be the way it always happens! The show announcement trickled out on Wednesday, by which time most of the tickets had already been sold. It appears that the portion of the tickets earmarked for the general, non-UB student public have been fully depleted.
More information on ticket policy is available via www.sa.buffalo.edu.
This year's lineup is pretty impressive, at any rate. Headlined by Wiz Khalifa, the hip-hop-centered show will also feature Nas, Damien "Junior Gong" Marley, Tinie Tempah and Big Sean. Doors for the event -- which is being held for the first time at UB Stadium in Amherst, rather than inside Alumni Arena, or outside at Baird Point -- will open at 4 p.m. Saturday.
News of some very cool new records, reissues and forthcoming releases on the horizon crossed my desk this week. First, anyone who likes the Strokes -- a band owing a great debt to the post-punk stylings of Ric Ocasek and the Cars -- should watch for the first new album in more than 20 years from the original lineup of the Cars when it drops May 10. It's called "Move Like Thus," and if the three songs I've heard offer any indication, it's killer new wave/power-pop of the like we haven't heard since -- well, since the Cars released "Candy-O" in 1979.
A new single from Jane's Addiction hit the digital bins this week as well. "End To the Lies" is available from iTunes, and it's a completely smoking marriage of psychedelia, funk and metal. Classic Jane's, then. The bad news -- the full album doesn't drop until August. You're a tease, Perry Farrell!
A glorious deluxe reissue of Nick Lowe's power-pop masterpiece "Labor of Lust" is worth checking out as well. And if you ever loved the late, great Ronnie James Dio, you should hightail it to your favorite record store and pick up a copy of the deluxe, remastered double-disc "Rainbow Rising," the second album Dio tracked with Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow. It's simply awesome.
Finally, David Sylvian has announced that he will release a new album, "Died In the Wool," via his own Samadhi Sound label, May 31. According to Sylvian's website, the record will consist of "variations on David Sylvian's 2009 release "Manafon," including collaborations with acclaimed composer Dai Fujikura, producers Jan Bang and Erik Honor, and a stellar roster of contemporary musicians and improvisers."
That news had me drooling all over my copy of Sylvian's 2010 compilation, "Sleepwalkers," which has been in almost nonstop rotation on my iPod since I managed to get my grubby hands on it. Sylvian has done some of his best work in collaborative scenarios -- be it with his brother Steve Jansen, his old sparring partner Robert Fripp, erstwhile film composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, Can bassist and general art-rock freak Holger Czukay, Burnt Friedman in Nine Horses, or even the members of his first band, Japan. (That last band's finest album, in my estimation, was released beneath the moniker Rain Tree Crow, though it was indeed a briefly reunited Japan responsible for its creation. I can't recommend this album enough.)
The prospect of Sylvian reimagining the "Manafon" material with new collaborators, new scores and new arrangements -- well, if you've loved this man's work for any period of time, you're probably as psyched as I am.
This is not to be some sort of "leftovers, slightly warmed over" project, mind you. There are brand-new compositions included right alongside the reimagined "Manafon" material. And disc two -- that's right, it's a double album! -- is filled with the music Sylvian created on commission for an audio installation in 2009. The piece is called "When We Return You Won't Recognize Us," and it is based on Sylvian's reading of a 2003 genetics research article having something to do with the Canary Islands. Who does this kind of stuff anymore? Too cool.
Here's the man himself, writing on his website:
"My interest lay in the connection between the physical or scientific reality of our biological makeup, the links to lineage (genetic genealogy), location and, to move beyond the realm of science into intuitive logic, the interior life of a community or people. An implied cultural heritage."
You can preorder "Died In the Wool" now through www.davidsylvian.com/diedinthewool.
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