Black Francis - Bluefinger (Cooking Vinyl, 2007)
Black Francis, aka Frank Black, leader of the legendary alternative rock band The Pixies up-dishes another solid helping of solo tunes, not straying far from the template that made his former band so successful with cryptic lyrics apparently influenced by the late Dutch rocker Herman Brood, and dynamic guitar and drums based music. The music is tight and focused, beginning with the blasting lead off "Captain Patsy" and the following lengthy "Threshold Apprehension" which is one of the finest songs in Black's solo catalog. Of course, it wouldn't be a Frank Black record without a side trip into the seedier side of life as is provided by the tracks "Lolita" and the stomping "Tight Black Rubber". When he lays off the accelerator, things slack a little but, "Test Pilot Blues" and "Angels Come to Comfort You" sound a little uncomfortable as if some round lyrics were being pushed into square musical holes. But overall, the music is successful and this is probably the most consistent solo album Black has recorded in some time.
Fillmore Slim - The Legend of Fillmore Slim (Mountain Top, 2007)
In a music world filled with characters, former convict, pimp and hustler Fliimore Slim certainly holds his own. A fine guitarist with a soulful voice, Slim leads a group through a nice update of traditional electric blues. In "Blues from the Heart", Slim sings about being influenced by Albert King and T-Bone Walker, and you can hear that influence in his music. Slim keeps a straight-ahead blues groove of guitar, bass and drums with some harmonica work added to spice things up. Slim takes on the usual blues themes of infidelity, poverty and violence with some well written songs. "Hey Little Brother" criticizes gun violence in the inner cities with the help of a younger rapper, while "Nosey Woman" and "Tired of My Old Lady" pretty much speak for themselves. "My Friend Blue" is a charming and soulful song about a friend in need, while "Vegetable Man" pretty much runs down every culinary delight Slim has ever tasted. This is a solid and enjoyable blues album. Slim is a good singer and guitarist, and although some of the songs run a little overlong, this is a worthy record for fans of soul inspired blues.
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Vijay Iyer Trio – Break Stuff (ECM, 2015) ****1/2
14 hours ago