New Music for August 7, 2012: Tripping The Wing Beat Fantastic

Mike Kennealy
Wing Beat Fantastic

New Release (Exowax)

Wing Beat Fantastic is the fab new album from guitar/multi-instrument wizard Mike Keneally, a musician who first came to prominence in 1988 as Frank Zappa's latest balls-out guitar slinging discovery, playing on the master's final tour that year. Keneally has put out many fine records since, but this new one is particularly special in that it is a collaboration with Andy Partridge, the reclusive, brilliant, and prolific main songwriter (and lead voice) of the British punk-pop-new wave band XTC. Neither a new XTC record nor purely a "new" Keneally record,Wing Beat Fantastic Is a fine collaboration that features Keneally on lead vocals, but he sounds a WHOLE LOT like Andy, so much so that one wonders if Andy's voice is amazingly blended in the mix there. It is hard to tell for sure, but the reality is much of the album's basic tracks were recorded in Partridge's legendary "shed" studio in Swindon, England, so anything is possible. This recording ultimately FEELS kinda XTC-ish, falling somewhere between moments on Nonsuch (1992), Skylarking (1986) and Mummer (1983), and that's more than good enough for me.

Wing Beat also brings to mind another great collaboration Andy Partridge made in the mid-1990s, that one with British singer-songwriter Martin Newall (ex-Cleaners From Venus) called The Greatest Living Englishman.

While this album is definitely more informed by Keneally's American upbringing and Zappa-esque tendencies, there is a pastoral grandeur to these songs that is inescapably and utterly Andy Partridge. And it's all lovely, wonderful and even at times - psychedelic (gasp!) - sounding round and full even on CD. Keneally has already released a great video for the hauntingly beautiful "I'm Raining Here, Inside." Essential for XTC fans for sure, and for anyone who likes great pop music with an edge.


New Release (Daptone)

Brooklyn's Afrobeat perennials are back with a new album on Daptone Records and some special offers collectors should love. Their first new music in five years, the new (seemingly eponymously titled) album was made with sometime member, Daptone house producer, and Amy Winehouse retro tonmeister Gabe Roth, who worked on the band's first three discs. As you might expect, the tracks sound much as if they had been laid down by the Africa '70; praise due to the players and produce (and Roth's famed collection of vintage recording gear). Antibalas has been busy between discs, but their focus has been constant: the group worked on the hit musical Fela!,celebrating the life of African music pioneer and primary Antibalas inspiration Fela Kuti. Originally featured off-Broadway, by 2009, Fela! opened on Broadway with the group arranging and performing the score of Kuti's music. You can check out some of the album's tunes - and then if you like it go over to the Daptone Records site, where thefirst 200 LP orders will receive the LIMITED green-colored vinyl! Only 200 copies are available. All LP and CD pre-orders receive a FREE, exclusive and limited 12x12 in poster featuring the cover image. Offer ends August 8th. 

Redd Kross
Researching the Blues

New Release (Merge)

It is still a bit mind numbing to think of rock and roll - and punk rock especially - in terms of nostalgia and reunions. But, as Neil Young once said, "here we are in the years." Accordingly, Redd Kross, the esteemed rock and power pop band - founded 34 years ago by brothers Jeff and Steven McDonald (both middle schoolers at the time) in Los Angeles during the first wave of LA punk rock - is back with a new album. The band, whose first show involved opening for Black Flag at a middle school graduation party, became a staple on LA's legendary alternative rock radio station, KROQ, included in its ever-shifting lineup a who's who of L.A. punk, and In the early 1990s got signed to a major label, had a #16 modern rock hit with "Annie's Gone." They followed that with years of touring and TV appearances, but went on hiatus after 1997's Show World. Reuniting in 2006 with the classic lineup that recorded 1987's Neurotica, Redd Kross have again been touring to great audience response.

Redd Kross's new album, "Researching the Blues," out from Merge Records, is the band's first new recorded work in 15 years, and captures the band's Cheap-Trick-meets-Partridge-Family-plus-everything-and-the-kitchen-sink sound like it was 1995 again. No "blues" here, per se, but the sound is bigger and more rocking than we've heard from Redd Kross in the past: the guitars hit a little harder, the harmonies are a little more restrained, and the lead vocals are a little more assured than they were in the old days, but this is no nostalgia trip (no worries - it's still pretty trippy).

Check out Redd Kross' music (and video evidence of their antics) over at their site.

Preview: Nektar Invites You to the Studio

Nektar - one of the best and most underappreciated of the original British progressive rock bands of the early '70s - are back in the studio recording their new album, titled Juggernaut. In fact, they are inviting fans to join them in the studio for a performance of the new music being recorded via StageIt live from Los Angeles on August 26 2012 @ 4.40pm PST.

Here's how it works: You purchase a ticket to see the performance online by first buying some of the online currency used in the StageIt community - don't worry, its pretty cheap (only $5 to buy the minimum of 50 "notes"). Nektar's Juggernaut show costs 35 notes. So you can buy your ticket to the show and still have 15 notes leftover for giving "tips" to the band (or you can apply it to seeing a show from another act listed there that you might want to check out). We've never used this service before, but it looks like fun - you can even interact with the band while the show is in progress. Pretty neat-o! If you like Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree, Peter Gabriel, or King Crimson, you may well like Nektar's music.