Long Distance Calling – “How Do We Want To Live?”
Label: Inside Out Music
Release Date: June 26, 2020
One of the best instrumental bands out there is Germany’s Long Distance Calling. I should probably call them “mostly” instrumental since they always have had vocals on each album. Sometimes it would be one track with a guest vocalist like John Bush, Vincent Cavanagh or Jonas Renkse. A couple of albums featured a full time band member on vocals for about half the album.
The band have since gone to a full on instrumental approach for their last album “Boundless” and the current one “How Do We Want To Live?” but there are still voices to be found. Another thing the band have always done is use samples of various voices to make their point. “How Do We Want To Live?” veers a bit overboard with said samples. I don’t mind SOME but when the opening track is basically dialogue, I am inclined to skip it.
I know what you’re thinking. “I thought this was a recommendations column?” Well despite those reservations, LDC still deliver another quality album. Perhaps it’s not as stellar as their self titled album or “TRIPS” but this band know how to write a riff and use the space in between the notes as well as anyone out there. The main difference with “How Do We Want To Live?” is that it sounds more like a soundtrack to a non-existent movie than their previous works.
I think that they are a band like Mogwai for example that should be doing soundtracks. The songs paint pictures without needing vocals. Though as I’ve mentioned that they have used vocals and were just as potent with them as without. That sort of talent should not go unnoticed. Long Distance Calling are a dependably great band who are a band that if I am not sure who I want to listen to, I can put them on and always enjoy myself. “How Do We Want To Live?” is a fine addition to those “go-to” albums.
Voivod – “The End Of Dormancy EP”
Label: Century Media
Friday, July 10, 2020
I love everything that Voivod does so this recommendation is a no brainer for me. What is this EP? “Collectible limited edition 3-track 12” Vinyl and Digital EP featuring a special “Metal Section” version of the title track “The End Of Dormancy” with added trumpets, saxophone and trombones” PLUS 2 live version of “The End of Dormancy” and “The Unknown Knows” recorded at Montreal Jazz Fest 2019!
This EP stems from that performance at the Montreal Jazz Fest when Voivod became the first metal band invited to play there. So they brought a horn section for some of the songs. Those songs are part of this EP along with a horned-up studio version of “The End Of Dormancy.” All of this shows just how otherworldly the music of Voivod is. NO ONE sounds like them. And as it turns out they can adapt to whatever situation they are put in.
If you are a fan of the band, you need this. If you don’t know Voivod, this is as good a way as any to be brave and join us.
Morse/Portnoy/George – “Cover to Cover Anthology (Vol. 1-3)”
Label: Inside Out Music
Release Date: July 24, 2020
Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy and Randy George have done a ton of albums together over the years. And since Portnoy loves doing covers, they have always recorded some as deluxe edition bonus tracks. Eventually, they released them as part of 2 installments: “Cover to Cover” and “Cover 2 Cover.” Now they have added a third round called appropriately “Cov3r to Cov3r.” And the label has packaged all three together (remastering the first two) as “Cover to Cover Anthology (Vol. 1-3).”
The key to these releases are the songs. The band have very good taste in music and are willing to take chances when it comes to song selection every now and then. They do tend to stick to the original arrangements though. While that might be a safer option, if you can play a song like “One More Red Nightmare,” why on Earth would you fuck with the arrangement?
I always loved “Cover 2 Cover” a little more when it came to the first 2 releases because of some of the chances they took. “Lido Shuffle” is one of my all time favorite songs. And if you have the balls to do “Crazy Horses” by the Osmonds (which is a great song), you are cool as hell. Plus they nail King Crimson’s “Starless” and what can you say about that really?
The third album has some great choices. “Baker Street”has added balls to it and they do such a great job on TWO Squeeze songs: “Black Coffee in Bed” and “Tempted.” While I’ve never been keen on Lenny Kravitz’s “Let Love Rule” (he has a lot better songs), they still do a fine job on the song. Plus it’s a message we ALL need right now!
All three albums are a lot of fun and worth owning. It’s even cooler that they come as a 3 disc package for folks they may not have purchased them to this point. Neal Morse is still a musical jukebox and both Mike Portnoy and Randy George have a great chemistry together. Don’t expect these versions to be BETTER than the originals (although some are) but instead just put it on and forget about life for a while.
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