Music

CD Shorts

Reviewed this week: Allen Toussaint, Richard Shindell, Anberlin, and Prabir and the Substitutes

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Allen Toussaint
The Bright Mississippi
(Nonesuch)

Allen Toussaint's Bright Mississippi is an after-the-storm celebration of the old New Orleans jazz spirit. Toussaint borrows songs from all across the timeline, celebrating the lineage and history of the bayou and American jazz with his own cool touch of the piano keys. The rollicking takes on old Django Reinhardt and Jelly Roll Morton songs, then gives way to slower songs that showcase Toussaint's softly articulated playing. This is an album full of variety and old speakeasy flashbacks. Give this album a listen for a revisited look at some classic jazz played by an already seasoned set of hands.  —Lee Taylor

Richard Shindell
Not Far Now
(Signature)

This record may be the best release of the decade. Richard Shindell is the master of point-of-view, sometimes playing the dispassionate observer, but often inhabiting the very soul of one of his characters. In "A Juggler Out in Traffic," he's the holy fool entertaining the self-absorbed; in "One Man's Arkansas," he's the American Dream gone busted and looking for the survivor's edge. Those who caught Shindell at the Iron Horse last November heard him sing "Balloon Man" as a work in progress; hear it as a finished product and you'll understand how editing transforms goodness into greatness. Shindell wraps his poetic vision in moody, moving arrangements. The thinking man's folk singer has just raised the bar. —Rob Weir

Anberlin
New Surrender
(Universal Republic)

When alternative rockers Anberlin signed to Universal Republic, indie fans everywhere heaved a collective sigh and uttered the musical profanity "sellout." But the band's major label debut has achieved the impossible—it still sounds like Anberlin. The album doesn't depart from the band's usual mix of bright pop and riffy rock. Highlights include "The Resistance," "Breaking," and a re-recording of the 2005 song "Feel Good Drag" to give it that major-label shine. Lightweights like "Young Life," (where a record's worth of la la las are crammed into one song) are balanced by darker tracks. Despite the title, New Surrender, Anberlin gives up nothing on their first major-label record. —Becky Everett

Prabir and the Substitutes
Hello
(independent)

Richmond, Virginia's Prabir and the Substitutes mine the energy and jangle of light-hearted '60s pop and garage. The opening riff of lead track "Who's Going to Love You" is reminiscent of "Everybody Knows This is Nowhere" by Neil Young and Crazy Horse, which is certainly a welcome thing.There are bits of Elvis Costello and late '60s Kinks, and the band ends up in similar sonic territory to locals The Novels at times. Their live set is reportedly pretty fierce, so check them out when they play The Elevens on May 2. —Ryan Duffy

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