I must admit that I’m often impressed by the volume of albums our local musicians manage to self-release. It’s actually a lot harder than most people think to put a record together (recording, mixing, mastering, redubbing, artwork, pressing, etc.), so all of my varied choices totally get major points for effort.
As for all the other little details, well, you’ll just have to read on and find out.
David Geist: Move On
On his newest release, the longtime Santa Fe pianist navigates through Broadway favorites like Sweeney Todd, West Side Story, Wicked and more. It’s an all-instrumental affair that showcases Geist’s incredible musical skill and an almost eerie talent for adding a whimsical and original touch to songs we’ve heard a million times. The Irving Berlin tribute track alone makes Move On worth it, but overtures from the likes of Candide or Guys & Dolls up the ante (anybody pick up on that awesome/subtle Sky Masterson allusion?) while providing those mainstay hits we musical theater fans long for. This is the perfect album for longtime show-tunes aficionados and new converts alike to pop in and sing with. Geist is a monster on those keys, and if ever there was an argument for learning to play the piano—or quitting if you already play but kind of suck—this is it.
Sonic Fleur: Sonic Fleur
Jill Alikas St. Thomas certainly deserves credit for having been a member of ’90s trip-hop-esque act The Waterlillies. The act enjoyed relative success with Warner Bros./Reprise and mostly positive critical/consumer reviews. Unfortunately, credit is just about forfeited after a listen to the self-titled release from her newest project, Sonic Fleur. Like a watered-down Massive Attack, the thing sounds a whole hell of a lot like it was recorded with GarageBand. And while there’s no shame in releasing an album that isn’t overproduced, the tracks here come off as scattered and unfocused—almost as if someone hit the record button during a particularly long jam session. Of course, it’s not all bad, and there are totally cool world music elements found throughout. Bandmate Glen Neff provides killer instrumentation every step of the way, and a few guest stars drop in with real-live instruments (something that is always appreciated in electronic-driven music) to flesh out certain tracks. There is absolutely no denying that St. Thomas has a beautiful and interesting voice, but the bits and pieces that stand out and provide interesting moments are fairly infrequent, and the final product could use some work. Those looking for a nice way to relax can look no further, just don’t expect Sonic Fleur to live up to St. Thomas’ previous accomplishments.
Dezert Banditz: The Mixtape
You’ve got to love a good hip-hop collaboration, and with more than 20 members, Dezert Banditz surpasses even the likes of the Wu Tang Clan in terms of sheer manpower (take that RZA!) The massive crew has only been performing together for six months, but this compilation of their best tracks hits hard and shows a willingness and dedication that is all too rare in just about any genre. These MCs are extremely talented, and The Mixtape ditches today’s pop-rap/radio bullshit for a grittier, darker sound that sometimes borders on straight-up ominous. Beats stick with you and the rhymes are smooth as all hell. It’s almost like a portal to the roots of mid-’90s East Coast hip-hop with each of the crew’s rhyme-slayers showing that they can hustle and flow with the best of ’em. Group performances are rare, so finding this album is the one way you can be sure to find each and every one of the Dezert Banditz in one place…you need it.