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Apr 27, 2017

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Thelonious Monk; Pearl Jam; Jimi Hendrix…
by S. Duda
Magazine Issue: U.S. Vol. 5.1
Thelonious Monk
Don't waste any more time trying to find a wine that "goes" with punk rock. After extensive research - and I mean extensive - I've determined that such a substance simply doesn't exist. Well, lemme clarify - there's no good/great wine (with the exception of icy cold MD 20/20 or Thunderbird, swigged right from the bottle) that "goes" with punk rock. That's okay. I'm sure this knowledge won't wreck your weekend. And of course, there are alternatives. Beer springs quickly to mind. But what punk rock? What beer?

Rancid, a Bay Area punk band, has been fighting the punk rock fight for nearly a decade. Their latest, simply titled Rancid, is a jump-up-and-down-and-smash-something sort of album that at once rocks like the bejezus and is extremely cathartic. Previously, Rancid's been criticized by the punk rock orthodoxy as being "too diverse," that's to say, they're too damn good for most punks, having allowed elements of ska, rockabilly and R&B to creep into their songs. Critics charge Rancid with selling out, with not standing for anything, with ripping off the Clash, with being showboats - a sin equal to murder in the leather-and-spikes subculture. This new effort's an answer to these charges. With 22 songs clocking in at around 40 minutes, Rancid rips along at a dangerous pace. Hard-charging and stripped down, this is a record that makes no attempts at playing nice. Sweat is flying, spit is flying, cigarette smoke is wafting, it's loud, it's fast, the roughed-up guitars don't wanna stay in tune, the guys can barely sing, any swatch of melody seems purely accidental - yeah, this record's that great. And of course, the fellas are, generally speakin', pissed off. They're mad at other bands, they're mad at the government, the military, and when singer Tim Armstrong growl-slurs the line "Let California fall into the fuckin' ocean!" you've realized that, astonishingly, he's mad at the entire state. How cool and, more importantly, how very punk.

Oregon's Rogue Brewery seems more of a hippie brewery than a punk rock brewery. That's okay, I guess, but only because their beers FAWKING RULE! (Their Dry Hopped Red Ale - only available in kegs on the West Coast - ha! - made my summer). For those not lucky to live on the left coast, you should probably be able to find a six pack of Dead Guy Ale in better beer stores. Dead Guy Ale certainly looks as if it could be punk rock. A grinning skeleton adorns the label, but there are also some suspicious nods to the Grateful Dead on the package... definitely not punk rock. Anyway, Dead Guy's a rounded, full, creamy ale with a pronounced caramel malt flavor and just a touch of sweetness. And this being a Northwest micro, there's a full charge of hops to keep everything honest. Warning: a couple of these bad lads are a gutful, and sadly they're fattening as hell, so you may need to take a trip or three around the mosh pit to work these off.

Thelonious Monk is my very favorite composer - fearlessly inventive, singularly original and completely whacked out. Monk introduced jazz to the avant garde. Hell, Thelonious Monk was jazz music's avant garde. But while much of his monumental work was to come later in his career, a substantial portion of the work featured on Thelonious Monk: The Complete Prestige Recordings is now considered a priceless part of the jazz canon. Monk led a rather troubled life. Problems with the law, with his physical and mental health, with drugs, with women, with club owners and with other musicians all conspired against his career. That he bounced from label to label didn't help Monk's situation much either. After a brief stint on the Blue Note label, Monk signed with Prestige. From October 1952 until December 1954, he recorded 35 tunes (15 of which were originals) in a handful of sessions.

But what historically rich sessions they were! Collecting everything Monk recorded for Prestige (including some very early work as a sideman for Coleman Hawkins) and a good number of alternative takes, Thelonious Monk: The Complete Prestige Recordings is the missing bookend in the Monk library. Presiding over the genesis of bebop, Monk's creative engines were at full throttle, and this period not only saw his sparkling collaboration with a young, powerful Sonny Rollins, but also produced "Blue Monk" and "Monk's Mood," two of the composer's best tunes. Spread over three discs, and including a decent booklet and a good remastering job, The Complete Prestige Recordings should keep any jazz head under the influence for more than a few hours.

Monk was a bona fide genius. No ifs, ands or buts about it. You don't drink crappy wine while listening to Monk (or Coltrane or the Art Ensemble of Chicago, for that matter). I strictly enforce this rule, and many crummy bottles have gone to a watery grave because of it. Michel Schlumberger 1997 Merlot is an exceptional bottle of wine and therefore in no danger of prosecution under the Monk Ordinance. Big, round - exuberant almost - the Schlum is loaded with cherry fruit. Not that this is the same ol' flabby, fruity-sweet red I usually recommend. Nope. The Schlum has a perfectly stable tannic backbone that makes this a bottle that's delicious (really, really delicious) on its own. With food (I guess I recommend cow - steaks, burgers, ribs) it's genius.

No need to cellar this. Drink it now. Buy more than you think you'll need. Monk would approve.

recent & decent
The Headcoats

Sigor Ros

Pearl Jam

Andrew Manze

Brad Mehldau

Rex Hobart

The Presidents

Jimi Hendrix

the headcoats
elementary headcoats
It's a goddamn shame: Wild Billy Childish gets no respect. Childish, leader of England's Headcoats, has written more than a dozen books of poetry and prose, has had paintings hanging in Britain's National Gallery and has released more than 100 albums of low-fi blues, punk, R&B, mod and Cajun music. Unfortunately, no one outside his rabid fans has ever even heard of Mr. Childish. Elementary Headcoats collects 50 (!) of the man's singles in what, turns out, is the band's swan song. Imagine Leadbelly fronting (a very young) Who. In the audience, Mick Jagger and Sid Vicious are both kicking the crap out of a couple kids from Liverpool.

sigor ros
Bands from Finland are about a common as, oh, I dunno, bands from Iceland? (Bjork, c'mon down!) Sigor Ros, however, has released an astonishing album that recalls the ethereal wispiness of the Cocteau Twins or Dead Can Dance with the beguiling otherworldliness of, well, Bjork. Exotic, wonderfully textured, majestically paced; Sigor Ros is well worth the hunt.

pearl jam
bootleg series
Are they nutso? Releasing every show from the last European tour? Twenty-five sets on two CDs all released at the same time? Fans own 'em all. Normal folks should sample the shows from the Czech Republic and Poland for the best of the bunch.

andrew manze
portrait
Manze, a violinist, is the "it" boy of the classical music scene. This set collects some of his best work, including an excerpt from Tartini's knucklebusting "Devil's Sonata" and whacks at Vivaldi, Bach and Handel. Manze has a magic touch, and each piece of music he inhabits radiates with his presence. Also, check out his work on Francesco Geminiani's Concerti Grossi, where he performs with the Academy of Ancient Music. Enchanting.

brad mehldau
places
Mehldau, a pianist, is the "it" boy of the jazz music scene. Viewed as the sad n' sensitive type, Mehldau specializes in rainy-day ballads that often display a classical influence. Mehldau's band, which includes Jorge Rossy and Larry Grenadier, is top rate, providing the pianist with a suitable launch pad when he puts a charge into a tune.

rex hobart & the misery boys
the spectacular sadness of rex hobart and the misery boys
A lead-pipe cinch for best album title of the year, The Spectacular Sadness of Rex Hobart and the Misery Boys offers a wonderful saddlebag of lonesome country tunes that weep whisky tears. With a deep, weary voice and a band that simply emotes cheap beer and stale cigarette smoke, Rex and Co. offer tunes like "I'll Forget Her or Die Crying" and "Forever Always Ends." Keep this one around for your next spectacular breakup.

the presidents
freaked out and small
They're still hopped up on waaay too much sugar. They're still funny, silly and catchy as hell. Submit. Resistance is futile.

jimi hendrix
experience hendrix
There's been plenty of Hendrix reissues, re-releases, bootlegs and just plain junk released the past few years. That's too bad because perhaps this less-than-supreme material has turned off potential fans whose vision of Jimi as genius has been obscured. Here's a four-CD box jammed to the gills with utterly great material. Put this one on your wish list.

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