At Your Most Beautiful

Some of my friends and I share music with one another while we work. We’re supposed to review/rate what gets shared with us, and share those reviews with the group, but that doesn’t always happen.

Charlie Hunter – Everybody Has a Plan Until They Get Punched in the Mouth (2016)

Based on how much I liked his surf-rock Christmas album, I was pretty excited to give this follow up a listen.

And while this wasn’t what I was hoping for, I wasn’t really disappointed either. This album is bluesier than We Two Kings. Not quite lounge jazz, but still pretty chill.

The only sort of lowlight was the second track, whose run time is reflected in the length of its name. After that, the oddly groovy Leave Him Lay was a welcome change. And then they take the style change a step further with the paso doble-esque B section.

I liked the New Orleans dirge feel of Big Bill’s Blues, although I didn’t get the pay off of “cutting the body loose.” I almost felt like I got that in No Money, No Honey, but it wasn’t until the end of Who Put You Behind the Wheel? that I really got it. It seemed like an odd place to put that. The first two thirds of the song had a few little moments of build up, but I wouldn’t have chosen to have the last section do that. Not that it was bad. Its just not what I would have done.

I feel like Latin for Travelers was the best written. It was obviously new to me, and it had a different feel, but there were also moments that felt really familiar – not hackneyed or stolen, but just comfortable. The Guys. Get. Shirts. was also really good, and I felt like it was a nice summary of the whole album.

Like I said, it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting (it was more what I was expecting for We Two Kings)(except not Christmas, of course), but I didn’t come away disappointed. 3.5/5

“I’m giving this 3 stars, but I feel that is generous for me. You all know how I feel about Jazz as a whole, so take it with a grain of salt. But I just don’t like when the song meanders without a central narrative. It just feels like someone writing a story as they go with no end or message planned. And this album was full of meandering music without central themes. If I was to rate it as a non-Jazz album, it would be a 1 or 2, but given the “rules” (if there is such a thing) of Jazz, it probably was very good. So a 3 for me.” – Tim

British Sea Power – Machineries of Joy (2013)

I don’t always just listen to what my friends suggest. Sometimes I look for new music. And sometimes, for a starting point, I’ll bring together a kind of random collection of music. Like my favorite songs from what a specific person has shared with me in this game.

For example, Spencer’s coworker David. I took Slightly Stoopid’s Meanwhile Back at the Lab, Phil Spector’s Christmas album, David Bowie’s Blackstar, Zero 7’s The Garden and The Best of Earth, Wind and Fire, Vol. 1 and started a radio station based on that. And I came up with a pretty good one, where I discovered the band British Sea Power.

I honestly have no idea how David would feel about these guys. They’re like a blend between David Bowie, Arcade Fire and The Decemberists. Maybe with a little indie garage rock thrown in. Some of my favorite tracks are the opener, What You Need the Most, Monsters of Sunderland.

Here’s what my friends had to say:

“I only got a single listen through last week. My first impression on the opening track was that they are just a U2 wannabe (the vocals really sounded like Bono to me). But the rest of the album seemed deeper and had more breadth. I can say nothing really captured me, but it did leave me feeling like, I’ve got to listen again. So really this is an undecided review, only that I think its worth a few more listens for sure. So I’m going to give it a 3.9/5 with reservations that I might like this much more as I listen more.” – Spencer

“This album turned out much better than I thought it would from the first track. Overall I feel it is very solid in terms of flow. The songs are also consistently good throughout, but I have to say overall it didn’t feel like they lived up to their talent potential here, thus the 3 stars instead of 4. But I would listen again.” 3/5 – Tim

Leave your own thoughts about either of these albums down in the comments.

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