Shotgun CD reviews are short reviews on CDs that you can usually pick up for $10 or less. For further explanation, check the FAQ
Shotgun Party – Shotgun Party (country?): I’m ashamed to admit that I had never heard of Shotgun Party before Google errantly delivered Shotgun Party’s lead singer, Jenny Parrott, to the front door of this site, but I can’t thank Google enough. Shotgun party is a Texas three piece (Upright bass, guitar, fiddle) whose style seems to sit somewhere between the old-time fun of 1930′s jazz revival bands like the Squirrel Nut Zippers and the sad, sweet, dance hall country feel of Patsy Cline.
It’s rare for me to fawn over an indy debut, but the band’s simple melodies like “Gladiola” are home-baked, auditory comfort food that stick in my ears long after the disc is over. I have almost the same love for this album that I have for the Old97′s debut, Hitchhike to Rhome, which has spent so much time in my CD player in the last decade that I’ve had to replace it at least once. Let’s hope I’m a little more careful with this disc. A-
Various – Best of Return of the DJ (dj): This was the “best of” compilation from the four disc Return of the DJ series. Rob Swift, Cut Chemist, Z-Trip, Mixmaster Mike, QBert, Kid Koala, the Invisibl Skratch Piklz, and others are showcased, making it a who’s who of 90′s turntablism. Unfortunately, because all of the tracks focus heavily on the technical at the expense of being listenable, this is the hip hop equivalent of an Yngwie Malmsteen album: You can appreciate the skill that goes in, but you don’t really want to listen to it again. The only exception on the disc is a single track by Cut Chemist, which presents five minutes of listenable skill. This disc is too hard to find and too expensive for me to recommend it to anyone who isn’t a hard core turtablism fan. C
Wes Montgomery – Fingerpickin’ (jazz): This disc has always been over my $10 soft limit, so I was lucky to get this copy as a gift. Montgomery recorded this album between 1957 and 1958 on the Blue Note label with his brothers, Buddy and Monk. Although Wes is famous for being a great jazz guitarist, you’ll be disappointed if you buy it to hear Wes’s guitar. Despite the name “Fingerpickin’”, Wes’s talents take a back seat to his brother Bud’s vibes by a large margin on this album. I’m really a sucker for good jazz vibes, which is why even though this disc seems misnamed, it still earns a place as one of my favorites. A-
Amon Amarth – The Fate of Norns (death metal): Is there anything more metal than Scandinavian death metal? What about Viking death metal? Amon Amarth is a Viking death metal band hailing out of Sweden. What are more metals thans that? All their songs center around Viking pillaging and plundering, and I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t find myself wanting to wave a broadsword from the helm of my Viking ship when listening to it. If you stripped out everything that is American death metal from Lamb of God and replaced it with everything Scandinavian, you’d have Amon Amarth. It’s much more epic than I’m used to, but it still kicks a lot of ass. B+
Cannibal Corpse – The Wretched Spawn (death metal): Released in 2004, this was the ninth studio release from Cannibal Corpse. Although I don’t think that the vocals are as guttural as when Chris Barnes was in the group, they’re still on par with other death metal bands like Lamb of God or Amon Amarth. What aren’t typical are the lyrics. I don’t think I’ve listened to lyrics that are as gory, and if the metal backing up the vocals wasn’t so good, it would seem almost comical. Because I think of vocals as more of a rhythmic instrument than as something to decipher, the lyrical content doesn’t really factor into what I think of this album. If I were a lyrics person, I might find it to be verging on silly, but as it is, it’s some excellently heavy stuff. B+