Chicken Fried - has moved to alexvcook.com

A compendium of all my online content in one handy bloated site! You're welcome!


Lunch tonight was: Carnitas, carnne asada and pollo tacos from the place by the Harley Davidson store. Washed down with a half litre Mexican coke!

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Alex V. Cook is an author, journalist and music critic living Baton Rouge, LA. His work has appeared in The Believer, The Oxford American, DownBeat, Paste Magazine, Hails and Horns and The Wire, and his first collection of essays Darkness, Racket and Twang: Essential Listening from the Fringes of Popular and Unpopular Culture was published by Side Cartel in 2006.

He is the music editor for outsideleft.com, editor for Sweet Tooth, and a frequent contributor to 225 Magazine, OffBeat and Country Roads.

He is a founding contributor to the Badasses of Contemporary Composition blog.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Monkey in My Soul, part 1

This is the beginning of an on-going exploration and concious re-evaluation of Steely Dan.

If there was only one thing I could count on in the ever-shifting universe, it was my steadfast hatred of Steely Dan and prepetual confoundement as to what horrible tragedy woudl have to have occurred in someone's life to make them a Steely Dan fan. What was worse, I would forever run across a list of best albums by people whose tastes I respect, and they would be dead-on 7 albums in a row and then they would drop in "and any Steely Dan album" which would send me in a tailspin. I can accept a lot of things with a healthy degree of either acceptance or intellectual distance, but Steely Dan to me stood long as the worst possible music ever. Bloodless, asinine, hopelssly slick, unfunny, dated, ghastly shit that was too awkward to serve as restaurant background music.

Steely Dan is what I would serve up as "What's wrong with the 20th Century" - an embodiment of saccarine plasticity and acceptance that The Dream is dead, and we should get our bar codes tattooed on out head and eat our baloney sandwiches without complaint. So why would it be that music dorks like myself get that wry smile when the Dan is evoked - that same smile when you namedrop someone that dork had slept with, and it hit me as sexy as Bed Bath and Beyond? Had I given into the push/pull of defining oneself and fallen down the rabbit-hole? More importantly, was I missing out one somethig great out of pure stubbornness, like the people I pitied for never trying sushi?

I'd done it before with a number of things that I ended up loving, like Mark Rothko, when upon my second trip to the Rothko Chapel in houston, I took an hour and called out the spectre of the bleeding painter and challneged him to hit me, and by using the weapon of difuse light and washes of black and purple, the motherfucker did it, and it opened a new avenue in my head, an almost audible click from a door beng opened for me. I love those moments, almost more than any other moments, where you transcend yourself and get drawn in to the forbidden, get stretched by the Enemy into becoming an Ally. Being a ususally consumptive an open minded person, musically speaking, I'm up for any challenge, but Steely Dan is the rubber chicken I refused to pluck, until now.

I've made acquisition of the entire Steely Dan recorded catalog (barring some rarities, but I imagine they will come) and am dedicating a considerable portion of my leisure listening time to all things Dan and in upcoming installements will chart my progress, and determine if there is indeed a pulse in the dead horse of Steely Fandom that I have been beating for years now. I see the windmills spinning in direct mockery up ahead, so I shall pick up my lance and charge.

Men In Their 40's Have heart Attacks from TOO MUCH LOVE!


There are a lot of factors at play in my infatuation with Julian Cope: nascent unshakable Anglophilia, especially with eccentric ones; wannabe rock poet jealosy on my own part; the desire for primitive things from intelligent people (see my persistent Lou Reed obsession for further examples)

These live recordings from the 2003 Glastonbury festival reveal a dash of the Artaud-meets-Andy Kaufman-meets-Ozzy Osbourne rock-n-roll sigularity that presses my button.

Witness this bit of nutjob Al Green slobbering stage banter where he calls out a member of security:

and a fiery, bloated, feral lone-wolf howling against the apocalypse-he-started rendition of what often enters my mind as the coolest fucking rock song ever: "Upwards at 45 degrees."

and a great take on his thesis statement:
"Julian H. Cope"


and then the final ego-explosion breakdown: "Paramornal in the West Country"

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Hear Evil, See Evil, Be Evil


x-post facto: originally at http://outsideleft.com/main.php?updateID=576

Calexico - Garden Ruin (Quarterstick)
Neko Case -Fox Confessor Brings the Flood (Anti)
Carla Bozulich - Evangelista (Constellation)

To be honest, the thing that brought these three albums together in the Venn diagram of my existence was a chance co-occupation of the passenger seat of my car, where the three album covers commingled in a mix of sketchbook splendor, looking for all the world like an underground comic slowly going berserk, and should you listen to theses three very singular and very lauded skirters of the alt.country form, you get a similar picture.

Calexico, the gentlest of this triumvirate opens its sunset full of wonder ironically with “Cruel” as song that heralds an album that betrays a crime we are all guilty of: listening to too much Gram Parsons.

Just kidding, you can’t listen to enough Gram Parsons. Joey Burns has just the right vocal chops to step into the Nudie suit here, and through I do miss the old Calexico of ur-mariachi peyote daydreams this all-song non-instrumental version of the band will do. There are panoramic western numbers like “Panic Open String” delicious reverberating faux Mexican platters like “Roka” (complete with mariachi chanteuse counter-pointing Burn’s hushed croon) and “Nom de Plume” which is a mood piece that sounds like its being intoned in fake French and solar orbits like “All Systems Red” make this a spectacular background album. The thing that gets me about Calexico is that it usually doesn’t sound like foreground music, and maybe that’s because of their usual instrumental bent. This majestic album shows the band moving to the front of the stage.

Simultaneously the foxiest and busiest woman in indie rock Neko Case has delivered one of her most beguiling, weirdest albums yet. Fox Confessor is built like a dinner theatre showcase, songs delivered with Nelson Riddle tenderness and the singer in coming through strong and resplendent through a Vaseline-coated lens. I think this is what Cat Power was trying to get to in her lastest, but just didn’t have the chops to get to. Plus, the songs here are just subversive and elusive enough to captivate you once you dive below its sometimes saccharine surface. I’m not sure what exactly happened during “Star Witness” but I think it was bad. All the songs have that Julie London kind of forlorn doom looming overhead which makes Neko’s flawless Opry thunderclap of a voice all the more jarring. Like the Fox Confessor in the title, I know she’s trying to tell us something, but we might not be quick enough to grasp it. The album reaches its zenith on the brief “John saw the Numbers” interlude which opens with ghostly a capella bit and moves into a Loretta Lynn heartbreaker swing tune about John the Baptist. Its great stuff, elusive and kinda spooky, but great nonetheless.

Now, there is nothing “kinda” about Carla Bozulich’s latest album Evangelista, which rips through the screen onto which Neko case’s screen test is being projected to reveal a Wild Woman holding snakes and dead babies and handfuls of her own hair, scaring the bejeezus out of those lost in the previous’ swoon. Legendary from her antics in Ethyl Meatplow and the Geraldine Fibbers, Bozulich is emerging as one of the more interesting persons in the darker segments of the indie playground. The opening track title track has her losing her godamn marbles over a droning fiddle and percussion that sounds like death pounding on your door. Harrowing in every sense of the word.

Her sword is beaten to a plowshare on the lighter tracks like “Steal Away” and “Prince of the World” but it’s in the locust swarms of “How to be Stuck By Lightning” and the chilling “Baby, That’s The Creeps” where the gauntlet is being thrown down. Her voice shudders and croaks and shrieks like a zombie Nina Simone out for blood, always with either fiddle or an ominous organ painting all the windows black and shattering all the furntiture in this haunted house of a record. The closet I can think of is Diamada Galas’ exercises in excess, but this is a more nuanced, personal affair, and ultimately, much scarier. The cover art is a telling thing, looking at first like a charcoal sketch until research in the liner notes shows it to be an image scratched into glass, and you get thet feeling here, that even the most pastoral moments on the record are harvested out of agony.
Thank God I had these three on repeat, to that Calexico can coax me out of the dark place Carla sent me.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Crystal Meth, Death and Defining Moments

x-post facto: originally on OutsideLeft

Drive-By Truckers
A Blessing and a Curse (New West)

Full disclosure: back in January I got tapped by New West Records to write the bio for the new Drive-By Truckers album and was paid for my efforts, so I won’t pretend that this an un-biased objective review. But then I’m not big on un-biased objectivity, unless I am pricing weedeaters. When it comes to Drive-By Truckers, I am an unabashed fanboy, and the opportunity to trade emails with Patterson Hood and living in secret with this great this album filling my life for the last couple of months has been a personal highlight. Friends of mine knew that I was doing this, mostly because I would not shut up about it, and begged me for a copy, but I held it close, letting it flower on its own. The album is released today, so I'm free to let my slobbering fan flag fly.

So the word around the campfire that The World’s Greatest Rock Band has taken a step back from historical re-enactments and just penned some rock songs, and that word would be right. And maybe have written their most personal and tightest record yet. Who knows if the world has been submarketed to a degree that Coldplay is about as rock-n-roll as a million-seller will be allowed to be, but the opening track “Feb. 14” is a contender. The album is filled with the bands influences: The Replacements, Let’s Active, early R.E.M, muscle Shoals bands, John Hiatt, Credence Clearwater Revival (and its been printed that Mike Cooley, one of the three frontmen in the band is a huge Hall and Oates fan, but I don’t really hear it bubbling to the surface.

This is a record that will make you say “finally” – it’s just a great rock album, with a variety of styles and tempos, heavy numbers and sad numbers and funny ones. I hope Keith Richards picks up a copy of this record and throws it at Mick’s head, coughing “Remember when we used to make good albums like this?” Especially with the raucous account of glorious hony-tonk disaster that is “Aftermath USA” with lines like “

The car was in the carport sideways
Big dent running down the side
Never seen anything as frightening as when I took alook inside
Smell of musk of deception
Heelmarks on the roofliner
Bad music on the stereo
All the seats in recline

It’s like an AM Homes novel, except actually funny and completely plausible.

The whole album works on this trajectory, slow soulful numbers like “Goodbye” that show how to do the slow burn without going overboard, Jason Isbel’s “Daylight” which is the prettiest rock song in ages, and he soars like a southern condor on the chorus. Cooley’s songs here are tightened up as well, where as I like his weird sence of pacing in his songs in the past, “Gravity’s Gone” is a future model for country rock now that even Son Volt has abandoned it.

This record is what one would call a hit record. Every song is different, and they all rise to the occasion. I still maintain “Wednesday” is the elliptical power pop anthem Paul Westerberg forgot to write, but it’s an easy trap to compare a band that did a whole double album about Lynyrd Skynyrd as rehashing its influences. The three strains of rock from the three songwriters is stronger than ever, co-mingling and twisting like wisteria vines around the bare pergola of modern rock.

The plummeting depths of emotion and loss are scavenged on tracks like “Little Bonnie” and “Space City” where babies and grandpas respectively are torn cruelly from this world and we are left blinking in the goddamn harsh light of the unfeeling universe to figure out what’s next.

The most uplifting is the almost Johnny Cash honest sermon that is “World of Hurt” that closes the record, where the easy way out is pushed aside in favor of love and enlightenment.
This is a classic, defining-moment record. It’s a Tonight’s The Night or a Fables of the Reconstruction or a Pink Moon or The Queen is Dead or whatever letter nailed to the church door does the job for you. Go get it and quit fucking around with that stuff that isn’t the real deal.

Listen to the whole goddamn thing in glorious Flash or Quicktime! Thank you, baby online media Jesus!

Friday, April 14, 2006

My name is...My Name Is...




Nothing is more satisfying to a writer than seeing their own name in print, especially if someone else printed it, except that the thing onto which you name is printed comes up when you type your own name in Amazon.

So, behold! I feast on this divine pleasure. carefully type in http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0977684903/qid=1145063363/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/103-3439863-6559069?s=books&v=glance&n=283155 on any internet browser or just type my name in amazon and you will find my first published contributions.

From the description: The First Annual Outsideleft Hardy Annual is a handy compendium of articles from the popular website outsideleft.com. Offering esoteric pop-inspired opinion and (some might say), wit, here is a love letter to less-revered celebrities, with healthy helpings of mostly forgotten culture. The Outsideleft Hardy Annual scabrously dissects whatever the hell the likes of Jenny Holzer, Morrissey, Jonathan Ames, Daniel Johnston, Babyshambles, Wallace Berman and many more! might have been up to when our paths crossed. Music, movies, vanity and verbal violence... Featuring contributions from Joe Ambrose, Kirk Lake, Alex V. Cook and others. The First Annual Outsideleft Hardy Annual is a small book of big, fast, unruly and loose opinions. Oh and did I say, "entertaining." Entertaining yes, but not suitable for all readers. No.

Favorite Son, Two Years Running

x-post facto: orginally at outsidelft
Boris - Pink (Southern Lord)

There was time when I would latch onto a band at some point midstream in their production line and instinctually seek out all previous material. What it would mean is piles of c-90’s (I was a college DJ back then and could just tape off the whole Christan Death catalog during my show. The Circle K by my apartment wisely sold blank tapes for this very purpose) of music that would get a cursory listen, a quick scry of the song titles and the chonology so I could participate fully in the Music Minutia pissing contests and confidently emerge the pisser, not the pissee.
Now, when all band info on anything ever done is assembled online, and stuff for free everywhere if you look for it, I can’t even be bothered to scrape up time to put it on my SoulSeek queue. There is too much goddamn music coming out, and bands just don’t die off. It’s a microcosm of population explosion. I’m not calling for some draconian culling mechanism, or insisting that a band be carted off to Carousel when their double-album invariably gets realized, I’m just saying, much as I feel compelled to, I cannot keep up with, say Elf Power’s ever unfolding lotus of a catalog, with all I got else to do. Its time to play favorites amongst all your children.

Number one son right now is named Boris – a sludge/noise/garage rock/drone trio from Japan that lives up to the stereotype of Japanese appropriation of gringo culture – they do it faster, harder and more efficiently. Its an easy choice, since all other music is rendered superfluous when Boris come on. Last year, my favorite record was their re-issue of Akuma No Uta which was either 2 or 200 million years old, depending on how the pure volcanic sound of their mix of droning psychedelics and kidney-punch-heavy rock was crafted. This year they garner my favor with Pink, a slap of mindbenders that acme out last year in Japan. Outsideleft thankfully does not have a star based rating system, because I would have to inquire through opium haze emanating from this masterpiece “How many stars are there?”

They open with an anthemic atmospheric “Farewell” sounding all the world like Sigur Ros, but the mayhem at the title track that quickly follows dissipates any fears that this band has fallen down their own rabbit hole. Lightning strikes in the breakneck beats and deep dirty beats. This would be the perfect song to listen to right before you killed yourself on one of those Anime motorcycles jetting to annihilation.

Being on Southern Lord and collaborating/touring with dark magus cadre Sunn O))) has had its effect (or vice versa perhaps) based on the black hole that opens up from “Blackout” but again, they save you from the coma with “Electric” a power-punk-garage track that rocks harder in 1:15 than anything since Bad Brains' “Pay To Cum.”

Pink roams the nuclear wasteland like this throughout the rest of the record coming to a the 18-minute masterpiece “Just Abandoned Myself” kicking in the turbo from the get go and not letting up for ages. Its like “Sister Ray” with the upbeat underlying hippy groove replaced with Sonic Youth and a forlorn extended burnout. I’ve been relistening to a lot of old Sonic Youth albums lately, and this track gets to where they were trying to go on Evol and Bad Moon Rising, an emotionally heavy distorted crying jag that projects you down the dark highway of the soul with no hope of stopping. It is tremendous, beautiful stuff. There is tons in the Boris catalog I haven’t gotten to yet (like their 65 minute single track monolith Absolutego) but the strength of the two albums I have come to love, I’ll be willing to forego a lot of other things to get there.

More Like "At War With The Piss-Takes"

x-post facto: originally at outsideleft
The Flaming Lips - At War With The Mystics (Warner Bros.)

OK I don’t really hate the new Flaming Lips record, I kinda like it, but the juvenile pun was too good to pass up. And there is some truth in my cheap shot. I am one of those that will cite the Soft Bulletin and a life-changing event. I thought they were a good funky-druggy-hazy-phantaysee of a band before then, but the Soft Bulletin blew my head wide open, and has with each repeated listing about once a week for the last 8 years. Yoshimi had its work cut out for it, and while a couple of the songs hit the right mark of Pollyanna simplicity and enough excess to send wrecking balls into the Palace of Wisdom, it never really set with me. And it’s an unfair thing to judge a band on a mid career pinnacle, but I do it. Rolling Stones had its Exile on Main Street, Duran Duran its Seven and the Ragged Tiger and the faded bulletin Wayne Coyne nailed to the doors of the indie rock church still holds.

So enough surfing on this wave of nostalgia, let us take the Pink pill and get this trip started. At War ups the ante on the ping-pong loopedy do studio theatrics on the first two tracks “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song” – a mostly a capella song that sounds like Todd Rundgren given the Re-Animator treatment, and the dull Spyro Gyra “Free Radicals” – well didn’t even Beck get tired of doing this shit?

Just as I was about to reshelve this one, that nasal while and Bacharachian orchestration comes out of my speakers like a lava flow on “The Sound Of Failure/It’s Dark… Is It Always This Dark??” syncopated jazz flutes and giant minor key swoons – it’s a perfect song like “Say a Little Prayer” is. It’s epic like those sidelong Moody Blues pieces, but never quite descends into self parody like “Tuesday Afternoon” does. Just beautiful.

The dosage in that track has lingering effects in “My Cosmic Autumn rebellion” which shimmers and flickers like it’s being reflected off a mountain lake. It’s also a welcome thing that Wayne drops the nasal part and lets his voice out full throated and vulnerable. And onto the strum happy cosmic ballad “Vein of Stars” doth the river of splendor flow. The beauty of Wayne Coyne is that his lyrics are so obvious, they are massive. When he sings such fluff as “If there ain’t no heaven, maybe there ain’t no hell” I caught myself mid swoon pondering that Philosophy 101 nugget.

Our shuttle docks with the mothership at ‘The Wizard Turns On” which sounds like it was constructed from leftover parts of Heart’s “Magic Man” and serves at funky little bridge to the Goofy Part of Tonight’s Program with handclap and big synth samples and studio engineered choirs on “It Overtakes Me/The Stars Are So Big, I Am So Small… Do I Stand A Chance?” Thankfully this direction veers for the plaintive “Mr. Ambulance Driver” with a “Midnight at the Oasis” groove that totally works with his subdued vocals.

“Haven’t Got a Clue” officiates an awkward marriage of the bands swoon and old school electro beats, and “The W.A.N.D” comes on with all the subtlety of, say, Billy Squier, but veers into a Supertramp space, bringing their own sense for an infectious melody to provide the life preserver the song needs in all this soup. I dunno. I blame George Harrison for all this, bringing his buddy from ELO onto the otherwise respectable showboat of the Traveling Wilburys, just so Jeff Lynne could secretly spread the seeds of indie rock music’s demise with him. Ever since then, people have seemed a little too comfortable with synthesizers. But George is dead and I like the Flaming Lips more than the Beatles anyway, so fuck it.

The captain announces our descent as we pass through “Pompeii Am Götterdämmerung” a song that puts the orchestral indulgences marring much of this album to good effect and our landing with the piano led (and rather pleasantly Beatle-esque, goddammit) “Goin On” which is a sweet anthem for the journey (and Journey, the band, for that matter) The Flaming Lips take me on.
So OK, it’s a good album, greater than most. It has humor and pathos and texture and daring and all that, but somehow it just doesn’t grab me. I still have faith that they will make the modern answer to A Night at the Opera or even to Ziggy Stardust should they endeavor to do so, but I fear this one will be a lot like Yoshimi in that when I get halfway through it, I’ll open up the media library and click on The Soft Bulletin to really finish me off.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Greatest Washboard Solo ever Committed to Tape


And I can say this with some authority, being a Louisiana boy who has experienced many a scritchy-scratchy moment at even more sweaty outdoor zydeco concerts.

Back in January, I went to see the North Mississippi All-Stars at SoGo, and during the second blistering set (these guys don't really do it for me on record, but are stupid crazy good live, and I don't mean by usual jam standards of "sounding good when you are high" sounding good. I mean, they totally rock out, cock out and all) , Luther put down his guitar and took to the drums, while brother Cody hooked a washboard to a tangled effects pedal board and basically opened up a god's eye of racket, turning what at first seemed a brave step past "extended drum solo" in the annals of Concert Tediousness into the kind of feral cosmology I look to the Boredoms and and The Stooges and Albert Ayler for.

The whole concert is available on SoGo's media page for download (Attention bands and nite-klubs of planet Earth. Please start doing this. We will all love you long time for it) but, here is what Buddha's washbord sounds like when he makes Jimi Hendrix play it to enetrtain the troops in Purgatory :

Scritchy-schratchy-boom-the universe explodes

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Meta-criticism: Julian Cope is my Homeboy


Ultimate eccentric Englishmen, drug damaged looney, self-defined rock god and cult-icon Julian Cope may be the best music writer in the world. In an article in the Wire someone said his descriptions of Tangerine Dream in his book Krautrocksampler are so vivid and powerful that you thought them to be the four most deangerous men on the planet. Despite being a Julian worshipper and a tedious Krautrock fan as well, I've never tracked down a copy of said book, but his music reviews on his Head-Heritage website never fail to inspire the music-obsessing fuck out of me.

Rejoice in his tales of Tight Bro's From Way Back When. I can't even imagine the music is as good and stirring as his account of it is (and he has a stream available for comparison thereof) This is the kind of convulsive electrified writing to which I aspire.

Friday, April 07, 2006

It is a Sad and Beautiful World

x-post facto: http://outsideleft.com/main.php?updateID=568

Whenever I hear music that pulls from the grand old European musics, mixing horas and mazurkas and tangos in a dark and menacing cloud of texture and complexity, yet a meance and complexity that has very pricise dance moves, I am drawn back to that scene in Down By Law, when Tom Waits is sitting on a stoop doing his corny Tom waits-porkpie hat thing, and Roberto Benigni walks up and declares with a grin “It is a sad and beautiful world” from his phrase book. The story has it that when Benigni was making the film, he had an equivalent command of English that his character did, and Jim Jarmusch and John Lurie would fuck with him, telling his incorrect slang terms, so when he had to piss, he would declare proudly to the crew “Excuse-ah me, but I have to flame!”

I feel a little like Benigni confronted with the dense thicket of old scary European stylings before me, stumbling through my phrasebook for adequate terms, so please excuse-ah myself as I flame through them.


Black Ox Orkestar - Nisht Azoy (Constellation)

This set of traditional Jewish circle dance derived music from the Montreal cadre responsible for A Sliver Mt Zion and Godspeed You Black Emporer has a rich heady flavor like I wanted Matzoh balls to have the first time I ate them (I did have some at a NYC deli that showed me the light, but my first stab at them left me lukewarm and soft, just like the dish) The rich textures in the music, borne out of an impeccably recorded array of strings, guitars and clarinets swaying over some thunderclap percussion, sounds as if it was carved by one of those master craftsmen families you hear about, running a viola shop on the same cobblestone street for centuries, and then discovered gleaming in the dusty attic of your mind.

This is not the Benny Hill “Yakkety Clarinet” Hora music that erupts when Larry David or Woody Allen are spurred to action on the screen, but heavy nuanced sound. It sways and tilts like a lost ship at sea. My favorite tracks are “Az Vey Dem Tatn” where a drone of the bass and a locust swarm of mandolins fill the dark sky as the signer intones what sounds like a prediction for the end times; and “Golem” a guitar led lamentation that makes you believe it was the reason the minor Key was inveted.

The Gotan Project“Differente”(XL Recordings)

French award-winning the Gotan project make a beguiling salad out of Argentine Tango melodies, dub wise basso continuoso and club friendly beats. The singer Cristina Vilallonga, has the (probably dismissive and unfair and very-American to say) Astrid Gilberto sway to it and the music has an infections puch to it. I will concede that it has a lot of the trappings of the usual world-music-meets-club-music that is a signifier for “hip” but the Gotan has just enough weird favor that it would be too distracting to listen to while getting an overpriced haircut, but would summon the ladies to the floor to do their sultry fake tangos and sambas and whatever. And things that deliver that goal are OK in my book.


The Tango Saloon - The Tango Saloon (Ipecac)

Julian Curwin and crew seem to take a more reverent tour through the house Astor Piazzolla built (bringing the tradition of Argentine dance music to Parisian high society in the early 20th century) on the opening track, but quickly live up to the reputation of precise musicianship and rampant eclecticism that the Impecac imprint signifies, with out going into completely self-serving John Zorn territory with the material. The Tango Saloon does imbibe the devil’s dance music with some Peckinpah Western scope (in fact there are similarities between this record and Calexico’s music goulash) but its heart is still in Buenos Aries. Accordions and tasteful drumming lie comfortably with arcing horn sections an the occasional rattlesnake bite.

The album is a bit exausting for direct listening, but is perfect for social or travel ambience. Just enough things emerge above the tango waterline to keep it interesting, like the funk synth burbling through “Man With The Bongos” and the cerebral piano jabs and sax blurts in “Scusi” but its intelligent, playful variations on sexy sexy dance music that propels this delicious record forward. This, like the Black Ox Orkestar record, is the kind of music I always wish was on when I get into one of those Baltic blues swing moments when a Tom Waits record is invariably on, and he blows the mood with his busted bugle moan.