Utne Weeder

Our favorite new books, music, and more

| January-February 2005


JAZZ:  Careless Love by Madeleine Peyroux (Rounder). This jazz chanteuse more than lives up to all the Billie Holiday comparisons with a gem of an album that simmers with seductive talent. Peyroux mines material from the finest songwriters—W.C. Handy, Hank Williams, Bob Dylan—and delivers it in an unforced and creamily mellifluous voice. — Keith Goetzman

CLASSICAL:  Yo-Yo Ma Plays Ennio Morricone (Sony Classical). Morricone’s film scores pretty much define the phrase “cinematic sweep,” and Ma, a longtime fan of the composer, traverses their emotional swells with just the right mix of reverence and fresh attitude. — K.G.

POP:  Spooked by Robyn Hitchcock (Yep Roc). In his own bent way, British singer-songwriter Hitchcock is a sweetheart, a big believer in love in all its heartbreaking glory. But don’t go thinking he’s gotten too mushy—as soon as he delivers a straight-up sentiment like “Everybody Needs Love,” he follows with a left-field ditty like “We’re Gonna Live in the Trees.” Acoustic-music stalwarts Gillian Welch and David Rawlings produced and play on this spare but striking album. — K.G.

POP:  The Great Destroyer by Low (Sub Pop). Low’s tempos have typically ranged from lethargic to narcotic, so it’s a surprise to hear the Duluth, Minnesota, trio deliver indie pop that verges on upbeat. But it’s the excellence of these songs that’s more salient; they’re full of melodic and lyrical entry points and that big, buzzing bottom end we’ve come to expect from the group. — K.G.

METAL:  Miss Machine by Dillinger Escape Plan (Relapse). With the force of an orchestra, the intensity of a garage band, and the intimacy and virtuosity of a jazz combo, Dillinger Escape Plan plays metal as brutal as it is smart. Supporting their experimental contortions with an uncompromising backbone of heavy guitar, these rogue preachers of mathcore have created soulful cacophony using an audacious blend of chaos and composition. — Brendan Themes

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