Record Report (#16): November 16, 2006

Archie Bronson Outfit: Derdang Derdang (Domino): English post-punk, post-grunge blues rockers -- Sam Windett's vocal gruff and guitar remind me of the Animals, but there's no reason to run a covers band these days, so they write their own inferior songs and pound them hard. Don't know where the group name comes from. Life was so much simpler back in the '60s, when Animals were self-explanatory. B [rock]

Kimya Dawson: Remember That I Love You (K): She first appeared in the Moldy Peaches, a band that was considered antifolk because they took the low-tech music style and turned its lyrical concerns upside down and inside out. She was the adult half, not that you could tell. On her own she reverts even further into juvenile melodies, producing what would be a singalong album if only you could anticipate the lyrics. But you can't. B+ [folk]

The Handsome Family: Last Days of Wonder (Carrot Top): If Brett Sparks had a twang his duo with wife Rennie would probably be counted as country, but affectless voice reveals a deeper, darker history, mostly by letting the words speak. "Like four million tons of hydrogen exploding on the sun. Like the whisper of the termites building castles in the dust. You're no longer leaving foot prints. You left your wallet on the bus. Your great journey has begun." And that's just the first stanza. A- [rock]

Hazmat Modine: Bahamut (Barbès): The group these New Yorkers most remind me of is the Blasters, especially when Wade Schuman sings something hooked into the blues tradition. But whereas the Blasters were content to play American music, this group searches the world for borrowed roots, ranging from Hawaiian steel guitar to Gypsy cimbalom to an alliance with Tuvan throat singers Huun-Huur-Tu. Moreover, their core sound comes from two harmonicas on top of tuba -- a blast of hot air from everywhere, making them no less than postmodern folkies. A- [world]

Andy Fairweather Low: Sweet Soulful Music (Proper): You may have heard of Alex Chilton -- started out in the Box Tops, hitting big in 1967 with "The Letter"; founded Big Star, a legendary band immortalized in song by the Replacements; reappeared every now and then with flashes of past brilliance. Low's career is comparable but less storied -- started out with Amen Corner, a Welch pop band with hits in 1967-69; recorded three marvelous albums for A&M in the mid-'70s, then another as the Local Boys. This is his first album in over 20 years. It feels tentative, assembled from bits and pieces of blues and pop songs rearranged by a master improviser, but it may be that once again he's managed to slip just below your expectations. B+ [rock]

Spady: The Long Way Around and Other Short Stories (Post Script): Spady Brannan moved to Nashville in 1974 and built a long but unheralded career playing bass behind Crystal Gayle, Reba McEntire, and many others. But he sold the occasional song, and finally put together this smartly observed, easy rocking debut. B [country]

World Saxophone Quartet: Political Blues (Justin Time): With peace and prosperity buried by war and turmoil, the old masters have come out writing tirades. David Murray and Oliver Lake go so far as to step up to the mike, while Hamiet Bluiett recruits gospel heavyweight Carolyn Amba Hawthorne to excoriate the nation's "Amazin' Disgrace." In the first recorded understatement of his career, Murray moans that "the Republican Party is not very nice." But like most Americans, they'd still rather party than protest, so they bring their friends in. In the spirit of anger, Craig Harris weighs in on the "Bluocracy" -- Lincoln Center's, presumably, they've been on the front lines of that political struggle all their careers. Blood Ulmer offers up "Mannish Boy" -- why not? They've always struck me as uptight without bass and drums, but with a backbeat and their blood up they're champs. A [jazz]