Mark Saleski's take on this CD is worth a read, if you are in need of a second opinion.
Blackfield Blackfield II
A lot of hay has been made of Porcupine Tree's 2007 release Fear Of A Blank Planet, and yes, I've joined in the fray. It's a solid effort from a band that hadn't stumbled much to begin with. But PT's leader Steve Wilson is just too talented to stand pat with Fear being his only contribution for this year. For the second time in about as many years, he's gotten together with Israeli singer/songwriter Aviv Geffen to collaborate on a more mellow, mainstream sounding album than Wilson's prog rock alter ego.
The incredible thing is that "more mainstream" didn't mean any real drop off in artistic quality. The songs have distinguishable melodic lines that contains just enough turns and surprises to keep you continuously engaged. The production is meticulously Pink Floydian, the vocals are superb and the choruses just soar. It's really as close to a flawless mainline rock record you will find that's come out this year.
For a fuller review of Blackfield II, go get the whole story from Glen Boyd's well-written article on this fine release.
Josh Roseman New Constellations
I remember trombone player Josh Roseman from his notable appearance on my favorite Charlie Hunter album. He had a certain sass in his sound that stood out and made me think he wasn't content with being a run-of-the-mill bone player. But that thought never got much further until I got a chance to check out Roseman's own newest release.
It's a live recording of a bone player-led band mixing up jazz with high-tech electronic tricks and mish-mashing other kinds of music (here, it's reggae, avante garde and live dub). Sound familiar? Think of an island-oriented take on Robin Eubanks' excellent Live, Vol. 1. A wonderfully abstract "Olsen Twins Subpoena" and two mixes of a cover of the Beatles' "I Should Have Known Better" turned on its head are among many highlights.