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Album Reviews Innovative, affirmative and, most of all, celebratory

MICHAL BONCZA reviews Bixiga 70’s Quebra Cabeca, Billy Shinbone’s The Billy Shinbone Show, and Jimmy Aldridge and Sid Goldsmith’s Many A Thousand

Bixiga 70
Quebra Cabeca
(Glitterbeat Records)
★★★★★ 

THE 10-PIECE Bixiga 70 were named after their Sao Paulo neighbourhood, populated by immigrants from Calabria, and the entirely instrumental Quebra Cabeca (Puzzle) is an immersive paean to the area’s multiplicity of throbbing urban sounds and vibrant multicultural spirit.

Rather then trying to produce Afrobeat, they came up with their own creation Bixiga and, while respecting the likes of Gilberto Gil, they also look up to Pedro Santos, Os Tincoas and others who aren’t as well known but of far greater significance within the core of Brazilian music.

Bixiga 70 write collectively and their work is almost symphonic at times. Awe-inspiring polyphonic arrangements are delivered with extraordinary precision and discipline, while intriguing melodic themes are furnished by unexpected horns and percussions in symbiotic combinations, energised by spine-tingling guitar riffs on an exquisite bass foundation.

It’s innovative, affirmative and, most of all, celebratory of a distinct and switched-on identity.

Billy Shinbone
The Billy Shinbone Show
(Tiny Dog Records)
★★★★★
 

BILLY SHINBONE (aka Jesse Budd), much like his soulmate Thomas Truax, is consumed by musical exploration that verges on the reckless but which results in uniquely imaginative and infectious, if entirely eclectic, take-it-or-leave-it offerings.

 You’ll be well advised to sample them if musical curiosity and adventure are what you miss in life.

Vaguely inspired by a sense of inadequacy in the company of some country and Cajun dab hands in the southern US, the somewhat damaged Shinbone embarked on this quest to restore his music ego by literally and gloriously playing all the instruments on this album himself. He’s certainly got the measure of a good rock-guitar riff.

Tracks like Mostly Cloudy Occasionally Sunny, Temptation’s Got the Good Stuff and If You Think You’ll Get Away With will, while ejecting you from all comfort zones, exhilarate. Highly recommended.

 

Jimmy Aldridge and Sid Goldsmith
Many A Thousand
(Many A Thousand Records)
★★★★★

IN THIS rich and varied collection, Aldridge and Goldsmith make frequent contemporary common cause with traditional political narratives by rejuvenating their relevance, as in Working Chap or Poachers Fate.

In Hope And Glory, nationalist delusions are castigated while the mournful A Monument to the Times is a powerful indictment of the devastation brought by the Tories to the former mining town of Shirebrook in Derbyshire, now plagued by Sports Direct warehousing on zero-hours contracts.

 Their voices, singly or in unison, impress but become a marvel when a capella, particularly on The Seasons. The slave spiritual No More Auction Block is reignited with new verses as a hauntingly beautiful anti-war protest.

Their guitar and banjo converse throughout with measured eloquence, supplemented discreetly by Tom Moore’s viola and violin, Twm Dylan’s double bass and Fred Harper’s drums and pandeiro.

Engrossing.

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