Peter Margasak, Reader staff writer, is obsessed with. . .
Peeping Tom, Boperation (Umlaut) For its second album, this Swedish-French trio expands to a quartet: saxist Pierre-Antoine Badaroux, bassist Joel Grip, and drummer Antonin Gerbal are joined by German trumpeter Axel Dörner. The tempos have cooled relative to the first record, but the band still has a blast deconstructing classic bebop using modern jazz vocabulary, retooling tunes by Fats Navarro, Herbie Nichols, Dodo Marmarosa, Elmo Hope, and others. Drummer Sven-Ake Johansson designed the cover, doing to bebop-era album art what Peeping Tom does to the music.
The Cramps, File Under Sacred Music: Early Singles 1978-1981 (Munster) This fat-free compilation is a reminder of what made the Cramps great, before they seemed to care more about their ghoulish looks than their music. Most of these records were produced in Memphis by Alex Chilton, who stripped down the band's sound to let Lux Interior's reverbed hiccup and Poison Ivy's filthy guitar dominate. Listen to all 67 minutes of this at once, and you may be willing to swear off "sophisticated" rock for the rest of your life.
The Unthanks, The Songs of Robert Wyatt and Antony & the Johnsons (Rough Trade) This British folk ensemble covered Robert Wyatt's "Sea Song" on its second album, and in December 2010 gave a concert in London—documented by this release—devoted to songs by Wyatt and Antony & the Johnsons. The orchestral arrangements are lovely, Rachel and Becky Unthank are charming and self-deprecating, and the vocals are so fantastic that they open new insights into the material—no mean feat for someone as special as Wyatt.
He asks. . .