Howe Gelb, Freakwater and Appleseed Cast
Apr 10, 2006 at 10:00 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 1


Headphoneus Supremus
Nov 5, 2002
Not sure if there's any connection there except for being the three new CDs that followed me home this weekend. Any Giant Sand fans? I know markl is, but this new one from Howe Gelb is called 'Sno Angel Like You and has him paired with a Canadian choir. And it works beautifully. If Chore of Enchantment is one of your favorites like it is mine, this new one should be a big hit. The recording of Chore was a very troubled time with Calexico starting to take off and so John and Joey were beginning to leave Giant Sand behind, and Howe's best friend (and Giant Sand co-founder) Rainer Ptacek had died and he was having trouble coping with the loss, and they were having record label problems, and recording problems, and on and on, but in the end they still managed to put together a very nice album and get it finally released in 2000. Seemed like that would be the end of Giant Sand at the time since Calexico was already the bigger band, but it also seemed a fitting farewell. But they have worked together backing others and did some recording together after that. And Howe did release Cover Magazine with them and a bunch of other folks. And Howe made a new Giant Sand record a couple years ago with a different lineup that had some pretty nice stuff on it. And he still releases a ton of stuff under his own name, or as The Band Of Blacky Ranchette (btw, the last one in 2003 was really nice).

But back to the present, this one has some really stunning arrangements and great sound too. Even closes with a revisit to what coulda been Chore's title track. And reworks a couple older Giant Sand tunes in very nice new ways. And includes a version of his buddy Rainer Ptacek's "The Farm", the title track from his last recording just before he died in '97 (a very nice CD too that Howe was able to get released in 2002), along with a couple other Rainer songs. Anyway, really enjoying this one and it's very nicely done. "Howlin’ A Gale" has gotta be my song of the year. Just perfect, with the drummer from Arcade Fire really letting loose, almost primally, and Howe's howling guitar and raspy voice, played against the beautiful choir backing. Very rousing song. Almost a new genre. And not too surprising, it's also one of the highest acclaimed records of the year so far at metacritic. Very nice review at AMG along with many others you can hit from that link. Might just be the best record he's ever done, in a very long career.

Also picked up the latest from Freakwater with the Califone guys providing backup. And the latest from the midwest spacey post rockers Appleseed Cast called Peregrine. Both also seem very nice so far, but still need a lot of listening.

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