Jack Walrath and his Masters of Suspense turn to an idiom that was once among jazz's more popular, but in recent years has been almost ignored – funk/soul-jazz. Besides a decent remake of James Brown's "Get On The Good Foot," the group opens with "Anya And Liz On The Veranda" and also does Charles Mingus' "Better Get Hit In Your Soul." Walrath's trumpet and flugelhorn horn solos are always intense and occasionally exciting; only the Brown remake falters, mainly because it was a textbook funk piece and doesn't translate well to a straight instrumental setting. Otherwise, the Masters of Suspense do a good job of displaying their soul-jazz chops.
2017 release from singer/songwriter Elizabeth Ziman AKA Elizabeth The Catapult. Like many New York stories, this one starts with a landlord threatening to jack up the rent. It was a particularly frigid February when Elizabeth moved out of her apartment, which housed her beloved baby grand piano, into a small windowless room across the street, and came down with a nasty, lingering flu. Anxious and feverish, her dreams became more lucid than ever, so she started writing them down in a dream journal. Elizabeth's dream journals turned into lyrics and though she had already written dozens of songs for the follow-up to her 2014 album Like It Never Happened, she kept coming back to songs that focused on her dreams.
Once Upon a Time: The Singles collects all ten of Siouxsie and the Banshees' A-sides spanning the years 1978-1981, with four songs otherwise unavailable on LP. It's a neat and accessible encapsulation of the group's early guitar-driven sound – a frosty, dissonant art punk that had a tremendous impact on the emerging goth rock scene. Unlike similarly forbidding work by such proto-goth contemporaries as Joy Division or the Cure, the early Banshees were tense and visceral; the darkness of the Once Upon a Time singles doesn't come from a sense of downcast gloom so much as it does from a jittery angst. Yet as challenging as the music is, it's also accessible enough for eight of these singles to have charted in the British Top 50. The melodies are angular and almost alien, yes, but oddly memorable once the listener has assimilated them. Starting shortly after the period covered by this collection, Siouxsie Sioux's icy detachment would be fused with an elegant romanticism and lusher, smoother arrangements. Which means that Once Upon a Time isn't the one, definitive Banshees compilation, but it is a cohesive and essential overview of the band's edgy, influential peak.