What our critics are listening to

05:00 AM, Apr 16, 2013


ALONG COMES TANDYN. I love discovering these fascinating, lost-in-time music figures. Almer wrote The Association’s big 1966 hit “Along Comes Mary,” about the charms of smoking marijuana (he invented a bong called The Slave-Master), and was interviewed by Leonard Bernstein for Inside Pop: The Rock Revolution, a TV news series that included Frank Zappa. Then Almer slid off the map, a bipolar genius living in a basement apartment in Virginia when he died at 70 in January of heart troubles. He attended Mensa meetings and held jobs like building computer boards, and was often destitute. Hindered by stage fright, the only album he recorded was never released. This new collection of 15 excellent demos sounds like the hallucinogenic work of a guy who hung out with The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson, with whom Almer wrote “Sail On, Sailor,” and John and Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas. Interestingly, Almer’s lone survivor is a half-brother living in Rochester. — Jeff Spevak


HOTEL CALIFORNIA. It’s funny how things change. Once upon a time the West Coast rap sound, one I shunned for ages, was dominated by gritty tales from the gang-filled hood with harsh beats to match. Compton-born Tyga, however, is from the new school and his slickly produced beats complements his lyrics which are light on the gangsta and heavy on the player. You know, a player who likes to party, make his money and juggle his women. I first took notice of Tyga when I heard his 2011 club song “Rack City.” He keeps the party-goers happy with the uptempo “Dope,” which incorporates a loop from Dr. Dre’s classic “Deep Cover.” He slows it down, and offers a little something for the ladies in the R&B-infused “For the Road.” He ups the bravado and talk of the high life in “Palm Trees.” Tyga’s found his niche — club bangers with a little something for both genders. — Sheila Rayam


BREAKTHROUGH. After years as a wunderkind, traveling with only his first name, Eldar recently reclaimed his last name of Russian heritage, and continues to improve his awesome chops, while still only 26 years of age. This new album, for example, is a stunning showcase of (mostly) trio jazz, with incredible improvisational runs at breath-out tempos, rich harmonics, and impressive shifts of sound dynamics. The music includes offbeat arrangements of evergreens like Irving Berlin’s “What’ll I Do” and a handful of great originals, including a rip-roaring track with Chris Potter on sax, and the rousing “Blink,” with former Rochesterian Joe Locke, matching the fast-paced pianist with his vibes. — Jack Garner