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The Wood Brothers

The Wood Brothers

Wednesday · 20th Century Theater

Long before there were the slinky Jazz stylings of Medeski Martin & Wood, there were the musical roots of the brothers Wood. Hailing from Boulder, Col., Oliver and Chris Wood both took up musical endeavors at an early age while ultimately pursuing very different paths of expression. Guitarist Oliver Wood became fascinated with the soul and passion of the Blues and relocated to Atlanta where he formed and fronted a rootsy Blues outfit that he dubbed King Johnson (named for his heroes, Freddy King and Robert Johnson). Bassist Chris Wood, in the meantime, had taken up residence in Manhattan, where his tastes ran to Free Jazz and unabashed Rock. Falling in with keyboardist John Medeski and drummer Billy Martin in the early '90s, the trio became the wildly popular Jazz/Jam trio Medeski Martin & Wood, recording over a dozen well-received albums and touring the world to wildly appreciative audiences, aligning themselves with the Jam community after opening for Phish back in 1995.

After a long separation following distinct musical directions, the brothers' early shared experiences and natural familial connection ultimately dictated that they would collaborate on a project together, which resulted in the Wood Brothers' debut album, Ways Not to Lose, produced by John Medeski and released last March. The acoustic guitar/stand-up bass duo have found a unique way to blend their singular musical pursuits into a Blues/Folk/Jazz hybrid that draws on their individual talents while skillfully and simply folding their contributions into a cohesive and magnificent whole. Ways Not to Lose is a sinewy and languid album that is dense with spiritual overtones and yet almost ethereal in its presentation, an absolutely wonderful combination of Oliver Wood's Delta sensibilities and Chris Wood's otherworldly Jazz skills as well as the undeniable chemistry that only shared DNA can provide. (Brian Baker)

Brazilian Girls with Viva La Foxx

Sunday · The Mad Hatter

The musical corollary to not judging a book by its cover is "don't judge a band's second album by their first." The latest example of this time-tested adage comes by way of Talk to La Bomb, the sophomore album from Brazilian Girls, a New York quartet featuring but one girl and no direct connection to Brazil.

The band (vocalist Sabina Sciubba, keyboardist Didi Gutman, bassist Jesse Murphy, drummer Aaron Johnston) began in NYC lounges in 2003, and their early sound was shaped by their martini bar surroundings — primarily their weekly gig at New York's Nubla — as they uniquely incorporated Europop, Reggae, Electronica, Tropicalia and House styles into a genre they dubbed Melting Pop, characterized by Sciubba's ability to sing in five different languages.

Brazilian Girls released their eponymous debut album in February of 2005, inspiring wildly positive press and necessitating widespread touring for the remainder of the year. It was during this grueling yearlong tour that Brazilian Girls began to evolve into a much more aggressive live act, a transformation evidenced by the tougher and more visceral sounds on Talk to La Bomb, released in September to the same kind of acclaim that greeted their debut. While retaining a lot of the exotic Dance rhythms and lilting melodies that defined the first album, Brazilian Girls have clearly translated their live experiences into a sound that offers a denser Rock/Pop foundation, particularly on the throbbing pulse of "Jique," the twisted Samba of "Tourist Trap" and the frenetic Neo Wave of "Problem." Elsewhere, Brazilian Girls smooth things over with the 10CC-channeling-Sergio-Mendes lilt of "Sweatshop" and the Goldfrapp-produced-by-Todd-Rundgren snap-crackle Pop of "Last Call" (actually produced and guitared by former Cars frontman Ric Ocasek). There's plenty on Talk to La Bomb to retain old fans and attract new ones, but it's in the live milieu that Brazilian Girls bring it all to a butt-shaking boil. Pack dry clothes. (BB)

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