Drummer Ivar Loe Bjørnstad brings a wonderful post-John Bonham buoyancy to the heaviest of rhythms, turning every beefy tom stroke into floor-rumbling bomb without ever sounding leaden or graceless, and bassist Ellen Brekken—who plays both upright and electric—locks in with him masterfully, giving Mollestad the deepest, coziest, and most deafening pocket anyone could ask for. On "Achilles" or the brief "Shawshank" you can hear the guitarist's obvious jazz roots, with shades of Bill Frisell and John Scofield—albeit darkened, scuffed-up ones—emerging from her patient lines and tone, which can somehow erase the distance between meaty and ethereal. But more often the trio rides monster unison riffing, settles into some mad vibe and then lets its talented guitarist go to work. Most of her solos sound like lost gems from the classic hard rock canon but her jazz chops give her a stunning rhythmic fluency, melodic sophistication, and quiet harmonic splendor usually missing from hard rock.
Dick Katz, Piano & Pen (Atlantic, Japan)
Alvarius B., Baroque Primitiva (Abduction)
Elephant9, Live at the BBC (Rune Grammofon)
Armstrong Twins, Mandolin Boogie (Arhoolie)
Frank Sinatra and Count Basie, The Complete Reprise Studio Recordings (Concord)