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The Coalition: Naked Movies

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Young listeners once looked to experimental instrumental music for relaxation and entertainment, but with most new releases edging ever further to the poles of outre obscurantism or hyperstructured neoclassical, modern jazz has lost considerable relevancy to the average Gen-Y music fan.

One exception to this rule has been the phenomenally successful combo of Medeski, Martin and Wood. More keg-stand than homework, MMW’s jazzy blend of jam-band rock, knob-twiddling electronics and funk-drenched flights of fancy has made them a dorm room favorite. The Coalition, a collective comprised of four of New York’s most highly pedigreed sidemen, follow closely enough in MMW’s footsteps that the former’s inspiration is baldly obvious, but it’s to the Coalition’s credit that its debut disc is much more than just copycat neofusion.

Where MMW prefer to do much of their dabbling in DJ culture, the Coalition strive for hep-cat appeal; there’s less DJ Shadow and more Esquivel. Songs like “Tuna Whiskey” and “Drum Sandwich” offer eight-minute, semi-improvised solo-free travelogues into groovy territory; mellower fare, such as the aptly titled “The Loungy One” or “Beatnik Bob,” could easily comprise the hub of a great lazy-Sunday-afternoon soundtrack.

Naked Movies has a unique, spacey head-shop style all its own: melodic and progressive enough for the average jazz-head but bopping and noodley enough to satisfy a Phish fan. The Coalition have made a great disc for uncles to pass on to college-age nephews, provided said uncles get to keep a copy for themselves.