Leo Kottke/Mike Gordon
Leo Kottke’s finger-picked guitar syncopations might approximate ragtime, if that form had been invented by tropical birds rather than by a bordello pianist named Scott Joplin; they make up about half the music on this sweet disc. Kottke cut this low-key stellar set with Phish’s Mike Gordon, whose bass lines, like his infectiously propulsive riff on “Whip,” move relentlessly forward like a helium-powered Duck Dunn to provide a near-perfect foil for Kottke’s divine picking. The coolest track is Gordon’s offbeat “Clay,” on which Kottke picks a serial riff over Gordon’s vocals, which sound like they’ve been filtered through slide-guitar noise and organ. Kottke wraps his “geese farts on a muggy day” voice around some nifty ditties, including “From Pizza Towers to Defeat,” with its Workingman’s Dead-like chorus: “It’s been five long years since you robbed the train to Chico.” Yep, chicken-skin music.