Various Artists, Iron Kim Style, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Jim Cooper with Ira Sullivan, Laurie McClain, Neon Trees, Clyde McPhatter, Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, Whitechapel, Various Artists, Taddy Porter, Woom, Various Artists, Holy Fuck, Jason Derulo, Shaman's Harvest, Robert Earl Keen, Shout Sister Shout, Grady Champion, Various Artists, V.V. Brown
ALBUM OF THE WEEK
Lynyrd Skynyrd "Live From Freedom Hall CD/DVD SET," Loud-Proud/Roadrunner
THE HIGH FIVE!!
- Day Of Fire "Losing All," Razor & Tie
- Rich McCulley "Starting All Over Again," Self-Released
- The Sounds "Crossing The Rubicon," Arnioki/Original Signal/Universal
- Cody McCarver "Self-Titled," PLC/E1
- Nick Cave & Warren Ellis "White Lunar," Mute
An album full of musicals, completely devoid of any story to relate to. Not sound interesting? How about Bette Midler, Chaka Khan, Danny O'Keefe, Carly Simon, or Hall & Oates? All My Friends Are Here comes as a bit of a surprise - rather than the rehashed compilations we're bored to death with, producer/genius Arif Mardin goes back to his artist's roots and composes tracks for some of his oldest and most acclaimed musicians. Heavily produced amalgamation of jazz, soul, rock, and even a little bit of country, the album comes as a no-brainer for those looking for something of a higher caliber.
EDITOR'S NOTE: THE VILLAGE VANGAURD IS A UNIQUE, TINY JAZZ CLUB IN GREENWICH VILLAGE, BUT NO TOURIST OR VILLAGE FREAK EVER GOES THERE, IT IS SO WELL HIDDEN. ONLY JAZZ FREAKS, LEGEND FREAKS AND REAL NEW YORKERS KNOW OF THE VILLAGE VANGAURD. THAT MS. STREISAND SANG AT THE VANGAURD IS EXTRAORDINARILY UNIQUE. THIS 47-YEAR VETERAN OF THE CITY STREETS IS PLEASED AS HELL.Barbra STREISAND'S STATUS AS ONE OF THE MOST SUCCESSFUL SINGERS OF OUR GENERATION IS ALL THE MORE REMARKABLE NOT ONLY BECAUSE HER POPULARITY HAS BEEN ACHEIVED IN THE FACE OF A DOMINANT MUSIC TREND - ROCK AND ROLL - THAT SHE DID NOT FOLLOW, BUT ALSO BECAUSE, DESPITE AN AMAZING SINGING VOICE THAT ENTHRALLED PRACTICALLY EVERYONE WHO HAS HEARD IT, SHE HAS ALWAYS USED SINGING AS A STEPPING STONE TO OTHER CAREERS. SHE IS A TRUE HERO.
Funky jazz fusion that sits squarely between porn-groove and drug-induced acid trips. Momentary freak outs of thick chaos come in and out, giving Iron Kim Style almost a doom-metal feel, but overall tends to stay in the realm of the familiar. A bit experimental, sure, but Iron Kim Style creates a blend that isn't so hard to digest as the next John Zorn record.
Even in this instance, I don't think yelling "play Free Bird" is appropriate. The band has forever left a sour taste in my mouth with this concert faux pax, which Skynyrd ever so innocently indoctrinated into the hearts of 40-year-old men everywhere. Live From Freedom Hall combines what you would hope for from a live Skynyrd record: high energy American rock like no other has done quiet like it. High-end live recording, with little of the pointless stage banter that never ceases to annoy CD listeners. All of their hits are on here - including "Free Bird" - and, with a live DVD of the concert, what more could you ask for?
EDITOR'S NOTE: if the allman brothers invented southern rock, then lynyrd skynyrd perfected it as the 1970 decade wore on. these shaggy guitar troopers from jacksonville really aren't pure rednecks or wasted all-night jammers of popular description. lynyrd skynyrd has boiled down its regional influences--blues, country, soul--into a heady, crippling homebrew. they like to play; those three lead guitars aren't just for show. and let's face it, "free bird" climbs to dizzying heights.
Percussion heavy jazz with strong elements of Monk thrown in. Jim Cooper, with Ira Sullivan's assistance on brass and woodwinds, makes a record that is simultaneously smooth and interesting. A rare combination, but that's usually what comes out of a bit of Monk inspiration. Nothing short of free-flowing expert performances on Nutville. Comes highly recommended.
EDITOR'S NOTE: AN EXTREMELY HILARIOUS SINGER/SONGWRITER WHO WAS COVERED BY EVERYONE FROM JOHNNY CASH TO LORETTA LYNN TO LUCINDA WILLIAMS TO NANCY GRIFFITH. NEXT TIME, THERE WILL BE A REALEASE OF HIS OWN MUSIC AS SUNG BY THE LATE, GREAT MR. SILVERSTEIN.
Amazing pop-folk music from Laurie McClain. Beautifully crafted songs - you know, pop music with hooks - that continues with you even after the album is done. McClain takes the obvious spotlight on this recording, with her finger picked melodies in the foreground, overshadowing the pop-accompaniment that layers the entire album.
Heavy on the digital effects and easy on the ears, Neon Trees spark a brand of indie rock that is disgustingly popular but rarely done right. Neon Trees write rock-based songs with sass, groove, and melodies that, while not catchy in the traditional sense, still manages to get caught in your head. With a debut album this good, I can only imagine where their future will lead.
1950's rock and roll exactly how it should sound. Think before Elvis, before cultural appropriation, when the style was still considered demonic and evil. While I couldn't imagine this being the devil's forte, it is some of the best music of the twentieth century. Soulful and intriguing, there is nothing like two CD's full of heartbreak to really pick you up in the morning.
EDITOR'S NOTE: for those who loved his lead vocals with the drifters his solo career is a case of an extraordinary artist that made mediocre music spectacular. his high, quavering tenor was a most expressive instrument, and his control of vocal dynamics revealed a singer with a deep sensitivity. and like sam cooke, he knew how to keep his fans totally satisfied.
While certainly no Bad Seeds, Nick Cave and Warren Ellis create some of the most beautiful contemporary film scores, taking on the burden that Danny Elfman left behind. Together, their work takes on a solemn, hypnotic feel: heavy on the repetition with soft spots for strings and organs. If you liked the movie, the score is just icing on the cake.
EDITOR'S NOTE: MARK IS THE ONLY ARTIST I KNOW WHO WOULD HAVE THE NERVE AND THE SKILL TO SING SONGS THAT WERE ORIGINALLY CLASSICS FOR ARTISTS LIKE WILLIE NELSON, KRIS KRISTOFFERSON, WAYLAND JENNINGS, ETC. THE MAN IS A REAL HONKY-TONKER WHO PARLAYED A SOLID GROUNDING IN CLASSIC COUNTRY INTO CHART-TOPPING STARDOM. THAT HE'S BEEN DROPPED BY MAJOR LABELS SHOWS YOU WHERE OUR PROFIT-ORIENTED SYSTEM IS FUCKED UP. THE MAN HAS ALWAYS HAD A TRUE TEXAS VOICE THAT CONTAINS BOTH THE KNACK FOR HUMOR AND THE DEPTH FOR HEARTACHE. I'LL DRINK TO YOU TONIGHT.
Occasionally contemporary tech-metal resonates the intensity that death metal reached in the late '90s. Whitechapel is a forerunner of this movement, with A New Era of Corruption grasping for footholds on their new heights of emotion. Moments are a bit goofy (classical acoustic guitar breakdowns, when not played by Cephalic Carnage, need to be ditched), but overall, the album carries a drive through and through that takes it a step above the rest. Heavy, relentless, and endless breakdowns, the riffing of this album will tear your faceoff.
EDITOR'S NOTE: FOR A LONG TIME, THE SCORPIONS WERE VERY POPULAR IN EUROPE AND UNKNOWN IN THE USA BECAUSE THEIR LABEL WOULD FORK OVER THE BUCKS FOR A SERIOUS TOUR. WHEN THAT CHANGED, THEY ROARED FORTH WITH A FULLY FINISHED SOUND, HONED AND POLISHED BY THE BAND AND ITS LONG TIME PRODUCER. THEIR SOUND WAS SLICK, MIXING CRUNCH AND MELODY IN A RECIPE FOR THE RAGING ROCKERS THAT THEY STILL ARE.
Putumayo again brings us some of the tracks from non-American genres. Latin Party puts forth groovy and upbeat songs of love, heartbreak, and just straightforward partying. Most of the record is in Spanish, and all of it is fun and foreign to most of us who listen to the radio. If you like Putumayo, or just want something new, this record is for you.
EDITOR'S NOTE: SINGER-SONGWRITER JIM LAUDERDALE HELPED LAY OUT THE BLUEPRINT FOR THE AMERICANA MOVEMENT EARNING HIGH CRITICAL MARKS FOR ECLECTIC SERIES OF ALBUMS THAT SPANNED HARD COUNTRY, SLICK POP, ROOTSY ROCK AND ROLL, BLUES, FOLK, R&B AND BLUEGRASS. HE WAS ALSO RECORDED BY SUPERSTARS LIKE GEORGE STRAIT, VINCE GILL AND GEORGE JONES AMONG MANY OTHERS. COMMERCIALLY, THE MAN HAS TOO MUCH INTEGRITY FOR HIS OWN GOOD, BUT CRITICALLY, LAUDERDALE IS AS INTERESTING AND HEARTFELT AS IT GETS.
Taddy Porter plays a by-the-numbers southern rock, but still: if you play an phenomenal genre to a T, you are still playing phenomenal music. Heavy, catchy, and weed-induced, this album will make you wish you didn't chop your hair off in the '80s.
EDITOR'S NOTE: YOURS TRUELY FIRST MET HER IN THE 1980S, WHEN HER FIRST ALBUM CAME OUT. I'VE NEVER STOPPED DANCING TO THE GREAT MUSIC MELISSA HAS PLAYED. SHE IS A TRUE HARD-ROCK IDOL SUITED TO A BIG, BLUESY VOICE, BUT ALSO A SUBJECT - SEXUAL DESIRE - TO WHICH EVERYONE CAN RELATE. SHE HAS NEVER LOST ANY OF HER BITE.
Wonderfully interesting and haunting lo-fi pop music from Woom. Think Xiu Xiu with a country backbone. At times noisey, at times just straightforward fun pop music, Muu's Way is, if nothing else, something original. Dual male-female vocals are my weakness, continually racking this record points in my book. While the album meanders a bit at times, it makes up for it with interesting sounds and no clear direction of where it will go next. Highly recommended to any of those in the indie-pop mood.
EDITOR'S NOTE: WELCH'S SONGS SPRAWL OUT LIKE GREAT, OPEN FLATLANDS, MAKING ELEMENTS OF FOLK, COUNTRY AND ROCK IN A CAPTIVATING WAY. WELCH HIMSELF- -HALF SINGING, HALF SPEAKING SONGS--COMES OFF AS A CROSS BETWEEN A RENEGADE STORY TELLER AND A HEARTLAND ROMANTIC.
This is exactly what it sounds like. A combination of Guthrie, Cisco Houston, The Weavers, Odetta, and a few others playing some of the greatest songs ever written. Different recording qualities, which is a bit annoying, but when the songs are this good, you have to overlook the little things. The most soulful and emotionally intense music ever written, The Greatest Songs of Woody Guthrie is a must have for everyone.
EDITOR'S NOTE: weathered, lean and kindly, woody guthrie's face is the face of american folk music. this astonishingly prolific composer is to the gritty, acoustic, leftist storyteller as what louis armstrong is to jazz and elvis is to rock and roll--the godfather.
Now this is something special. Holy Fuck, most aptly named, focuses themselves not just in creating marketable melodies or an image that will sell T-shirts, but in actually making interesting music. While it's hard to imagine anyone doing that in this day and age, Holy Fuck creates textures from loops and programming, incorporating laptops and pedals to make something between drone and IDM. Holy Fuck are intense, to say the least. Latin is thus far one of the best albums of the year.
EDITOR'S NOTE: WIDESPREAD PANIC IS ONE OF THE FINEST LIVE JAM BANDS AROUND. SINCE ITS RAW BEGINNINGS DURING THE EARLY 1980S, THE GROUP HAS TOURED INCESSANTLY GATHERING ONE OF THE MOST DEVOTED FAN BASES OF ANY BAND AROUND.
While nothing original, Jason Derulo hits my soft-spot with pop-infused electro-r&b, not completely unlike Black Eyed Peas' The E.N.D. Endless pleading for (any) women's affection, Derulo's womanizing is matched only by his knack for writing endlessly catchy chorus-hooks. As a debut album, the only direction for Derulo is up.
Possibly some of the worst song writing I have ever heard. Nauseatingly bad vocal melodies ala Creed mixed with Puddle of Mudd or whatever bad nu-metal act was blooming when Shaman's Harvest first discovered pirating music. Couldn't get myself past the second song.
Singer/songwriter styled country music, with a sold Texan flair. Heartfelt songs about the only thing the genre sings about, while remaining intensely personal. Not too heavy on the honky tonk, The Rose Hotel is a real treat for anyone in the mood for some new emotionally-driven tunes.
EDITOR'S NOTE: singer/songwriter robert earl keen has a tremendous following outside of his home state of texas. he is best known for his beer-friendly live shows and remarkable anthems and the white-trash yuletide classic "merry christmas from the family" . closer attention reveals a writer with a novelist's eye for character and narrative detail and a sharp ear for catchy melodies.
Recreating jazz standards of the '30s and '40s, Shout Sister Shout is as amazing as anyone could hope for. Low energy, sure, but with music that sounds this good, who cares? Beautiful female vocals overlay the entire package, and with not a single moment of downtime, this album is a hit for all ages.
EDITOR'S NOTE: AS THE REAL HALF OF THE JUDDS, WYNONNA IS ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR AND SOULFUL FEMALE COUNTRY ARTISTS EVER. JUDD HAS DEMONSTRATED AN ECLECTICISM THAT INCREASINGLY CONFOUNDS HARDCORE COUNTRY FANS AND RADIO PROGRAMMERS, BUT ALSO IT HELPS HER RETAIN A CORE OF ADMIRING FOLLOWERS. I'M DEFINITELY PART OF THAT CORE.
Live blues, exactly like you've heard before. By the numbers soulful blues, complete with endless songs about the Blues. Live at the 930 Blues CafÇ is as straightforward as you can get, but if you like this timeless genre, you really can't complain when someone just does it to a T.
Compiling some of the most impressive names in blues on one disc, Eagle Records brings us This Is The Blues Volume One. While everything is a bit too high fidelity for my tastes, this record's stadium-sized lead lines make it undeniable that this album's got soul. Included on this disc are Jeff Beck, Savory Brown, Mick Taylor, Ray Gomez, Paul Jones, and Chris Jagger.
Somewhere between the Mouseketeers and electro-soul, V.V. Brown coalesces a mess of genres to create a Frankenstein of pop music. To be honest, I can't complain: while most who try to mash up genres fail like the first Wright flying machine, Traveling Like The Light loses all the pretension that those albums attempt for straight-forward fun. Over the top pop beats, catchy hooks, and a retro feel that doesn't feel over contrived, this album is damn near perfect.
EDITOR'S NOTE: ONLY AFTER RELOCATING TO BROOKLYN DID COMMON BEGIN HIS MOST ARTISTICALLY FERTILE PERIOD. THE ANTI-GANGSTA RAPPER HAS A MONUMENTAL PROFILE THESE DAYS. HE'S DOCUMENTED HIP-HOP'S CREATIVE DECLINE BUT ON THE OTHER HAND, HE HAS CREATED A HYPNOTIC TURN INTO THE NEW HIP-HOP DIRECTION OF TODAY OF REALITY.
POLITICAL SONG OF THE WEEK
Song: "Mack The Bomb"
Words by: Nancy Schimmel
Music by: Kurt Weill
Oh, the shark has pretty teeth, dear, and he shows them pearly white
And the AEC has figures but it keeps them out of sight.
When the shark bites with his teeth, dear, scarlet billows start to spread
Strontium 90 shows no color, but it leaves you just as dead.
Strontium 90 leaves no clue, dear, it's not like thalidomide
If the baby is deformed, dear, you just blame the other side.
Strontium 90 leaves no trace, dear, no one knows who gets the knife
You can always say that back- ground radiation took the life.
In your milk on Monday morning comes an extra little kick
Well, the taste is just the same, dear, but the geiger counters click.
Oh, the shark has pretty teeth, dear, and he shows them pearly white
And the AEC has figures but they keep them out of sight.