Collapse Into Now R.E.M.
Warner

Author:
KFM

The new album from veteran proto-post-rockers R.E.M. opens and closes with assistance from that Godmother of Punk Patti Smith, who has, famously, been a lifelong influence on lead singer Michael Stipe. On those tracks, "Discoverer," and "Blue," the three remaining original members of the band with whom America finally lost its religion and put a man on the moon provide truly inspired anti-anthems that feel appropriate for our times: while "Discoverer" is a love song nostalgic for another, more romantic moment in the narrator's once adventurous life, "Blue" braids together Smith's elegiac vocals with staccato poetic ranting from Stipe and an undulating wall of distortion from Peter Buck and Mike Mills. "Blue" feels like a hymn to the past century of lunatic fringe artists, poets and musicians, and is where the albums title derives from ("the twentieth century, collapse into now") as Stipe speaks words of some untold provenience that recall, alternatingly, Allen Ginsberg's "Punk Rock Your My Big Crybaby" and James Joyce.

The rest of the album struck this reviewer as somewhat less inspired: though songs like "Überlin" and "That Someone Is You" make almost embarrassingly obvious reference to R.E.M.'s past hits, they do so in an era dominated by young musicians who were bottle-fed on "Automatic for the People" and the like: Stipe and Co. can hardly be taken to fault for inspiring an entire generation of "rock-in-quotes" as they like to say, but, nor is it the case that all they touch is gold. So much is evident when Eddie Vedder sits in on "It Happened Today," ruining a perfectly good bridge by drawing it out into a overly dramatized four-minute song. Similarly, someone managed to get electroclash diva Peaches to perform additional vocals on "ALLIGATOR_AVITOR_AUTOPILOT_ANTIMATTER" but then she only adds some background harmonies and bits of spoken word to a track that subtly suggest an interesting political subtext which Peaches, if anyone, could have brought productively to the fore.

Still, "Collapse Into Now," is a tight, cohesive package all told; undoubtedly their best offering since drummer Bill Berry left the band a decade ago, this record will delight many long time fans and, if given a chance, is likely to impress a number of folks who thought that R.E.M. was only about those video hits from the early '90s.

Editor's Note: R.E.M. represented a serious challenge to the assumptions and conventions of the Capitalist Rock n' Roll world.

Best Album of the Week

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Contagious Words John vanore & Abstract Truth
acoustical concepts

Author:
KE

John Vanore and Abstract Truth here deliver eight “contagious,” richly orchestrated, forceful pieces that vary from small big-band sound to big small band. Vanore leads the group, playing a bright, adventurous trumpet and composing most of the tracks on the album.  He solos frequently but many of the tracks feature solos by other musicians, giving the album a varied and collective feel. The album was produced by Vanore himself, and sounds incredible both at loud, booming volumes and at lower volumes.  

The tunes are modern with avant garde touches, but still quite accessible.  My taste leans toward the experimental, and I would have liked to see the songs venture further from traditional big band feel.  But if their aim is strike the medium, they do a bang up job at it  "Recess" is my favorite track because of its more dischordant, risk-taking structure.  Another highlight is “Substructure,” a piece composed in the tradition of Don Ellis, with a full ringing sound.  "Dreams" is indeed dreamy and shows the “small band” side of thr group, beginning with guitarist Greg Kettinger’s fine fretwork, then bringing in Vanore, with sparing use of the rest of the horn section.  Altogether, a highly recommended listening experience.   

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Mission Bell Amos Lee
Blue Note / EMI

Author:
KFM

"Mission Bell," the forth full length offering from Philly native Amos Lee, is an intrepid album from the much loved indie / folk / neo-soul singer/songwriter. Produced as it was by Joey Burns (of Calexico), it maintains Lee's chronicle of swoonable ballads, but, with many thanks to Burns, expands into the airy, open musical spaces of "desert noir" made popular by Calexico, Neko Case and friends.

Lee has long made wise use of offers to collaborate with fellow musicians: his last album, "Last Days at the Lodge" reads like a who's-who of the backing musicians for truly important acts. But with "Mission Bell," he is beginning to get help from the big-guns: Burns has brought in long-time friend Sam Beam (better knowns as Iron & Wine) with whom Calexico has often shared the stage in the past, but also country legends such as Lucinda Williams and Willie Nelson. The guest appearances are to great effect, going far beyond the obligitory helping-hand and proffering a compelling, timeless sound in the instance of Willie's contribution to "El Camino (reprise)."

"Mission Bell" carries the distinct sound of Joey Burns throughout, in part due to the frequent use of vibraphone that Calexico has somewhat popularized in recent years, but also with songwriting that speaks to the particular cadences and tensions of the southwest. For Lee, hoisted onto stage by rangy good looks and an angelic bluesy voice, but has sometimes failed to find an audience for his heavily soul-influenced compositions, "Mission Bell," marks the conquest of the heart of the Americana sound. By all counts it should win him many new fans as well.

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Breaking the Cycle Marbin
MoonJune

Author:
KFM

If you weren't to get past the cover art for the new Marbin release, "Breaking the Cycle," you might be led to believe that this were an arty metal band from New England, or an Emo HardCore group from the Pacific Northwest: adorned with a loose, idiosyncratic painting of a double-decker drawbridge on the the front, and a wooly mammoth on the back, it as if the band were suggesting something about the dinosaurs —relics of industry and empire— that surround us in our everyday lives.

But the musical tirade that unfurls on the accompanying CD contains little of the narrow angst that we might associate with metal and emo-core: Marbin is a progressive jazz group that is steeped in diversity of tone and breadth of feeling. Led by guitarist Dani Rabin (an Israeli immigrant to Chicago's jazz scene) and saxophonist Danny Markovitch, Marbin deploys a staggering array of twirling, undulating loops of rhythm (provided by Pat Metheny Group drummer Paul Wertico) on which Dani and Danny lay down a dialog of capable licks. The results range from dreamy (as on track 10 "The Old Silhouette") to throbbing (as on the electric blues inspired forth track "Bar Stomp").

The great moments of this record, however, are when the group is joined by Matt Davidson on airy, ephemeral vocals. Davidson, who also sings for successful indy-folk outfit The Low Anthem, provides a voice that blissfully off-sets Markovitch's sax.

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We Don't Stand A Chance AM Taxi
Virgin / EMI

Author:
KFM

This, the debut full-length from Chicago's AM Taxi, is a record that is so chalked full of influences that there's barely any room to know what the band itself might be. From the opening, Clash-inspired notes of "Dead Street," to the John Prine-gone-Power-Pop lament of closing track "Champagne Toast," AM Taxi aren't shy about their influences. Along the way they crank out heavy, accessible pop ditties that speak to their varied, cosmopolitan abilities and their hunger for fame. 

AM Taxi doesn't seem to have a clear message nor a clear direction, but they have a sparkling, distorted sound and boyish good looks and make the kind of music that makes teenage girls swoon. "We Don't Stand A Chance," might be the title of their record, but it is likely offered in jest: these young men are supremely confident of success and with good reason.

Editor's Note: They capture, as though by accident, the downright scary tale of obsessive love.

Late But Great!

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Memphis Still Got Soul Johnny Rawls
Catfood

Author:
KE

Rawls won the BMA Soul Blues Album of the Year in 2010 so it's no surprise that he delivers again a soulful, winning classic blues album. Most of the musicians on  the 10 original tracks of Memphis still got Soul are several members of The Rays, a band Rawls discovered in 1999 and subsequently produced for his own Deep South Soul Records.  The band is tight, delivering precision and soulfulness on the 10 original songs, and on the one cover “Blind, Crippled and Crazy,” a song recorded by his mentor O.V. Wright: “When I was O.V.’s band leader, that’s the song he’d come on stage to every night and it brings back a lot of memories. I always wanted to record it.”

Rawls has said his favorite track on the album is the funky, blues-driven Burning Bridges.”  And he is right that it features tight sobbing grooves.  The title track is a catchy soulful song with the feel of Curtis Mayfield.   The album doesn’t feel glossy.  Rather, it is intimate and you truly believe the musicians are enjoying themselves.  There is no doubt that Rawls is stating the facts when he sings on “My Guitar:” “Never won a Grammy never won a Handy.  When I get lonely and need some company my guitar talks to me.    

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Sin-atra Various Artists
Armoury / Eagle Rock

Author:
KFM

It's hard to put a finger on what, exactly, it is about this record that seems so patently ridiculous. Reggae bands cover old country tunes. House DJs use samples from the folk explosion, classical pianists, TV shows. Symphony quartets play the themes of the golden era of Nintendo. No less a personality than Sid Vicious even pioneered this territory way back in '78 with his showstopping version of "My Way," (a song that is conspicuously absent from this collection). So why is it such a stretch to imagine hair-metal covers of the songs of Frank Sinatra? Somehow it is just too silly to believe.

The artists and producers involved in "Sin-atra," have embraced that silliness head-on, to their immense credit.  Bob Kulick and Brett Chassen are on something of a roll with this idea: in 2008 they master-minded "We Wish You a Metal X-Mas," with the likes of Mark Slaughter, Alice Cooper, Lemmy and Dave Grohl doing head-banging versions of all the Christmas caroling classics. A number of those folks are back to belt out the songs of Old Blue Eyes backed by Kulick, Chassen and a full studio band. The effect is a tight and lean album of wanking crescendos to prop up a straight-faced joke.

Though nothing from this record is likely to make it into your everyday rotation, some of it transcends amusement and takes on a life of its own. Witness Dee Snider (of Twisted Sister) wailing to "It was a very goooooooood yearrrrrrr!" There's something so appropriately New York about former tough guys like Snider trying to show their soft sides—only to discover that the one soft spot was for the Frank Sinatra, a guy so legendarily hard that rappers and thugs all emulate him to this day.

Editor's Note: Any album that features hard rockers Dee Snider, Geff Tate and Robin Zander is a shoo-in; get them to sing Frank Sinatra songs and it's sure to be a hit.

Single of the Week: "That's Life," featuring Ganilani of Warrant

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Everytime we Say Goodbye Lisa Lindsley
Blondsongstress

Author:
KE

Lisa Lindsley's debut album Every Time We Say Goodbye, delivers top notch, direct versions of jazz vocal standards, backed by elegant performances by pianist George Mesterhazy and bassist Fred Randolf.  Lindsley’s performance is  heartfelt but relaxed.  A highlight is her bright but melancholy interpretation of  "It's Only A Paper Moon."  

Lindsley’sperformance is not overly dramatic but thoughtful and endowed with emotional intelligence as she explores what she calls   “the moments of stillness between the lines.”  The tune made famous by Billy Holiday “Don’t Explain is delivered with a sexy confidence.  This is a debut album but Lindsley is a mature woman.  A lifetime of experience, and knowingness permeates an album described by Mesterhazy as “a snapshot of love, talent, and sincerity working in perfect synchronicity.”

Single of the Week: "The Girl From Ipanema"

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Scandalous Back Joe Lewis & The Honeybears
Lost Highway / Universal

Author:
KFM

Hot DAMN! This is a serious, fun, funky, record that walks the razor's edge. Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears make music that's so pretty it could be the best of MoTown, so fuzzy it could be grind-core and so dirty it could be the real Bayou blues.

Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears have been touring, extensively, since the 2009 release of their debut album "Tell Em What Your Name Is!" And the constant playing and practicing, not to mention the rhythm of the road, have wormed their way into the band's sound. That sound, which the band has sometimes referred to as "Garage Soul," is an explosive mixture of blues, rock and soul—but the grittiest bits of all three. With a full brass section and a drummer that can't be calmed, they might slip into the emergent genre of Black Keys inspired hard-rocking blues except that they also recall the real deal of RL Burnsides' late works with Jon Spencer. That comparison is especially apt on "Mustang Ranch," when Lewis relates a seemingly true, beautifully mundane story of stopping at the infamous Nevada whorehouse with the whole band en route to a show in San Francisco. Lewis is talking and jiving but as it comes to the bridge, he launches into his characteristic wailing and moaning.

That wailing and moaning, which breaks easily from talk to falsetto shrieks, and the frenetic stage shows for which Lewis is rapidly becoming renown, also beg comparison to late '90s soul-hipsters The Make-Up. The comparison is telling in one important regard: The Make-Up, and much of what followed, made music so steeped in irony that it was hard to know when the joke had ended. Though self-conscious about their quotations and their nods to the greats, Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears aren't being ironic: they mean this shit for real.

Editor's Note: Lewis displays tons of vulnerability through the slightest inflections of the tone of his powerful voice.

Single of the Week: "You've Been Lyin' (feat. The Relatives)"

Let the Good Times Roll

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Apparition Steve Palmer Band
Arythimia

Author:
KE

The Steve Palmer Band show a real love of Classic rock and Apparition features many respectful tributes to influences like Kansas, Yes, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel and James Taylor.  The songs feel classic, short and self contained.   Steve Palmer’s vocal style is similar to the mellow cadence of Dave Mathews. 

The first  track, “Living on the Streets” is catchy and harmonic, what this classic styled band does best.  “Living a Life,” speeds up the tempo while retaining the catchiness and harmony. “Never Gonna See Her Again” features a well placed Hammond Organ and a strong R&B groove, although it includes some misplaced rap-like spoken word.   “Where did your love go”, & “Get that Right” show the passionate side of the band.  Sometimes it’s more fun than moving and it’s a toss-up whether the music is dated or faithful to the 70s and 80s.  But fans of classic rock will want to check it out and will certainly find things to enjoy. 

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Buffalo Skinners: The Asch Recordings, Vol. IV, Woody Guthrie
Smithsonian Folkways

Author:
KFM

This, the last disc of the monumental collection of Guthrie songs that are "The Asch Recordings" presents this listener with a particularly perplexing question about how we are to remember this one true hero of folk music. The question is one of "realism."

See, when Jeff Place and Guy Logsdon compiled the Asch recordings into these four discs, they made a decision to rope together all the "cowboy songs" on the last volume. In certain respects, we might call all of Guthrie's songs "cowboy songs," but these ones deal with cowboys explicitly. As a figure, the "cowboy" has taken on so much meaning and importance in America that, like the meaning of Guthrie himself, interpretation of that figure has taken on divisive political valences. And yet Guthrie was concerned with telling the real stories of everyday people; he was a patently American social realist. Does he abandon that realism to sing romantic tales of cowboys?

For the most part he does not. Woody's move, commonly, is to appropriate the figure of the cowboy (a figure that is always-already lurking over the historical horizon in a pre-modern haze) as a character in the contemporary struggles between workers and bosses. It's a brilliant move: workers have been taught to disassociate with their position in life, and instead identify with rich people. The rich, we are told, get that way through hard work and individual ingenuity. They face the bitter elements of competition like a cowboy on the range. By reminding his listeners that cowboys, too, struggle against bosses and economic oppression, and by reminding listeners that cowboys—real cowboys—still walk among us, Guthrie transforms the ultimate figure of American individualism into yet worker among workers, struggling arm-in-arm for some dignity.

There are, however, moments in which Guthrie's "realism" gives way to fanciful romance. "Pretty Boy Floyd," among the most famous of Guthrie's songs, for instance, embraces a Robin Hood mythos regarding the legendary outlaw. Surely Floyd was, in person, no more a Robin Hood than he was the brutal murderer that the bankers would have us remember. Heck, even Robin Hood probably wasn't much of a Robin Hood, right? And yet this is a myth that Guthrie holds tight to precisely for its truth telling capacity; the bankers can call Floyd a criminal, but they can't hide from Guthrie's propheticism ("some will rob you with a six-gun, some with a fountain pen...").

Editor's Note: Outlaws from Jesus Christ to Pretty Boy Floyd, from debtors and to hobos formed the misfit pantheon from which Guthrie took inspiration—and his hard but esstatic life was an act of protest and of prayer.

Single of the Week: "Pretty Boy Floyd"

Political Album of the Week

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Only Every Time The Graduate
Razor & Tie

Author:
KE

Survivors, strivers, arrivers.  The Graduate broke with the hit debut album Anhedonia, only to watch their label, Icon Mes, crumble.  They doubled their resolve and produced Only Every Time, a band that further develops the persistent, catchy, anthemic power pop.  The album definitely has popular appeal, and many of the songs formally and lyrically illustrate the theme of persistence, fear of losing control, overcoming obstacles. 

The album could be accused of trying too hard to please and inspire a general audience.   But sometimes this generality isn’t a bad thing.  The melodic, precise songs do speak to a near universal anxiety and unmooring, and include inspired touches, complex guitar riffs, anthemic fullness, Corey Warning’s strong vocals, that keep you rooting for them.

Single of the Week: "Choke"

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Light Me Up The Pretty Reckless
Interscope / UMG

Author:
KE

Ok, so I haven’t seen Gossip Girl, but I have gone through phases of addiction to both The O.C. and The Hills, both gossipy, quasi-indie teen soap operas.  I don’t think I’m the only one out there addicted to the guilty pleasure of spying on the impossibly shallow inner lives of the rich, dumb, young, sulky and beautiful.   And I have more guilty secrets to confess.  Not only are the plots of these cotton candy shows addictive, so are the quasi indie soundtracks.  There is something very deeply postmodern about the great pastiche of angst, anger, longing, heartbreak through a melee of grunge, rock, emo.

Listening to “Light Me Up” is disorienting and loopy.  It’s unclear whether you should be crying in your bedroom or having cocktails with some rich bimbo at a posh nightclub or in a Mercedes Benz commercial.  Your spirit guide through this strange journey is Gossip Girl star Taylor Momsen, whose sexual escapades and racy statements have made her the bad girl of a gossip hungry press.  It helps that she has a strong voice that moves from gritty, raspy anger to tuneful melancholy, a sliding scale between Courtney Love and Alanis Morisette.  The songs are direct and catchy, sometimes surprisingly moving and sometimes funny and lurid, as in the line: “I’m just sixteen if you know what I mean, let me take off my dress.” Or the repeating refrain “I’ll let you into the Back Door.”  So dirty!  So addictive!  What does it all mean?  Stay tuned for the next episode.  You know you want to!

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Hardore Will Never Die Mogwai
Sub Pop

Author:
KE

In the mid-nineties I thought all postrock was manna from heaven.  I remember listening to the first Tortoise album over and over, just so excited by the intricacy and attention to sound without the distraction of foregrounded vocals.  Now there has been so much innovation in the genre that it’s difficult to get ones bearings.  Mogwai has been with us all long this journey, helping to form the genre in the nineties and to define their home town Glasgow as a vital musical hub. 

Known for their noisy, visceral wall of sound, Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will is a change to a quieter, more beautiful, restrained sound.  .Some of the highlights include the song ”Rano Pano”  with its strong dynamic and hypnotic fuzzed out guitar.  “Letters to the Metro” is warm and acoustic, melancholy but soaring. The track “You’re Lionel Richie” starts out gentle and spacey, reminiscent of a Pink Floyd jam, and then builds to an epic wall of guitar sound.  So, yes, this 8th album provides strong evidence that Mogwai may someday die, but the music won’t.    

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Until Spring Wild Palms
One Little Indian

Author:
KFM

When the initial flame of new wave settled, in the mid-eighties, to a slow simmering stew of the odd bits left over from goth, glam and post-punk, there were a lot of mediocre records made that can now be respected for their praise of the quotidian. Wild Palms must have been weaned on these records, which likely played incessantly on the BBC of their childhoods. But as they grew up they got punk, and discovered the raw, grungy roots of music that too easily conformed to the synthetic conceptions of "pop" that the record execs pushed on them. 

It's that punky, grungy spirit that lends urgency and spice to their 2009 single "Over Time," which combines driving rhythm a la early Can with minimalist vocal stylings a la Ian Curtis. The song is so good that it's hard to believe it was made in this decade. 

So how is it that they abandoned all that for the wanky, droning sound of late Depeche Mode so quickly? With "Until Spring," Wild Palms' debut full length, there are precious few moments of oddity and rawness, and a great deal of the stuff the sludgy, over-cooked stuff that post-punk has too often boiled down to. As the sixth track, "Carnations," slides into the seventh, "Swirling Shards," the record gives off a nice, spacey feeling that is like playing Cure covers in the wake of MGMT. And the bouncy nihilism of "Delight In Temptation," is successful in evoking a sun that gives off no heat — as though the moment of listening to it, at a foggy bus stop maybe, might stretch on into a nuclear winter.

Editor's Note: Frank poems of regret scored and sung with haunted elegance.

Debut Album of the Week

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The Love of God Kenny Rogers
Cracker Barrel

Author:
KE

With The Love of God we have Kenny Rogers’first inspirational gospel album.  The album features 12  all-new recordings of classic hymns and gospel and contemporary songs that have touched him musically and spiritually through the years, dating back to his childhood growing up in Houston where he regularly attended church with his family.  Rogers discusses the album as an intimate endeavor:  “It seems I have a personal relationship with every song on it.  ‘In The Sweet By And By’ was my mom’s favorite song.  When I was a kid, as I was leaving to go to school, I remember hearing her sing along with that song on the radio as she did her morning ironing.  Music is by far the best ‘memory creator’ I know, and that memory is very special to me.”

Rogers, one of music’s legendary voices, has put his indelible stamp on classics like “Will The Circle Be Unbroken,” “Amazing Grace” and “In The Sweet By And By” and turned in beautifully poignant performances on more recently composed songs such as “Peace,” “Grace,” and “The Rock Of Your Love.”  In my opinion “I’ll Fly Away,” is one of the freshest, most inviting tracks, and in general the traditional songs are more successful than the more recently composed numbers. Guest artists appearing on the album include The Whites on “I’ll Fly Away,” Winfield’s Locket on “In The Sweet By And By” and Point of Grace on “Circle Of Friends.”   Of them Rogers says: “The trick to doing a good concept record is surrounding yourself with unique musicians, singers, and creative talent.”  I only wish I could listen to this album with a bucket of Kenny’s Roasters.  Whatever happened to that other delicious Kenny Rogers production?

Editor's Note: It's true that I'm not into religious music; I prefer a good dose of reality. But anybody who can pen "you gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away and know when to run..." can sing whatever he wants on Sundays.



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Take the High Road Blind Boys of Alabama
Saguaro Road

Author:
KFM

Now it would take a whole lot more than a song to bring this godless commie record reviewer to Jesus, but it's absolutely impossible not to be moved to something holy when the Blind Boys of Alabama get to singing. By most accounts, by the time the Blind Boys finished playing at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame last year, there was hardly a dry eye in the place: all those in the crowd had been moved to tears.

The 2000s have been a strange time for the Blind Boys of Alabama. With the founding members entering their 9th decade on the planet, and their 7th decade of making music together, it was surely time to slow down a bit. At the same time, they were finally beginning to be paid the respect that they are deserved. With a back-catalog as long as I am tall, and more admirers in the industry than a dog has fleas, it seemed that anything these guys belted out was granted a grammy.

Take the High Road is every bit as deserving of such praise as the previous works of this legendary group. Their incredible harmonies are backed by a top-notch studio band throughout, and are joined on tracks by the likes of Vince Gill, Willie Nelson and Hank Williams Jr. On the last track of the disc, titled, appropriately, "The Last Mile of the Way," there is a moment when the voice of Clarence Fountain, the lead vocalist and one of the few remaining founders, quivers just slightly: still at the top of his talents, his time on this earth is clearly limited. If you have the chance to witness this marvel of gospel music, take it now. If not, expect the new album out in early May.

Editor's Note: Their incredible music and lyricism are a call to consciousness.

Single of the Week: "Can You Give Me a Drink?"

SO NICE GOTTA DO IT UP TWICE! (created by the original NYC D.J., Jocko, 1955)

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Trunk Muzik Yelawolf
Ghet-o-vision / DGC

Author:
KE

No, I don’t want to hear another hip hop album about girls and cars.  And yes, I do want to hear Yela Wolf’s Trunk Muzik  no matter how much he has to say about girls and cars.  Why?  Because the man is f—ing clever and tireless.   The guy doesn’t just love cars and puntang, he works his ass off for them.  And then there’s his style, a sexy Southern Comfort Bama drawl, switching gears from reggaeton staccato to a dangerous langor, or as he claims “a mix between Outkast and Lynard Skynard.” So, yes.  Sign me  up. 

A highlight is the pyrotechnic, “Good to Go,” a speedy ode to drugs that lives up to its braggadocio.  Accompanied by Bun B., Yelawolf proves his stamina and endurance for wherever it is he’s “good to go.”  “Get the F Up” is sinister and vengeful, just how I like it.  As is “Pop the Trunk.” “I Wish” is an anthemic manifesto in which he definitely does NOT apologize for being white. “I wish you motherfuckers would, tell me I ain’t hip hop.”  Personally, I wouldn’t risk it, lest my trunk get popped. 

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Two Thousand & Eleven Sounds of Om
Om

Author:
KE

Enter Om Sound’s 2011 and enter the chill room.  The renowned Om dance label here puts out a cool mix of hot artists like Dirty Vegas, Groove Armada, Underworld, Amp Live and remix artists like Grum, Kaskade, Mike Monday, Michael Woods and more.   I heard a recent interview with Michael Stype praising dance music as a genre for its purity.  At the same time it is ecstatic, it is also functional, the listener shouldn’t be doing any old activity, but should have committed a night to dancing.  This mix will keep the floor hopping continuously and still provides a variety of textures and feels.  This is not deep pounding house but rather a light, sunny mix.  The sonic experience is a rich, warm broth.

The album kicks off with Dirty Vegas, famous for the 2002 hit “Days Go By,” delivering  up the happy soup with eighties-flavored chiaroscuro robo-dance hit “Electric Love.”  Venerable dance band Groove Armada  sports a new synth rich electro pop sound  with the killer “History.”   Amp Live provides fun, comic relief with “Gary is a Robot” a pretty hilarious and catchy electro-pop number.   Wagon Cookin’s “Come Into the Light” is a bassier retro-futuristic tune that makes you feel somehow like you’re in an eighties German dance club, and this is followed by Samantha James’ “Waves of Change,” charged with her lush heavenly voice that inspires a good six inch levitation of the dance floor.  And this uplifting feeling endures throughout the album, an injection of pure energy that makes for one happy raver!

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A Mother's Prayer Ralph Stanley
Rebel

Author:
KFM

He doesn't play his own banjo licks any more, and there'll be less and less of him on the touring circuit in coming years, but the ghostly, sweet voice of Ralph Stanley will continue to be issued on records for as long as he can be placed near a mic.

And this record, for one, suffers little for Stanley's age; on the contrary, its stated theme, of a Mother's love for her dead children, is all the more plaintive for it's apparent remoteness to his everyday experience. And yet to hear Stanley sing simply, almost unaccompanied, his current take on "Come All Ye Tenderhearted," (a song that he and his brother Carter performed regularly in the 60s and earlier), is to be drawn into an intimate and touching story that is at once familiar and distant.

The songs that Stanley and his Clinch Mountain Boys lay down on these recordings are unfailingly spiritual in nature, but this is spirituality that exceeds the capacity of Christian radio to preach. Thoughout Stanley is the embodiment of a fiercely humane Christianity, but it is at the penultimate track, "John the Revelator," that this humanity comes home to the heart. Stanley's voice, unembellished, unfurls the prophetic tale of endtimes as no one since Blind Willie Johnson has had any business doing. 

Editor's Note: Let's just call him the Godfather of Bluegrass.

Single of the Week: "Prince of Peace"

If You Like Music, You'll Love This!

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