Posts tagged with "Jan/Feb 2010"

Crosby, Stills & Nash

Crosby, Stills & Nash
Photographer Henry Diltz and the members of Crosby, Stills & Nash were driving around West Los Angeles looking for an interesting shoot locale when Graham Nash remembered recently noticing a funky old building on Palm Avenue. After finding the location—and no one around to ask for permission—the trio sat on a couch on the porch, singing, talking and laughing as Diltz snapped away. Two days later the group decided that a straight-faced shot... 

Angie Stone

Angie Stone
ANGIE STONE A soul songstress’ new music embraces her past and the present Angie Stone’s latest album, Unexpected, lives up to its title. She departs from the bread-and-butter traditional soul that has characterized her career over the last decade, returning to the flavor of her pre-solo groups: the ’80s funky hip-hop of the Sequence and the ’90s dance and R&B of Vertical Hold. “I stepped out of the norm of singing songs that cater to... 

John Fogerty

John Fogerty
John Fogerty The legendary rocker returns to his childhood influences When Creedence Clearwater Revival split in 1973, lead singer and songwriter John Fogerty was determined that his first solo album would succeed or fail on its own merits rather than his famous name. So he invented the Blue Ridge Rangers. “It was a personal, ethical, moral issue,” he recalls. “I didn’t want to trade on that popularity. It’s probably suicide for a career,... 

Al Schmitt

Al Schmitt
Al Schmitt Five decades of sterling productions and still going strong “Legendary” is a term that is often bandied about too freely. But what other word could you use to describe a man whose first recording session was for the Duke Ellington Orchestra and whose work continues to dominate the charts to this very day? After more than five decades behind the board, Al Schmitt is universally acknowledged as one of the absolute masters of his trade.... 

Pat Metheny

Pat Metheny
PAT METHENY The jazz guitarist’s new instrument might look funny—but it’s no joke No other jazz guitarist of the past four decades has done as much as Pat Metheny to broaden the definition of the instrument and expand its possibilities. Metheny reached out to listeners outside of the jazz mainstream with early releases like 1975’s Bright Size Life and 1980’s As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls, and he’s maintained a huge audience... 

Little Steven Van Zandt

Little Steven Van Zandt
LITTLE STEVEN VAN ZANDT Bruce Springsteen’s right-hand man is on a rockin’ crusade Little Steven Van Zandt has diagnosed America’s ills—and he has the prescription. “We have no great art to replenish ourselves,” he says. “Art is not a luxury. We’re the only country in the world that thinks art is a luxury! There’s no spiritual nourishment going on right now. That comes from great art.” Van Zandt is doing his part to get great art... 

Steve Wariner

Steve Wariner
STEVE WARINER Paying tribute to friend and mentor Chet Atkins If anyone is qualified to pay tribute to late guitar giant Chet Atkins, it’s country singer, songwriter and guitarist Steve Wariner. Atkins took Wariner under his wing in the late 1970s, welcoming him into his touring band as bass player, and signing the young artist to RCA Records in his capacity as an executive and producer. Wariner’s new album, My Tribute to Chet Atkins, finds him... 

OK GO

OK GO
OK GO Here they come again, sounding more like themselves than ever Dan Konopka, Damian Kulash, Tim Nordwind, Andy Ross It was time for OK Go to get off the treadmill, literally and figuratively. The Grammy-winning video for the 2006 power-pop gem “Here It Goes Again,” which featured the foursome performing a wildly entertaining synchronized routine on treadmills, drew the kind of online traffic usually reserved for piano-playing cats. It’s... 

Freedy Johnston

Freedy Johnston
FREEDY JOHNSTON After eight years, he’s back thanks to some discipline in the studio Freedy Johnston didn’t mean to spend eight years between albums. “I tried to make it a couple times on my own, and it didn’t work out for various reasons,” says the singer-songwriter. He discovered the key to his new Rain on the City album when he brought in producer Richard McLaurin as his collaborator. “You learn some lessons and go down one hallway,... 

Midlake

Midlake
MIDLAKE Slow and steady wins the race for this indie breakout band McKenzie Smith, Eric Pulido, Eric Nichelson, Tim Smith, Paul Alexander After exploring classic-rock influences like Fleetwood Mac and Crosby, Stills & Nash on their breakthrough album, 2006’s The Trials of Van Occupanther, the members of Midlake wanted a new direction. They found it in the folk-based tradition of vintage British acts such as Steeleye Span and Fairport Convention—then... 

Lady Antebellum

Lady Antebellum
Dave Haywood, Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley LADY ANTEBELLUM The hit country trio takes control of its own chemistry “If we could combine all our talent into one person, we’d be one hell of a good songwriter,” jokes Charles Kelley, one-third of the Grammy-nominated country trio Lady Antebellum. Kelley and bandmates Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood are doing just fine as it is. After finding fame with 2007’s platinum-certified... 

Medeski Martin & Wood

Medeski Martin & Wood
Billy Martin, Chris Wood, John Medeski MEDESKI MARTIN & WOOD Improvisation is key—just don’t call ’em a jam band In late 2008, jazz-rock trio Medeski Martin & Wood pondered ways to inspire themselves to write new material. They found that inspiration in the animal kingdom. “There’s a bird, a certain canary, that comes up with a new song every year, which it never repeats in its lifetime,” explains keyboardist John... 

Juliana Hatfield

Juliana Hatfield
JULIANA HATFIELD Alt-rocker strips down old school—and finds peace Juliana Hatfield’s 2008 album How to Walk Away was a polished effort, recorded in a New York City studio over a long time with a large cast of musicians. For her latest, Peace and Love, she elected to take precisely the opposite tack. “This time I wanted to be alone,” she says. “I wanted to see what would come out of me with no one else involved.” Writing and recording... 

Omarion

Omarion
OMARION Think you know this smooth R&B star? Think again Forget what you might have heard about R&B artist Omarion. “I think people misconstrue who I am a lot of the time,” he says. “I blame it on the illusion of the game. You might think Omarion is going out to the club, partying and having an orgy with 10 women. If a rumor came out like that, people might believe it. I felt like I really wanted to share more of who I am through my... 

THE VOYCES + Let Me Die in Southern California

THE VOYCES + Let Me Die in Southern California
THE VOYCES Let Me Die in Southern California thevoyces.net The psychedelic spelling doesn’t detract from the meaning behind the band’s moniker, specifically the gentle cooing harmonies that grace these evocative offerings. Aptly, Let Me Die in Southern California finds the Voyces parceling out breezy soft rock and a quiet contemplation ideally suited to Pacific coast environs. Bucolic sentiments, graceful melodies and a gentle lilt prevail throughout.  Read More →

VARIOUS ARTISTS + Celebrating the Music of Lowen & Navarro: Keep the Light Alive

VARIOUS ARTISTS + Celebrating the Music of Lowen  & Navarro: Keep the Light Alive
VARIOUS ARTISTS Celebrating the Music of Lowen & Navarro: Keep the Light Alive aixrecords.com Lowen & Navarro might have been heir apparent to Simon & Garfunkel, Loggins & Messina or The Everly Brothers had the duo ever found its way to the music industry mainstream. Sadly, it took Eric Lowen’s battle with ALS to earn this well-deserved tribute, featuring big-name acts like Jackson Browne, the Bangles and Keb’ Mo’ among others.... 

STONEHONEY + Songs From a Hillside Living Room

STONEHONEY + Songs From a Hillside  Living Room
STONEHONEY Songs From a Hillside Living Room stonehoney.com Stonehoney draws from country-rock influences like Poco, The Flying Burrito Brothers and the Eagles. Armed with blazing guitars, an appropriate dapple of pedal steel and sweeping harmonies, the group turns such songs as “Two Years Down,” “Cry Baby Cry” and “Melinda” into jubilant anthems that grab notice on first encounter. With each member of the quintet contributing to the... 

ROBERT POLLARD + We All Got Out of the Army

ROBERT POLLARD + We All Got Out of the Army
ROBERT POLLARD We All Got Out of the Army robertpollard.net For his latest, former Guided By Voices leader Robert Pollard sets aside aliases such as Circus Devils, Airport 5 and Go Back Snowball to operate under his own moniker. That said, the man’s so prolific that the multiple monikers are a necessity if anyone wants to keep some sort of order. The Ohio native’s latest finds him busy as ever, cranking out 17 tracks of angular, edgy pop whose... 

ELLIS PAUL + The Day After Everything Changed

ELLIS PAUL + The Day After Everything Changed
ELLIS PAUL The Day After Everything Changed ellispaul.com After spending the majority of his recording career on Rounder Records, Ellis Paul turned to fans for the financing of his latest project—and he has rewarded their investment with his most accomplished album yet. Assisted by an adept backing band, he shifts effortlessly from breathless ballads (“Once Upon a Summertime,” “Dragonfly”) to steadfast rockers (“Walking After Midnight”)... 

PETER LACEY + Behind the Scenes

PETER LACEY + Behind the Scenes
PETER LACEY Behind the Scenes pinkhedgehog.com British journeyman and veritable one-man symphony Peter Lacey made his mark with immaculate chamber pop, but he’s lately expanded his parameters with two new albums. South Downs Way, a collaboration with Stephen J. Kalinich, found him exploring pastoral reflection and rugged folk narratives. Now Behind the Scenes spotlights charmingly whimsical designs in ways regal and retro, using elaborate orchestral... 

THE KAISER CARTEL + Rock Island

THE KAISER CARTEL + Rock Island
THE KAISER CARTEL Rock Island myspace.com/kaisercartel With Courtney Kaiser the prominent voice and partner Benjamin Cartel supplying graceful accompaniment and hushed harmonies, duo The Kaiser Cartel creates an ethereal glow that’s all bittersweet sentiment and emo expression. This new five-song EP’s opening track, “Carroll Street Station,” makes for a grabby intro, but otherwise the instrumentation is kept rather sparse—a tumble of acoustic... 

JAMIE & STEVE + English Afterthought

JAMIE & STEVE + English Afterthought
JAMIE & STEVE English Afterthought myspace.com/spongetones For over 30 years, the Spongetones have been among indie rock’s best-kept secrets. The North Carolina combo has labored relentlessly, turning out Anglo-infused power pop and retro rock brimming with shimmering hooks, radiant harmonies and irresistible melodies. Though stripped down to its pair of principals, Jamie Hoover and Steve Stoeckel (with other Spongetones lending support), English... 

THE FIRE MARSHALS OF BETHLEHEM + The World From the Back Seat thefmob.com

THE FIRE MARSHALS  OF BETHLEHEM + The World From the Back Seat thefmob.com
THE FIRE MARSHALS OF BETHLEHEM The World From the Back Seat thefmob.com Their handle aside, the Fire Marshals of Bethlehem are neither incendiary nor biblical, instead aiming for a communal sound that rings with the flawless congeniality of the Cowsills or ’70s-prime Fleetwood Mac. That blend of sweet sentiments, driven by Julie Lowery’s cheery, chirpy vocals, Jenny Smith’s violin and the group’s uniformity of purpose, helps to drive a series... 

THE DOUGHBOYS + Act Your Rage

THE DOUGHBOYS + Act Your Rage
THE DOUGHBOYS Act Your Rage thedoughboysnj.com Who said there’s no going home again? Certainly not The Doughboys, who reconvened in 2007 to make their debut album 32 years after their initial schoolboy incarnation. Unsurprisingly, the band treads the same ’60s blues-rock terrain first explored by the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, Them and others. Singer Myke Scavone provides a credible Jagger-esque swagger, though he shares the spotlight with... 

JASON CRIGLER + The Music of Jason Crigler

JASON CRIGLER + The Music of Jason Crigler
JASON CRIGLER The Music of Jason Crigler jasoncriglermusic.com On Aug. 4, 2004, guitarist Jason Crigler suffered a brain hemorrhage onstage. Miraculously, he not only recovered but went on to complete his masterpiece, assisted by friends including Marshall Crenshaw, Teddy Thompson and Erin McKeown. The buoyantly infectious vibe of The Music of Jason Crigler belies any adversity. The radiant “See the Sun” and the seductive “When the Morning Comes”... 

CARY COOPER + Dirty Little Secret

CARY COOPER + Dirty Little Secret
CARY COOPER Dirty Little Secret carycooper.com With her muted delivery and acoustic accompaniment, Cary Cooper projects the fragile, self-effacing image of a forlorn folkie dwelling among dark shadows. But there’s a ruminative beauty that radiates through Dirty Little Secret songs like “Edge of the World,” “Wondering” and the title track. Cooper occasionally injects spunk and spark into her quiet laments, as evidenced by the unexpected appearance... 

ERIC BRACE & LAST TRAIN HOME + Six Songs

ERIC BRACE & LAST TRAIN HOME + Six Songs
ERIC BRACE & LAST TRAIN HOME Six Songs redbeetrecords.com Reconvening his longtime country combo after an extended break, Brace tackles a broad set of standards, varying the styles for a dazzlingly diverse EP. Here, Brace and company provide a pensive sway with “Always Raining on My Street” and then shift into a party mode on “Soul Parking.”  While it’s somewhat surprising to hear Brace croon “What Now My Love”—especially in French—or... 

LEE ALEXANDER & CO. + Mayhaw Vaudeville

LEE ALEXANDER & CO. + Mayhaw Vaudeville
LEE ALEXANDER & CO. Mayhaw Vaudeville alexandersongs.com Lee Alexander’s penchant for backwoods melodies and forlorn sensibilities fuses on Mayhaw Vaudeville with his sepia-tinted delivery. Including songs boasting a warbling croon sung through a tinny megaphone, Alexander mines his Vaudeville muse through a preponderance of weary, bluesy ballads. That said, a few jauntier excursions (”Okemah Moon,” the traditional folk tune “Maggie Mae”)... 

Appetite for Self-Destruction By Steve Knopper

Appetite for Self-Destruction By Steve Knopper
BOOK Appetite for Self-Destruction By Steve Knopper [Soft Skull Press] From 8-tracks to Payola, the list of the record industry’s historic mistakes ranges from awful to amusing—but one wrongheaded misstep trumps them all. Appetite for Self-Destruction, written by Rolling Stone contributor Steve Knopper, chronicles in painstaking detail the series of short-sighted decisions labels made in response to the dawn of digital music. The book’s first... 

Dave Matthews Band + Europe 2009

Dave Matthews Band + Europe 2009
BOX SET Dave Matthews Band Europe 2009 [Bama Rags/RCA] “You are my obsession!” Dave Matthews sings during “Seven”—no doubt taking the worshipful words right out of his one-track-minded audience’s mouths. It will indeed take a certain kind of obsessive to spring for Europe 2009, a not-inexpensive four-disc set that uses one DVD to present a nearly three-hour London show from last summer, then spreads an even longer Italian gig across three... 

It Might Get Loud

It Might Get Loud
DVD REVIEW It Might Get Loud [Sony] It Might Get Loud is presented as a summit meeting among Jimmy Page, the Edge and Jack White, the guitar greats converging on an L.A. soundstage to trade anecdotes and licks. Unless you actively despise music, you’ll thrill to these three teaching one another “Stairway to Heaven,” “Until the End of the World” or “Seven Nation Army.” But one of the documentary’s great pleasures is that it also spends... 

AHMAD JAMAL + A Quiet Time

AHMAD JAMAL + A Quiet Time
AHMAD JAMAL A Quiet Time [Dreyfus Jazz] One of the most criminally overlooked masters in jazz is pianist Ahmad Jamal, who scored a best-selling album in 1958 (But Not for Me: Ahmad Jamal At the Pershing) and has weathered every seismic shift in the music since without giving up his ideals or succumbing to trends. Longevity is only meaningful if an artist still has the goods, though, and Jamal certainly does. Coming from an 80-year-old who could easily... 

DAVID BOWIE + A Reality Tour

DAVID BOWIE + A Reality Tour
DAVID BOWIE A Reality Tour [ISO/Sony Legacy] David Bowie hasn’t released a new album in seven years, by far the longest break from recording of his career. Finally, in 2010, we get … a live album recorded in 2003 and already released on DVD in 2004? Its release on CD at this point may be puzzling, but the actual content of A Reality Tour nonetheless demonstrates that Bowie’s most recent major tour found him in excellent form. The performer... 

SUGAR BLUE Threshold [Beeble]

SUGAR BLUE Threshold [Beeble]
SUGAR BLUE Threshold [Beeble] Known mostly as the musician who contributed the wailing harmonica riff on the Rolling Stones’ “Miss You,” Sugar Blue has maintained a vibrant career path ever since, offering consistent homage to such esteemed predecessors as Big Walter Horton, Carey Bell, James Cotton and Junior Wells. While Threshold continues to echo that bluesy legacy, it also finds him diversifying his palette with blues, R&B and funk.... 

GARY ALLAN + Get Off on the Pain

GARY ALLAN + Get Off on the Pain
GARY ALLAN Get Off on the Pain [MCA Nashville] Leave it to Gary Allan to make ex sex sound romantic: “Kiss Me When I’m Down,” a standout track from his latest album, cleverly disguises a booty call with a sweeping melody and rich steel-and-strings orchestration. That kind of sly juxtaposition dominates Get Off on the Pain, Allan’s eighth studio album. He and coproducers Greg Droman and Mark Wright layer robust guitars, steel, piano, Wurlitzer,... 

NEIL SEDAKA + The Music of My Life

NEIL SEDAKA + The Music of My Life
NEIL SEDAKA The Music of My Life [Razor & Tie] While the days have long passed when Neil Sedaka’s brand of songwriting dominated the airwaves, the 70-year-old veteran holds true to the classic-sounding piano pop that made him a star in the early 1960s and a comeback kid in the mid-’70s. The Music of My Life proves that Sedaka has lost none of his touch. Rife with energetic melodies, elegant arrangements and an old-school showman’s flair,... 

THE MAGNETIC FIELDS + Realism

THE MAGNETIC FIELDS + Realism
THE MAGNETIC FIELDS Realism [Nonesuch] After swathing their songs in bristling feedback for 2008’s Distortion, the Magnetic Fields take the opposite approach on their latest. Leader Stephin Merritt calls Realism their “folk album”—but this is variety-show folk with a knowing, occasionally ironic undertone. The instrumentation is mostly acoustic, with guitar, bouzouki, cello, horns and hand percussion. It’s fairly straightforward on the opening... 

JULIAN LENNON AND JAMES SCOTT COOK + Lucy

JULIAN LENNON AND JAMES SCOTT COOK + Lucy
JULIAN LENNON AND JAMES SCOTT COOK Lucy [theRevolution] We all recall blushing at the sight of our first innocent childhood crush. Such thoughts are the essence of “Lucy,” the title track from the new EP by Julian Lennon and James Scott Cook. Inspired in part by the same real-life girl who was famously “in the sky with diamonds” in a little ditty penned by Lennon’s dad, the song is short on story and long on wordless choruses. Yet when the... 

CARRIE NEWCOMER + Before and After

CARRIE NEWCOMER + Before and After
CARRIE NEWCOMER Before and After [Rounder] In the acknowledgements for her 11th solo studio album, folk singer/songwriter Carrie Newcomer thanks several friends for passing down stories that inspired various songs. It’s just the first in a series of nods to folkloric tradition: These 13 original compositions also boast quietly uncomplicated arrangements and minimalist metaphors. This simplistic approach is occasionally twee, as when Newcomer borrows... 

HOT CHIP + One Life Stand

HOT CHIP + One Life Stand
HOT CHIP One Life Stand [Astralwerks] Hot Chip’s warm and fuzzy fourth album is not without its bangers, but even when this London electro-pop quartet is gunning for the clubs, it’s thinking about what’s waiting at home. Almost too sweet for their beats, the thumping, bumping likes of “I Feel Better” and “We Have Love” are about finding comfort in the arms of another. The album’s 10 tracks rank among the mellowest and most melodic... 

ALLISON MOORER + Crows

ALLISON MOORER  + Crows
ALLISON MOORER Crows [Rykodisc] For an artist whose career has been built on darkly gorgeous  hymns to melancholy, suddenly finding yourself happily married is an occupational hazard. Allison Moorer’s 2006 album Getting Somewhere found her working with new husband Steve Earle, and some measure of inspiration was lost between the earnest sunniness of the songs and Earle’s overbearing production stamp. Last year’s covers album Mockingbird was... 

CHARLOTTE GAINSBOURG + IRM

CHARLOTTE GAINSBOURG + IRM
CHARLOTTE GAINSBOURG IRM [Elektra] There’s a lot of baggage attached to the Gainsbourg name: Serge Gainsbourg was the enfant terrible of French erotic whisper pop, and the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree when it comes to daughter Charlotte. Her previous 5:55 engaged the talents of Air and Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker to provide music and lyrics. This time it’s Beck who fills that role, bringing his whimsical sense of arrangement to the “Motorcycle... 

FOUR TET + There Is Love in You

FOUR TET + There Is Love in You
FOUR TET There Is Love in You [Domino] Even those who aren’t fans of electronic music would find it difficult not to be impressed by Kieran Hebden’s resume. A former member of the U.K. post-rock band Fridge, Hebden embarked on a solo career a decade ago under the moniker Four Tet, and since then has recorded four albums, opened for Radiohead and provided remixes for an eclectic group of artists that includes everyone from Bloc Party to Black... 

SPOON + Transference

SPOON + Transference
SPOON Transference [Merge Records] Long known as a bastion of alternative country, Austin has also spawned some of America’s most adventurous pop bands. At the top of the heap stands Spoon, a quartet that strives to balance experimental art rock with jagged guitar pop in a way that’s palatable to mainstream listeners. Transference achieves that goal better than anything the group has released thus far. Packed with angular guitars, staccato... 

WAS (NOT WAS) + Pick of the Litter 1980-2010

WAS (NOT WAS) + Pick of the Litter 1980-2010
WAS (NOT WAS) Pick of the Litter 1980-2010 [Micro Werks] Don Was (née Fagenson) and David Was (née Weiss) established themselves as critical darlings in the 1980s by marrying clever and often absurdist lyrics to danceable music—a combination that unexpectedly thrust them into the mainstream in 1988 with the irresistible hits “Walk the Dinosaur” and “Spy in the House of Love.” Don Was’ emergence as an in-demand producer helped to... 

BLUE HIGHWAY + Some Day: The Fifteenth Anniversary Collection

BLUE HIGHWAY + Some Day: The Fifteenth Anniversary Collection
BLUE HIGHWAY + Some Day: The Fifteenth Anniversary Collection Formed in the mid-1990s, Blue Highway was a relative latecomer to progressive bluegrass. Although it missed its chance to help define the genre, the group’s consistency over the years has resulted in some of its finest recordings. This collection actually doesn’t pick up till midway through Blue Highway’s career, with its arrival at Rounder Records in 2001. By that time the quintet... 

PATTY GRIFFIN + Downtown Church

PATTY GRIFFIN + Downtown Church
PATTY GRIFFIN + Downtown Church Patty Griffin is, by her own religious estimation, a lapsed Catholic of no certain faith. So she might seem like an odd duck to be doing a “gospel album”—except that hers is a voice you hope to hear sing not only the phone book but also the Bible, Koran and Bhagavad Gita, if possible. In any case, there’s nothing pat or predictable about the quietly stunning Downtown Church, which finds Griffin focusing on black... 

EDITORS + In This Light and On This Evening

EDITORS + In This Light and On This Evening
In This Light and On This Evening After Editors’ stellar U.S. debut in 2006 got overlooked and a self-conscious 2007 follow-up came and went here without much fanfare, the British post-punk band seems to have struck a comfortable balance on its third release. Editors will probably never shake the scorn of those who think the band is merely rehashing influences such as Joy Division and Echo & the Bunnymen, but this time it doesn’t seem to care.... 

ANIMAL COLLECTIVE + Fall Be Kind

ANIMAL COLLECTIVE + Fall Be Kind
Fall Be Kind The members of Animal Collective started 2009 with the first album of the year worth your buck (Merriweather Post Pavilion) and ended it with an EP that proves once again they’re one mighty trippy bunch. Like the rest of the Brooklyn band’s best work, Fall Be Kind lets us fantasize about the music Brian Wilson might have made in the late 1960s and beyond if the drugs he favored had been even harder and Mike Love’s prohibitively... 

LIFEHOUSE + Smoke & Mirrors

LIFEHOUSE + Smoke & Mirrors
Few bands have worked a winning formula as rigorously as Lifehouse. Roaring out of the box a decade ago with the smash “Hanging By a Moment,” the L.A.-based group hit upon a radio-friendlier version of the grunge aesthetic. Four albums later, Lifehouse continues to work that approach for all it’s worth. “Halfway Gone,” “Had Enough” and “All In” sport anthemic choruses, wall-of-sound guitars and infectious melodies, and are given... 
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