Posts tagged with "June 2010"

SOLOMON BURKE

SOLOMON BURKE
SOLOMON BURKE Still rocking, still rolling, still ruling Solomon Burke was dubbed “The King of Rock and Soul” in the 1960s—and five decades later he is still ruling from the trademark throne he occupies on stage. Burke didn’t find crossover pop success as a young man, but in the 2000s a string of genre-busting albums earned him new respect and new listeners. Now 70, the father of 21 and grandfather of 90 struggles with health problems but... 

TIFT MERRITT

TIFT MERRITT
TIFT MERRITT After years of traveling, a singer-songwriter finds home Things could have turned out very differently for Tift Merritt. Five years, two albums, and one record company ago, she sat in the Staples Center in Los Angeles, hanging on five words: “And the Grammy goes to …” Her 2004 sophomore effort, Tambourine, had been nominated for Best Country Album. For a second, the Texas-born, North Carolina-reared singer-songwriter stood on... 

ROBERT RANDOLPH

ROBERT RANDOLPH
ROBERT RANDOLPH Taking the pedal steel guitar on a journey into the past By Chris Neal As a kid, Robert Randolph’s life revolved around the House of God church in Orange, N.J. And as a member of a strongly religious family, he was forbidden to listen to secular music. “The thing is, I did listen to secular music,” he says with a chuckle. “I grew up in church, but we lived in the inner city. We’d play our church music, but we would sneak... 

TIMOTHY B. SCHMIT

TIMOTHY B. SCHMIT
TIMOTHY B. SCHMIT Still soaring after all these years, with the Eagles and without Timothy B. Schmit is the first to admit he’s a lucky man. In 1977, after several years with the country-rock band Poco, the singer-bassist was invited to join superstar group the Eagles. Soon after he joined the band, founders Glenn Frey and Don Henley took one of Schmit’s work-in-progress tunes—“I Can’t Tell You Why”—and helped their new recruit turn... 

3OH!3

3OH!3
3OH!3 A duo that parties hard and works harder Good times play a big role in 3OH!3’s songs, but beneath the electro-rap duo’s hard-partying exterior lies a well-honed work ethic that has already helped the crew from Boulder, Colo. (area code 303), land three Top 10 hits. Sean Foreman and Nathaniel Motte—who met while attending the University of Colorado—locked themselves away in the Rockies to write songs for Streets of Gold, their third... 

OZZY OSBOURNE

OZZY OSBOURNE
OZZY OSBOURNE Rock ’n’ roll’s “Prince of Darkness” counts his blessings When Ozzy Osbourne got sober about seven years ago, he had to rethink the way he did a lot of things—including recording. In the old days he would start work on an album by going into rehearsals with his band, and one thing would lead to another. “I was ready to party,” he says. “Take away the band and the alcohol and the drugs, and you’ve just got me thinking,... 

JEWEL

JEWEL
JEWEL Learning to let both sides of her personality shine through “I’m a Gemini,” says Jewel, by way of explaining the title and theme of her latest album, and second country effort, Sweet and Wild. “I’m introspective and write poetry, but I also like to smoke a good cigar every once in a while and shoot guns.” Her multifaceted personality might also explain why the singer-songwriter’s 15-year career has spanned genres from folk... 

TONIC

TONIC
TONIC An extended break quickly gives way to a long-awaited renewal Alt-rock band Tonic didn’t intend to wait eight years between albums, but side projects and growing families helped put some distance between the Los Angeles band’s 2002 album Head on Straight and its new self-titled effort. “There was no definitive moment when someone said, ‘Hey, let’s take a break,’ at least not on purpose,” says guitarist Jeff Russo. “It was more... 

PUNCH BROTHERS

PUNCH BROTHERS
PUNCH BROTHERS Chris Thile’s boundary-breaking crew shakes itself to see what’s inside If bands were in the habit of adopting stretches of highway, Punch Brothers would probably choose one that was all left turns. The hot-picking bluegrass-classical-jazz ensemble’s sophomore album, Antifogmatic, is full of melodic and rhythmic twists that defy convention at every chance. “Musical expression is by nature abstract,” explains mandolin player... 

HANSON

HANSON
HANSON Shouting out loud their love of classic R&B and rock ’n’ roll Hanson’s last album, 2007’s The Walk, was comprised of weighty songs about facing conflicts and overcoming obstacles. For the new Shout It Out, the Tulsa, Okla.-based band was determined to rediscover its sense of joy. “We wanted to make a summer record,” says drummer Zac Hanson, who co-founded the trio 18 years ago with brothers Taylor and Isaac. “Hopefully,... 

AGAINST ME!

AGAINST ME!
AGAINST ME! Drawing inspiration from Florida, fatherhood and a cross-country journey Driving across the country allows plenty of time for contemplation, which is how Against Me! singer Tom Gabel spent the trip last year on his way from his native Florida to Los Angeles to start recording sessions for the band’s new album, White Crosses. Gabel converted those thoughtful hours on the road into song lyrics, resulting in a batch of vivid punk tunes... 

GRACE POTTER & THE NOCTURNALS

GRACE POTTER & THE NOCTURNALS
GRACE POTTER & THE NOCTURNALS Casting aside comparisons and coming Grace Potter & the Nocturnals had always worn their 1960s and ’70s influences on their sleeves, as their charismatic frontwoman drew comparisons to greats ranging from Bonnie Raitt to Janis Joplin. But with the release of their self-titled third album, Potter and company have truly come into their own. “This time around there’s more of an identity,” says Potter. “We’ve... 

DIERKS BENTLEY

DIERKS BENTLEY
DIERKS BENTLEY A country star rediscovers a teenage love affair with bluegrass Dierks Bentley was a 19-year-old from Phoenix, Ariz., aiming for a career as a country singer when he walked into Nashville’s Station Inn nightclub, famous as the stomping ground to many of the city’s finest bluegrass pickers. What he heard there changed his life. “Up to that point I always thought of bluegrass music as being an older generation’s genre,” he... 

DEVO

DEVO
DEVO De-evolution is real and the future is now Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh used to be frustrated that the band was so frequently misunderstood. Today, many of the concepts the group put forth 30 years ago are all too familiar. “We talked about de-evolution, and people thought we were crazy,” Mothersbaugh says. “We predicted one day there would be something called Music Television, and our record companies and our managers said, ‘Why are... 

James Taylor

James Taylor
PHOTOGRAPHER HENRY DILTZ WAS ASKED TO TAKE black-and-white publicity shots of singer-songwriter James Taylor. After first setting up in Taylor’s living room, Diltz suggested they head to a farm near the Cahuenga Pass in Hollywood owned by his friends Cyrus and Renee Faryar. Once there, Diltz recalls, “James leaned on a big post, and it looked so good. But I knew it would look really good in color.” Diltz asked Taylor to stay where he was while... 

Perla Batalla

Perla Batalla
PERLA BATALLA A cross-cultural journey from her parents’ record store to the world stage Singer, songwriter and indie label owner (not to mention wife and mother) Perla Batalla has pursued her passion for music for the better part of the past 25 years. She’s made her mark in the realms of Latin and world music, played some of the most prestigious venues and attracted a global following that transcends musical boundaries. Born in Los Angeles... 

GEAR – MIX EMOTIONS

GEAR – MIX EMOTIONS
Getting the right mix involves technology, practice and careful listening Everything’s in place—the songs have been written, the studio has been booked, the musicians are playing perfectly. You’re well on your way to making a masterpiece. But even if you lay down the greatest tracks ever recorded, it’s entirely possible to screw it up at the last minute. The right mix can make or break even the most brilliantly recorded projects. Many... 

STRIPMALL ARCHITECTURE + Feathersongs for Factory Girls

STRIPMALL ARCHITECTURE + Feathersongs for Factory Girls
STRIPMALL ARCHITECTURE Feathersongs for Factory Girls stripmallarchitecture.com Though the songs do bear a psychedelic feel, the enigmatic quartet that calls itself Stripmall Architecture generally defies categorization. Rebecca Coseboom’s dreamy vocals compete with weird sonic elements and akimbo melodies, but the end results are consistently intriguing.  Read More →

MILAGRES + Seven Summits

MILAGRES + Seven Summits
MILAGRES Seven Summits myspace.com/milagresmusic Milagres maintains a mysterious aura, a dark yet dreamlike sound that recalls the likes of the Moody Blues, Genesis, Ultravox and other cosmic contemporaries. Its debut finds the band fixated on a mountain-climbing theme, expressed through related tales of tragedy and intrigue.  Read More →

SARAH DASHEW + Where I Belong

SARAH DASHEW + Where I Belong
SARAH DASHEW Where I Belong sarahdashew.com QUICK TAKE + Dashew’s emotive vocals and lithe arrangements make Where I Belong a formidable follow-up to 2006’s much-lauded Jealous Girl. The catchy title track and haunting “Anywhere” and “Almost Here” find her channeling a variety of emotions while still creating a coherent whole.  Read More →

JENNIE ARNAU + Chasing Giants

JENNIE ARNAU + Chasing Giants
JENNIE ARNAU Chasing Giants jenniearnau.com QUICK TAKE + Jennie Arnau’s blend of vibrancy and vulnerability brings a fresh approach to Chasing Giants. Whether accompanied by the pluck of a banjo and a brace of fiddles (the cheery “For the Winter”) or simply ambling along contentedly (the assuring “Safe Tonight” and “No Guarantees”), Arnau is always appealing.  Read More →

ÓLAFUR ARNALDS + And They Have Escaped the Weight of Darknes

ÓLAFUR ARNALDS + And They Have Escaped the Weight of Darknes
ÓLAFUR ARNALDS And They Have Escaped the Weight of Darkness olafurarnalds.com QUICK TAKE + This 23-year-old Icelandic composer casts a haunting spell. These brooding, overcast tunes meander at a sobering pace before finally gathering momentum and building into a series of sweeping crescendos. This is beautifully crafted neo-classical music, with an emphasis on mood as much as melody.  Read More →

THE WELL WISHERS + Post Modern Romantic

THE WELL WISHERS + Post Modern Romantic
THE WELL WISHERS Post Modern Romantic myspace.com/thewellwishers Tallying 10 albums in 17 years, first with his band Spinning Jennies and more recently with acclaimed power-pop champs the Well Wishers, singer, guitarist and chief musical architect Jeff Shelton has racked up an impressive track record. Post Modern Romantic is his most formidable effort to date, a non-stop barrage of power chords, relentless riffing and hard-crunching melodies. The... 

VARIOUS ARTISTS + Sing Me to Sleep: Indie Lullabies

VARIOUS ARTISTS + Sing Me to Sleep: Indie Lullabies
VARIOUS ARTISTS Sing Me to Sleep: Indie Lullabies indielullabies.com With all proceeds going to the Valerie Fund, an organization helping children with cancer and blood disorders, this effort succeeds before the first note is ever strummed. Despite contributions from a broad contingent of shoegazing ensembles, there aren’t many headliners—Stars, Neil Halstead and Tanya Donelly are the few better-known names. Yet given a selection of standards... 

CHRIS PUREKA + How I Learned to See in the Dark

CHRIS PUREKA + How I Learned to See in the Dark
CHRIS PUREKA How I Learned to See in the Dark chrispureka.com With How I Learned to See in the Dark there’s only a little light cast on Chris Pureka’s surroundings. It’s a more plaintive set of songs, as defined by its measured tones and a sense of quiet contemplation. Mournful violin and subdued guitars provide the accompaniment, giving Pureka’s emotional delivery all the emphasis it needs. A closer listen is occasionally required to fully... 

JAZZ MAFIA + Brass, Bows and Beats

JAZZ MAFIA + Brass, Bows and Beats
JAZZ MAFIA Brass, Bows and Beats jazzmafia.com Doggedly blurring boundaries between genres, Jazz Mafia’s music seems a bundle of contradictions. After all, reconciling an entire jazz orchestra and a small army of musical virtuosos with hip-hop rhythms, rappers, singers and MCs would appear tough enough in the studio, but particularly unwieldy in concert. So it’s impressive that on the aptly named live disc Brass, Bows and Beats, this extraordinary... 

HOODOO GURUS + Purity of Essence

HOODOO GURUS + Purity of Essence
HOODOO GURUS Purity of Essence hoodoogurus.net While their résumé encompasses three decades and nine albums, the Hoodoo Gurus evince an energy that should make bands half their age envious. Co-producing with Charles Fisher (and employing veteran producer Ed Stasium for the mix), the group turns Purity of Essence into a blistering tour de force, as formidable a rock ’n’ roll record as anything in recent memory. “Crackin’ Up,” “Burnt Orange,”... 

TERRI HENDRIX + Cry Till You Laugh

TERRI HENDRIX + Cry Till You Laugh
TERRI HENDRIX Cry Till You Laugh terrihendrix.com With a stylistic sweep that encompasses country, blues, jazz and practically everything in between, Texan Terri Hendrix has created a flourishing cottage industry with a consistent string of albums hailed by fans and critics alike. Partnered once again with erstwhile producer and multitasking session pro Lloyd Maines, the new record finds Hendrix stirring the pot even more, opting to go it alone with... 

HALSTED + Life Underwater

HALSTED + Life Underwater
HALSTED Life Underwater halstedmusic.com Singer-songwriter Ryan Auffenberg reaped critical kudos with his last LP, 2008’s Marigolds, a title that hinted at the fact that his talents had just started to bloom. Now that he’s re-launched himself under a new name, his methods may have changed—but happily, his means have not. Auffenberg continues to purvey his hushed vocals and haunting pop melodies with equal aplomb, but in the company of the other... 

MARK ERELLI AND JEFFREY FOUCAULT + Seven Curses

MARK ERELLI AND JEFFREY FOUCAULT + Seven Curses
MARK ERELLI AND JEFFREY FOUCAULT Seven Curses markerelli.com, jeffreyfoucault.com Fans of forlorn folk music take note—this low-key summit of two exceptional singer-songwriters is a marriage made in the heartland. Taking on a set made up mostly of murder ballads penned by giants like Bruce Springsteen (“Johnny 99”), Steve Earle (“Ellis Unit 1”) and Neil Young (“Powderfinger”), Erelli and Foucault find a common thread in rustic arrangements... 

STEVE DAWSON + I Will Miss the Trumpets and the Drums

STEVE DAWSON + I Will Miss the Trumpets and the Drums
STEVE DAWSON I Will Miss the Trumpets and the Drums stevedawsonmusic.com As chief steward of Chicago’s alt-country combo Dolly Varden, Steve Dawson’s status as an Americana original is unquestioned.  Yet even though his tenure with the band has produced five albums over the course of a 15-year history, Dawson still has plenty to offer individually. This, his second solo album (third if one counts Duets, recorded with foil Diane Christiansen),... 

BOB CHEEVERS + Tall Texas Tales

BOB CHEEVERS + Tall Texas Tales
BOB CHEEVERS Tall Texas Tales bobcheevers.com The album cover offers a first hint of Bob Cheevers’ venerable nature—with a portrait that resembles the rugged Indian chief once etched on an old nickel, he projects an air of grizzled authenticity. And Cheevers is the real deal, a dusty Texas troubadour with a wise perspective and a weathered set of tunes. Whether he’s crooning everyday observations (“Grown Up People,” “Luckenbach”) moaning... 

ADMIRAL RADLEY + I Heart California

ADMIRAL RADLEY + I Heart California
ADMIRAL RADLEY I Heart California admiralradley.com Although the band is made up of members of nu-folk combos Earlimart (Aaron Espinoza and Ariana Murray) and Grandaddy (Aaron Burtch and Jason Lytle), Admiral Radley bears only a passing resemblance to the music the players make at their day jobs. For starters, this new conglomerate tends to eschew the hazy musings that those two groups are known for, substituting a cheerier approach suitable to warm... 

PERNICE BROTHERS + Goodbye, Killer

PERNICE BROTHERS + Goodbye, Killer
PERNICE BROTHERS Goodbye, Killer pernicebrothers.com Massachusetts’ Joe Pernice has honed his craft under a variety of guises over the last two decades—recording with the alt-country outfit the Scud Mountain Boys in the early 1990s, as a solo artist using both his own name and the pseudonym Chappaquiddick Skyline, and on and off for the past dozen years with his main vehicle, the Pernice Brothers. He mixes things up on this latest effort with... 

John Mellencamp + On the Rural Route 7609

John Mellencamp + On the Rural Route 7609
BOX SET REVIEW John Mellencamp On the Rural Route 7609 [Mercury/Island/UMe] When it comes time for the box-set treatment, most artists are content to line up a few discs’ worth of hits and rarities and let ’em fly. John Mellencamp is not like most artists. On the Rural Route 7609 is a four-CD collection that sets out to tell a story all its own, tracing connections among its songs and emphasizing its author’s current attitudes and concerns... 

Duran Duran + Duran Duran

Duran Duran + Duran Duran
REISSUE REVIEW Duran Duran Duran Duran [Capitol] As the 1980s dawned over England, both punk and disco seemed to be in decline. Bands like Birmingham’s Duran Duran began weaving strands of both styles together into a form that came to be known as “New Romantic”—a danceable, synthesizer-driven style that placed a premium on cutting-edge fashion and cutting-edge hooks alike. The band’s self-titled debut served as a template for a sound it... 

Still Bill

Still Bill
DVD REVIEW Still Bill [Late Night and Weekends] Music lovers owe filmmakers Damani Baker and Alex Vlack a debt of gratitude for their tenacity. Bill Withers has remained intensely protective of his privacy since he quit the music business 25 years ago, and the directors spent years convincing him to cooperate in the making of this priceless documentary. They somehow managed to not just film hundreds of hours of footage of Withers over two years, but... 

STEVE CROPPER & FELIX CAVALIERE + Midnight Flyer

STEVE CROPPER & FELIX CAVALIERE + Midnight Flyer
STEVE CROPPER & FELIX CAVALIERE Midnight Flyer [Stax] One of the challenges in convening a superstar summit is reconciling results with expectations. So if the sophomore collaboration from these two legendary names doesn’t achieve all that this pairing might promise, that doesn’t diminish their individual strengths. Rascals veteran Felix Cavaliere’s vocals have stood up well to the passage of time, as earnest and expressive as ever. Likewise,... 

PAUL THORN + Pimps and Preachers

PAUL THORN + Pimps and Preachers
PAUL THORN Pimps and Preachers [Perpetual Obscurity Records] Paul Thorn has been kicking around the edges of the Americana scene for years, opening for high-profile acts while never quite breaking through himself. It’s not for lack of artistry. His latest is a collection of vivid songs that draw on the opposite impulses Thorn absorbed from his father and an uncle—preacher and pimp, respectively—and colored with his own wry outlook. Thorn takes... 

TEENAGE FANCLUB + Shadows

TEENAGE FANCLUB + Shadows
TEENAGE FANCLUB Shadows [Merge] For years, Teenage Fanclub served a key purpose during those long stretches between Big Star reunions—the band’s rootsy, easy-breezy power-pop was a well-crafted, intermittently inspired substitute. The Glasgow group’s first album in five years arrives mere months after the death of Big Star leader Alex Chilton, so it’s fitting (if coincidental) that Shadows should be something of a somber listen. The songs... 

THE CONSTELLATIONS + Southern Gothic

THE CONSTELLATIONS + Southern Gothic
THE CONSTELLATIONS Southern Gothic [Virgin] The underbelly of after-hours Atlanta serves as ground zero for the seedy scenarios on Southern Gothic, the debut from that city’s eight-piece Constellations (re-released on a major after an earlier indie run). But the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce can chill—what happens here could happen most anywhere. When the strutting, magnetic vocalist Elijah Jones intones, “If you really want to live/Gotta be ready... 

THE FUTUREHEADS + The Chaos

THE FUTUREHEADS + The Chaos
THE FUTUREHEADS The Chaos [Dovecote Records] By combining echoes of punk, new wave and alt-rock, the Futureheads have established themselves as chief players in the U.K.’s modern pop pantheon, drawing comparisons to Keane, Franz Ferdinand and Bloc Party. Those familiar with the angular, intense sound associated with those bands will find an easy connection here, although the Futureheads focus primarily on upping the energy level. Theirs is a jumpy,... 

JOHN BUTLER TRIO + April Uprising

JOHN BUTLER TRIO + April Uprising
JOHN BUTLER TRIO April Uprising [ATO] April Uprising represents something of a reboot for Australian singer-songwriter John Butler. After taking part in an Australian TV series that helped him trace his family roots, the hotshot guitarist discovered a strand of revolutionaries in his Bulgarian past. That revelation, coupled with a new rhythm section of bassist Byron Luiters and drummer Nicky Bomba, adds a palpable sense of discovery and urgency to... 

CHERRYHOLMES + IV Common Threads

CHERRYHOLMES + IV Common Threads
CHERRYHOLMES IV Common Threads [Skaggs Family Records] IV Common Threads is Sunday afternoon music, perfect for the moments when the church sermon’s still lingering in your ears as you enjoy the rest of your weekend. Several songs here touch upon religious themes, whether explicitly (“Idle Hands”) or implicitly (“It’s Your Love”). Both of those tunes come from B.J. Cherryholmes’ pen (although his brother Skip sings the latter). Sister... 

DELTA SPIRIT + History From Below

DELTA SPIRIT + History From Below
DELTA SPIRIT History From Below [Rounder] There are lots of great indie-rock acts out there, but do you want some morose shoegazers playing your July 4 picnic? Better to hire the Delta Spirit, a San Diego quintet that delivers its smart, contemplative Americana with a dash of self-awareness and an occasional smile. The band cut History From Below, its sophomore album, at the California studio favored by Tom Waits, a choice that hardly seems coincidental.... 

SARAH HARMER + Oh Little Fire

SARAH HARMER + Oh Little Fire
SARAH HARMER Oh Little Fire [Zoe/Rounder] Canadian Sarah Harmer’s fifth album offers her most engaging effort since her days in the 1990s group Weeping Tile. While her last offering, 2005’s I’m a Mountain, included intimate observations from an eco expedition through Southern Ontario’s Niagara Escarpment, the new record has her lightening her load with subjects less dire and more inclusive. By finding footing in cheerier realms, Harmer sounds... 

SERGIO MENDES + Bom Tempo

SERGIO MENDES + Bom Tempo
SERGIO MENDES Bom Tempo [Concord Records] Brazilian-born, U.S.-based Sergio Mendes staged a comeback in 2006 with his star-studded covers album, Timeless, and then solidified that return with 2008’s Encanto. Both albums were produced by Black Eyed Peas leader will.i.am. On Bom Tempo, Mendes takes the production reins himself with superb results. A sublime mix of samba rhythms, bossa nova beats and jazzy arrangements, the disc carries a glycerin-smooth... 

BLITZEN TRAPPER + Destroyer of the Void

BLITZEN TRAPPER + Destroyer of the Void
BLITZEN TRAPPER Destroyer of the Void [Sub Pop] Search YouTube and you’ll discover that the gods blessed us with a live cover version of the Band’s “I Shall Be Released” by Fleet Foxes and Jeff Tweedy. Blitzen Trapper’s Eric Earley lacks Tweedy’s brave introspection, but he sure sounds a hell of a lot like him, and his group’s fifth album extends the classic-rock spirit of that four-minute clip further than the Wilco frontman has on... 

THE DEAD WEATHER + Sea of Cowards

THE DEAD WEATHER + Sea of Cowards
THE DEAD WEATHER Sea of Cowards [Third Man/Warner Bros.] The Dead Weather was never going to be a song band. The supergroup’s 2009 debut Horehound seemed mostly an opportunity for White Stripes singer and guitarist Jack White to climb behind the drums and lay down some of the darkest, most depraved blues grooves imaginable with the help of three like-minded friends. Sea of Cowards, the quartet’s sophomore disc, is even less rooted in traditional... 

THE STANLEY CLARKE BAND + The Stanley Clarke Band

THE STANLEY CLARKE BAND + The Stanley Clarke Band
THE STANLEY CLARKE BAND The Stanley Clarke Band [Heads Up] The challenge for the jazz bassist as leader is to keep the music from becoming an exercise in bottom-focused strutting. A display of ace technique is expected, but most listeners lose interest quickly if there isn’t a song to be found among the rhythmic workouts. Stanley Clarke has always kept musicality at the fore—he understands that it’s not only possible but essential to entertain... 
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