Posts tagged with "May 2010"

MERLE HAGGARD

MERLE HAGGARD
MERLE HAGGARD After beating lung cancer, “The Hag” still is who he is Merle Haggard’s new album is called I Am What I Am, but that title could have been affixed to almost anything he’s recorded during his nearly half-century as one of America’s most stubbornly self-possessed singers and songwriters. He has built a body of work unequaled in the country genre, one created on clear-eyed slice-of-life classics like “Okie From Muskogee,”... 

CHELY WRIGHT

CHELY WRIGHT
CHELY WRIGHT A secret weighed her down, and now the truth is lifting her up There are many words to describe the experience of hiding one’s sexuality in the notoriously conservative world of mainstream country music, and Chely Wright knows them all. “Crazy-making,” she says. “Painful. Lonely. Isolating. Awful. It about killed me.” Wright rose to fame in the 1990s with radio hits like “Single White Female,” but was compelled to keep... 

MELISSA ETHERIDGE

MELISSA ETHERIDGE
MELISSA ETHERIDGE A progressive survivor finds inspiration returning to her rock roots By Melinda Newman Melissa Etheridge attracts more than her fair share of what she calls “jumpers”: those overzealous fans whose exuberance leads them to leap uninvited onto her concert stage. “My people know how to watch the front row and go, ‘Oh, there’s a jumper,’” she says with a chuckle. “They can tell.” Etheridge has inspired just that kind... 

NAS & DAMIAN MARLEY

NAS & DAMIAN MARLEY
NAS & DAMIAN MARLEY Giants of rap and reggae find common roots in the musical family tree Scarcely a hip-hop or reggae album is released these days without a roster of guest performances by stars or hot up-and-comers, but full-length album collaborations are rare. That fact only made the prospect of teaming up for Distant Relatives, their new genre-blending album, more of an enticement for reggae singer Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley and veteran rapper... 

TAYLOR HAWKINS

TAYLOR HAWKINS
TAYLOR HAWKINS A Foo Fighter and Coattail Rider conjures the sound of his childhood When he’s not pounding the skins behind longtime musical partner Dave Grohl in Foo Fighters, singer and drummer Taylor Hawkins fronts his own group, the Coattail Riders. The trio has just released its second album, Red Light Fever, a collection of lush power-pop featuring contributions from Grohl, Roger Taylor and Brian May of Queen, and the Cars’ Elliot Easton.... 

DEFTONES

DEFTONES
DEFTONES A brutal accident threatened their future, but brought them closer On Nov. 4, 2008, Deftones bass player Chi Cheng was involved in a car crash that left him comatose. The group shelved its just-completed album, Eros, and pondered its future. “We took some time off to figure out what we were going to do,” says drummer Abe Cunningham. “What should we do? Should we end it? Everybody had all these different thoughts. After a couple of... 

THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS

THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS
THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS For this pure pop collective, the more’s the merrier–marching band included The New Pornographers’ A.C. Newman has a confession to make. “Some people might think a song like ‘Daydream Believer’ by the Monkees is cheesy,” he says. “But every time I hear the song, I think it’s so beautiful it makes me want to cry.” Fans of the Newman-led collective, which just released its fifth studio album, Together, know... 

WIDESPREAD PANIC

WIDESPREAD PANIC
WIDESPREAD PANIC For their latest, the masters of improv draw upon comedy and tragedy alike Widespread Panic frontman John Bell sees a sharp distinction between being a so-called “jam band” and being a band that’s adept at improvisation. “It’s the difference between playing while you’re asleep and playing while you’re awake,” he says. “To apply yourself properly to improvisation, you need to have an awareness of the other players... 

BILL CHARLAP AND RENEE ROSNES

BILL CHARLAP AND RENEE ROSNES
BILL CHARLAP AND RENEE ROSNES A pair of virtuoso jazz pianists makes beautiful music together Bill Charlap and Renee Rosnes are not like most couples. By the time they married in 2007, each was already a world-renowned jazz pianist with an impressive discography and a packed touring itinerary. The living room of their New Jersey home is taken up mostly by two grand Steinways, and their piano stools are where they prefer to spend their leisure hours.... 

THE HOLD STEADY

THE HOLD STEADY
THE HOLD STEADY Aging gracefully, struggling mightily and thinking positively On the Hold Steady’s fifth album, Heaven Is Whenever, singer Craig Finn continues his evolution from a scenester reveling in gritty detail to an elder statesman with wisdom to impart. “On the last record, I was concerned with aging and the attempt to age gracefully, which is a tricky business in rock ’n’ roll,” Finn says. “This record sounds more like it came... 

BETTYE LaVETTE

BETTYE LaVETTE
BETTYE LaVETTE A mighty soul legend takes on classic-rock heavyweights Bettye LaVette admits that she wasn’t listening to rock ’n’ roll radio at  the time the 1960s and ’70s classics she tackles on her new album, Interpretations: The British  Rock Songbook, were popular. “I was listening to mostly black radio then,” she says. “I’m a rhythm & blues singer, and that’s where my music was being played. I had no particular teenage... 

JOSH RITTER

JOSH RITTER
JOSH RITTER He thought he was cursed—until a mummy showed the way home Josh Ritter albums have been fueled by one dominant emotion—and for the new So Runs the World Away, that emotion was terror. “For the first time in my life, I felt, ‘I don’t belong here,’” Ritter says. “I was thinking it was time for me to do something else, to move on to something other than music. I felt like a phony, and that terrified me. It was an awful... 

MINUS THE BEAR

MINUS THE BEAR
MINUS THE BEAR A little less math + a little more groove =  maximum “Minus-the-Bear-ness” When Minus the Bear guitarist Dave Knudson listens back to his band’s 2007 album Planet of Ice, he hears a complex, “proggy” deviation from the Seattle quintet’s more dance-oriented early material. “We were going for it,” Knudson says—“it” being a level of precise, hyper-clever riffing and arranging that, over the last decade, has earned... 

America

America
Photographer Henry Diltz and designer Gary Burden enjoyed a long and fruitful working relationship with the folk-rock group America, a collaboration that produced the covers for several of their early-1970s albums. Diltz, Burden and America’s Gerry Beckley, Dewey Bunnell and Dan Peek spent the day of Dec. 29, 1974, roaming around San Francisco shooting photos for the cover of the following year’s Hearts album. (They had jettisoned the idea of... 

Shelby Lynne

Shelby Lynne
SHELBY LYNNE “Hell, no” to record labels, hello to independence Shelby Lynne doesn’t mince words when discussing the showdown that ensued when she presented her new album, Tears, Lies, and Alibis, to her record company—only to see it rejected. “When Lost Highway said they didn’t want the record, I said, ‘That’s fine, I’ll just do my own thing. I’m tired of this shit,’” she says. Twenty-four hours later, once and for all fed... 

GEAR – MASTERING THE ART

GEAR – MASTERING THE ART
Inside one of the most crucial and mysterious steps of the recording process MASTERING ENGINEERS HAVE ONE  of the most specialized and hard-to-define roles in the music business. They sit in finely tuned rooms surrounded by boutique and vintage equipment, often finishing a record a day. But what does it mean to master a completed mix? Especially in this age of affordable digital home recording, asking five experts might elicit five different... 

The Rubinoos + Biff-Boff-Boing!

The Rubinoos + Biff-Boff-Boing!
The Rubinoos Biff-Boff-Boing! rubinoos.com QUICK TAKE + Billed as a children’s album, Biff-Boff-Boing! moots the distinction between camp and kids’ stuff with a nostalgic tone that carries echoes of both bubblegum and Broadway. The power-pop veterans’ own kooky creations fit seamlessly alongside beloved novelty numbers like “Boris the Spider” and “Sugar Sugar.”  Read More →

Eric Roberts + My Brazilian Heart

Eric Roberts + My Brazilian Heart
Eric Roberts My Brazilian Heart ericroberts.org QUICK TAKE + Titles can be misleading: First, no, Roberts isn’t the actor of the same name. And while this six-song EP dabbles in the occasional tropical rhythm, it’s really more about mellow jazz. Roberts, an accomplished guitarist, mostly cedes the spotlight here to superb ensemble performances.  Read More →

Ruby James + Happy Now

Ruby James + Happy Now
Ruby James Happy Now rubyjames.com QUICK TAKE + Ruby James makes a striking first impression on Happy Now, bolstered by the production work of Charlie Sexton. The album combines sinewy ballads, sultry vocals and sensuous hooks into a very inviting package. Newcomers to this burgeoning talent will be impressed.  Read More →

Dick 50 + Late Show

Dick 50 + Late Show
Dick 50 Late Show facebook.com/dick50 QUICK TAKE + It’s reasonable to assume that the first “solo” set by Delbert McClinton’s backing band will be blues-based. It’s notable, then, that the band clearly doesn’t feel confined to any format on Late Show, with songs such as “Like You Did” and “2012” stepping far outside the roadhouse.  Read More →

Amy Cook + Let the Light In

Amy Cook + Let the Light In
Amy Cook Let the Light In amycook.com QUICK TAKE + Having Alejandro Escovedo at the production helm of her new album is certainly an attention-getter for Amy Cook—but her own spirited vocals command respect regardless of his presence. Let the Light In is a compelling album full of tangled emotions.  Read More →

The Successful Failures + Three Nights

The Successful Failures + Three Nights
The Successful Failures Three Nights thesuccessfulfailures.com Any attempt at unraveling the seemingly contradictory halves of their handle finds the Successful Failures demonstrating much more of the former than the latter. Frontman Mick Chorba, who also leads the Dipsomaniacs, has gradually made the Successful Failures his primary focus—and their fourth album, Three Nights, offers plenty of reasons why. The key to their success basically boils... 

Rachael Sage + Delancey Street

Rachael Sage + Delancey Street
Rachael Sage Delancey Street rachaelsage.com Rachael Sage’s soft, sultry vocals and solitary piano-plied gravitas might imply she’s a diva of the first order, especially given the fact that she includes leadingly titled songs like “Meet Me in Vegas” and Hall and Oates’ “Rich Girl” as part of her latest set. Fortunately, Sage proves she’s more than a mere drama queen by injecting a tattered vulnerability and quiet resolve into originals... 

Rooney + Eureka

Rooney + Eureka
Rooney Eureka rooney-band.com Productivity doesn’t necessarily come easily to Los Angeles-based Rooney—they’ve managed only three albums in 10 years, and they took three separate stabs at recording their second. That places high expectations on this new outing, and the band clears the bar nicely. Rooney aspires to pop perfection and often succeeds, with tuneful influences like Cheap Trick, the Raspberries and Badfinger pushed clearly to the... 

Jim Moray + (A Beginner’s Guide)

Jim Moray + (A Beginner’s Guide)
Jim Moray (A Beginner’s Guide) jimmoray.co.uk With material drawn from his three English-only releases, (A Beginner’s Guide) allows American critics to finally ponder the question that’s confounded their overseas counterparts: Is Moray folk, fusion or a fresh amalgam? Based on the evidence here, the answer leans towards the third option. Although his songs originate from traditional sources, the undercurrent of digital beats and electronica... 

Shannon McNally and Hot Sauce + Coldwater

Shannon McNally and Hot Sauce + Coldwater
Shannon McNally and Hot Sauce Coldwater shannonmcnally.com Americana by definition, but possessing the soul, skill and savvy to blur boundaries, Shannon McNally hasn’t missed a beat since parting ways with major label Capitol Records and striking out on her own. Coldwater contains a mere eight tracks, but within those limited confines she covers ample ground. Southern soul (“Lovely” “Bolder Than Paradise”) and a dusty road song (Steve Young’s... 

Anne McCue + Broken Promise Land

Anne McCue + Broken Promise Land
Anne McCue Broken Promise Land annemccue.com With her latest album, this versatile Australian-born guitar slinger redefines herself as one hard-rocking mama. Sassy and suggestive, McCue amps up the attitude and borrows liberally from both Melissa Etheridge and the early blues-based version of Fleetwood Mac. “Rock ’n’ Roll Outlaw,” “Broken Promise Land” and “Lonesome Child” show her partiality to blues and boogie, but it’s the seductive... 

Jason & the Scorchers + Halcyon Times

Jason & the Scorchers + Halcyon Times
Jason & the Scorchers Halcyon Times jasonandthescorchers.com Attitude is everything, and on this riveting new album—their first in a decade—reconstituted Nashville rock band Jason & the Scorchers demonstrates it still has plenty to spare. Singer Jason Ringenberg and guitar foil Warren E. Hodges are in full roar, aided by a new rhythm section and ace collaborators like Dan Baird, Tommy Womack and producer Brad Jones. They raise a ruckus... 

Adam Falcon + Bohemian 959

Adam Falcon + Bohemian 959
Adam Falcon Bohemian 959 adamfalcon.com The sheer love of music exhibited by the beaming kid holding the toy guitar on the cover and the man leaping enthusiastically on the inside sleeve continues well into the grooves of Adam Falcon’s Bohemian 959. Smooth melodies frame the voice of a classic crooner with influences from Seal to Smokey Robinson, but when he gets his groove on more aggressively with “Soul Satisfied” and “Like a Soldier,”... 

Paul Curreri + California

Paul Curreri + California
Paul Curreri California paulcurreri.com Paul Curreri’s music inhabits hazy realms where elements of blues, folk and rock swirl into an amorphous brew. Curreri has never fit neatly into any one niche, and his sprawling California places the emphasis on mood as much as melody. Songs such as “Now I Can Go On,” “Stephen Crane” and “Wildegeeses” amble along loosely as Curreri single-handedly multitasks on guitar, piano and literally every... 

Susan Cowsill + Lighthouse

Susan Cowsill + Lighthouse
Susan Cowsill Lighthouse threadheadrecords.org Anyone who thought Susan Cowsill vanished along with family band the Cowsills may be surprised to learn that the family’s youngest sibling continues making music, both on her own and as a member of another communal combo, the Creekdippers. But the real surprise is that after the tragic deaths of her brothers Barry and Billy and the toll Hurricane Katrina took on her native New Orleans, her superb second... 

Kasey Anderson + Nowhere Nights

Kasey Anderson + Nowhere Nights
Kasey Anderson Nowhere Nights kaseyanderson.com With his fourth album, Anderson firmly entrenches himself in the tradition of Steve Earle, Graham Parker, Townes Van Zandt and other insurgents whose cynical perspective found them swimming against the tide. Alternately rowdy and remorseful, he stirs up a cantankerous brew, his smoky vocals perched atop ragtag arrangements and defiant posturing. A brace of raucous anthems (“All Lit Up,” “Sooner/Later,”... 

MICHAEL MAZZARELLA + SODA POP GRAMOPHONE

MICHAEL MAZZARELLA + SODA POP GRAMOPHONE
MICHAEL MAZZARELLA SODA POP GRAMOPHONE myspace.com/michaelmazzarella After establishing himself both with rock band the Rooks and as a solo act, Michael Mazzarella continues to fly below the mainstream’s radar. Happily, Soda Pop Gramophone may improve his chances of reaching a wider audience—specifically, anyone with a hankering for cheery Beatlesque pop, heavenly harmonies and a semi-psychedelic perspective. The package includes a book illustrated... 

Robert Rodriguez + Fab Four FAQ 2.0: The Beatles’ Solo Years, 1970-1980

Robert Rodriguez + Fab Four FAQ 2.0: The Beatles’ Solo Years, 1970-1980
BOOK REVIEW Robert Rodriguez Fab Four FAQ 2.0: The Beatles’ Solo Years, 1970-1980 [Backbeat Books] No act in the history of rock ’n’ roll has been as thoroughly documented and dissected in print as the Beatles, from Hunter Davies’ 1968 authorized biography The Beatles to recent major efforts like Bob Spitz’s The Beatles: The Biography. But just when it seems like every possible angle on the group has been covered, one more writer suffering... 

The Jayhawks + The Jayhawks

The Jayhawks + The Jayhawks
The Jayhawks The Jayhawks [Lost Highway] In 1986 a young band from Minnesota released its self-titled first album, pressing only 2,000 vinyl copies on a small local label called Bunkhouse Records. The Jayhawks went on to find a national audience for their peculiarly Midwestern blend of rock and country, highlighted by the harmonic and creative interplay between singer-songwriters Mark Olson and Gary Louris. As the group’s influence grew and its... 

Rock ’n’ Roll High School

Rock ’n’ Roll High School
DVD REVIEW Rock ’n’ Roll High School [Shout Factory] After making his name with low budget sci-fi fare such as Little Shop of Horrors, Piranha and Humanoids From the Deep, producer Roger Corman decided that he wanted to pull in a younger audience via a music-themed film. He came up with a concept he called Disco High School and enlisted director Allan Arkush to transform his vision into reality. Fortunately, Arkush convinced him to scrub the disco... 

PAUL WELLER + Wake Up the Nation

PAUL WELLER + Wake Up the Nation
PAUL WELLER Wake Up the Nation [Yep Roc] Each new Paul Weller album is cause for cautious optimism. He’s never really made a bad record, but over the last three decades, he’s failed to recapture the energy of his seminal mod-punk trio the Jam. On his 10th solo effort, Weller comes as close as he likely ever will to a Jam reunion. That’s true in terms of personnel—Jam bassist Bruce Foxton joins him on two tracks—and performance. Despite moments... 

TIFT MERRITT + See You on the Moon

TIFT MERRITT + See You on the Moon
TIFT MERRITT See You on the Moon [Fantasy] From the first downbeat of the opening track, “Mixtape,” Tift Merritt’s latest boasts songwriting far deeper and more visceral than anything she’s done to date. Set against a sparse combo arrangement and some darting Gamble & Huff-worthy strings, Merritt lays out a love letter without sounding the least bit mawkish. From there on out she opts for a sparser sound that’s no less effective. The... 

THE INFAMOUS STRINGDUSTERS + Things That Fly

THE INFAMOUS STRINGDUSTERS + Things That Fly
THE INFAMOUS STRINGDUSTERS Things That Fly [Sugar Hill] Since the late ’60s, acoustic string bands have taken the bluegrass format and pushed it beyond its strict confines. The Infamous Stringdusters fall somewhere between traditional bluegrass and those genre-blasting progressives—Things That Fly, the sextet’s third album, wouldn’t sound entirely alien to Bill Monroe, but neither should the jam-band crowd shy away from it. The basic instrumentation—guitar,... 

JONNY LANG + Live at the Ryman

JONNY LANG + Live at the Ryman
JONNY LANG Live at the Ryman [Concord Records] Since Jonny Lang’s been absent from the recording studio since 2006, a cynic might assume that this live package (recorded in the summer of 2008 at Nashville’s famous Ryman Auditorium) exists merely to keep the former blues prodigy’s name alive. The thing about Lang, though, is that the two talents that made him famous—the shockingly mature growl and guitar work—only ran so far on his proper... 

ROKY ERICKSON WITH OKKERVIL RIVER + True Love Cast Out All Evil

ROKY ERICKSON WITH OKKERVIL RIVER + True Love Cast Out All Evil
ROKY ERICKSON WITH OKKERVIL RIVER True Love Cast Out All Evil [Anti-] Roky Erickson’s mid-1960s singles with the 13th Floor Elevators—and even his mid-’70s solo singles—are garage-rock classics, not so much for the writing as for the amazing vocals. He was one of those rare rock ’n’ roll singers who could be melodic even as he was wildly yelping. But after 45 years of hard living, that voice is gone. What remains is the legend—and the... 

JOHNNY GIMBLE + Celebrating With Friends

JOHNNY GIMBLE + Celebrating With Friends
JOHNNY GIMBLE Celebrating With Friends [CMH Records] Johnny Gimble’s record company is calling the latest release from the Western swing veteran Celebrating With Friends. The artist himself seems to know where the emphasis ought to be and is marketing the same album online with the title Still Swingin’.Whatever you call it, this isn’t an album that’s enhanced much by guest spots. Its joys come from the 83-year-old fiddler himself, who still... 

VARIOUS ARTISTS + Glee: The Power of Madonna

VARIOUS ARTISTS + Glee: The Power of Madonna
VARIOUS ARTISTS Glee: The Power of Madonna [Columbia] So long has “Like a Virgin” been a camp classic that to see it performed on TV by characters actually contemplating their sexual awakening is astonishingly moving. That’s the kind of reinvention that Glee, the music-packed hit show about a high-school glee club, does best. It’s no surprise, then, that the standouts on this EP featuring the seven songs from the show’s April all-Madonna... 

GREG LASWELL + Take a Bow

GREG LASWELL + Take a Bow
GREG LASWELL Take a Bow [Vanguard] Over the course of three albums and three EPs, Greg Laswell has fostered a subdued sound that whispers softly but leaves an enormous impression. The self-produced Take a Bow is no exception. It’s his most formidable set yet, one that dispels the ambiguity of earlier efforts and replaces it with more stirring melodies and a genuinely compelling sonic palette. As always, Laswell specializes in minor-key ballads,... 

YUSEF LATEEF AND ADAM RUDOLPH + Towards the Unknown

YUSEF LATEEF AND ADAM RUDOLPH + Towards the Unknown
YUSEF LATEEF AND ADAM RUDOLPH Towards the Unknown [Meta] Yusef Lateef and Adam Rudolph get so much out of so little. Lateef, 90, remains one of the most adventurous composers and performers in jazz and an improviser nonpareil. Armed with tenor saxophone and several flutes, he and longtime percussionist collaborator Rudolph create rich sonic panoramas on Towards the Unknown by augmenting the spare instrumentation at the core with unconventional orchestral... 

AQUALUNG Magnetic North

AQUALUNG Magnetic North
AQUALUNG Magnetic North [Verve Music Group] It’s not surprising that Aqualung leader Matt Hales’ career was kickstarted by a song featured in a Volkswagen television ad. A purveyor of lightly orchestrated piano pop, the Brit-turned-Californian makes populist music that goes down easy and runs determinedly forward. Nothing wrong with that, mind you, but Hale’s yearning falsetto and tinkly melodies—on full display on Magnetic North—are flavored... 

GOGOL BORDELLO + Trans-Continental Hustle

GOGOL BORDELLO + Trans-Continental Hustle
GOGOL BORDELLO Trans-Continental Hustle [Columbia] Hearing no style of music manic or multicultural enough to express his lusts for life and travel, Ukrainian native Eugene Hutz was forced to create one. The result is Gogol Bordello, a band whose brand of  “gypsy punk”—a propulsive ska-polka-thrash fusion—is as divisive as it is distinctive. Since 1999, Gogol Bordello has released a series of albums whose neon covers speak volumes about the... 

THE GOLDEN + FILTER Voluspa

THE GOLDEN + FILTER Voluspa
THE GOLDEN FILTER Voluspa [Brille Records] After carefully cultivating an enigmatic air through a series of singles, remixes and artfully composed photographs obscuring their faces, the Golden Filter finally steps out with its full-length debut—and dispels none of the mystery. Voluspa, named for an ancient epic Norse creation-myth poem, is 11 tracks of gauzy electro-pop, with ethereal vocals from Penelope Trappes over pulsing synthesizers and gently... 

CROOKED STILL + Some Strange Country

CROOKED STILL + Some Strange Country
CROOKED STILL Some Strange Country [Signature Sounds] Crooked Still’s fourth album arrives with a fitting title, for with this release the band has solidified its hold on musical territory that few if any have trod before. Is it folk? Or old-time? Is it bluegrass, or newgrass? Some species of classically styled chamber music? It sounds like all of those things, sometimes within the span of a single song. (The sweep of “Locust in the Willow”... 

MARY CHAPIN CARPENTER + The Age of Miracles

MARY CHAPIN CARPENTER + The Age of Miracles
MARY CHAPIN CARPENTER The Age of Miracles [Real World] Is there a songwriter who needed a dose of big-picture perspective less than Mary Chapin Carpenter? Even her 1990s country-pop hits practically defied radio with their profundity. Nevertheless, The Age of Miracles explores the emotional aftermath of a pulmonary embolism that nearly killed Carpenter in 2007. “Everything that you know can disappear,” she muses on “Iceland,” while the upbeat... 
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