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Showing posts from August, 2012

Ho Hey - The Lumineers

from the single Ho Hey (2012)

I have been meaning to write about this song for a few months now, but some other song always seemed to trump it.  Then I saw them open for Old Crow Medicine Show last Saturday night in Atlanta.  They blew me away, and left me asking myself what I've been waiting for.

Ho Hey appeals to me on many levels.  First is the title that reminds me of Joey Ramone with dyslexia. Second is the chorus: "I belong with you / You belong with me / You're my sweetheart" that is timeless and catchy.  Third is the mix of instruments, consisting of acoustic guitar, mandolin, cello, and percussion.  It is great to see talented young musicians playing acoustic instruments with such joy.

However, it was not until I saw them live that I realized what a talent Wesley Schultz is.  He is the real deal.  A dynamic singer and guitarist with infectious energy.

The night ended with The Lumineers joining Old Crow Medicine Show and The Milk Carton Kids onstage for an ext…

Levi - Old Crow Medicine Show

from the album Carry Me Back (2012)

The Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia is hallowed ground.  This is the stage where Lynyrd Skynyrd recorded their classic album One More From The Road that culminated with the live version of Freebird that is part of the soundtrack of millions of lives.  Entering the venue, I always imagine a barefoot Ronnie Van Zant, urging his band to "play it pretty for Atlanta."

My favorite Fox Theatre memory was seeing Bob Dylan perform a few weeks after Jerry Garcia died.  For his first encore, Dylan covered The Dead's Alabama Getaway.  People freaked out, doing their crazy Dead dance with reckless abandon.  Anthropologists would have stood in awe of this ritual.

Tonight, I caught a great show at the Fox headlined by Old Crow Medicine Show, with The Lumineers and The Milk Carton Kids opening.  In my opinion, The Lumineers owned the night, but more on them in a future post.

The standout song of the evening was Levi.  This song is inspired by Lieutena…

Trellic - Baxter Dury

from the album Happy Soup (2012)

I made my own version of Happy Soup recently.  Some friends were coming over for dinner and I decided to try an Internet recipe for Columbian Chicken Stew.  These friends include some excellent cooks, so everything needed to be savory.  All was going perfect until I got to the garlic.  The recipe called for six thinly-sliced cloves.  Not knowing the difference between a clove and a head, I sliced six heads (about 45 cloves) thinking "Man, thats a lot of garlic."  But who am I to question the Columbians?

As the pot of molten broth reached full boil, I had to open the windows.  Vampires across the city panicked.  Arriving guests said they could smell it down the street.  The meal was quickly deemed inedible, so we escaped to the back deck, ate dessert, and drank lots of wine.  People laughed themselves silly over both the smell and my blunder.  It was a very fun night and everyone still laughs about it.  I guess that's Happy Soup.

Trellic is…

Happy At Your Gate - Erika Spring

from the EP Erika Spring (2012)

Brooklyn continues to evolve into a lush urban garden where wonderful new music blossoms.  With artists as diverse as its population, this borough offers the fantastic grooves of the Brooklyn Funk Essentials, the lost-prairie vibe of The Loom, to all the inspired music of labels like Electric Cowbell Records and Daptone Records.  This is a land where up-and-coming musicians rehearse in the back of barber shops and record in basement studios.  Viva Brooklyn.

Erika Spring is the latest in a long string of Brooklyn acts that I dig.  On leave from synth-pop trio Au Revoir Simone, she has released a self-titled EP that includes this groovin' song about a girl who arrives at a love interest's place to find the gate unlocked.  This makes the girl happy as she enters the gate.  A wonderfully simple and innocent theme for a song.

This sweet theme combines with a catchy melody, haunting keyboards and dreamy vocals to produce something that I hope puts a s…

Samba Sambei - Criolo

from the album No Na Orelha (2011)

Imagine yourself driving home from the beach on a hot summer afternoon with the windows down and the stereo turned way up, and you'll be ready for this song from the Brazilian artist Criolo.  Hypnotically catchy, this track is highlighted by some jaw-dropping production and stellar vocals.

The power of the kick drum and snare command you with a strong, steady beat that sounds as though it were recorded on a racquetball court.  The bass guitar is magnificently equalized and compressed allowing you to pick out every note of its masterful, low frequency groove.  Finally, the horn arrangements are recorded clean and crisp, allowing you to literally feel each contour that helps shape the song.  Woven together, the results are reminiscent of UB40's finest studio work.

I also dig how Criolo has applied a perfectly restrained vocal to the arrangement.  I am always impressed by singers who can craft their vocals to best fit the song.  Compare his voca…

Makelloser Mann - Mike Doughty

from the album Yes And Also Yes (2011)

At 1 minute 18 seconds, this song is too short for many listeners to take seriously.  In fact, it was probably a throw away for the band as well.  The song lacks any real structure and the lyrics are simply a collection of unconnected German phrases with English translations like "Immaculate Man", "a little child eats a little egg", and "I am a female actress".  Nothing particularly profound here.

But for some reason, I love this song.  The music grabs me from the first note with a vibe reminiscent of Monster by Fred Schneider and The Shake Society.  Then enters Mike Doughty singing German in a deeper than usual voice as the jam unfolds.  Before too long I am singing "Makelloser Mann, Makelloser Mann".  And then it is suddenly over.

Sometimes this happens with really enjoyable stuff.

74 Years Young - Buddy Guy

from the album Living Proof (2010)

It feels like the perfect time to pay tribute to the old guys.  I have great respect for anyone who keeps doing their thing, long after their peers have fallen off the pace. From Frank Lloyd Wright to Bob Dylan, these people inspire me.

This is particularly true of blues artists.  Last October, I attended the Russian River Blues Festival in California.  The two headliners were B.B. King and Buddy Guy.  At 87 and 75 years of age, respectively, they each blew me away with their passion and their music.  Standing in a field along a river bank, listening to B.B. close the festival with an extended version of The Thrill Is Gone will stay with me forever.

At the show, Buddy Guy stayed away from many of his classics and focused on his new material.  74 Years Young is Track One on his most recent studio album.  Starting with a Be-Bop-a Lula riff on an acoustic guitar, Buddy sings about still being vital at 74.  Before long, he erupts into a blistering solo t…

No Diggity - Chet Faker

from the album Thinking In Textures (2012)

Have you ever wondered why so many hip hop and rap artists seamlessly incorporate other musical genres into their work, while the converse is rarely true?  I guess the reason is that adapting rap into a blues-based music framework is very difficult.  Try to imagine Florence + The Machine covering The Message by Grandmaster Flash + The Furious Five.  Beyond humorous, the outcome would be downright silly.

So, hats off to Chet Faker for this fine rendition of the Blackstone (featuring Dr. Dre) classic.  The Melbourne, Australia keyboardist has transformed this song into a downtempo gem all his own.  I really enjoy the groove, the quality of his voice, and the keyboard tracks.  Thinking In Textures is a great name for this album.  His attention to detail in crafting the tones and arrangements shine thru on every track.  The results on this song, in particular, are superb.  Check it out.

Click Here to check out a live version from The Great Escape …