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Showing posts from May, 2013

Partners In Crime - Lucinda Williams

from the single Songs For Slim: Partners In Crime / Nowheres Near (2013)

Slim Dunlap is a guitarist based in the Twin Cities area.  He is best known as "The Replacement Replacement," taking over the guitar playing duties for The Replacements after their original guitarist left the band with drug and alcohol issues.

Following the band's break-up, he released two mid-90's solo albums that contained some great songwriting and performances.  If you have the chance, check out his albums The Old New Me and Time Like This.

In 2012, Slim Dunlap suffered a massive stroke and will likely require continual care from here on out. Slim did not have adequate health insurance to cover his circumstances.  This is a sad fate that belies many working musicians.

Fortunately, many of his musician friends have rallied to his support.  They are releasing a series of singles covering Slim's songs with the proceeds helping cover his costs.  Just this week, Jakob Dylan released a a cover…

You Could Be Anybody - Club 8

from the album Above The City (2013)

Club 8 is a band that offers an electronic brand of Swedish indie pop whose new album, Above The City, is filled with cool, dreamy grooves that I enjoy.

You Could Be Anybody is the song off the record that I has caught my ear.  I dig the simple beat and groove coupled with the slightly laid back tempo.  I also dig Karolina Komstedt's sexy and subtle vocals.

This song offers a nice counterbalance to the heavy guitar tunes I have been jamming on lately.  Sometimes it is nice to sit back and chill...

Click Here to listen to this song on SoundCloud.

One Million Lovers - The Growlers

from the album Hung At Heart (2013)

Beach Goth ... What took so long?

When I first heard the phrase, I was torn between images of Brian Wilson's black finger-nailed grandson reenacting scenes from Surf Nazis MustDie and images of The Sisters Of Mercy slappin' on the sunscreen and cruisin' the beach for girls with dolphin tattoos.

Actually, I dig the whole Beach Goth thing.  So much great music has come from Southern California, why shouldn't it keep springing up new stuff.  Beach Goth borrows the reverb and drum rhythms of surf, tempers it with Goth's somber lyrics and tones, and adds its own fresh vibe that is very well suited for beach dwellers in places like Laguna Beach and Dana Point.

One Million Lovers is a song by The Growlers that makes the perfect kickoff to your trippy summer.  It is quite an interesting song to dissect, with a central "carnival like" keyboard track holding up the verses with guitars and a memorable melody line supporting the ch…

Ana's Shuffle - Ana Popović

from the album Can You Stand The Heat (2013)

Ana Popović is a 37-year old blues singer/guitarist from Serbia who now call Nashville, Tennessee home.  She has the lead guitar chops to match licks with just about anybody.

In the fall of 2010, I caught her at the Russian River Blues Festival in Guerneville, California opening for headliners B.B. King and Buddy Guy.  At the end of Buddy Guy's set, she joined other undercard performers on stage for the finale.  At one point, Buddy Guy plays a great lead, but isn't laying it all out there the way he did in younger days.  Ana Popović follows with a blistering solo.  At one point, Buddy Guy looks over at her with a "this bitch is showing me up" look on his face.  Buddy Guy then enters with a solo that blew the roof off the sky.

So, Ana Popović is good enough to make Buddy Guy dig in and play hard.  There was no doubt about it.

Ana's Shuffle is an instrumental off of her latest release that shows off her guitar skills.  Th…

Demons - The National

from the album Trouble Will Find Me (2013)

I spent this week in NYC, my favorite place to see live music. Unfortunately, I was there for work and my schedule was not going to allow me to catch a show.  On Tuesday night, I was looking for a place with a little grit to take some colleagues to dinner and headed towards a taquerila on the lower east side.  As we wound closer to our destination, we passed the Mercury Lounge, one of my favorite venues in the city.  The line to get in was longer than I had ever seen.  It turns out that The National were playing a sold out show.

How I would have loved being there.  These Brooklyn indie-rockers have been on my list of bands to see for several years.  I am particularly drawn to singer Matt Berninger's baritone voice.  I am equally drawn to the song Demons from their new album Trouble Will Find Me.

This song is destined for alternative radio glory.  It centers on a man in a deep funk who cannot rise above it.  This results in the song's …

Marshal Dear - Savages

from the album Silence Yourself (2013)

I am always fascinated to listen to a band's debut album.  It is their statement to the world saying "This is who we are, so listen up."

My favorite debut album is The Doors eponymous release.  The record opens with Break On Through (To The Other Side) which is a definitive statement on what this band hoped to accomplish.  As the record unfolds, the listener is introduced to Light My Fire, Back Door Man, and The Alabama Song.  That alone makes it one of the greatest debuts in rock.  But then there is the closing track - The End - where the band takes eleven and a half minutes to blow your mind and foreshadow what was yet to come.

Savages debut release - Silence Yourself - is a stellar record.  With its opening track - Shut Up - we are introduced to a band that lays down a groove reminiscent of the Gang Of Four and early U2, with vocals that come closer to Patti Smith than anyone in recent memory.  It blows me away.  Add to it that t…

Waikiki Romance - Super Wild Horses

from the album Crosswords (2013)

I suppose it is fair to consider my trip to Hawaii a success.  My goal was to take time to relax and rejuvenate.  And for the first ten days I simply chilled, listened to Brother Iz, and enjoyed the view.  But now, I am fired up and ready to return.  I can tell by the tunes I am cranking.

For my final day, I am blasting out Waikiki Romance by Super Wild Horses.  This girl duo from Melbourne, Australia offer up a lo-fi, garage sound that has a punk-pop sensibility.

Waikiki Romance is one of many songs on their Crosswords album that do the trick for me.  As you may guess from the title, this song caught my attention with its Hawaiian theme.  There are three elements of this song that resonate with me:  the vocals, the guitar, and the drums.

The vocals are sung with a young, reckless abandon that is full of raw energy.  When the backing vocals join in for a rousing chant of "Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah," I can'…

Hawaiian Grind Boogie - La Tarantella

from the single Hawaiian Grind Boogie (2013)

Just after sunrise this morning, I got in my rental car and drove on the coastal roads between Hilo and the Volcanos on the Big Island of Hawaii.  Awesome drive thru Mango Forests and rocky coast lines.  As the waves were getting bigger, I saw a bunch of vehicles parked near a marina.  There it was ... surf heaven.

I sat on the hood of the car and watched a couple of dozen surfers navigate the nasty chop and rocks.  It was exhilarating.

The perfect song for this occasion is Hawaiian Grind Boogie by La Tarantella.  This six-piece surf band from Sydney, Australia lays down their surf with the hard edge that these waves deserved.  I really dig how they mix classic '60's surf stylings with a nasty, modern bite.

If you dig monster riffs and tones as much as I do, with some throaty sax thrown in, then you need to check this tune out.

Click Here to take a listen on SoundCloud.

The Jaguar - Neon Neon

from the album Praxis Makes Perfect (2013)

I am currently in Hawaii, spending a few weeks bopping around the islands.  Before heading here, I loaded up on new music and expected to be chilling out to it between adventures.  Oddly, things have not gone according to plan.  Tempo is to blame.

The natural rhythms of these islands run a very relaxed pace. Almost any music I play is too fast-paced for these islands.  Even reggae music has too quick a beat and too hard an edge.

My solution has been to listen to a playlist of native Hawaiian tunes I have amassed from previous trips.  These songs fit perfectly with the local tempo.  And when you listening to Israel Kamakawiwo'ole sing, life is good.

After ten days of Hawaiian tunes, I need to mix things up.  The music that seems to best hit the mark is 1970's mellow rock mixed in with a bit of Jack Johnson & friends.  But for new music, I remained at a loss.

Then I listened to The Jaguar by Neon Neon.  This song recalls a retro 70&…

Bonnie Blue - James Cotton

from the album Cotton Mouth Man (2013)

I remember watching an interview with Mick Jagger back in the 1980's where he was asked if he ever thought he would be too old to rock and roll.  He replied by speaking about the great blues musicians from the 1940's and 1950's who continued to make great music into their later years.  He considered them to be role models for what he hoped to accomplish.  Me too.

Many of the artists he was speaking of have since past, but there are still a few who remain.  James Cotton is one of particular note. Taught to play harmonica by Sonny Boy Williamson II, this seventy-seven year old is best remembered for his years playing with artists like Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf.  His performances are electrifying.  My favorite is his song Rocket '88, recorded back in 1966 for Vanguard Records.

I love that James Cotton is still out there, playing the blues.  His latest album, Cotton Mouth Man, stands in the tradition of great blues artists who…

The Tallest Tower In The World - Darcy James Argue's Secret Society

from the album Brooklyn Babylon (2013)

Canadian music composer Darcy James Argue has released a work, titled Brooklyn Babylon, that is one of the most amazing records I have ever heard.

The band for this jazz classic is an 18-piece orchestra that expertly executes the composer's vision and succeeds in capturing, in music, the sound and energy of Brooklyn.

The premise of the record is the construction of the world's tallest building and it becoming a center for all of the diverse people of the borough to gather in pride.

The premise actually makes a lot of sense.  With Mayor Bloomberg lifting zoning restrictions that prohibited skyscrapers and the beautiful patchwork of world cultures that constitute Brooklyn, it is the logical place for this to happen.

But this record is all about the music.  It is a tour de force, leading us thru the jazz age to our current times.  In the record you hear everything from Souza-esque marching bands to soaring saxophone solos that reminds you of…

Losing Game - La Santa Cecilia

from the album Treinta Días (2013)

Have you ever run into someone you know in a place that is wildly different from the place where you know them from?  For me, I tend to get a little freaked out at first.  Then I settle into "okay, this can be cool,"  Unless, of course, I decide to ditch the interloper.

Tonight, I found myself in a curiously latin mood.  I was speaking with a strange accent and dancing oddly to the perverse rhythms of my mind. This soon graduated into cocktails on the back deck.  I fired up the stereo and put on Treinta Días by La Santa Cecilia.  I really dig this Los Angeles band for figuring out how to create a latin vibe that I can identify with.  They infuse elements of tango, bolero and bossa nova while still projecting a hipster-lounge edge that you might find at the coolest club in your city.

Track six is a song called Losing Game.  It is the only english-language track on the album.  The accordion introduction is loaded with rich tones over a sensua…