29 nov 2012

Georgia Anne Muldrow: Seeds

review[-]by Andy Kellman On Seeds, Georgia Muldrow takes a step back and leaves the beatmaking to Otis Jackson Jr., aka Madlib. As producers, Muldrow and Jackson are not worlds apart, so the switch requires no adjustment on the part of the listener. That said, this is one dense and tight set, barely over half-an-hour in length, and it's definitely in contention for Muldrow's most focused, funkiest, and (somewhat ironically) personal release to date. While she does not stray into new topics, there is an emphasis on her family as salvation and purpose, and all children -- seeds, as in the chilling call-to-action title song -- are a major concern. The most direct track of the lot is "Husfriend," where she honors her relationship with Dudley Perkins (aka Declaime, who shows up elsewhere): "I'm so glad I had your child/Ecstatic that we really followed through"; "You're the only one that made my demons leave the room." Muldrow can't quite divorce the planetary and personal issues, heard vividly on "Best Love," which sounds just like a simple, sweet, straight-ahead love song until she starts asking her other half for money to build water wells on three continents ("We can make a difference if we try now"). Jackson's productions trawl through more piles of the obscure jazz and funk recordings at his disposal, and they foster typically high-viscosity rhythms, capable of pulling some neck muscles.

27 nov 2012

NME's 20 Best Albums of 2012

Lo mejor del 2012 - MOJO -

Empezamos con las listas:

 MOJO's Top 20 Albums of 2012
 1. Jack White - Blunderbuss
2. Frank Ocean - Channel Orange
3. Bill Fay - Life Is People
4. Leonard Cohen - Old Ideas
5. Dexys - One Day I'm Going to Soar
 6. The Black Keys - El Camino
7. Django Django - Django Django
8. Dr. John - Locked Down
 9. Julia Holter - Ekstasis
10. Bob Dylan - Tempest
11. Scott Walker - Bish Bosch
12. Tame Impala - Lonerism
13. The xx - Coexist
14. Hot Chip - In Our Heads
15. Cat Power - Sun
16. Bobby Womack - The Bravest Man in the Universe
17. Mark Lanegan Band - Blues Funeral
 18. Orbital - Wonky
19. Advance Base - A Shut-In's Prayer

24 nov 2012

Beachwood Sparks performing "Tarnished Gold" on KCRW

"Tarnished Gold" es otro de los elegidos en estar entre los mejores discos del 2012. Un exquisito tema que da título al nuevo álbum de Beachwood Sparks.

The Domnicks - super real

Don Mariani vuelve ha hacer de las suyas con su nuevo trabajo:

Graham Parker - Get started, start a fire

canciones porque sí:

P-Funk Allstars - urban danceflor guerrillas

review[-]by Stephen Cook This truly is an all-star affair. Parliament and Funkadelic alumni like Bootsy Collins, Eddie Hazel, Walter "Junie" Morrison, and Garry Shider, among others, resurface from various stages in the Mothership's time upon earth to contribute to this stylistically sprawling and urbanely funky session; adding to the impressive roll call are high-profile soul and funk guest stars such as Sly "Sylvester Stewart" Stone, Bobby Womack, Fred Wesley, and Maceo Parker. And leading the charge is the master himself, George Clinton. Amazingly, considering all the egos involved, Urban Dancefloor Guerillas comes off sounding of a piece. And while the expansive funk found on Uncle Jams Wants You and One Nation Under A Groove is, for the most part, bypassed here -- this album adheres more to the compact and streamlined sound heard on The Mothership Connection -- Urban Dancefloor Guerillas still impresses with sophisticated charts, top playing, and a wealth of rich harmonies. The funk gets nicely mixed up with relatively straightforward cuts like "Pumpin' It Up" and the prescient "Copy Cat" (P-Funk's output, of course, would become a veritable sampling library for the hip hop community), as well as more experimental numbers like "Catch a Keeper" (co-produced and arranged by Stone) and the Dadaist funk jam "Hydraulic Pump." And expanding the repertoire nicely, Clinton indulges in the updated doo wop of "One of Those Summers" and some breezy jazz and funk on "Acupuncture." The newer touches may not suit fans loyal to the group's groundbreaking ‘70s albums, but Urban Dancefloor Guerillas is certainly worth checking out for its own brand of inspired funk.

23 nov 2012

Parliament - Mothership Connection

Disco Recomendado
[-] by Jason Birchmeier The definitive Parliament-Funkadelic album, Mothership Connection is where George Clinton's revolving band lineups, differing musical approaches, and increasingly thematic album statements reached an ideal state, one that resulted in enormous commercial success as well as a timeless legacy that would be compounded by hip-hop postmodernists, most memorably Dr. Dre on his landmark album The Chronic (1992). The musical lineup assembled for Mothership Connection is peerless: in addition to keyboard wizard Bernie Worrell; Bootsy Collins, who plays not only bass but also drums and guitar; the guitar trio of Gary Shider, Michael Hampton, and Glen Goins; and the Becker brothers (Michael and Randy) on horns; there are former J.B.'s Fred Wesley and Maceo Parker (also on horns), who were the latest additions to the P-Funk stable. Besides the dazzling array of musicians, Mothership Connection boasts a trio of hands-down classics -- "P-Funk (Wants to Get Funked Up)," "Mothership Connection (Star Child)," "Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof off the Sucker)" -- that are among the best to ever arise from the funk era, each sampled and interpolated time and time again by rap producers; in particular, Dr. Dre pays homage to the former two on The Chronic (on "The Roach" and "Let Me Ride," respectively). The remaining four songs on Mothership Connection are all great also, if less canonical. Lastly, there's the overlapping outer-space theme, which ties the album together into a loose escapist narrative. There's no better starting point in the enormous P-Funk catalog than Mothership Connection, which, like its trio of classic songs, is undoubtedly among the best of the funk era.

Johnny Marr - The Messenger

The Rolling Stones - Doom And Gloom

19 nov 2012

The Dictators

biography[-]by John Dougan Formed in 1974, N.Y.C.'s Dictators were one of the finest and most influential proto-punk bands to walk the earth. Alternately reveling in and satirizing the wanton excesses of a rock & roll lifestyle and lowbrow culture (e.g., wrestling, TV, fast food), the Dictators, whose worldview was defined by bassist/keyboardist and former fanzine publisher (Teenage Wasteland Gazette) Andy (occasionally Adny) Shernoff and renegade rock critic/theorist Richard Meltzer, played loud, fast rock & roll fueled by a love of '60s American garage rock, British Invasion pop, and the sonic onslaught of the Who. Driven by the guitar barrage of Scott "Top Ten" Kempner and Ross "the Boss" Funichello and fronted by indefatigable ex-roadie and wrestler Handsome Dick Manitoba (aka Richard Blum), it seemed that nothing stood in the way of the Dictators and mega-popularity. But that's not what happened. There were complications with record companies, personnel changes (one-time bassist Mark Mendoza left for Twisted Sister; original drummer Stu Boy King was replaced by Richie Teeter), radio hated them, critical response was lukewarm, and lots of audiences didn't get the jokes; supporters remained loyal and vociferous (especially Meltzer), but it didn't turn into anything tangible. Ironically, what didn't help at all was the rise of the New York punk scene, which only diverted attention away from them and onto bands they influenced (e.g., the Ramones). They did manage to release three fine albums, but after 1978's Bloodbrothers was greeted with public apathy, the group's members began moving in different directions. Kempner put together the Del-Lords and the Little Kings and recorded as a solo act. Ross the Boss spent a few years in the goofy, macho heavy metal band Manowar and later joined Shernoff and Manitoba in the punk/metal combo Manitoba's Wild Kingdom. And Shernoff worked as a producer. However, as Shernoff put it, "the Dictators never broke up. Sure there were occasional gaps of a few years between some shows (we had lives to lead) but deep in our hearts and souls we always knew we were Dictators. We couldn't escape it even when we tried." With this in mind, the band got together to play a handful of shows in 1980, one of which was recorded for the cassette-only album Fuck 'Em If They Can't Take A Joke, which was later reissued as New York, New York. The band hit the road again in 1991, and began heading out on a semi-regular basis after that. In 2001, the Dictators made their abandoned retirement official and recorded a new album, D.F.F.D., which ranked with the band's finest work in the studio. More touring followed, and a live album recorded at two shows in support of D.F.F.D., Viva Dictators!, came out in 2005.

18 nov 2012

Neneh Cherry & The Thing: The Cherry Thing

review[-]by Thom Jurek The Cherry Thing features vocalist and songwriter Neneh Cherry fronting the brilliant, provocative Scandinavian the Thing, whose members are saxophonist Mats Gustafsson, bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love. The latter are a diverse vanguard jazz group whose name comes from a tune by Don Cherry; their founding mission was to play his music. They've since expanded to cover rock tunes and play their own compositions. For those who remember only Cherry's pop hits, this may seem a radical departure, but it's actually a return of sorts. She began her career in the 1980s as a teen vocalist in post-punk outfits Rip Rig & Panic and Float Up CP; both melded free jazz and angular funk. She is a natural collaborator -- she's worked with Pulp, Tricky, the The, and Gorillaz. There are two originals here. Cherry's confrontational love song "Cashback" opens a set that melds syncopated, acoustic jazz funk and post-millennial soul. Gustafsson's jazz tune "Sudden Moment" features wonderful twinned phrasing by the saxophonist and Cherry before opening into an improvisational sprawl. Of the covers, the nearly nine-minute version of Suicide's "Dream Baby Dream" puts Bruce Springsteen's contrived version to shame. In the Cherry Thing's embrace, it is no less ethereal than the original, but far more sinister; Cherry's honeyed croon keeps the beautiful melodic core intact, even as she becomes ever more insistent, showing her dominant authority. Her accompanists build a gorgeous wall of atmospheric tension behind her. Martina Topley-Bird's "Too Tough to Die" begins sparsely and slowly before Cherry and Gustafsson enter and begin pushing, charging at the lyric edges. Cherry's vocal is emboldened with risk, turning the melody in on itself and ululating against the baritone horn. The rhythm sections answers with syncopated breaks and funk. MF Doom's "Accordion" and the Stooges' "Dirt" may seem like choices from opposite ends of the spectrum, but are complementary here. Both are sparse, threatening, and poignant, the former tinged with implied violence, and the latter -- the finest groove-laden cover of the tune ever recorded -- smolders with raw, dark sensuality. Between them is papa Cherry's "Golden Heart," an otherworldly meld of Middle Eastern modes and textures and a skeletal lyric frame that displays this group's command of diverse musical languages. Closer "What Reason Could I Give" is a less refined, more mournful blues-oriented take on Ornette Coleman's "What a Reason" (one of his few tunes that features lyrics). Its nearly mournful presentation, with gorgeous jazz singing by Cherry and restrained yet adventurous soloing by Gustafsson and Håker Flaten, make the tune drip with longing. The Cherry Thing is a collaboration whose immediacy, dynamic, and motion are organic; its creative originality singular. It unabashedly and nakedly displays its seams and inspirations. It is a serious contender for any representative year-end list.

Billy Bragg - Sexuality video

Y seguro que también recordais el single más destacado del "Don't Try this at Home" de Billy Bragg . "Sexuality" que maravilla de canción y de vídeo ! Que guapa la ya desaparecida Kristy MacColl.

16 nov 2012

Billy Bragg - Tank Park Salute (1991)

Me acuerdo cuando salió el disco , este era otro de mis temas favoritos del "Don't Try This at Home" Ahora lo estoy escuchando de nuevo,es de esas joyas que en algún momento recuperas otra vez. Una canción triste y deliciosa al mismo tiempo. Ahora si que me despido por hoy y con este comentario que está en you tube sobre el tema. "My Dad died 30 years ago. I saw Billy play about 2 years ago, and before the show, I asked him to sign these lyrics matted along with photos of me and my Dad. He said he was "honored" to do so. That hangs in our home and I'll treasure it always."

Billy Bragg - Accident Waiting to Happen (1991)

Bueno y para acabar ( hace tiempo que no participaba en el blog!). Esta maravilla que aparece en el album "Don't Try This at Home" (1991)(UNO DE SUS MEJORES DISCOS!!!!!!!) del gran Billy Bragg. Genial Billy!

The Lumineers - The Dead Sea

Este es otro de mis discos favoritos de este año , The Lumineers. Este tema me engancha con ese toque entre Ryan Adams y The Felice Brothers (disco Yonder is the Clock). "The Dead Sea" , un tema impresionante en este disco de presentación de The Lumineers. Espero que os guste!!

Band of Horses A Little Biblical Later with Jools Holland BBC Two

Apabullador tema del nuevo disco de los Band of Horses. A mi entender entre los 5 mejores discos del 2012. Otro excelente año de los grupos y artistas de pop/folk/rock/country en los USA.

14 nov 2012

Birdy: Birdy

review[-]by Jon O'Brien On the face of it, the self-titled debut from 15-year-old Birdy, aka Jasmine van den Bogaerde, doesn't seem any different from the hastily assembled cash-in covers albums released every year by the various X Factor alumni. But although its 11 renditions of mostly contemporary songs, many of which could be passed off as originals due to their previous lack of exposure, stick to the tried-and-tested talent show formula, that's where the comparisons end. Indeed, you won't find any karaoke standards or renditions of Miley Cyrus songs here, as this stripped-back collection of lesser-known hits and album tracks reads like a who's who of lo-fi hipster indie rock. The likes of the National's "Terrible Love" and Francis & the Lights' "I'll Never Forget You" offer little deviation from the source material, but for the most part, producers Rich Costey (Muse), James Ford (Arctic Monkeys), and Jim Abiss (Adele) strip the songs down to their bare bones, turning Cherry Ghost's everyman anthem "People Hold the People" into a tender torch song with its stately piano chords and mournful cello, toning down the aggression of the Naked & Famous' synth pop hit "Young Blood" with some muted beats and ethereal twinkling electronica, while somehow turning the already sparse "Shelter" from the xx's Mercury Music Prize winner into an even more skeletal and ghostly affair. As clever and subtle as these reworkings are, it's Birdy's youthful and fragile voice that steals the show, whether it's replicating the multi-layered harmonies of Fleet Foxes' "White Winter Hymnal," providing a poignancy to Bon Iver's "Skinny Love," or showcasing her scale-gliding abilities on the Postal Service's "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight." The gospel-tinged cover of James Taylor's "Fire and Rain," the only track to sound more expansive than the original, feels slightly out of place, while the unremarkable balladry of the only original composition, "Without a Word," suggests she might have to work a little harder on her songwriting skills if she's to avoid becoming a one-trick pony. The whole idea of Birdy sounds like a transparent attempt to court a more credible audience, but thanks to her haunting tones and a tasteful yet compelling production, it impressively avoids being the try-hard affair you'd expect.

11 nov 2012

Mink DeVille

biography[-]by Jason Ankeny Although a product of the New York punk scene, at heart Mink DeVille were a soul band with roots in R&B, the blues, and even Cajun music. The group was a showcase for frontman Willy DeVille (born William Boray in 1953), a native New Yorker who in 1971 traveled to London to form a band; unable to find compatible musicians, he worked as a solo performer before returning to the U.S. and settling in San Francisco, where he founded the first incarnation of Mink DeVille in 1974 with bassist Ruben Siguenza and drummer Tom "Manfred" Allen. After playing in Bay Area leather bars and lounges under a variety of names including Billy DeSade & the Marquis and the Lazy Eights, the trio read a music magazine feature spotlighting the Ramones; duly inspired, Mink DeVille relocated to New York, where they recruited guitarist Louie X. Erlanger. After debuting with three tracks on the Live at CBGB's compilation, the band entered the studio with legendary producer Jack Nitzsche and surfaced in 1977 with Cabretta, an energetic, soulful outing highlighted by "Spanish Stroll," a Top 20 hit in the U.K. After recording 1978's Return to Magenta, Willy DeVille dismissed his bandmates (save for Erlanger) and moved to Paris to record Le Chat Bleu, a record steeped in traditional French-Cajun romantic ballads -- complete with accordion backing -- and recorded with session luminaries including bassist Jerry Scheff, saxophonist Teenage Steve Douglas, and drummer Ron Tutt. Dismayed with the results, the group's label, Capitol, delayed its American release for over a year, prompting Mink DeVille to jump to Atlantic for 1981's Coup de Grace. By 1983's Where Angels Fear to Tread, Willy DeVille was the sole remaining founding member; after the release of 1985's Sportin' Life, he finally jettisoned the Mink DeVille name to continue working as a solo performer. Among his later recordings, the most successful was 1986's Mark Knopfler-produced Miracle; the single "Storybook Love" was later nominated for an Academy Award after it appeared in the film The Princess Bride.

Jake Bugg

biography[-]by James Christopher Monger Raised on a steady diet of The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, and the brothers Gallagher, English singer/songwriter Jake Bugg blends the melodious, working-class swagger of the La's and the primal, bluesy simplicity of the White Stripes with the wry, weathered romanticism of Jens Lekman. Born in Nottingham, Bugg picked up the guitar at the age of 12, and within a year he was composing his own songs. Disinterested in the hip-hop and grime that dominated the listening habits of his peers, he turned to the classics for inspiration. Bugg's first brush with recognition came at the age of 17, when a local DJ began spinning one of the cuts he uploaded to BBC Introducing, a program that supports "unsigned, undiscovered, and under-the-radar musicians." An invitation to play Glastonbury arrived shortly thereafter, and before he knew it, he was supporting acts like Lana Del Ray, Example, and Michael Kiwanuka, and had inked a deal with Mercury. His first single, "Lightning Bolt," arrived in early 2012, while his eponymous debut album appeared in October of the same year and featured production work from former Snow Patrol collaborator, Iain Archer. review[-]by James Wilkinson As far as debut albums go, this eponymous release is a surprisingly accomplished effort from the Nottingham-born teenager Jake Bugg. Although he stares out from the album cover like a younger, long-lost cousin of the View or the Enemy, while those U.K. indie acts found their nourishment on a diet of the Jam, Oasis, and the Strokes, Bugg found time to explore pre-Beatles music from the likes of Buddy Holly and Richie Valens. These influences -- combined with a folk sensibility and moments of delicate acoustic fingerpicking that betray a love for Bob Dylan and Donovan -- make for an accessible, pop-focused record that doesn’t attempt to chase innovation. Much of the material here was co-written, produced, and mixed by Snow Patrol and Reindeer Section collaborator Iain Archer. When Bugg and Archer combine on “Taste It” and “Trouble Town” -- two of the album’s stronger, more raucous tracks -- it’s as if you’re hearing what the La’s would have sounded like if John Power had been their dominant force, as opposed to Lee Mavers. It’s the intro to “Taste It” in particular that apes “Feelin’” -- the Liverpudlians’ final single -- while “Trouble Town” comes across as a rewrite of their cautionary “Doledrum” with its skiffle-fueled tales of unemployment benefits and missed payments. The comparatively positive and sprightly opener “Lightning Bolt” didn’t do Bugg any harm when it was featured just prior to the BBC’s live coverage of Usain Bolt’s Olympic 100m victory and was heard by a U.K. audience of 20 million people. Built around a three-chord shuffle and a bridge that Noel Gallagher would be proud of, it’s another example of a Bugg/Archer gem. While it’s the analog-sounding upbeat tracks such as these that impress, it’s the mid-paced, digitally polished ballads and resultant formulaic pacing that underwhelm. It’s safe to say that those searching for experimental music should most definitely look elsewhere. “Broken” -- co-written with former Longpigs frontman Crispin Hunt -- takes Bugg into broad, “X-Factor does indie” territory, while “Country Song” tiptoes between James Blunt’s vocal quirks and John Denver’s suffocating pleasantry. Inoffensive and clean-cut as they are, both tracks signify a mid-album lull and sit awkwardly on a record that is littered with overt drug references and imagery from the street. To his credit, Bugg's too young by far to be a drug bore, and when he takes “a pill or maybe two” in “Seen It All” or is “high on a hash pipe of good intent” in “Simple as This,” it feels like social documentation rather than a misguided attempt at glamorizing their use. Elsewhere, Clifton -- the south Nottingham village that Bugg calls home -- gets what is possibly its first mention in song on the irresistible, Hollies-inspired “Two Fingers.” All in all, though Bugg’s debut may not share the wordy precociousness of Conor Oberst’s formative steps or the political astuteness of Willy Mason on Where the Humans Eat, it’s his sheer earnestness and rare gift for writing simple, hook-filled tunes that ultimately charms the listener.

8 nov 2012

Curtis Mayfield - There's no place like America today

Discos Recomendados:
reviewby Bruce Eder The title is intended in an ironic way, as illustrated not only by the cover -- a grim parody of late-'40s/early-'50s advertising imagery depicting white versus black social reality -- but the grim yet utterly catchy and haunting opening number, "Billy Jack." A song about gun violence that was years ahead of its time, it's scored to an incisive horn arrangement by Richard Tufo. "When Seasons Change" is a beautifully wrought account of the miseries of urban life that contains elements of both gospel and contemporary soul. The album's one big song, "So in Love," which made number 67 on the pop charts but was a Top Ten soul hit, is only the prettiest of a string of exquisite tracks on the album, including "Blue Monday People" and "Jesus" and the soaring finale, "Love to the People," broken up by the harder-edged "Hard Times." The album doesn't really have as clearly delineated a body of songs as Mayfield's earlier topical releases, but it's in the same league with his other work of the period and represents him near his prime as a composer.

Canciones por que si

¿Qué le gustará a Rajoy?

7 nov 2012

Crocodiles: Endless Flowers

Crocodiles: Endless Flowers By Matthew Fiander San Diego’s Crocodiles don’t really care to hide who they or where they come from. Their name is also the title of an Echo and the Bunnymen album, and their retro, faded album covers hint at a time that came long ago, long before the band even existed. With that idea of past and nostalgia in mind, primary players Brandon Welchez and Charles Rowell coat themselves in thick, gauzy layers that feel faded and worn. They’ve tapped into this grinding throwback pop for two albums, and on their new one—Endless Flowers—things haven’t changed much. Not that this sameness is always a bad thing. The album opens with the heady, powerful one-two punch of the title track and “Sunday (Psychic Conversation #9)”. The former mixes a wall of fuzzed-out guitars with airy keyboards to make a soaring sound that (barely) clears out so you can hear the wailing verses before they ramp up again for cascading choruses. The latter, however, buzzes just a little harder and the guitar’s deliver sharper hooks instead of wide-open groans. It’s an overcast, busy twist on surf rock—with a bending note twanging in the background—and makes it the most notable track on the record. The band is in its wheelhouse with this kind of full-to-the-rung power-pop. “Electric Death Song” cleans up the mix a bit, but it’s still metronomic but hard struck drums under this swirling storm of guitars and keys. Later in the record, “Welcome Trouble” turns all this fuzzy dreaming into something chunked up and industrial to solid effect. In these moments, you see the band under all the influences. Though none of these textures may be new, they manage to make them unique because they don’t let them trudge. They keep the pace up, and keep their performance tight, so even if the sound seems too huge to take in, you can hear the best parts that comprise it, the striking melody of “Endless Flowers” or the razor’s-edge riffs of “Welcome Trouble”. Unfortunately, much of the record lacks that vitality. Some songs follow the same formula: “My Surfing Lucifer” is a wobbly but still thick bed of gauze, while “Dark Alleys” churns along on Krautrock-like persistence and those buzzing guitars. Unfortunately, neither ever deliver a hook that you can latch onto and they also—“Dark Alleys” in particular—deliver wrote, often schmaltzy lyrics, so when you hear about “the dark alleys of my heart” and how “I never fall apart” there’s a sing-songy emptiness to the lines that kicks in and throws you out of the song. When the band isn’t toeing the psych-rock line too closely, it’s branching out in strange ways that don’t really fit. If the band’s strength it its energy, songs like “Hung Up on a Flower” take a detour away from that strength. It’s a hazy attempt at balladry, something slow and narcotic to break up the propulsion of the rest of the record. But while its space is a welcome change, the slow swirl of guitars and vocals never really goes anyway, just slumps along for five minutes until it devolves into a mess of screeches and found sounds. It’s the kind of experiment that feels self-conscious, like it’s trying to change things up when really all it does is make us wish things would get back to normal. “No Black Clouds for Dee Dee” tries to pare the sound down to angular new-wave riffs that feel thin, especially after the noise of “Sunday”. “Bubblegum Trash” is the most noble of these failures, slowing the pace down only a little, trying to tap into the cool space of early-90s Brit-pop, and while the choral backing vocals are a nice shift, the band doesn’t capitalize on the moment, repeating the title over and over in the chorus too many times, making the phrase more and more grating as the song goes on. Endless Flowers is an album that shows both the merits and pitfalls to following your influences too closely. Even if Crocodiles sound like so many bands that came before them—and so many bands now standing on the same giants’ shoulders—their flaws here aren’t ones of mimicry. The best parts of the record make space for their own personality and energy within all this thick, expanding fuzz. Unfortunately, too much of this record slows down or stops short completely, selling loud walls of sound in place of recognizable hooks and undercooked, sentimental lyrics in place of real emotion. The good stuff makes its mark and moves on, but there’s just not enough of it, and the rest of Endless Flowers feels, well, endless.

4 nov 2012

Skydiggers Northern Shore

By Zachary Houle Canadian folk-rock group Skydiggers have, throughout their 20-plus years in existence, almost become more well known for their troubles with record labels than any music they’ve recorded, acting as little more than a primer and a cautionary tale for Canuck acts looking to break big. They were signed with a couple of mid-level labels in the early ‘90s and were a fairly popular draw on the pub circuit, but failed to make the big breakthrough to the next level. Those labels the group had been signed with went bankrupt by the mid-‘90s, putting the group’s first three albums out of print. When the band wanted to re-release what is considered to be their high-water mark, 1992’s Restless, by the end of the decade, the band was unsuccessful at winning back the rights to the master tapes, forcing them to put out an album of demos cobbled from that record’s sessions called Still Restless independently. They, too, made the leap to a major label in Canada for 1995’s Road Radio, but, once again, the sales weren’t exactly what the record company was looking for, and the band soon saw itself back in indie land once again rather than get pressured by their label into delivering a hit record simply for the sake of it. It’s little surprise that the band has had such bad luck getting their material distributed, that the group, along with entrepreneur Grant Dexter, would wind up forming their own label to help Canadian musicians get exposure. That label, MapleMusic Recordings, now backs or has backed such successful musicians as Kathleen Edwards, Sam Roberts, Joel Plaskett and many, many others. With these difficulties—not to mention the fact that founding member Peter Cash, who built part of the vocal foundation of the band’s sound, left in the mid-‘90s—now well behind them, the band has broken a three-year silence to release their eighth studio album, a sprawling nearly-hour long collection of 15 songs called Northern Shore. For this album, the band reached into the past, taking songs that predated the existence of the group—such as “Liar, Liar”, a collaboration between vocalist Andy Maize and guitarist Josh Finlayson—as well as covering Mickey Newbury’s “Why You Been Gone So Long”. The group also briefly welcomes back Peter Cash here as a guitarist and vocalist on “Barely Made It Through”, co-written by Peter and his brother Andrew, a singer-songwriter who made a mark in Canadian music in the late-‘80s and early-‘90s as a solo performer and has since gone onto a political career as an elected Member of Parliament at the federal level for the socialist New Democratic Party. Two of Andrew’s other songs make appearances here as well. In addition to all of this, the band lets Jessy Bell Smith, a guest performer, take over the lead vocals for the song “Deep Water (31 Mile Lake)”. Does that sound like a record with a lot going on? Yes. Yes, it does. The fact that there’s so much variety and difference to be found on Northern Shore makes the record feel more like a collection of songs—a lot of songs—and the band was throwing a bunch of ideas at the wall to make them stick. This sometimes works to the band’s advantage—“Barely Made It Through” and “Why You Been Gone So Long” are rollicking numbers that feel particularly off-the-cuff—and sometimes it doesn’t—the sort of solemn, yet rocking “Deep Water (31 Mile Lake)” drunkenly stumbles into “Why You Been Gone So Long”, making a case for the fact that the album wasn’t particularly sequenced very well. There’s also a lingering sense that the group is kind of going through the motions on the record, that they’d set out to make a Skydiggers record by throwing everything they had in the pot and stirring it as opposed to really thinking about what would be the very best material to include, leading one to argue that perhaps a few of the songs could have been pruned to make the record a much more manageable length and something a bit more consistent. Still, for such criticism, there’s a fair amount of stuff here that does work here and works well. A song like “Barely Made It Through” is almost a Canadian take on the Jayhawks’ classic sound. “Fire Engine (Red Explosion)” has a very groovy, funky feel to it with its jittery organs and horns, and “You Been Gone So Long” (not to be confused with the aforementioned “Why You Been Gone So Long”) is a great acoustic guitar ditty. “Wake Up Little Darling” is a sterling piano ballad, pulled from Andrew Cash’s songbook. Uniformly, the 15 songs that make up this album range from good to great, without a real stumble in sight. However, Northern Shore is the sound of a band that wants to be a crowd pleaser and give a lot of different styles to their fans in the hopes of pleasing someone, but might ultimately have the effect of turning off listeners, pleasing no one. Thus, Northern Shore is a behemoth of a record, and nearly collapses under its own weight. That all said, undiscerning fans will probably like it, and seeing that the group’s lauded early material is, well, a little hard to come by, thanks to all of those legal and rights issues, Northern Shore is a good starting point for anyone interested in the rootsier alternative sounds that came out of the Northland during a good part of the 1990s. Nothing here is going to put the Skydiggers on the level of a vaulted Canadian band like Blue Rodeo or the Tragically Hip (which is kinda ironic considering the Skydiggers recorded portions of this disc at both of those bands’ home studios), but here the group more or less holds its own, and gives listeners a pretty good indication as to why pub-goers like this brand of music. The legacy of the Skydiggers might be one of a band getting railroaded by their handlers, but Northern Shore reminds us that, for all of the group’s troubles at simply getting product into the hands of listeners, it has more than enough good tunes that satisfy—when they can get them heard.

2 nov 2012

Rick Nelson: The Complete Epic Recordings

His real first name was Eric. Rick Nelson was there at the beginning of the modern rock era. He starred and sang on a television show during the early ‘50s and ‘60s. He was straight enough for mom and dad to like, but cute and rebellious enough to be adored by the kids. He oozed charm without trying. He sang really good material (like “Travelin’ Man”, “Hello Mary Lou”, “Poor Little Fool”) backed by some of the best side musicians (e.g., James Burton, Joe Maphis, Scotty Moore) of the time period. Nelson had a rockabilly streak that gave him an edge, even when performing love ballads. Nelson was left in the dust when the British Invasion came and knocked American music off from the charts. He want back to his country rock roots and recorded material that suited his own tastes. As he famously sang later, “You can’t please everyone so you got to please yourself.” That song (“Garden Party”) was among the more famous ones that led to his revival in the ‘70s. But that fame too was short lived. By the end of that decade, his record company (Epic) had such little faith in him that they did not release many of these songs in the United States. Thankfully, the 41 tracks he recorded for Epic have just been issued, and they are amazingly good. The 2-CD set includes 1977’s Intakes, the only disc to be released during his life time. The Al Kooper produced 1978 Back to Vienna Sessions that was posthumously remixed and released and in 1986 is issued here for the first time as Kooper intended. These each are both 10 cuts long. The new anthology also includes 21 cuts known as the Memphis Sessions from 1978-9 that have been largely unavailable in America until now. He covers songs made famous by Elvis Presley (“That’s Alright Mama”), Bobby Darin (“Dream Lover”), and Buddy Holly (“Rave On”), and many others. In fact, there are three versions of “Rave On” and two of “Dream Lover”, but the tracks are different enough and good enough to bear repeated listenings. For example, Nelson takes on “Rave On” first as a straightforward pop song with an almost martial beat. The second time around the groove is much looser. He lets the musicians jam more and allows his voice to slither as well as hiccup during the appropriate moments. The third is live and features the audiences’ reactions to his performance. Nelson turns both versions of “Dream Lover” into acoustic, heartfelt pleas for a mate. He annunciates every word with a slight ache. Nelson offers an intimate prayer for love that makes the listener feel like someone eavesdropping on a private moment. It’s beautiful. But the Memphis sessions aren’t always so serious. He has fun with Bobby Womack’s “It’s All Over Now”, John Forgerty’s “Almost Saturday Night” and other more uptempo material. The 1978 Back to Vienna Sessions was originally issued in a remixed version that stripped off Al Kooper’s production. This is the first time one can hear his original Kooper lets each song have a separate personality. Nelson takes on some excellent creative material such as Arthur Alexander’s “Everyday I Have to Cry Some”, Allen Toussaint’s “What is Success”, Randall Bramblett’s “Carl of the Jungle”, and Terry Allen’s “New Delhi Freight Train”. Nelson’s phrasing adds to the depth of the material just as Kooper’s production gives the songs a frame. Nelson always covered Bob Dylan well. He had a hit in 1970 with “She Belongs to Me”. Here he performs “Mama, You’ve Been on My Mind” with a wistful touch that serves the song well. Intakes captures that sunny California sound of 1976-7 with sweet guitar melodies/or piano lines mixed harmony vocals that evoke good times. Self-penned tracks like “It’s Another Day” and “Something You Can’t Buy” just beg to be heard while driving to the beach or the mountains. And other tunes, like the appropriately entitled “I Wanna Move With You”, make you want to move. While there is something slight about the 10 tracks, that’s also their charm. Life in this post-Watergate era was heavy enough. This is meant to take one’s mind off of such things and just party. Times are different now, or not, you figure it out. But Nelson’s main concern was always the music. During this period of his life Nelson was making fine music that most people never heard—until now.

1 nov 2012

Trapper Schoepp & the Shades

The Deviants

In the late '60s, the Deviants were something like the British equivalent to the Fugs, with touches of the Mothers of Invention and the British R&B-based rock of the Yardbirds and the Pretty Things. Their roots were not so much in the British Invasion as the psychedelic underground that began to take shape in London in 1966-1967. Not much more than amateurs when they began playing, they squeezed every last ounce of skill and imagination out of their limited instrumental and compositional resources on their debut, Ptooff!, which combined savage social commentary, overheated sexual lust, psychedelic jamming, blues riffs, and pretty acoustic ballads -- all in the space of seven songs. Their subsequent '60s albums had plenty of outrage, but not nearly as strong material as the debut. Lead singer Mick Farren recorded a solo album near the end of the decade, and went on to become a respected rock critic. He intermittently performed and recorded as a solo artist and with re-formed versions of the Deviants.