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Fresh Stuff from Black Joe Lewis

March 7, 2017 Leave a comment

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Several years ago, Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears played an in-store concert at Streetlight Santa Cruz. The band blew the audience away with its driving blend of soul, garage, rock, psych and punk.

Lewis and company just dropped the band’s fifth album, Backlash, the first since 2013’s Electric Slave.

The album sees the band doing what it does best: creating driving grooves full of gritty guitar, spot-on drums, catchy horns and Lewis’ skillful and catchy vocals.

As American Songwriter puts it:

“There’s occasional funk, as in the hip-swiveling “Global,” and even a six-minute psychedelic/jazzy ballad (“Maroon”) that closes the disc. But this is predominantly a rowdy, raucous, garage-punk album with nods to the wonderfully unhinged likes of Swamp Dogg, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and Andre Williams, who also mixed the wilder aspects of rock with a crazed soulful attack.

“If the frantic Black Keys-styled riffing “Shadow People” was slowed down, you’d even have a decent heavy metal track. It’s hard to make out what’s going on lyrically since Lewis’ wild-eyed vocals lash out like a rabid dog (and there are no printed words), but it really doesn’t matter. The appropriately titled Backlash is all about gritty attitude, pulsating groove and the kind of freewheeling, irreverent swagger that defines music’s most iconic figures.”

Sleater-Kinney Live in Paris

March 7, 2017 Leave a comment

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Sleater-Kinney has to be experienced live to be fully appreciated.

One of the original riot grrrl bands, as well as one of the pioneer bands of the Northwest indie-rock scene, the band rocks with the best of them, has a longtime commitment to social justice, and is a musical force that has influenced countless other bands.

In 2015, the band went on a comeback tour of sorts. Live in Paris is a showcase of that tour and the impressive trio of women behind the band.

From Pitchfork:

“If there is one unifying thread among many of the songs that make the cut on Live in Paris, it’s not just that they’re late-era Sleater-Kinney highlights (five of the 13 songs come from No Cities to Love, four from 2005’s The Woods). From the post-recession terror of opening track “Price Tag” to the sly sendup of capitalist femininity on closing song “Modern Girl,” the tracklist emphasizes what Sleater-Kinney does best: playing not just with urgent feeling, but in service of immense meaning. Corin Tucker, Carrie Brownstein, and Janet Weiss came back swinging in 2015 as strongly as they ever had—a gift considering how rarely it happens in rock. Live in Paris is the victory lap leaving us wanting more.”

Here’s the tracklist from the album:

01. Price Tag
02. Oh!
03. What’s Mine is Yours
04. A New Wave
05. Start Together
06. No Cities to Love
07. Surface Envy
08. I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone
09. Turn It On
10. Entertain
11. Jumpers
12. Dig Me Out
13. Modern Girl

 

Fresh (Blue) Stuff from Son Volt

March 6, 2017 Leave a comment

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Pioneer alt-country band Son Volt is back with a new album draws inspiration from legendary bluesmen Skip James and Mississippi Fred McDowell, as well as British singer-songwriter Nick Drake.

Notes of Blue sees Son Volt frontman Jay Farrar digging into both the blues and the fingerpicking beauty of Drake’s folk-pop songs to create something familiar and fresh.

As Farrar told Rolling Stone, “Over the years I’ve done a couple blues-oriented songs here and there, but this time around there was an opportunity to focus a bit more on it all the way through.”

The album is the eighth from Farrar and company and the first in recent memory to feature electric guitar alongside acoustic strummers.

Kate Bush Live, at Last

January 12, 2017 Leave a comment

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In 2014, Kate Bush embarked on a 22-date tour, her first in 35 years. Bush’s latest release, Before the Dawn is a three-disc, 155 minute documentary of that tour.

The album provides a long-awaited, no-frills overview of the singer’s creativity and music. As Pitchfork reports:

“There are no retakes or overdubs bar a few atmospheric FX. No apps, no virtual reality, no interactivity. [Bush has] also said there won’t be a DVD, which is surprising given the show’s spectacular theatrics, conceived by the former artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company and a host of designers, puppeteers, and illusionists. The show, and this release, aren’t credited to Kate Bush but the KT Fellowship, in recognition of the vast ensemble effort. Yet in shucking off half the production, this set…is also the best way that Before the Dawn could have been preserved, allowing it to tell its own story uninhibited by the busy staging.”

Fresh Stuff from Tribe Called Quest (Finally)

December 19, 2016 Leave a comment

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After an 18 year hiatus, A Tribe Called Quest is back with We Got it From Here. The album has two over-arching themes: the U.S. presidential campaign and the loss of group member Phife Dawg, who passed away earlier this year.

Recorded well before the elections, the album nonetheless provides a spot-on glimpse into the powers that be and a campaign of intolerance and hatred. It also serves to honor Phife Dawg, whose absence is noticeable, with tributes and nods throughout.

Despite the 18 year lag, Tribe demonstrates that it’s very much a part of today’s rap scene, and will forever stand as foundational acts for the current crop of rappers. As Rolling Stone reports:

“It’s important to check the vibe throughout. Entire books can be written about how the sound, identity, location, phrasing, technical innards and even purpose of rap music has changed since A Tribe Called Quest’s last album, The Love Movement, in 1998. But Tribe, in both delivery and content, maintain the attitude of the Bohemian everydude funkonauts that inspired Kanye West, Andre 3000 and Kendrick Lamar (who all appear here).”

The Rolling Stones and the Blues

December 19, 2016 Leave a comment

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Fresh off the press, Blue & Lonesome, the first studio album from the Rolling Stones in over ten years. The album sees the band returning to its blues roots, a passion that, according to the Stones’ website, “has always been at the heart and soul of the Rolling Stones.” The album features tunes by blues legends, including Jimmy Reed, Willie Dixon, Eddie Taylor, Little Walter and Howlin’ Wolf.

Recorded in just three days in West London’s British Grove Studios, Blue & Lonesome was a departure for the band, in terms of the recording process:

“[The band’s] approach to the album was that it should be spontaneous and played live in the studio without overdubs. The band – Mick Jagger (vocals & harp), Keith Richards (guitar), Charlie Watts (drums), and Ronnie Wood (guitar) were joined by their long time touring sidemen Darryl Jones (bass), Chuck Leavell (keyboards) and Matt Clifford (keyboards) and, for two of the twelve tracks, by old friend Eric Clapton, who happened to be in the next studio making his own album.”

As co-producer Don Was explains, “This album is manifest testament to the purity of their love for making music, and the blues is, for the Stones, the fountainhead of everything they do.”

Here’s the tracklist:

  1. Just Your Fool
  2. Commit A Crime
  3. Blue And Lonesome
  4. All Of Your Love
  5. I Gotta Go
  6. Everybody Knows About My Good Thing
  7. Ride ‘Em On Down
  8. Hate To See You Go
  9. Hoo Doo Blues
  10. Little Rain
  11. Just Like I Treat You
  12. I Can’t Quit You Baby

The Life and Songs of Emmylou Harris

December 6, 2016 Leave a comment

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On January 10, 2015, an all-star cast of musicians assembled to pay tribute to Emmylou Harris at Washington, DC’s DAR Constitution Hall.

Among the artists that performed were Mary Chapin Carpenter, Chris Coleman, Shawn Colvin, Sheryl Crow, Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle, Vince Gill, Patty Griffin, Chris Hillman, Iron & Wine, Alison Krauss, Kris Kristofferson, Daniel Lanois, Martina McBride, the Milk Carton Kids, Buddy Miller, Conor Oberst, Herb Pedersen, Shovels & Rope, Mavis Staples, John Starling, Trampled by Turtles, Sara Watkins, Holly Williams, Lucinda Williams, Lee Ann Womack, and Emmylou Harris herself.

As Rolling Stone’s Jonathan Bernstein wrote, “The breadth and variety of the evening’s lineup — scrappy and elegant, mainstream and indie, legendary and freshman — reflected the many artistic dividing lines that Harris has straddled throughout her entire career.”

Recently Rounder released The Life & Songs of Emmylou Harris: An All-Star Concert Celebration. The set was released on blu-ray, DVD, DV and various combo packs. Here’s the tracklist:

1. One Of These Days – Buddy Miller
2. Will The Circle Be Unbroken – Mavis Staples
3. Red Dirt Girl – Shawn Colvin
4. Michelangelo – The Milk Carton Kids
5. Wheels – Chris Hillman & Herb Pedersen
6. Orphan Girl – Holly Williams & Chris Coleman
7. Bluebird Wine – Trampled By Turtles
8. Hickory Wind – Lucinda Williams
9. You’re Still On My Mind – Rodney Crowell
10. Born To Run – Lee Ann Womack
11. When We’re Gone, Long Gone – John Starling & Emmylou Harris
12. Blackhawk – Daniel Lanois & Emmylou Harris
13. Wrecking Ball- Iron & Wine, Daniel Lanois
14. Leaving Louisiana In The Broad Daylight – Shovels & Rope
15. All The Roadrunning – Mary Chapin Carpenter, Vince Gill
16. The Pearl – Conor Oberst, Shawn Colvin, Patty Griffin
17. When I Stop Dreaming – Martina McBride
18. Prayer In Open D – Patty Griffin
19. Pancho And Lefty – Steve Earle, Lee Ann Womack, Herb Pedersen
20. Together Again – Vince Gill
21. Two More Bottles of Wine – Sheryl Crow, Vince Gill
22. Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again) – Kris Kristofferson
23. Till I Gain Control Again – Alison Krauss
24. Cash On The Barrelhead – Alison Krauss
25. Boulder To Birmingham – Emmylou Harris (with Full Ensemble)

DVD/Blu-ray Bonus Performances
Sin City – Steve Earle
Darkest Hour Is Just Before Dawn – Sara Watkins