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A Joyful Celebration of Mavis Staples

July 17, 2017 Leave a comment

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To celebrate Mavis Staples’ 75 birthday, a who’s who of musicians gathered to sing and honor the legendary artist. The result is I’ll Take You There: an All-Star Concert Celebration, now available on cd and dvd.

Staples, who is now 77, has made a massive impact on gospel, soul, rock and roots music. The album reflects her multi-faceted abilities, as well as her inimitable, indomitable spirit. As American Songwriter reports:

“The show, recorded at Chicago’s Auditorium Theater Nov. 19, 2014…came on the heels of two successful Jeff Tweedy produced albums. Not surprisingly, Tweedy appears to perform the title track of 2010’s You Are Not Alone. It’s one of 21 songs on the double CD (the DVD adds two more) in a concert that reflects all the exuberance, positivity and vibrancy you’d expect from Staples who has exuded those tendencies over the course of her 65 and counting year career (she started singing professionally with her Staple Singers family in 1950, when she was just 11).

Although not a songwriter herself, Staples is a master interpreter, owning much of the material she sings. That makes this a set of covers of covers. They run the gamut from fairly recent material like Emmylou Harris’ sparkling take on the Nick Lowe penned “Far Celestial Shore” to Staples Singers’ era classics such as a rousing “Freedom Highway” from Michael McDonald, Widespread Panic’s animated version of Pops Staples’ “Hope in a Hopeless World” and a closing, all-in “The Weight,” first sung by the Staples in 1968 and famously revived in The Last Waltz, which connect on every level.”

Tracklist:

Disc 1
1. Joan Osborne – You’re Driving Me
2. Keb’ Mo’ – Heavy Makes You Happy
3. Otis Clay – I Ain’t Raisin’ No Sand
4. Buddy Miller – Woke Up This Morning
5. Patty Griffin – Waiting For My Child To Come Home
6. Emmylou Harris – Far Celestial Shore
7. Michael McDonald – Freedom Highway
8. Glen Hansard – People Get Ready
9. Mavis & Aaron Neville – Respect Yourself
10. Widespread Panic – Hope In A Hopeless World
11. Ryan Bingham – If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me)
12. Grace Potter – Grandma’s Hands
13. Eric Church – Eyes On The Prize

Disc 2
1. Taj Mahal – Wade In The Water
2. Gregg Allman – Have A Little Faith
3. Mavis & Bonnie Raitt – Turn Me Around
4. Gregg Allman, Taj Mahal, Aaron Neville, Bonnie Raitt, & Mavis Staples – Will The Circle Be Unbroken
5. Mavis, Win Butler & Régine Chassagne – Slippery People
6. Mavis & Jeff Tweedy – You Are Not Alone
7. Mavis Staples – I’ll Take You There
8. Mavis & everybody: Encore: The Weight

Amos Lee Lights Up the Night with the Colorado Symphony

September 10, 2015 Leave a comment

AmosLeeLive

by Cat Johnson

Amos Lee famously blends genres and styles. His foundation is in American roots music, he can rock with the best of them, and he can get so deep and soulful with a ballad that you feel the tears welling up.

On his new release, Live at Red Rocks With the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Lee one-ups himself by recruiting a symphony orchestra to back him up and playing at the legendary Red Rocks in Morrison, Colorado.

The result is an album that is at times soft and acoustic, and at other times, downright triumphant, with strings, horns, keyboard, and drums all ringing out in the Colorado night.

Longtime fans of Lee will appreciate that he performs material from throughout his career, but puts emphasis on his outstanding album, Mission Bell. Standout tracks include “Windows Are Rolled Down,” “El Camino,” and “Flower.”

“Starting out in small clubs, and corner bars, it was both humbling and exhilarating to take the stage for a sold out show at Red Rocks,” Lee told the Wall Street Journal. “The performance, which I’m very proud of, is a testament to how much my band has grown and how fluid and versatile the CSO and their conductor, Scott O’Neil, are. I was floating the entire night, and still find it a little hard to fathom it’s happening. I’m grateful to have taken part in such a special night with people who are immensely talented and generous of spirit.”

All-Star Cast of Roots Musicians Featured on “Inside Llewyn Davis” Tribute

January 15, 2015 Leave a comment

AnotherDayAnotherTime

by Cat Johnson

In the fall of 2013, a star-studded group of roots musicians got together to celebrate the music from the Coen brothers film Inside Llewyn Davis. Among those gathered: the Avett Brothers, Willie Watson, Gillian Welch and David Rawling, Chris Thile, Jack White, Patti Smith, Joan Baez, Lake Street Drive, Colin Meloy, and the Milk Carton Kids.

Not surprisingly, the night was an off-the-hook, campfire-style, get-down which is now available on dvd and blu-ray.

This week saw the release of the soundtrack on both cd and vinyl. Titled Another Day, Another Time: Celebrating the Music of Inside Llewyn Davis, it was produced by Joel and Ethan Coen and T Bone Burnett and has a ridiculous amount of sing-along-ready songs done by a collection of artists simply oozing with talent.

Here are a couple of teasers:

Review: Arcade Fire – Reflektor 12” Single

September 24, 2013 Leave a comment

Reflektor

Arcade Fire – Reflektor 12” Single (Merge, 2013)

by Caleb Nichols

The Grammy Award-winning, Canadian, Springsteen-worshiping band Arcade Fire released a mysterious new 12” single of “Reflektor”, the first offering from the group’s highly anticipated follow up to 2010’s The Suburbs, out in October on Merge. The single (and the album, which is also called Reflektor) was produced by LCD Soundsytem’s James Murphy, which is evident from the minute the beat kicks in.

In the past, Arcade Fire might have flirted with the idea of getting their massive audiences to dance with songs like “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)” but here, Win Butler and company have released the flood gates of groove, accomplishing in a somehow-tidy seven minutes what Daft Punk attempted to do with the (forced at gunpoint) “song of the summer” “Get Lucky”: making us move without telling us to.

If the title track is an indicator of what the rest of the record is like, Reflektor is shaping up to be worth the hype.

Review: Girls Names – The New Life

September 23, 2013 Leave a comment

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by Mari Stauffer

Hailing from Belfast, Ireland, Girls Names emerged on the music scene with their debut album Dead To Me. Filled with a jangle-pop, surf-infused, ’80s new wave sensibility, the album did its best to catch the musical attention of both the youngster who sees the 1980s as retro and old school, as well as the authentic “old school” 30-something reminiscing about those “good old days when guyliner actually meant something real”.

In fact, upon my first listen of this band, I mistakenly wondered how I missed out on their music in the ’80s! Soon enough, I found out they only came into existence in 2009, and released their debut, Dead To Me, in 2011. Just a few months ago they came out with their second album, The New Life.

Initially consisting of singer/guitarist/songwriter Cathal Cully and drummer Neil Brogan, they added Claire Miskimmin on bass a year later, and then guitarist Philip Quinn in 2012.

The New Life is aptly named, as Cully has been quoted as saying that their debut Dead To Me was, “Literally dead to us by the time it was committed to wax.” The new album reintroduces the band’s sound as a darker, post-punk, more thought-out and refined entity.

Though they haven’t lost that lovely surf-reverb dreamscape achieved in their last effort, the more menacing and moody basslines provide for an early Cure a la Seventeen Seconds atmosphere, as opposed to an early Depeche Mode a la Speak and Spell sound, if you catch my drift.

The New Life mesmerizes and makes you wonder if they would have been signed onto Factory Records in years past. The prominent instrumentation in this later effort, especially the hypnotic basslines (Hooky in Joy Division, anyone?), simple yet catchy and jangly guitar melodies (Johnny Marr in The Smiths or Robert Smith in The Cure, anyone else?), and distorted vocals and trippy feedback (Pixies, Stone Roses, well you get the picture…) take me back to some of the best parts of the dreamy 1980s music scene while still maintaining a fresh and clean new sound with original lyrics and musical journeys.

Check out The New Life in our listening station at Streetlight, and get it while it’s still on SALE!!”

Reviewed: The Millennium – Begin (1968)

April 15, 2013 Leave a comment

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by David Morales

In the States there were only two producers that Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys looked up to: Phil Spector and Curt Boettcher. An album titled Begin by the band Millennium is one of the better known works from legendary producer Boettcher’s career.

Millennium was a supergroup of top California musicians and producers including legendary producer Gary Usher and Music Machine members Doug Rhodes and Ron Edgar. Begin turned out to be one of the most expensive albums in history for Columbia, and it shows. It’s an ambitious collection of solid baroque-pop psych, with beautiful harmonies, lush orchestral arrangements, catchy melodies and lyrics of love and heartbreak under the California sun, though it never falls into cheesy territory.

Begin should have been a hit, but like the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds it laid dormant, only to be hailed as a masterpiece decades later. Standout tracks include “There is Nothing More To Say” and “I Just Want To Be Your Friend.” Beautiful!

The Music Is You: a Tribute to John Denver

April 9, 2013 Leave a comment

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by Cat Johnson

Growing up in the Rockies, John Denver’s music was woven into the fabric of my life. When “Rocky Mountain High,” was being denounced as a pro-drug anthem, the sentiment of those of us who lived in the majestic mountain range was, “Well, they’ve obviously never been here.”

Denver’s music is sometimes relegated to the realm of adult contemporary-esque soft rock, but it’s full of touching lyrics, beautiful imagery and melodies that plant themselves in your brain for days; the characteristics of timeless, genre-eluding songs.

On the recently-released tribute album, titled The Music Is You, contemporary artists put their own twist on the legend’s songs. Kicking off with “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” one would think that the album would be a singalong of songs that have been a bit overexposed, but props to the artists for digging deep into Denver’s catalog to reveal some of the lesser-known gems. Of course, “Sunshine on My Shoulder,” “Annie’s Song” and “Take Me Home Country Roads” are included but some songs that I’m less familiar with, such as “All of My Memories” and “Some Days Are Diamonds” are also here.

The artists represented are top-notch and their interpretations, except perhaps Train’s straight-ahead version of “Sunshine on My Shoulder,” reveal new layers and textures that I haven’t picked up before. Standout tracks include Lucinda Williams’ version of “This Old Guitar,” Evan Dando’s “Looking for Space” and Kathleen Edwards’ “All of My Memories” but, there’s not a weak track on the album. The closest thing to it is, I hate to say, a kind of syrupy version of “Rocky Mountain High” by Allen Stone. But, we’ll forgive him because it’s such great singalong fodder and a really beautiful song.

Track List:
Leaving On a Jet Plane – My Morning Jacket
Take Me to Tomorrow – Dave Matthews
All of My Memories – Kathleen Edwards
Prisoners – J Mascis & Sharon Van Etten
Sunshine on My Shoulders – Train
Back Home Again – Old Crow Medicine Show
This Old Guitar – Lucinda Williams
Some Days Are Diamonds – Amos Lee
Rocky Mountain High – Allen Stone
Annie’s Song – Brett Dennen & Milow
Looking for Space – Evan Dando
Take Me Home Country Roads – Brandi Carlile & Emmylou Harris
The Eagle & the Hawk – Blind Pilot
I Guess He’d Rather be in Colorado – Mary Chapin Carpenter
Darcy Farrow – Josh Ritter & Barnstari
Wooden Indian – Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros