Thursday, December 31, 2009

Year End Review: Langhorne Slim - Be Set Free

Back around late September/early October, Langhorne Slim released his third album, Be Set Free. Slim was one of the few artists whose performance I missed entirely at this years Folk Festival 50 in Newport. I was a bit disappointed as I'd heard he puts on a good show. Ah, perhaps another time.

When I first put Be Set Free on, my initial reaction to the record was "eh." It just didn't do anything for me really. I didn't think it was a bad record. It just didn't grab me. But, I put it on again a week or so later and thought to myself, "hm, this really isn't as "eh" as I remember it being. Maybe I should give this a closer listen." After that revelation and another week or so, I gave the record that closer listen.

Guess what folks? I like Be Set Free! It's records like this that support my "listen to it again even if it didn't do anything for you" theory. Yes, I have a theory. It being, just because something doesn't grab you on initial listen, doesn't mean you won't appreciate it later on down the line. This has happened on several occasions in my life. The theory also has something to do with loving a record and then down the line not being able to tolerate it. But, that's a discussion for another time!

Back to Langhorne and his record. The record kicks off with "Back to the Wild" which is one of the five songs on this 13 track effort that I find myself diggin' the most. The other songs that usually end up having me hit the repeat button on my nifty little media player of choice are, "I Love You, But Goodbye," "Cinderella" which ironically was my least favorite song on the album when I first heard it, the title track, "Be Set Free" and the one that I like the most, "For A Little While." Of course, the whole record is well worth listening too. Give Be Set Free a listen if you haven't already especially, if you're a fan of the modern day semi-alternative folk troubadours. It's an excellent piece of work; one of which I'm glad I gave another chance.

Track Listing
  • Back to the Wild
  • Say Yes
  • I Love You, But Goodbye
  • Land Of Dreams
  • Cinderella
  • Be Set Free
  • For A Little While
  • Sunday By the Sea
  • Leaving My Love
  • Yer Wrong
  • Blow Your Mind
  • So Glad That I'm Coming Home
  • Boots Boy

Year End Review: George Harrison - Let It Roll

2009 was a great year from fans of The Beatles. Their entire catalog was digitally re-mastered, they are now a Rock Band video game, former Beatle Paul McCartney released a big ol' honkin' live set and a compilation disc from fellow former bandmate, George Harrison was released. Let It Roll: Songs by George Harrison was released back in June, the 16th to be exact. This is the first collection that covers Harrison's entire solo career.

I have a love/hate relationship with best of's, greatest hits, retrospectives, collections or whatever you want to call them. They're great when you're being introduced to an artist or you don't feel like pulling out your whole collection. But, inevitably, there's always something I feel should have been included or left off but, wasn't. Everyone feels that way about these types of productions. There are some glaring omissions on this Harrison compilation but, those omissions have made appearances on some of his other compilations. It still would have been nice to see "Crackerbox Palace," "I Dig Love" and "Cloud Nine" on the collection as well as some of his work with The Traveling Wilburys. But, in all fairness, The Traveling Wilburys records weren't solo efforts. I know, someone will point out that songs he recorded with The Beatles are on here but they're not those versions. The versions that appear on this album come from Harrison's Concert For Bangladesh record thus, a part of his solo career.

What we get with Let It Roll: Songs by George Harrison is a very nice look into Harrison's solo career. So many people tend to focus on the Lennon/McCartney songwriting machine that Harrison's songwriting is often overlooked and not as lauded as the solo efforts of Lennon and McCartney. The quiet one wrote his own fair share of classic songs and from beginning to end, you're reminded of that with this record.

How do you review a compilation? Heck, I don't know! Well, lets see, it has a good selection of songs. It covers most of the bases with the casual fan, fan friendly, well known songs. It has some not as well known songs to make the more serious fans happy. I haven't given it a spin on a big fancy stereo system but it sounds great on my media player of choice. There's nothing new or radical here, just 19 songs of good ol' George. If you haven't updated your Harrison collection from vinyl or cassette or for some odd reason need to be introduced to the solo music of George Harrison, this is a good overall place to start.

Track Listing
  • Got My Mind Set On You
  • Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)
  • Ballad Of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)
  • My Sweet Lord
  • While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Live At Madison Square Garden)
  • All Things Must Pass
  • Any Road
  • This Is Love
  • All Those Years Ago
  • Marwa Blues
  • What Is Life
  • Rising Sun
  • When We Was Fab
  • Something (Live At Madison Square Garden)
  • Blow Away
  • Cheer Down
  • Here Comes The Sun (Live At Madison Square Garden )
  • I Don't Want To Do It
  • Isn't It A Pity

Arc Angels Release Long Awaited Live Album

Texas blues rock band Arc Angels have released their long awaited live album Living In A Dream. It's a work that has been what, 5 years in the making?! The live portion of the CD/DVD combo was recorded primarily at Stubb's in Austin and is document of that which is, Arc Angels live.

Earlier this year, Doyle Bramhall II (lead guitar/lead vocals), Charlie Sexton (lead guitar/lead vocals) and Chris Layton (drums) reunited and hit the road minus original member Tommy Shannon (bass) whose work is documented on this effort. If you've seen any of these guys be it together or working with other artists or even solo, you know these cats are first rate musicians. They individually and collectively have a strong and loyal base of fans who have been eager to get their hands on this package. I myself was excited.

I got Living In A Dream in my quirky little hands and tossed it in my player. I sat back and I listened. The first time I listened to it I couldn't quite figure out why I couldn't fully wrap my head around the record. This puzzled me greatly. After all, these are high caliber musicians and the music and vocals are all very solid. Why wasn't it giving me some sort of guitar based musical orgasm?! So, I listened a second and third time. That's when it hit me. It was missing some fire. Ooh, did I just hear a round of boo hiss boo from my fellow Arc Angels fans?

Well, before I get hunted down and strung up by a bunch of pitchfork toting fellow fans I should point out something. I'm not so sure it's the recording so much as it's the fact that my memory of seeing them back in May is still reasonably fresh in my mind. When you've stood in front of Bramhall and his guitar listening to him blow your friggin' mind, anything less than standing right there in front him (and the rest of the Angels) just doesn't measure up. It wasn't until eight songs in when they got to "Crave and Wonder" that things kick in and made me say to myself, "yeah, these are the guys that blew my mind at Irving Plaza."

The package, in addition to containing both the audio and video of the concert at Stubb's, comes with a documentary and a bonus disc that includes three studio tracks, one each by Sexton and Bramhall ("Crave and Wonder" & "What I'm Looking For" respectively) as well as a cover of Paul McCartney's "Too Many People." Overall, this is a good record, one that fans I'm sure already have in their possession. No, I don't think it fully captures their fire. Would I recommend Living In A Dream? Yes. I'd recommend it for the casual fan and I'd recommend it to people who like good old fashioned blues based rock played by top notch musicians.

Track Listing
  • Paradise Cafe
  • Carry Me On
  • The Famous Jane
  • Good Time
  • She's Alright
  • Always Believed In You
  • Sent By Angels
  • Crave and Wonder
  • Nadine
  • See What Tomorrow Brings
  • Shape I'm In
  • Living In A Dream
  • Too Many Ways To Fall
Bonus Disc Track Listing
  • Crave and Wonder
  • What I'm Looking For
  • Too Many People
  • Spanish Moon (Live At Antone's)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Year End Review: The Black Crowes - Before The Frost...Until The Freeze

Back at the beginning of September, The Black Crowes released their latest record, Before The Frost...Until The Freeze. Prior to the records release, I'd heard "I Ain't Hiding" and got a bit excited. My first thought was, glory be, they're going to get back to the more funky and just outright rockin' stuff. While that song wasn't up there with some of their classic songs of yore, it made me look forward to the upcoming release.

The record came out. I opened up the package and the first thing I notice is, it's a mini replica of a vinyl LP. The casing looks and maneuvers like album covers from back in the day. The CD even comes in a paper sleeve and the disc itself looks like a vinyl record. Nice. It got me feeling all nostalgic and remembering the delightful Three Snakes vinyl 45 singles box set. Y'all remember that box? It also made me sad thinking about the flooded basement destruction of that box set and about 95% of my other Crowes collectibles but, I digress. Anyway, the record is broken into two parts. Before The Frost... and the bonus download ...Until The Freeze.

I popped the disc in. It opens with "Good Morning Captain" which I enjoyed but immediately thought, well, that's not a rocker! "Been A Long Time (Waiting On Love)" the second track comes on and is my favorite song on the disc. Nope, that's not a rocker either. As things go on, I begin to wonder how the hell "I Ain't Hiding" fits. Well, it doesn't, not really. I suppose it fits in, in the sense that The Crowes are diverse musicians and aren't hindered by genre labels which is something I always loved about them, especially live. I guess it also fits in the sense that it reminds me of Rod Stewart's "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" and some of their earlier stuff reminds me of Stewart ... "Charming Mess" springs to mind. To this day, I still expect to hear Stewart's voice instead of Chris Robinson's when I hear that song. Did I digress again?

"Make Glad" comes the closest to the classic, funky, rockin' Crowes of days gone by. It comes in a close second to being my favorite track on the album. Brace yourselves, I'm going to have one of my questionable comparison moments right now. "And The Band Played On" sounds like some bizarre cross of Little Feat, Led Zeppelin and ELO. Honestly, I can't even tell you how I feel about that song. Before The Frost... ends with "The Last Place That Love Lives" which doesn't do much for me but it's the perfect song to lead you into the bonus ...Until The Freeze portion of the record. That portion of the record kicks off with "Aimless Peacock" which sounds like Uncle Jed went to India to record a record. Were their hookah's involved in the creation of that song? Okay, perhaps that's a bit harsh. My favorite song on that portion of the disc is, "Greenhorn" ... lovin' the guitar work on that one. "Garden Gate" does a nice job of reminding me of Flatt & Scruggs. But honestly, I'd rather slap on the brilliant At Carnegie Hall! instead of hearing The Crowes remind me of them. Maybe down the line I'll toss it on and will feel differently, but right now, I ain't really feelin' the second portion of the record.

The Black Crowes are still a stellar band. Overall, Before The Frost...Until The Freeze is a good record. I without a doubt like it better than Warpaint which I'm still not feeling any love for. But, I prefer them to rock, roll and burn with all of their funky, bluesy, rockin' might.

Track Listing
Before The Frost… (CD Track Listing)
  • Good Morning Captain
  • Been A Long Time (Waiting On Love)
  • Appaloosa
  • A Train Still Makes A Lonely Sound
  • I Ain’t Hiding
  • Kept My Soul
  • What Is Home
  • Houston Don’t Dream About Me
  • Make Glad
  • And The Band Played On
  • Last Place That Love Lives
…Until The Freeze (Free Download Album Track Listing)
  • Aimless Peacock
  • Shady Grove
  • Garden Gate
  • Greenhorn
  • Shine Along
  • Roll Old Jeremiah
  • Lady Of Avenue A
  • So Many Times
  • Fork In The River

Monday, December 21, 2009

Dead Confederate Offers Up Free Live LP

Georgia rockers Dead Confederate have released a live LP, Dirty Ammo. Good folks that they are, they're giving it to you for free! The material was recorded live at The Earl in Atlanta earlier this year, May 27 to be exact.

Some details ... they also have a few packages available. There's the $1.00 digital donation package where you get the download which includes hi-res artwork. The proceeds go to help rebuild the Georgia Theatre which was destroyed by fire in June. So, if you have a buck to spare and wanna help out, that's an excellent option. The standard option gets you the vinyl LP and digital download with artwork. The deluxe option gets you everything plus a t-shirt. With both options $1.00 will be donated to help rebuild the theatre. To get your lovely little hands on a copy of Dirty Ammo, visit HERE.

Track Listing
  • Get Out
  • Start Me Laughing
  • Shadow The Walls
  • Roman Candle*
  • Smoke A Minor**
  • Guns
  • Tortured Artist Saint
* Elliott Smith cover
** Officer May cover

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Video: Corinne Bailey Rae - "I'd Do It All Again"

Grammy winning songstress Corinne Bailey Rae has premiered the video for "I'd Do It All Again." It's the first single from her upcoming record, The Sea which is set to drop on January 26 here in the States. I caught one of Bailey Rae's album preview performances last week (review and photos here) and not only did she put on a good show, it left me looking forward to The Sea.

The video for "I'd Do It All Again" was directed by Jamie Thraves. I have to say, the video makes me sad! That's a good thing, right? A work that makes you feel a genuine emotion, nice.

Video: Marit Larsen - "If A Song Could Get Me You"

I've been playing a game of catch up with my email. I'm slow sometimes, but I do read it all. During this game, which I play regularly, sometimes, things catch my eye and or ears. One particular email came from a quirky Hoboken chick, we'll call her QHC, yeah, I like that. QHC said, 'hey, have you heard of this Norwegian chick Marit Larsen?' Well, I hadn't heard of Larsen so I did a bit of searching around to find out a bit about her. For those of you like me who are unfamiliar with Larsen, check out the video below for the song "If A Song Could Get Me You" from her album, " The Chase." If I'm not mistaken, the record came out earlier this year.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Video: Daisy McCrackin - “Everything”

Last month Daisy McCrackin released her debut EP, The Rodeo Grounds. It's been playing on my media player of choice since I got it. For those who haven't heard it yet, The Rodeo Grounds is a stunning and poetic bit of folk art. Her vocals are sincere and throughout the record, there's a shyness in her delivery. "Different Girl" and "Run Run Run" are standouts for me though the whole record is a gem.

McCrackin is currently finishing up a promotional tour of Europe before heading back to the States for dates here. In the meantime, check out her newest video below. It's for the song "Everything," the EP's closing track. It was animated by her friends Dani Katz and Steven Synstelien.

Track Listing
  • Tell Her
  • Different Girl
  • Say You Do
  • Run Run Run
  • Mermaid's Daughter
  • Everything

Monday, December 14, 2009

Around New York ... December 14 - December 20, 2009

Upcoming shows in the New York area ...

mber 14 -- Lissy Trullie (pictured) / Mike Bones / Xylos at Mercury Lounge
December 14 -- The Slits at Highline Ballroom
December 15 -- Wild Yaks / Nightmare Air / Ladycop at Pianos
December 15 -- Ed Vallance / The Lorax at Union Hall
December 15 - 20 -- Cedar Walton Trio at The Village Vanguard
December 16 -- Fur Cups For Teeth / Holy Hail / Big Digits at Cake Shop
December 16 -- Marianne / The Bloodsugars / She Keeps Bees / Violent Soho at Southpaw

December 16 -17, 19 - 20 -- Matisyahu at Music Hall of Williamsburg
mber 17 -- Neon Indian at Brooklyn Bowl
December 18 -- Fanfarlo (pictured) at Webster Hall
December 18 -- Georgiana Starlington / Nikki Lane at Bruar Falls
December 18 -- Bardo Pond and White Out at (Le) Poisson Rouge
18 -- Donna The Buffalo / The Believers at Bowery Ballroom

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Nico Vega Turns A Cold NY Night, Blistering Hot

Nico Vega: December 11 @ The Studio at Webster Hall, New York, NY

Aja, Rich and Dan, the trio better known as California rock band Nico Vega, paid another visit to New York. The band took the stage at Webster Hall playing to a sold out crowd.

I fell in lust with Nico Vega when I saw them earlier this year as part of the Hell On Heels tour. These cats are crazy talented. I missed them the last time they rolled through town but I made it a point to catch this show.

They kicked things off with "Taxi Cab" which got an already excited audience in the groove. Now, I went in wanting to hear three songs. I wanted to hear "Fe Fi Fo Fum," "Beast" and their cover of "Maggot Brain." As far as I was concerned, everything else would be icing!

Can we just call drummer Dan Epand a beast? He was back there tearing it up. Epand's playing makes you feel like you should be falling to the floor doing some sort of spiritual hippy dance ... you know, the writhing, jerky, arms flailing Woodstock kind of dancing. The dude's heavy.

Y'all know I'm a guitar fan, right? If you didn't, you know now. Well, good gosh guitarist Rich Koehler rocks, rolls and sizzles. One moment his playing is all sweet and seductive, flirty and teasing. The next moment he gives you the equivalent of throwing you against the wall and having his way with you, dizzying and mind fogging. Then he's all sweet and gentle again before taking you over the edge leaving you a hot, sweaty, smiling mess. The man made me dizzy from start to feedback finish. My oh my, I just sounded like a dirty old lady talking about guitar playing!

Vocalist Aja Volkman is primal and a treat to watch perform. Sadly, I couldn't hear most of her vocals. At times it seemed as if her mic wasn't on. I'd say about half the time I couldn't hear her vocals and when things got really heavy, guitar wise, both the vocals and music sounded distorted. But, during the moments when I could hear Volkman, the lady burned.

They ended the night with "Beast" which is a big crowd pleaser. I love that song and it's something you need to see live. Hell, the whole show is something you need to see live. They played a mind-blowing, high energy set. The only disappointment was not being able to hear Volkman well enough. It may have been cold outside, but Nico Vega was hot. I had a great time and look forward to seeing them again.

"Fe Fi Fo Fum"


Photos: Inward Eye @ Webster Hall

Inward Eye: December 11 @ The Studio at Webster Hall, New York, NY

Canadian band Inward Eye were the second act to take the stage at Webster Hall Friday Night. They had a bit of misfortune. Some sticky fingered folks in Philly decided to liberate the band of all of it's equipment so they played their set on gear borrowed from their fellow tour mates. Anyway, I wasn't familiar with the band but I enjoyed them all the same ... they were fun, punky and funky. They also put on one of the most energetic sets I've seen in a while.

Photos: Neon Trees @ Webster Hall

Neon Trees: December 11 @ The Studio at Webster Hall, New York, NY

Friday, December 11, 2009

Young Filmmaker Nora Hogan Brings Smiles To New Yorkers

Do a random act of kindness. It's a simple concept, right? It's a concept that talented young filmmaker Nora Hogan put into practice. Hogan even came up with a fun way to randomly show her kindness. She and her friends took to the streets of NY and handed out balloons to people. The result, lots of smiles! Children and adults alike had their day brightened by the simple act of being given a balloon.

Hogan put together this video accompanied by the song "You Make Me Happy" by the equally talented Elle Bass. Just like the balloons, the video encourages smiles.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Corinne Bailey Rae Charms NYC

Corinne Bailey Rae: December 7 @ Hiro Ballroom, New York, NY

Songstress Corinne Bailey Rae paid a visit to New York's Hiro Ballroom Monday night. Bailey Rae is on this side of the pond for a series of shows to preview material from her upcoming record, The Sea, which is scheduled for release on January 26, 2010 here in the States.

It was my first visit to Hiro Ballroom and my first time seeing Bailey Rae live. Hiro is a nice, warm space with Japanese themed decor. I wasn't sure what to expect from Bailey Rae live. Okay, do you say Bailey Rae or simply just Rae when writing names such as hers? Blast my senile mind for not remembering that rule of writing! But, I digress ... happens from time to time.

Now, back to what I was saying. I wasn't sure what to expect. To be honest, having only heard her on record, I thought she would have a voice that was more on the wispy side live. But, I was wrong! So, needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised by how strong her voice was. Bailey Rae is a charming performer and as a lady near me in the audience exclaimed, "she's adorable" and she is. She has that nice girl next door vibe going on.

Bailey Rae played before a sold out crowd of very happy fans. She and her band performed a fourteen song set (fifteen if you count the do over) informing the audience at some point that with the song she was about to play, it would mean that she had played us all the songs from the upcoming record. The performance was being filmed for the PBS program Artists Den. No word on when it will be aired though it'll probably be sometime next month, around the time her record comes out. Keep an eye on your local listings folks! As a result of the show being filmed, she re-did "Paris Nights/New York Mornings" after her encores of "Put Your Records On" and "Till It Happens To You" because of some mess up. That being one of the song highlights of the night for me, I had no complaints about hearing it again and neither did anyone else in the audience. As a matter of fact, everyone wanted her to do more songs. The other highlight of the night for me was, "Paper Dolls." The set, which also included her cover of "Little Wing," was strong and had a good flow.

It was a fun show and I had a good time. The rest of the audience, the band and Bailey Rae herself all seemed to feel the same way I did. And, after hearing the tunes live, I look forward to visiting The Sea.

Minute Teaser: "Paper Doll"

Set List
  • Are You Here
  • Paris Nights/New York Mornings
  • Love's On Its Way
  • Closer
  • Paper Dolls
  • I'd Do It All Again
  • Like A Star
  • Blackest Lily
  • Little Wing
  • Diving For Hearts
  • I Would Like To Call It Beauty
  • The Sea
  • Put Your Records On
  • Till It Happens To You
  • Paris Nights/New York Mornings