March 2011 Archives

Guy Clark And The Songs Of The South

Home Grown Tomatoes, Old Friends and My Early Life
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There was a time in the southern US starting with the birth of America until around 1965, farmers rode or drove around in overburdened horse-drawn wagons or overloaded pickup trucks selling farm-grown fruit and vegetables, chickens in coops as well as pots and pans through neighborhoods far and wide. In my rural North Alabama neighborhood it may not have been too far but it certainly had to be wide for a horse or an old truck. My grandmother always called them, “The Peddlers” and seemed to look down on them as a necessary evil. Hearing the ringing bell of the

Review: The Joy Formidable - The Big Roar

Stadium-ready rock from an unassuming trio.
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The buzz over The Joy Formidable is, er, formidable. We've all heard more than our fair share of overzealously hyped bands cruising through the hip lips of bloggers, though, and it's hard to know quite how to greet the idea of yet another act whose debut EP is considered the next best thing to the other next best thing's best thing. In the case of The Joy Formidable, the proof is in the sonic pudding now that their debut full-length has hit the shelves in North America. Along with a fat, juicy rock sound, the trio from North Wales, now

iTunes Chart Watch: 'Songs For Japan' #1

You can get some tunes and help the Japanese people recover from the devastating earthquake and tsunami...
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The big story on this week's iTunes Chart Watch is the Songs For Japan compilation that is #1 on the albums chart. We have all been heartbroken by the devastation in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami. iTunes and several artists and their labels have assembled a digital benefit album for $10, proceeds going to relief efforts. It's great to see it at #1. If you've already donated to the effort, God bless you. If you haven't, here's an opportunity to be generous and get a little musical attaboy along with it. Among the artists included on the

Review: The Strokes - Angles

10 years later and we still have to wonder, "Is This It?"
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Sometimes you listen to a record and the review writes itself. You know exactly what it means to you, what you love about it, hate about, what you wish it were or could be, how it makes you feel. Those are fun days, easy days. Even then, there's a risk that you'll change your mind one day but you've committed yourself to a stated opinion and analysis. It's trickier when you aren't sure what the hell to make of a record. Some would argue you say nothing until you are sure, and that's probably the right way to go most
March is indeed going out like a lion with a week of great new releases from artists in a range of genres. We begin with new releases that aren't new releases. Radiohead unleased The King Of Limbs in a moderately confusing manner in February. Today marks the conventional release of the album and those who bought the super deluxe editions will get theirs in May. We also get the re-issue of a pair of Pearl Jam records, Vs and Vitalogy. Both albums are being released as single discs, remastered, with a few bonus tracks appended. For the more serious

Review: Rory Block - Shake 'Em On Down - A Tribute To Mississippi Fred McDowell

Rory Block continues paying tribute to her mentors...
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Rory Block is fortunate soul who figured out who and what she wanted to be at an early age and had the courage to pursue it. I'm not suggesting her life has been easy. Hell, is anyone's life actually easy? She paid a price and paid her dues but her hunger for music and the blues put her on a path and that journey and those she met along the way has informed her music. Her abilities and understanding were aided in part because the blues is influenced by the folk tradition of passing songs and knowledge from generation to

Interview with Stoney Curtis

Cosmic Connection is getting play and Stoney has something to say about that
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The Stoney Curtis Band isn't exactly new, but the kind of airplay Cosmic Conn3ction is getting is a nice reward for Stoney, who's been rockin' his heart out for a while now. I sat down last week with Stoney to talk about his journey and some of the surprises he's encountered along the way. Joanie: Your album was just released on March 11. What's going on? Stoney Curtis: Well, it's going great. I'm getting a lot of play, not just blues stations, but rock stations, too. It's really been nice to know the album's been received as well as it

Two-fer Tuesday: It's a Pearl Jam Thing

Everything's Better With a Little Vedder
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I will readily confess I was not a Pearl Jam fan back in the day. It wasn't that I thought they were horrible or anything, I just wasn't interested. The timing was bad. I was deep in my country phase, about to embark on motherhood... stuff that doesn't lend itself easily to jumping on the PJ train, you know? But that doesn't mean I wasn't aware of them or that some of Eddie Vedder's charm was lost on me. Quite the contrary. I knew, but I tiptoed away gingerly. Cut to today (I was going to say "twenty years later"

Review: Soundgarden - Live on I-5

Soundgarden takes a trip down amnesia lane...
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It doesn't make much more sense to me today than it did when word of this release first became public. Soundgarden disbanded in 1997 and the four members went their separate ways, only to reform for a reunion tour last year. They have released a career-spanning retrospective and this live album since reforming. Those are tepid-yet-reasonable steps for a band testing the waters after so much time apart, but this live album is a bit curious. The most obvious thing to do would have been to release a CD/DVD from the reunion tour, showing the world they've still got

Judging American Idol: What Should They Sing? - Elton John Edition

2 contestants will be eliminated this week, but first they'll sing an Elton John song. Which one should they pick?
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Well here it is, the third installment in “What Should They Sing?” This will be a shorter entry because our theme is Elton John’s catalogue, and while Elton and Bernie Taupin wrote a gajillion songs, there aren’t that many the audience, let alone this young group of contestants, will actually know. Here’s what they should sing, and it is worth mentioning I have gotten at least one song right the previous 2 times we played this game. Well, maybe only I care about that statistic. In no particular order: Casey Abrams - “I’m Still Standing” would be a nice message

Blues Radio Report: Kirsten Thien and James Kinds Return, Rory Block Debuts, Gregg Allman Holds #1

Rory Block's latest in the Mentors' Series makes its chart debut...
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New albums and old familiar friends, that's the theme for this week's look at the biggest albums and artists at blues radio. I'm so happy to see Kirsten Thien's Delicious surge back into the Top 20 at Roots Music Report. She is such a good vocalist, there are some excellent songs on the record, and I really want to see it get a chance to find an audience because there is one out there for it.  James Kinds' Delmark Records debut Love You From The Top is also back on our chart radar this week.  Rory Block's tribute to Mississippi

Review: Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears - Scandalous

When it's good, it's very good...
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Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears' Scandalous is a concoction of Sly & The Family Stone, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, old school R&B and funk, Memphis' Stax soul, and some dirty blues -- in other words, everything Lenny Kravitz has been trying to do for the past 20 years with varying degrees of luck or the fictional AM radio dial in a Quentin Tarantino movie.  "Livin' In The Jungle" is an urban, soulful re-write of Guns N' Roses' classic "Welcome To The Jungle." Somewhere, Slash is laughing his ass off, and you can guaran-damn-tee he is getting down to the

Review: Various Artists - SIN-atra

Dee Snider, Glenn Hughes, Robin Zander, Joey Belladona, and Jani Lane cover the Chairman Of The Board...
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As leader of the legendary Rat Pack, Frank Sinatra had attitude in spades, a fact not lost on Twisted Sister front man Dee Snider. In the liner notes for SIN-atra, an album featuring hard rock and heavy metal covers of Sinatra tunes, Snider calls Sinatra "the original rock star" and proclaims that "if he had come up in the '80s, there is no doubt in my mind he would have been the front man for a heavy metal band!" Bold words for sure, especially considering Sinatra wasn't much of a fan of the metal genre, but does Snider have

Review: The Sugar Prophets - The Sugar Prophets

The Sugar Prophets are the spoonful of sugar we've all been waiting for...
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Listen my children and you shall hear! I come once again to preach the gospel of all that is righteous in the land of of the blues and today that gospel comes from a new band of Old Testament-style bluesmen, the self-titled debut from The Sugar Prophets. The Sugar Prophets may be a new band but don't write them off as rookies, they have a resume. Think of the International Blues Challenge like American Idol for the blues, only without Ryan Secrest. Bands compete at the local level for an invite to Memphis. Multiple rounds of competition are held at

Judging American Idol: 11 Is The New 10!

Judges use their save and one contestant got a reprieve... for now.
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Here it is, the night we finally find out who the Top 10 American Idol contestants are, which means we find out who will be going on participating in the American Idol tour. The show begins with shots of Marc Anthony (JLo’s husband) meeting with and coaching the contestants on how to deal with in the in-ear monitors. We see the group number, which was better than normal maybe because Stevie Wonder joined them on stage. When Wonder starts playing, Steven Tyler is so happy he hugs JLo. Then Stevie says, “Steven… are you ready for a Celebration?” and starts

Review: Al Basile - The Goods

Jazz-tinged contemporary blues with a noirish,'40s throwback flair...
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Horns have long had major role in the blues sound but it's been more common to have horn players as band leaders in the jazz world than the blues. It's also not common for the horn player/bandleader/lead vocalist to be a cornetist, so what we have here is an uncommon blues album. Al Basile's 13-track, eighth solo album is akin to a Roomful of Blues alumni meeting, with former Roomful'er Doug James on saxophone and Roomful founder Duke Robillard contributing guitars and serving as the album's producer. Robillard's drummer Mark "I Don't Play 1B For The Evil Empire" Teixiera is

Judging American Idol: Motown Night

American Idol Season 10 contestants try their hand at the classic Motown songbook...
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Tonight on American Idol contestant sing songs from The Book of Motown. We are reminded that these votes are important because it decides the Top 10 and those are the contestants who go on tour this summer. The show starts with some history and pictures of Motown and Hitsville U.S.A. and I got a little nostalgic for Detroit. I loved living there, it’s nothing but a shame how far it’s fallen from its glory days. As we know, Motown and its artists shaped music from the get-go. Over 400 songs on the Billboard 100 and over 50 number ones- that’s

Single File: "Coming Home" By Maggie Bjorklund, Ft. Mark Lanegan

The harmony between Maggie's beauty and Lanegan's soul makes for a compelling, gorgeous song.
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"Intertwined"By Maggie Bjorklund, Ft. Mark LaneganFrom the album Coming Home Ragged beauty. There is something so often quite wonderful about two voices blending together in harmony. When one voice is rough and course and the other sweet and pretty, then that performance takes on an especially interesting blend. All too often that blend is like a coffee and cigarette-ash mocha, but when done right it can be something of rare beauty. Tom Waits found it with Crystal Gale. Mark Knopfler found it with Emmylou Harris. Mark Lanegan is turning his career into a series of pitch-perfect duets. He's performed

Remembering Pinetop Perkins, Pt. 2

He was more than just Muddy Waters' piano player...
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It's hard not to feel I was born in the wrong era when so much of the music I love was made before I was born and so many of those artists left before I had a chance to see or hear them. I wonder if future generations will look at the music being made today and look back with the same envy. I had a series of brief moments with Pinetop Perkins last year and I knew at the time they were to be treasured and they feel even more valuable today as the blues community continues to mourn

Bootleg Nation: Lucinda Williams - Sweet and Tender Kisses (02/26/89)

Lucinda Williams performs a gorgeous, heart-wrenching show in the early part of her career.
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Lucinda Williams"Sweet And Tender Kisses"KPFK-FM Radio Live Performance, Los Angeles, CA Download the MP3@320kps February 26, 198901 Big Red Sun Blues02 Crescent City03 Like A Rose04 All I Want (It Don't Matter To Me)05 Abandoned06 Wild And Blue07 Something About What Happens When We Talk08 SundaysLineup:Lucinda Williams - guitar, vocalsGurf Morlix - guitar, background vocalsDr. John Ciambotti - bassLineage: FM >? >shn >mkwACT v0.97 Beta 1 >wav >WaveRepair v4.8.4 (DNR, Declicking, Tracking) >shorten v3.5.1 >shn>MP3   Lucinda Williams is the queen of heartache. The Prime Minister of break-ups. The princess of bad relationships. She's felt the pain of love
I unintentionally skipped New Music Tuesday last week and it's just as well. There were a few releases of note but not nearly as many as this week. We have new sets from the famous (Green Day, Duran Duran) and the infamous (Chris Brown, Adam Lambert). We have something old (Soundgarden) and something blue (Joe Bonamassa) as well. In addition we also have the following two releases that are on their way to my apartment as we speak… The StrokesAngles The Strokes released one of the legendary debut albums in rock history with Is This It? It's a perfect

Remembering Pinetop Perkins, Pt. 1

His life was too large for just one article...
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We learned yesterday of the passing of a musical legend and national treasure, the great blues pianist Pinetop Perkins. I knew a proper tribute would take time so I quickly dashed off a few words to share the sad news and details of his death. Today and in the days to come I want to pause and consider his life and music. Perkins was one of the special spark plugs that revived and revitalized Muddy Waters in the '70s, yielding great albums like Hard Again and I'm Ready. Waters had fallen on hard times after the fall of Chess

Review: Big Head Blues Club - 100 Years Of Robert Johnson

Another all-star tribute that falls short...
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The icnonic Robert Johnson would have turned 100-years old this year and part of his influence and legend stems from the fact that he died long before that. 100 Years of Robert Johnson is another tribute to one of the most important recorded legacies in music history, this time brought to us by Big Head Blues Club. The club features alternative-roots rockers Big Head Todd & The Monsters and a bevy of blues guests. They are supplemented by legends B.B. King, Honeyboy Edwards (himself a one-time traveling companion of Johnson), Hubert Sumlin, and Charlie Musselwhite as well as contemporary blues

Joe Willie "Pinetop" Perkins Passes Away At 97

Pinetop Perkins (1913-2011)
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It is with a sad, heavy heart I report the sad news that Joe Willie "Pinetop" Perkins passed away at his home in Austin, TX today at the age of 97. Perkins became the oldest Grammy winner in history earlier this year for Joined At The Hip, his album with Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, the two both former Muddy Waters sidemen. Perkins replaced Otis Spann as Waters' piano player and in doing so became, along with Spann, one of the most famous and influential blues pianists in history. Perkins moved to Clarksdale, MS in 1940 where he met Robert

Single File: "So High" By Ringo Deathstarr

The first sunny spring classic of the year.
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"So High" By Ringo Deathstarr From the album Colour Trip Spring has officially sprung and the weather agrees (at least here in west Tennessee).  There is something miraculous about deep blue skies punctuated by puffy white clouds and a bright sun warming ones most inner pleasures. Spring demands to be enjoyed. It also demands great music played at high volumes. Ringo Deathstarr not only delivers a fantastic band name, but a song that will make even the most devastatingly winter grinch smile. Its full of fast-paced punchy drums, Jesus and Mary Chain style guitar jangle, and a bright infectiousness that's

Review: The Chemical Brothers - Hanna (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

The Chemical Brothers' first film score is dark, edgy, and a fantastic album in its own right.
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Less than a year after releasing Further, their best album in years, The Chemical Brothers are back with a brand-new album. Following in the footsteps of Daft Punk and Trent Reznor, the duo make their film score debut with the soundtrack to the upcoming thriller Hanna. Dark, edgy, and supremely engaging, this is a fantastic album in its own right. The album opens with "Hanna's Theme" and it sets the tone for the rest of the score. Music box sounds and dreamy vocalizations interplay with synths that suddenly take a very dark tone towards the end of the track. This

American Idol: What Should They Sing? Motown Edition

First we suggest, then we judge...
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Welcome back for another installment of “What Should They Sing?” I heard earlier that Wednesday’s American Idol theme is Motown. So, like we did last week, I’d love your feedback and opinions on what everyone should sing. This isn’t as much in my wheelhouse as last week’s theme but it was fun to research and pick songs anyway! I had just as many memories associated with these wonderful songs and I love that it will introduce people young and old alike to the original source of covers they have been enjoying for years. In no particular order, here are
I've said many times I love looking at the weekly blues charts from Roots Music Report and BluesMobile. I love seeing which albums are getting action at radio and I love seeing how many of them I've reviewed. There's a flip side to that which is seeing all the albums I haven't reviewed and I start to feel guilty and lazy, so I am giving myself a homework assignment based on these past couple weeks of Blues Radio Reports. I've bought copies of the Big Head Blues Club and Black Joe Lewis albums and I'm making it a point to

Bringing The Gospel Of Warren Zevon's 'Sentimental Hygiene' To The People

Tragedy and great music on the same day...
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For Zevonologists every LP in his canon is a separate work a place in time. If God exists, Warren will be remembered long after Beiber Fever. In my previous post on Warren I talked about his first LP. I am going to skip around and write about his “comeback” record, Sentimental Hygiene. I am not sure how many recovering alchohlic junkies could make a record so well put together as opposed to his life, drunk or sober. A little background, I loved every note the man played from his first Jackson Browne-produced Asylum LP in 1976. I had the good

Judging American Idol: Turn This Thing Up To 11

American Idol Season 10 says goodbye to another contestant...
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The show opens with a "Born To Be Wild/Born This Way" mashup. I hated it, as I do all group performances on American Idol- they’re lip-synched and beyond cheesy. We also see the Ford commercial the contestants filmed and see some interviews of them discussing hidden talents, pets, and other exciting things. Getting down to business, Ryan calls down Casey, Lauren, and Jacob and goes over the judge’s critiques which were mostly positive for all three and tells Jacob to head to the couch, he’s safe. Ryan reminds us that Lauren was sick last night and that Randy said she

Judging American Idol: Robbing The Cradle

American Idol's contestants sing songs from the year they were born...
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Last night our American Idol Top 12 sang songs from the year they were born. This is always a fun night because we see clips and photos from their childhoods and hear little stories from their parents. It’s pretty cute and usually makes you like your favorite a little more and maybe even like your not-so-favorite a bit more to hear that you liked the same songs as babies or they wore the same footy jammies as you.  Ryan comes out to open the show and reminds us Ashthon went home last week and the judges chose to not save

J-Lo Has Top Single At iTunes; R.E.M., Sara Evans, Avril Lavigne Make Album Debuts

We have a Bieber-free iTunes Top 10 this week...
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JLo's first season as an American Idol judge hasn't kept her from the recording studio. I see that as an unfortunate development but I must be in the minority because "On The Floor" is the #1 single at iTunes for this past week. I'm sure being able to premiere the video on the still-popular program didn't hurt when it came to promotion and exposure. There seems to have been little movement on the singles chart elsewhere other than the disappearance of Justin Bieber. There's no Bieber on the albums chart, either. Lupe Fiasco has dethroned Adele with the #1

Review: R.E.M. - Collapse Into Now

Classic R.E.M. sounds without the classic R.E.M. songs...
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R.E.M.'s latest album Collapse Into Now is a sonic buffet of the band's best work. Like many veteran bands blessed with longevity, R.E.M. spent time in the wilderness following the retirement of founding drummer Bill Berry. They began their comeback with the loud, aggressive Accelerate, abandoning the soporific sonic experimentation that characterized so much of their post-Berry output. They take a step forward on Collapse Into Now by taking another step back, adding more of the sounds that defined them at their peak. The trio of "Discoverer," "All The Best," and "Überlin" open the record in strong fashion. "Discoverer" resembles

Big Head Blues Club's Robert Johnson Tribute Makes Gains At Blues Radio

Gregg Allman may never yield the #1 spot but there are plenty of intriguing releases to consider in addition to 'Low Country Blues...'
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I don't know who or when, but someone will dethrone Gregg Allman from the top of the charts in 2011. I do love the record but I've run out of ways to say it's good and still #1 so we're going to drop that mention in and move on. We talked about Sony Legacy's plans to re-issue Robert Johnson's recorded legacy in honor of what would have been his 100th birthday this year. The Johnson centennial has also inspired a tribute album and I finally picked up my copy of Big Head Blues Club's 100 Years Of Robert Johnson.

Review: Derek Trucks Band - Roadsongs

Dynamic, virtuosic musicianship and telepathic interplay abound...
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Derek Trucks Band was built for the stage, which is no surprise when you consider Trucks' musical heritage and family. His wife, Susan Tedeschi, is an award-winning singer/guitarist. Trucks has a second job outside his own band, sort of a "family business." The Allman Brothers Band was founded by Duane and Gregg Allman but sadly the only family connection today in the band is that of Derek and his uncle, longtime drummer/percussionist Butch. DTB bears the ABB hallmark in two immediately noticeable ways. For starters, they are a six-piece band comprised of genius musicians. They have developed the same telepathic

American Idol: What Should They Sing?

Helping the contestants choose their songs for this week's round of competition...
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I know what you’re all thinking, “It’s Sunday, what on earth is HippyGirlHeather doing today?” Well kiddies, I’ll tell you- I’m thinking about Amercian Idol and compiling little lists. I do this for you! I got excited about this week’s "theme," even though AI did away with themes (allegedly), but The Beatles, “songs from your idols,” and “songs from the year you were born” all feel like themes to me. Anyway, I got excited because their birthday’s take me from elementary school to college-age. Those years have such a wide range of awesome music and vivid memory association for me

CD Review: Elvis is Back! Legacy Edition

The King comes to reclaim his throne.
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When Elvis Presley entered the Army in 1958, it could have been career suicide. While he was the undisputed King of Rock 'n' Roll up until that point, record buyers have always been fickle and two years was a long time to wait for new material back then. In short, his first album back needed to be killer — and it was. Elvis is Back! ranks among not only Presley's best albums, but is one of the best rock albums of all time. Now, more than 50 years after its release, it is getting the deluxe treatment by being paired

Review: Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows (D.R.U.G.S.) - S/T

Angst for the food court set.
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Some bands are best born in turmoil and drama, with the pain of past events providing ample fuel for angst-riddled diatribes of unignorable passion. In the case of Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows (D.R.U.G.S., get it?), the turmoil and drama of vocalist Craig Owens is the cataylst. For fans of post-hardcore act Chiodos, the Owens name resonates. He was "famously" bounced from the band in 2009 thanks to a bout of tension and problems. Owens had been subject to considerable criticism and even attempted suicide in 2008 due to his struggles with bipolar disorder. In any event, such a dramatic,

Results night

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Here it is Idol fans! The night we wait for all week! Oh, that’s just me? Very well then. I’m not going to give a play-by-play of all the silly extras they use to fill an hour long results show. Adam Lambert performed, as did Diddy-DirtyMoney (Stupidest name for a group, ever? Yes, it is). If you care about either, YouTube is your friend because neither is really worth much of our time, trust me. Ryan Seacrest tells us they had 30 million voters, last night and I guess that’s impressive. Ryan also reminds us that someone will go home

Judging American Idol: Top 13 - Live

The Top 13 sing live for the first time in Season 10 of 'American Idol.'
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Last night’s American Idol contestants were choosing songs from their idols, some choices were obvious, some were surprising in a good way, and some were severely misguided. We also got to see a bit of their rehearsal footage, Jimmy Iovine’s opinions, and see them working with producers.  I’ll review them in order then at the end, I’ll give my picks for who is safe, who isn’t,  and who I think will go home. It should be noted this is the contestant’s first time performing live in front of America, last week and all auditions prior were pre-recorded. Lauren Alaina

Review: The Human Abstract - Digital Veil

So you would like a bit of classical music with your New Wave of American Heavy Metal?
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I must admit that, as I listened through The Human Abstract’s latest E1 Music release Digital Veil, I didn’t hear the work for what it truly is.  The rapid-fire double kicks, syncopated beats, growling vocals, searing guitar tapping excursions, and in-your-face production tricked my senses and led me to think of this record as a modern technical or prog-metal project.  After about the third complete listen, however, I have realized that Digital Veil could be one of the most clever, stealthy, and complete combinations of American metal and European classical music. Don’t get me wrong, though.  I’ve heard plenty of

Judging American Idol: And Then There Were 12

Another contestant got the axe. Who was it?
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Here it is Idol fans, the night we wait for all week! Oh, that’s just me? Very well then. I’m not going to give a play-by-play of all the silly extras they use to fill an hour-long results show. Adam Lambert performed, as did Diddy-DirtyMoney (Stupidest name for a group, ever? Yes, it is). If you care about either, YouTube is your friend because neither is really worth much of our time, trust me. Ryan Seacrest tells us they had 30 million voters last night and I guess that’s impressive. Ryan also reminds us that someone will go home tonight

Adele, GaGa Still Tops At iTunes; Beady Eye, Dropkick Murphys, Foo Fighters Make Chart Debuts

Preorders for Foo Fighters next record put it in the Top 10 this week...
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My inner monologue has taken advantage of the iTunes Chart Watch to discuss whether or not I was going to buy in on Adele the way so many others have. Once again, her album is #1 and she has the #9 single with "Rolling In The Deep." I was flipping channels last Friday and saw she was doing an unplugged performance, so I stopped and watched and listened for a bit and, quite frankly, I got bored. She didn't turn me off. She wasn't unpleasant. I just couldn't find anything to draw me in so I'm giving up my

Review: Michael Jackson - Michael

A look at the first posthumous release from the King of Pop.
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Whether you love him or hate him, think he's a bit weird, or think he got away with a crime, you have to admit that Michael Jackson made a huge mark on the music business.  His death in 2009 came as a shock to millions of people around the world and brought out some of the best and worst in people who feel passionate about Michael and his legacy.  Whatever your opinion of the man, it is the music that I would like to focus on here.  I grew up on many artists, but Michael Jackson was my favorite.  It

Listening Room: Rod Stewart - "Maggie May"

Rod Stewart may have become a caricature of his old self but "Maggie May" still holds up as a classic, no matter what the hip kids say.
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In college I had one of those old compact stereos.  I say old because this one came with a record player instead of a CD player.  A few years earlier I had grabbed a bunch of vinyl records from my aunt who was unloading them in a garage sale.  She had tons of great classics like the Beatles White Album, Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits, a couple of Simon & Garfunkel albums and many other classic rock records.  From there I started collecting any vinyl I could get my hands on, not because I was an audiophile who was trying to

Single File: "2 Cities" By Adam & Darcie

This Utah duo create a lulling, gorgeous sound that's just perfect for my soon to be born daughter.
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"2 Cities"By Adam & Darcie From the EP Early in the MorningThe wife and I are about to have our first child.  It is an exciting, confusing, insane time full of lots of anticipation and holy crap! what are we doing moments.  Mostly though, it is a time of joy waiting for the little one to come.  There is lots of work to do, of course, and part of that, at least for me, is creating some special playlists to play to our baby girl once she comes. I am a freak for mix-tapes and playlists and creating the perfect

Two-fer Tuesday: J.J. Grey & Mofro

Like a fleeting dream, the fever took me away to another place, a place where J.J. Grey and Mofro danced for me.
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I don't do "sick" well. Lord knows I have had enough practice in my lifetime, but somehow I've never really mastered the art of recovering from illness in an artful manner. I always wanted to be the sort who could lie about and gracefully sip from fragile teacups while those who love me look on with concern. Yeah, never happened anywhere but in a novel from the likes of Austen or Alcott and my life has never looked like anything from one of their books. Instead, I tend to curl up wherever I feel least uncomfortable and pray a stereo

New Music Tuesday: R.E.M. 'Collapse Into Now,' Billy Joel, Glee, Avril Lavigne, Sara Evans

R.E.M. returns with a new album but no tour...
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I was all prepared to start this off talking about the new R.E.M. record until I saw there's actually a fucking Altar Bridge tribute album. Let's stop and think about that for a moment and then spend the rest of our lives trying to forget it. My consciousness has been assaulted. I have experienced souldeath. No smooth segue from that so we'll just start talking about the album I'm (trying to be) most excited about this week, Collapse Into Now from R.E.M. R.E.M.Collapse Into Now  R.E.M. returned from the bland grave they dug themselves on Around The Sun with the

Review: Beady Eye - Different Gear, Still Speeding

Oasis-like or Oasis-lite?
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Let's dispense with the obvious and take a moment to make our "not Oasis" jokes about Beady Eye. Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher has formed a new band after the breakup of his previous one and he's continuing forward with Gem Archer and Andy Bell, two lads who were part of Oasis' final lineup. Drummer Chris Sharrock has joined them and they wasted no time lining up studio time, planning gigs, and releasing their debut Different Gear, Still Speeding with assistance from noted producer Steve Lilywhite. It's relevant to address the push-pull dynamic between Liam and his older brother, Noel, who

Review: R.E.M. - Accelerate

A snapshot, not a review, of R.E.M.'s 'Accelerate'
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This isn't going to be a review of R.E.M.'s Accelerate; well, not exactly. A review, to me, implies past tense. It implies a verdict has been reached and a decision will be rendered. I knew my analysis would evolve as my first impressions were nullified by subsequent listens. My feelings about this record are still fluid and will likely change again so instead of calling this a review, I'd like to call it a "snapshot." Maybe we should back up further than my first impressions and start out with what I'd heard about the album going into it. After three

Dana Fuchs To Release 'Love To Beg' April 12

Singer/songwriter/actress is releasing her second solo album...
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Singer/actress Dana Fuchs will release Love To Beg on Ruf Records April 12. Fuchs is perhaps best known for her role as Sadie in the film Across The Universe, the hit 2007 movie built around the music of The Beatles. Her vocals also appeared on the film's platinum-selling soundtrack. She co-produced Love To Beg with Jon Diamond and Kenny Aaronson and the album features 12 originals and a cover of Otis Redding's "I've Been Loving You Too Long." Love To Beg is her second studio album. She also released a live album and has toured in support of it. "We

Blues Radio Report: Gregg Allman Continues March At #1, Sugar Prophets On The Move

Blues Radio Report for week of March 4, 2011...
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The big story this week has to be the mighty, mighty Sugar Prophets hitting the charts at #14 this week. These lads from the Champaign, IL area took the International Blues Challenge by storm, reaching the finals in Memphis last month and now they're independently distributed, self-titled debut is #14 on Roots Music Report's blues chart. I've got a copy of this heading my way and we'll soon be talking about the album in greater detail but for now, this is exciting. Another giant killer is Damon Fowler, who edges ahead of Buddy Guy this week with his Devil Got

Review: Walter Trout - Common Ground

A masterclass in blues-rock...
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I fell in love with the electric guitar while I in middle school when hair and glam metal was all the rage. I (mostly) grew out of my hair metal phase but my love for the guitar and those who could command it in interesting ways never left me. I knew the name Walter Trout before I ever heard him play, before I began my excursion into the vast world of the blues. I didn't know why I knew the name other than I'd see it when I read guitar magazines and heard other players reference him. It wasn't until

Review: Lykke Li - Wounded Rhymes

Sadness is her boyfriend.
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Sweden's Lykke Li smoulders with all sorts of raspy and dark torch songs on Wounded Rhymes, her second record. Her debut album, Youth Novels, was released in 2008 to considerable acclaim. Wounded Rhymes builds on Youth Novels well, engaging with lots of dusty, open-faced soundscapes and plenty of shade. Lykke Li doesn't hold back, bringing her bleakness and mystery to some rather melodic pop tunes. The resulting stew is equal parts sinister and sweet, creating a rich experience that may well be one of the best records of the year so far. Li has a way of tracking through songs

Single File: Hunx & His Punx - "Too Young To Be In Love"

Mixing 60's girl group pop with queer punk sensibilities Hunx & His Punx has just created a modern classic.
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"Too Young To Be I Love"By Hunx & His PunxFrom the album Too Young To Be In Love When I was a kid my mother always listened to the local oldies stations - you know the ones, they had call letters like KOOL and their ads usually featured the sun shining bright and some dark Ray Bans. They played all the old hits from the 50s and 60s. I hated it for no other reason than my mom loved it, and boy did she love that music. She'd crank it up driving us to school and sing along, embarrassing

Review: Chris Dahlgren & Lexicon - Mystic Maze

Dahlgren critiques the critics, but does it work as an adequate revenge fantasy?
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Critics, we of the great unwashed variety, are always ruining things. Our unwarranted, unqualified shenanigans have slaughtered many a classic artist and wrecked many a deified professional. We laugh about it now, sure, but in our quiet moments we've been known to shed a few tears. Not human tears, mind you. We critics are an evil lot. Chris Dahlgren and Lexicon "critique the critics" with Mystic Maze, a concept album of sorts that sets negative reviews of Béla Bartók's music to the bassist-composer's work. So who was Béla Bartók? He was a Hungarian composer and pianist, widely considered one of

Judging American Idol: America, Meet Your Top 13

From 24 down to 13, we're getting closer to crowning the 10th American Idol...
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Results night! We're down from 24 to 10 contestant that were voted in by the viewers. We're told by Ryan Seacrest after the first 10 are announced, the judges will select six from the 14 not selected who will then "sing for their life" and one of 3 "wild card" slots. At the end of the evening, we will have a Top 13. Couch for the 10 contestants voted in by calls, texts, and online voting. Ryan tells us there were 40 million votes over the last two nights. There’s no real reason to give a play-by-play of the eliminations, as

Review: Dropkick Murphys - Going Out In Style

DKM have written a grand concept album built on the themes that have always been part of their work...
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This latest outing for the Dropkick Murphys is the grandest of concept albums. Going Out In Style tells the story of one Cornelius Larkin, a 73-year old, newly deceased gent who immigrated to the States when he was a teenager. The character of Cornelius is a fictional one, as are some of the stories told on GOIS. But according to bassist Ken Casey, the songs “are odes to our grandparents, friends, and loved ones.” The story begins with young Connie’s departure from Cobh Harbor, a spot famous for the millions who emigrated from Ireland to the Americas. As a young

College 101: Warren Zevon

The Perfect College Album…
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“If California slides into the ocean like the mystics & statistics say it will,  I predict this motel will be open until I pay my bill…” Warren Zevon’s first LP on Asylum Records hit the shelves while I worked in a record store during my mid-seventies college days. I ordered two copies, one LP for the store and one for me, because of a Billboard Magazine ad with the tag-line: “Produced by Jackson Browne.” Jackson pretty much defined my life from 1972 until, well, now. If Mr. Browne thought this guy was good enough to produce a whole record, I’m

Single File: "I Say Love" By Jen Olive

Blinded by Sound brings you the best in new music: up this week is Jen Olive's gorgeous, layered voice.
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God bless the digital revolution. As a people we now have more access to more music than anyone in the history of humanity. With the touch of a button (and a decent Internet connection) everyone can listen to all types of music from all over the world in mere seconds. No more are we constrained by only hearing what some number crunching head-of-a-major-studio-accounting-suit thinks will sell the most albums. No longer are we forced to listen to only whats played on the always bland, force fed, play-list determined by polling data corporate radio station. Nor do we have to only

Judging American Idol: Luck Was No Lady Tonight

The first sing-off between the Top 12 female contestants was full of misfires...
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It’s ladies night and the feeling’s... all wrong. To start tonight’s episode of American Idol, Ryan asked JLo what set these particular 12 girls apart, why were they picked from all the rest. Her answer was so generic; I should have known then what we were in for. She said they’re amazing, special, all winners already, and she’s excited to see what they deliver. That was so non-committal and half-hearted, I know the guys have a much stronger lineup but come on, fake it a little! Randy was a bit more to the point when he told America to really

Top 12 guys perform

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And away we go! Tonight’s episode of American Idol showcased the Top 12 guys who will vie for your votes. There were actually a few surprises; some were good surprises, and some were out of key, yawn-inducing surprises. Tomorrow the Top 12 girls sing and Thursday is the results show where we will be down to only FIVE guys and FIVE girls. Rumor has it; the judges each get a Wild Card pick, making it a Top 13 on Thursday. Here is my review of tonight’s performances from best to worst, in my little opinion with some judge comments as

Judging American Idol: Separating The Men From The Boys

The first night of competition between the 12 male finalists on American Idol Season 10...
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And away we go! Tonight’s episode of American Idol showcased the Top 12 guys who will vie for your votes. There were actually a few surprises; some were good surprises, and some were out of key, yawn-inducing surprises. Tomorrow the Top 12 girls sing and Thursday is the results show where we will be down to only FIVE guys and FIVE girls. Rumor has it the judges each get a Wild Card pick, making it a Top 13 on Thursday. Here is my review of tonight’s performances from best to worst with some judge comments as well as my own.

Review: Gina Sicilia - Can't Control Myself

Nine consistent, well-executed songs and one knockout...
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Do yourselves a favor when you buy Gina Sicilia's Can't Control Myself: skip immediately to track two and listen through to the end of the album. It may take you awhile to hear the rest of the disc if you start at the beginning. It did me. It's taking every ounce of self-control not to riff on the fact that first song is called "Addicted" but that's pretty much what happened. There's a swanky, honky tonk vibe to the tune courtesy of some great tenor sax from Matt Cowan and a bed of guitars laid down by Dave Gross

Adele Owns iTunes; Bieber Still Refuses To Go Away

Adele's new album is so popular that people are downloading her debut, too...
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I mentioned being a holdout on Adele last week on New Music Tuesday. People raved over her debut and their raving about the follow-up to it. I'm going to have to sit down and listen to some of this and figure out what, if anything, I'm missing because this week's iTunes Chart Watch seems like it's trying to tell me something; she has a Top 10 single and both of her albums are in the Top 5. The US is going all in on this UK songstress. I don't know if I'll join but this merits taking the time

New Music Tuesday: Ron Sexsmith, Gina Sicilia, Lucinda Williams, Beady Eye, Big Head Todd & The Monsters

March comes in like a lion with a strong first New Music Tuesday!
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We are loaded with goodness today, my friends! It's the first day of March, the first Tuesday of March, and we are getting the month started just right. Ron Sexsmith has a new set out this week and Jordan Richardson's review leads me to believe we should all check it out. That's our starting point, kids. It gets better and more interesting so stick with me and we'll take a look at a few more… Lucinda WilliamsBlessed I think we all know any list of the great songwriters begins with Bob Dylan but it's wide open after that. I

Two-fer Tuesday: Neil Finn and Crowded House

Old favorites are like a warm blanket and a cup of chicken noodle soup.
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I'm a terribly nostalgic person and I'm prone to playing music from my past whenever I don't feel well. If I can't have my mommy, then I'll take the enveloping warmth of songs I consider old friends. I love the song "Weather With You" from Crowded House and I particularly enjoy this version for the beautiful bass that runs through it.   Next up is "Throw Your Arms Around Me," which I wish would be released on a greatest hits album. Neil's solo version is spot on and I tend to listen to it repeatedly. "Pineapple Head" was partially written