May 2011 Archives

Lady GaGa and Adele #1 at iTunes, Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina Make Big Post-Idol Debuts

GaGa will rule these charts but for now has a little competition...
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As predicted last week, Lady GaGa took over the iTunes chart watch but not with the immediate dominance I expected. Born This Way is the #1 album but Adele holds onto the #1 single with "Rolling In The Deep" for one more week. American Idol winner Scotty McCreery was #1 by the end of the week but didn't quite take the weekly title, debuting at number three. Runner-up Lauren Alaina is in at #8. On the albums front, Adele is #2 followed by Brad Paisley. Alaina and McCreery both placed their American Idol digital albums in the Top 10

New Music Tuesday: Eddie Vedder, Dave Matthews Band, My Morning Jacket, Marvin Gaye

Can Eddie Vedder play "Freebird" on that ukelele?
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I didn't intentionally drop the ball on New Music Tuesday last week but I had trouble finding necessary inspiration in light of the fact all anyone was talking about was that plague Lady GaGa. This being the Tuesday after a major U.S. holiday, our slate is a little light but there are some big names and things you ought to know about. First up: Eddie Vedder has another solo release and this one is called Ukelele Songs. Why, you ask? Because that's what they are, songs what have ukelele as prominent musical accompaniment. I haven't heard the record so

Review: Twisted Sister - Under The Blade: Special Edition

The band's legendary debut, remastered, and expanded.
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After toiling away in the New York club scene for years, Twisted Sister recorded its first EP, Ruff Cutts, for the U.K. Secret Records label with two tracks produced by Eddie Kramer. That hard-charging release served as a primer for the band's legendary debut, Under The Blade, as three of its four tracks were redone for the album. While the album was later remixed and reissued in the United States with a different cover, it is the original artwork and U.K. mix that most Twisted Sister fans clamor for. That has been rectified with the release of Under The Blade:

Ball, Allman Remain #1; Kubek/King Return To Blues Radio Chart

An "oldie" but goodie returns to the BRR...
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We could, should, and usually start at the top of the chart but this week we are looking at #20 where Smokin' Joe Kubek and Bnois King's Have Blues, Will Travel re-enters the chart. We start there because I say so and it pleases me to see this album getting more life. It was higher on the charts when released last year. It's good Texas roadhouse blues-rock. We should also point to a couple new releases that have made their presence on the chart: Stony Plains Records' 35th Anniversary set featured previously unreleased music from slide master Robert Nighthawk, and

Barrett Martin Forms Barrett Martin Group, To Release Debut 'Atlas: Latitudes' June 21

The first of two releases from BMG set for the first day of the summer...
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Former Screaming Trees, Mad Season, Tuatara drummer Barrett Martin will release new music for the first time in two years when the newly formed Barrett Martin Group releases the first entry in the "Atlas Series," Atlas: Latitudes on June 21. Latitudes was co-produced by Martin's longtime friend Jack Endino, the famed Seattle producer perhaps best known for helming Nirvana's SubPop debut Bleach. Fans of Martin's work with Tuatara and his three solo albums will recognize some names in BMG: Dave Carter (trumpet) and Joe Doria (piano, keyboards) have both worked with Martin. Carter also released an acclaimed solo album, Commitment

Review: Lauren Alaina - "Like My Mother Does"

Season 10 runner up releases her first single and once again she's right on the heels of the winner...
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Lauren Alaina’s coronation single is "Like My Mother Does" and, like Scotty’s, hers was released directly after the results show and she shot right into the top five on iTunes’ singles chart. She didn’t surpass him at any point and likely won’t, at the time of writing this review she was still in the top ten. "Like My Mother Does" is a total "for the heartstrings" country song that is too contrived, forced, and hard to swallow. This the 3rd time it’s been released, most notably was on Kristy Lee Cook’s first post-Idol album (this song never charted for Cook). Lauren

Scotty McCreery - "I Love You This Big"

The debut single from Season 10's American Idol...
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Scotty McCreery’s "coronation" single "I Love You This Big" was released immediately following the announcement that he (not-so-surprisingly) was this season’s American Idol winner and went immediately to #1 on the iTunes singles' chart and stayed there until the writing of this review. My knee-jerk reaction to just hearing the title when Scotty performed it on the show for his final judges performance was that it reminded me of that game you play with babies; "How big is baby?...Baby is SO big!" Upon listening more, the inevitable humming and singing in my head followed and "This Big" morphed into "I

Review: The Feelies - Here Before

The return of an old friend, 19 years in the making...
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After 19 years away from the limelight, The Feelies have returned with a superbly reflective album. While Here Before is not exactly a middle-aged New Waver’s September Of My Years, there is the scent of rumination about it. For some of us, the record feels like the return of a long lost friend. The eternal debate among Feelies fans concerns the dichotomy between the jagged, nervous tension of their first LP, Crazy Rhythms (1980) versus the mellower, country-tinged sound they pursued after their second, The Good Earth (1986). Produced by Peter Buck, their sophomore effort seemed like the work of

One night in Denver: 79,999 U2 Fans and Me

We’re one, but we’re not the same
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This might be the one that gets me fired from my gig here at Blinded By Sound. I promise, I don’t mean to offend. That said, last weekend the world didn’t end as predicted but the unthinkable did happen – I went to a stadium rock show. You see, I’m not much for a spectacle and tend to avoid big arena shows. But marriage is all about compromise and I’m married to the King of arena shows – and he’s a major U2 fan. So in my continued quest for the Wifey of the Year award I bought him
Klaus Schulz has been at the forefront of German electronic music for over four decades now, and shows no signs of letting up. After his recent well-received collaborations with Dead Can Dance vocalist Lisa Gerrard, Schulz traveled to Japan for a few solo shows. Although the most common criticism of his music is that it is too repetitive - even boring, I find it to be nothing of the sort. Schulz’s latest live recording, Big In Japan: Live In Tokyo 2010 may contain some extended tracks, but dull? Not at all.   The set opens with “The Crystal Returns” (38:03),
The Vibrators were part of the great English punk explosion of 1977, the year their classic debut Pure Mania was released. Although they did not receive the type of press in the U.S. that the Sex Pistols and The Clash did, they made a big impression on those of us who heard them. Pure Mania remains a favorite all these years later, and V2 was a solid follow-up as well. After their first breakup in 1980, I kind of lost touch with the band, although they released a number of records after reforming in 1983. So I was pleasantly

Judging American Idol: America Has Spoken, Scotty McCreery Wins!

I saw this coming from the auditions...
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OK, we’re at the end of the road here... we got our closure, seeing Pia Toscano, Paul McDonald, James Durbin and the three of you who still care got to see Casey Abrams on the Idol stage for the final time this season. There have been a lot of positive and cringe-worthy happenings over the course of this tenth season of American Idol. We lost Simon and then lost everyone except Randy and in the process gained a music legend and a diva at the judges' table. The three shined brightest in the auditioning process with JLo sat smack

Pat Metheny To Release 'What It's All About' June 14

Jazz great turns in a solo acoustic album of covers...
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Jazz great Pat Metheny will release a new solo acoustic album What's It All About through Nonsuch Records June 14. The 10-track set is the first in Metheny's career not to feature any of the guitarist's original compositions. Instead he has interpreted songs that have held special significance to him throughout his life, among them songs from Paul Simon, The Beatles, and Burt Bacharach. The seeds of the record were planted during his tour for a previous solo acoustic effort, One Quiet Night. "Almost every day as I worked through one well-known tune or another, various visitors or local crew

Review: Harry Manx & Kevin Breit - Strictly Whatever

Skillfully crafted, a pure pleasure...
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It took nearly four years, but Harry Manx and Kevin Breit have followed up their 2007 effort In Good We Trust with Strictly Whatever, an album heavy on originals playing to their strengths as songwriters and guitarists. "Looking For A Brand New World" was included in Stony Plain's 35th Anniversary collection, demonstrating the label not only has an impressive past but has a bright present that gives hope for the future. There's a strong feel of sunny, '70s California pop in this duet. There's optimism in the lyrics and the chirpy guitars accent that. "Sunny" is a Manx-sung song that

iTunes Chart Watch: Lady Gaga Is Coming...

The calm before the horrifying storm...
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Savor this moment, kids. It may be the last time for a long time Lady Gaga isn't #1 on either the singles or albums chart at the iTunes Music Store. Oversaturation and shameless promotion have little meaning in the 21st century but attention whores everywhere are embarrassed by Gaga's vomitous saturation campaign. Turning the page to actual music, I let my money burn a hole in my pocket and picked up the "soundtrack" album Rome, created by Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi. I'd heard about the project and thought for sure I'd skip it until learning Norah Jones and

Review: The Sea and Cake - The Moonlight Butterfly

A "mini-album" journey through time, flight and space.
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The soft-spoken nature of The Moonlight Butterfly, the ninth album from The Sea and Cake, is kind of hard to shake. Sure, these are pop songs that work their way inside and stay there. They aren't built of the sturdiest stuff at the outset - or so it seems. Here's the guitar interplay of Sam Prekop and Archer Prewitt to anchor us. And there's the rhythm of Eric Claridge (bass) and John McEntire (drums) to drive us a little further. Yet all the while, Prekop tries to climb in our heads with his hushed, nearly whispered vocals. And the songs

Judging American Idol: This Is The End

The final performances have been given; it's all in your hands, America...
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Tonight’s show starts off with the introduction of the two remaining Idol contestants- Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina. Ryan refers to the match up as the “boy next door” versus the “Southern belle” and informs us they both love country music, both are merely teenagers, and both want to win this season’s American Idol. Ryan addresses rumors that were swirling around right before the show began regarding Lauren's lack of a voice in rehearsals. One rumor was that Haley Reinhart was prepping to take Lauren's place in tonight’s finale, just in case. Ryan called out the show’s doctor who

Judging American Idol: Final Words

It all comes down to this...
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The night we as American Idol fans wait for is finally upon us! Tonight, Tuesday May 24th, Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina will perform for your votes for the final time. One thing is absolutely certain-whoever wins will release a country album, which is okay with me because the last three winners (David Cook, Kris Allen, and Lee DeWyze, respectively) have all been one-note and virtually interchangeable with minor differences. I’ll be happy to have them pollute the country waves and leave mainstream radio alone. I kid, I kid- I don’t even listen to “real” radio anymore. And while I’d
35 Years Of Stony Plain is more than a compilation of music that has been distributed by the Canadian blues/roots independent label. It goes beyond merely chronicling the artists who have crossed their path to make a record here and there. It tells a story and presents the music in a context for listeners who may not have ever paid attention to the name of the label on the spine of a CD. It illustrates all that is magic about maverick artists making music on their terms and an independent label willing to not only allow it but in some

Blues Radio Report: Marcia Ball Dynasty Continues

It's not one-and-done at #1...
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The Blues Radio Report in 2011 has been about dynasties. We had the months-long Gregg Allman dynasty for Low Country Blues and now it seems Marcia Ball's Roadside Attractions is here to stay for a while at the #1 spot. Allman again follows her. Recent releases from Tab Benoit, Rory Block, and Johnny Rawls are all making their marks this week. Damon Fowler's excellent Devil Got His Way has dropped a bit from the upper reaches where it spent so much time but remains a chart force. Future release -- we're getting close -- Revelator from Tedeschi Trucks Band is also

Judging American Idol: How We Got Here

Looking back on the Top 3 performances as we prep for the big finale...
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I know we know who’s in the finale on Tuesday vying for the title of this season’s American Idol but I wanted to go over the performaces anyway since I already had all these notes and just got behind this week. We are left with Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina which is no surprise to most people… the big surprise to many is Haley Reinhart.  She was at the bottom of the pack for much of the first half of the top 13 results shows, never appearing to be a front-runner or even a contender, and now here she is, Top

The Bo-Keys Release 'Got To Get Back!' June 21

First new album in seven years...
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Memphis' The Bo-Keys will issue their first record in seven years when Got To Get Back! hits stores and online retailers June 21. Seven years is a long time between records but the band is armed with 12 new songs and some heavyweight guest performers to help re-introduce themselves. Among those making cameos on the record are Blues Hall of Famer Charlie Musselwhite, Otis Clay, and Percy Wiggins. The Bo-Keys debuted some of the new songs at a showcase at B.B. King's Blues Club in Memphis the week of the Blues Music Awards, including "Just Chillin'." The 12-piece band features

Judging America: So Long, So What?

Haley's finally gone but it's too late for me to care...
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Here we are- Top Three Results Show and I have to be honest, I’m a little nervous, not because I care a lot at this point but, because I know I’m covering this through the finale and a few different scenarios are more painful to imagine than others. Let’s carry on and see how intense my level of pain is going to be, shall we? Show starts off with the top four contestants (James! I’m so happy to see you, even if you’re wearing a trucker hat!) going to JJ Abrams’ studio Bad Robot and getting a sneak peak of

Review: Christina Perri - lovestrong.

Angsty, bare, repetitive goodness from a talented and brutally honest singer/songwriter.
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Philadelphia's Christina Perri spills her guts on lovestrong., her debut record. It's clear that making the album took an emotional toll on the singer/songwriter, as these are bare songs that don't hide much. She sings with an unassuming energy, opening her heart for the listener and delivering the goods like it means something for a change. Stylistically, I can't say that Perri offers much more than your run-of-the-mill indie popster. The arrangements are nice, pleasant diversions, but she's not taking many creative risks with respect to composition. It's in the oft-brutal, always honest lyricism that lovestrong. becomes something unique. Perri's

Judging America(n Idol): Dear America(n Idol Voters), I Hate You

You have ruined this season for me and now you must all pay the price...
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Dear America, Contrary to what I’ve told you and everyone believes, voting for American Idol is not an exercise of opinion when it comes to this nonsense… I don’t care how wholesome Scotty is, how adorable and ditzy Lauren is, and I definitely couldn’t give a flying... duck about Haley’s sass. James is unequivocally the most talented of the final four. His absence from here on out with be felt more than any other Idol contestant voted off this season. I don’t care about excuses and weak attempts at making me feel better. I don’t care that Daughtry was voted

Judging American Idol: Consider This A Downpayment On A Future Ass-Chewing

If you think I'm over James Durbin being eliminated, you're not done thinking...
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Hi kids, remember me? I’ll spare you the details of my absence and leave it with you’re just happy to see me, right? Good, thought so. Now that that’s settled we need to discuss a few things that we missed in our time apart. Jacob Lusk has been eliminated- are we sad, happy, indifferent, or asking ourselves “Jacob Who?” Yeah, me too. Okay, we’ve given that all the attention it deserves. Moving on to the performances of last Wednesday May 11th where the remaining four Idol contestants regaled us with songs of the Lieber and Stoller song writing duo

Review: Steel Magnolia - Steel Magnolia

Looking at the debut album from Can You Duet season two winners, Steel Magnolia
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When Joshua Scott Jones and Megan Linsey arrived at the audition for the CMT television series Can You Duet, neither of them had any idea they would be where they are today. With each performance they soared to the top of the competition. Joshua and Megan were not only a couple on screen, but off screen as well. You could see it when they performed, and you could feel it when they sang. The judges fell in love with them, and they took the crown for the second and final season of Can You Duet. They would go on to

Review: SIXX A.M. - This Is Gonna Hurt

It's touted as the "Long Awaited Follow-up To The Heroin Diaries," so how does it hold up?
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There is no doubt that founding member of Motley Crue, Nikki Sixx, is enjoying life these days. It seems like he has a new project going every day. From Brides of Destruction, to his relationship with Kat Von D, to his long-time band Motley Crue, there is always something going on with Nikki Sixx. Everywhere you turn you seem to be able to find him. In 2008, Nikki published his so-called diary from his years as a heroin addict called The Heroin Diaries and companioned it with a music CD from his newest project Sixx A.M. The CD and book

Two-fer Tuesday: Rod Stewart Sings Me Into A Birthday State of Mind

It's my party and I'll play what I want. And I want Rod Stewart!
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The rumors are true. By tomorrow, I will be old. But I've decided I'm going to take a page out of Rod the Mod's playbook and not let that stop me. I'm sure that makes no sense to you, but living in Sin City, where everyone is (pardon the pun) forever young, it's not easy to watch those years tick up. Rod Stewart, however, has never seemed to age. The man's 66 years old and he's still rockin'. In fact, he's set to take up a residency at Caesar's Palace in August, playing everything from his early blues on up

Blues Radio Report: Marcia Ball On Top; Benoit, Block, Rawls Make Big Gains

Recent releases from Johnny Rawls, Tab Benoit, and Rory Block return to the upper reaches of the blues radio chart...
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Okay, boys and girls, let's talk about blues radio and what the kids are listening to. Marcia Ball remains on top with the smash hit from Gregg Allman close behind. Tab Benoit's latest, Medicine, enters the Top 5 this week and Rory Block's tribute to Mississippi Fred McDowell enjoyed a huge surge in radio airplay on Roots Music Report's chart. It's also good to see soul-bluesman Johnny Rawls' Memphis Still Got Soul making a run up the chart this week. As many of you know, I was at the BMA in Memphis earlier this month and a number of the

Listening Room: "Hard Sun" - Eddie Vedder

With a newborn in the house finding time for music is hard, but once in awhile a great song shines through.
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My wife gave birth to our first child a few weeks ago. To say this has had a limiting effect on my musical listening ability would be a gross understatement - akin to saying the TSA has a limiting effect on the enjoyment of air travel. Life with a newborn is surreal. Sleep is a treasure to be found whenever and wherever one can grab it. Spit-up, snot, buckets of urine and trails of poo are no longer disgusting things to never be discussed and only done in private but a normal matter of the day to day life, so

Music Review: Yuck Fou - System In Effect

Fine thrash/punk from Tacoma, WA
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The always reliable Ever Rat Records have just issued the latest by Yuck Fu, System In Effect. Ever Rat have a storied history in the Northwest through their release of seminal albums from the Dehumanizers, Antiseptic, and hair metal gods Show 'N Tell. Yuck Fou are their latest acquisition, and System In Effect is thrash/punk at its best. "Strait Outta Tacoma" should have been their subtitle however, because it does not get any more Tacoma, WA than this seven song collection.  I grew up in T-Town, and while not proud of it - I do know the city pretty well,

Review: Brandi Carlile - Live at Benaroya Hall

One of the most commanding voices in the business performs live with the Seattle Symphony
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She's been mentored by Elton John and has a Patsy Cline like croon, so what could possibly make Brandi Carlile better? As this record shows, add in the Seattle Symphony and you've got something pretty magical.  Always one to show her love of cover songs, Brandi gives us several on this record. Starting with a cover of Elton's "Sixty Years On," Brandi later mentions that she thinks of Sir Elton every time she sits down at a piano ("That's what heros are all about"). Carlile then goes on to perform the often-covered "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen and also gives

Judging American Idol - Final 4 Edition: James Durbin

From American Tail to American Idol?
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Saving the best for last, we will now look at James Durbin. Anyone reading this probably knows I’ve been Team James since the moment I saw his audition. Sad story: check, down on his luck: check, amazing vocal ability with a flair for glam rock: check, looks exactly like Fievel from An AmericanTail: check, check. I’m secretly hoping he does the “There are no cats in America, and the streets are paved with cheese” song, and I’m only half kidding. James has actually grown over the course of this competition, I know many think he’s just the heavy metal screamer, but

Adele Tops At iTunes Music Store; Beastie Boys & Lady Antebellum Close Behind

iTunes' top 10 selling singles and albums of the week ending May 9, 2011
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Adele's 21 is back on top of the Albums Chart at iTunes and it looks like it will retain the #1 slot at Billboard as well. It's been remarkably well received in the US and UK and is showing no signs of losing any steam. I'm surprised and disappointed to see Foo Fighters' Wasting Light has already fallen from the Top 10. It's such a good rock record. It sold well early on but can't understand why it would have falled beyond the Top 10 so soon after its release. It's been awhile since Beastie Boys released new music

Review: Eric Bibb - Troubadour Live

A deep, rich, soulful experience...
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It's easy to dismiss acoustic music as mellow but it's often incorrect as it is on Eric Bibb's Troubadour Live! He is a thoughtful songwriter and gifted performer who could deliver a quality set of quiet, polite fare but that's not what this is. Yes, it's acoustic-based and intimate but there is real energy, intensity, and passion in these performances. Bibb opens on his own and gives such a beautiful performance of Guy Clark's "The Cape." He sings clearly with a deep connection to this song as well as his own material and the stories, themes, and people in the

Judging American Idol - Final 4 Edition: Scotty McCreery

Can anyone stop Scotty from winning?
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Scotty McCreery is every little girl’s dream boyfriend, and every cougar’s dream pool boy. He is so super marketable and likable and has that amazing baritone with the country twang. I was just watching Scotty’s audition and I miss that Scotty! He was humble, charming, and authentic without even once seeming like he wanted to sell me a used car. I want that old Scotty back- the deep voiced, humble and not smarmy Scotty. I think he has gotten caught up in Scotty fever and believed his own hype. Why he won’t win: I’m afraid Scotty might fall prey to

Judging American Idol - Final 4 Edition: Lauren Alaina

4, 3, 2... who will be #1?
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I did the same thing with Lauren Alaina that I did with Haley; I went back and listened to her audition and watched all of her Hollywood Week performances. Her audition was so annoying to me at the time, I didn’t like the sad story angle (sick cousin Holly, who hasn’t been mentioned since…have we even seen her in the audience?) and I judged her as a chubbier, Carrie Underwood-knockoff. I was wrong. She’s much more of a Kelly Clarkson knockoff but with blonde hair. She is, however, coming into her own and we have to remember this little girl

all wood and doors by james lee stanley & cliff eberhardt

acoustic reinventions of classic doors songs
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At the suggestion of John Densmore of the Doors, veteran composers  /  vocalists / musicians James Lee Stanley and Cliff Eberhardt took songs that are practically hard wired into our collective pop culture consciousness and put a uniquely fresh spin on them creating the remarkable All Wood and Doors.    Following on the heels of the critically acclaimed All Wood and Stones by James Lee Stanley and John Batdorf, (vintage Rolling Stones masterpieces composed by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards and reinvented by Batdorf & Stanley),  All Wood and Doors is the inevitable next step.   And it’s not too early

Review: Nazareth – Big Dogz

The Big Dogz may still howl, but they've lost their bite.
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It’s been 40 years since the band’s first studio album was released, and it wasn’t until their 6th album, Hair of the Dog, in 1975 that they hit it big. Fans of the band will remember such classics as “Beggars Day” and “Please Don’t Judas Me” from this album, but everyone knows the huge hits “Love Hurts” and “Hair of the Dog." No matter how old you are, if you’ve never found yourself driving down the road with the radio cranked and screaming the words “Now you’re messing with a son of a bitch,” you are not a hard rocker.

CD Review: The Staple Singers - Be Altitude: Respect Yourself

The Staple Singers at the peak of their powers.
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Few groups have had the longevity of the Staple Singers. Fewer yet have managed to do it while completely changing styles more than once. The Staple Singers started out as a gospel group in the 1950s, before turning to folk music and protest songs in the 1960s. After signing with Stax in the late 1960s, the Staple Singers moved from protest music to "message music," as Mavis Staples put it. The songs were still socially conscious, but didn't beat the listener over the head with their message. The music also infused more of a soul and R&B flavor to it.

Review: Johnnie Taylor - Taylored in Silk (Stax Re-issue)

Stax with a touch of Motown and the blues make for a memorable album from Johnnie Taylor.
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By the early 1970s, the late Johnnie Taylor's sound had evolved from gospel singer to blues singer (he was known as Johnnie Taylor The Blues Wailer for a time) to smooth soul singer. Producer Don Davis had been brought in from Detroit to try and create a hybrid between the legendary Motown and Stax sounds, the results of which are plentiful on 1973's Taylored In Silk. The album leads off with one of its three top-five R&B singles, "We're Getting Careless With Our Love." Taylor's soulful vocals recall The Temptations and the slow-burning song tells the tale of two cheating

Judging American Idol - Final 4 Edition: Haley Reinhart

4, 3, 2... Who will be #1?
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Now that we have our top four American Idol hopefuls, I’ve decided it will be fun to do a little then and now of my own. I will be looking back at auditions and early performances of Haley Reinhart, Scotty McCreery, Lauren Alaina and James Durbin and playing a little devil’s advocate explaining why I think they will, won’t, or can win and whether or not I think they will be the next American Idol. We begin with Haley Reinhart. Oh Haley, Haley, Haley… how you’ve won me over! Not completely, kids, don’t get excited because I don’t want her to

Review: Booker T. and the M.G.'s — McLemore Avenue (Stax Re-issue)

The legendary Stax house band pays tribute to Abbey Road
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Booker T. and the M.G.'s cut their teeth as the house band for Stax Records, backing legendary soul and R&B acts such as Otis Redding and Sam & Dave and helping to define the Memphis sound. They also released a number of instrumental singles and albums, but it was keyboardist Booker T. Jones' interest in the Beatles that led the band to one of their more ambitious projects, McLemore Avenue. McLemore Avenue pays tribute to the Beatles' Abbey Road, both in terms of the songs (They cover the majority of the album) and the cover, which features the band walking

Two-fer Tuesday: Ramblin', Uneasy Mind

Crazy visions swim in my head as I await the gradual absorption of heavy meds. My musical needs are many and make no sense, not even to this uneasy mind.
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Between waiting for medication to work its way through my system and all the side effects to come to some sort of sensible level, I'm a wreck. Not ideal living conditions, but it sure as hell makes for intriguing musical choices. My mind wanders. My heart wants what it wants -- even if what it wants is Pink singing Led Zep, or James Brown & Pavarotti teaming up for a song. And here we are.   And our little bonus:  

Review: Toad The Wet Sprocket - All You Want

The original Toad lineup is back together again, covering themselves as only they can...
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Most bands proclaim themselves friends at the end of their run only to never speak directly to one another again, all future correspondence consisting of name-calling in the press. Not Toad The Wet Sprocket. Their breakup has to be the most genteel of all time, which can't be a great shock giving their image and music. Oh, I'm sure angry words have been exchanged and feelings were hurt but the Gallagher brothers shed more bled and utter more obscenities before breakfast on a Tuesday than our friends in Toad will in a lifetime. Toad took time away and did
This week's new release schedule is dominated by re-issues as opposed to new albums of note, but we have a few of those as well. American Idol fans seemed to like the first single from Jennifer Lopez's new album when it was premiered on the show. Fellow judge Steven Tyler doesn't have a solo album – yet – but is premiering a single on the show this week. Other new albums this week include a live set from acoustic bluesman Erib Bibb. Troubador Live! follows his Blues Music Award-nominated Booker's Guitar. Troubadour features 10 live performances with Staffan Astner

Mix Tape - Blinded By Sound's Summer Running Suggestions

Some of our favorite songs to run to... because who doesn't love a mix tape?
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I consider myself pretty lucky - two of the things i love the most compliment each other perfectly. Not only do I love all things music, but I'm also a runner, triathlete, hot yoga enthusiast, and general masochist. If it sounds like an athletic endeavor you would never in your life like to attempt - my friends and I probably pay to do it. For me running and music go hand in hand. I can't run without it and most days look forward to my evening run with the headphones turned up to eleven. My favorite way to digest

Review: Tab Benoit - Medicine

Freedom within the formula
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Grammy-winner Tab Benoit's Medicine is a sturdy contemporary blues collection imbued with traditional country and Americana elements, particularly those recalling Benoit's native Louisiana. Benoit drafted fellow Louisianan Anders Osborne (American Patchwork) to co-produce, co-write, and add backing vocals and rhythm guitar. The title track opens the record and is built on a foundation of a stomping rhythm and stinging guitar leads. In addition to the overtones of addiction, Benoit uses the theme of finding healing in the music. Sometimes the best cure for the blues is the blues. Things slow down on "Sundown" and "A Whole Lotta Soul," giving the

Review: Colin Vallon Trio - Rruga

Debut recording from this improvisational jazz trio.
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One of the things about the improvisational trio format is the fact that there is no room to lay back. This is certainly the case for the Colin Vallon Trio, whose debut Rruga has just been released by ECM. The trio consists of Vallon (piano), Patrice Moret (double-bass), and Samuel Rohrer (drums). Although Vallon is clearly the leader, the trio share compositional credits fairly democratically. Where one truly hears the cooperative nature of the players most effectively though is in the music itself. The bright and beautiful piano of Colin Vallon opens the disc with “Telepathy.“ But it would be

Review: Joe Adragna - Fall Back

New Orleans singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist shows us why he doesn't need a band
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New Orleans based singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Joe Adragna brings us his second solo record Fall Back - only four short months after delivering his first solo effort Parlophony.  Adragna, former frontman for the bands The Junior League and Tether's End, plays most of the instruments on the record but brings along an impressive group of friends to contribute as well. While I know I probably shouldn't compare the two records, I can't help but to think of them both since they came out so close together.  If Parlophony is the hyper-active older sibling, boasting punchy power pop numbers

Review: Robert Johnson - The Centennial Collection

Reviewing the presentation of Robert Johnson's discography 100 years after his birth...
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There's not much point in reviewing the work of Robert Johnson. There's plenty left to be said and learned as new generations discover these vital, timeless works but what's left to review? My purpose isn't to convince you how great Johnson was or why he (still) matters. This is aimed squarely at people who know and love this music and are trying to decide whether they should trade in their copy of King Of The Delta Blues Singers or The Complete Recordings in exchange for The Centennial Collection. The Centennial Collection is really an updated version of The Complete Recordings

Marvin Gaye's Hidden Masterpiece

Here, My Dear: An Unrecognized Masterpiece
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I don't make records for pleasure. I did when I was a younger artist, but I don't today. I record so that I can feed people what they need, what they feel. Hopefully, I record so that I can help someone overcome a bad time” – Marvin Gaye Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night unable to get back to sleep so I give up trying and listen to a record that would not normally be on my radar. This morning that record is Marvin Gaye’s Here, My Dear. I have always loved the drama of

Buddy Guy Sweeps 32nd Blues Music Awards

Chicago blues icon Buddy Guy owns the night...
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Steve Miller Band opened the 32nd Blues Music Awards in Memphis but the night belonged to the legendary Buddy Guy, who swept all five categories in which he was nominated. Guy won Album Of The Year, Song Of The Year, BB King Entertainer Of The Year, Contemporary Blues Male Artist, and Contemporary Blues Album Of The Year. Guy was not the only multiple award-winner on the night. The late Solomon Burke won two awards, accepted by his daughter Candy. Charlie Musselwhite and Derek Trucks also won two awards each. In addition to the awards, there were memorable performances by

Review: Musiq Soulchild - MusiqInTheMagiq

A sleek, sexy record perfect for a romantic evening in.
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The sleek, funky, sensual neo-soul vibes of Musiq Soulchild groove their way all over his sixth studio recording, MusiqInTheMagiq. Even after a number of hit records, the Philly singer/songwriter hasn't hit the stratosphere in terms of mainstream popularity. MusiqInTheMagiq rides the funky train through a series of easy songs that call back to his contemporary R&B roots. While there's nothing here that reinvents the proverbial wheel, Musiq is smooth enough to make it all go off like clockwork. As the follow-up to 2008's OnMyRadio, the spacebar hater's MusiqInTheMagiq delves into casual, conversational lyricism over smooth, oft-jazzy beats and soundscapes. The

Judging American Idol: Back To The Future

An underwhelming theme leads to underwhelming performances...
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On tonight’s American Idol our remaining five contestants perform songs from a very loose theme, “Past and Present,” which is supposed to be current and '60s songs. Jimmy Iovine has Sheryl Crow as the guest mentor; she reveals she wants to see more depth and desire in each contestant. Randy gave the “America wants to know, who’s in it to win it” speech and implored the contestants to show us what music they want to record, and what kind of artist they want to be. James Durbin starts us off with “Closer To The Edge” by 30 Seconds To

Robert Cray, John Hammond, Denise LaSalle Headline Blues Hall Of Fame Class of 2011

Singles, albums, a book, and several blues pioneers and stars immortalized in Memphis, TN...
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The Blues Hall Of Fame opened its doors to a new group of classic works, performers, contributors, and pioneers at a ceremony in Memphis, TN, headlined by Robert Cray, who becomes one of the youngest members. Cray, John Hammond, and Denise LaSalle were on hand to be honored for their career as performers. Cray is as soft-spoken as he is smooth as a vocalist. LaSalle, the Queen of The Soul-Blues, gave a spirited acceptance speech and told those in attendance she first fell in love with country music as a young girl. For years, the songs she wrote were

Billy Lee Riley & The Sun Records B Team

Remembering A True Original Rocker And A Final Reunion To Heal Old Wounds
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My recent reunion with Cowboy Jack Clement reminded me of another old friend who passed away nearly two years ago. Billy Lee Riley died from cancer at age 75 on August 2, 2009. I have written a long and long overdue account of my experiences with Billy and the other Sun artists I am blessed to be associated with over the past 18 years. I am sorry it took Billy's passing to inspire me. I had an interesting but rocky friend/manager/producer situation with Billy but when I think back to it, I only remember the fun times and the incredible

Review: Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues

"If to borrow is to take and not return - I have borrowed all my lonesome life"
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Most of the world (meaning me and everyone else) has been anxiously waiting for the much anticipated new album from Seattle's Fleet Foxes.  Dare to disagree?  Just pick up this month's copy of Spin with Robin Pecknold and the phrase "the years most beautiful album" on the cover.   The followup to the bands 2008 self-titled debut, Helplessness Blues brings back the ethereal three part harmonies that Foxe's fans fell fantastically infatuated with in the first place.  The record also shares the same dream-like sounds played by an eclectic assortment of acoustic instruments (is that a hammered dulcimer and a
I hoped to have a few more of these 32nd Blues Music Award breakdowns written and published before the eve of the big night but real life intervened and my region, state, and community was caught up in the horrendous, tragic storms that came through Alabama. I'm blessed that no one in my family was injured or sustained catastrophic damage to their home, but we were without power for several days like hundreds of thousands of other residents. The blues is a music born of sorrow, suffering, and hardships and while I didn't experience anything close to the worst

2011 Blues Music Awards Breakdown | Traditional: Charlie Musselwhite, Duke Robillard, Eden Brent, James Cotton, Sue Foley

My ballot reveal for three of my favorite BMA categories...
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The traditional categories are probably my favorite BMA categories, which is why I've held them until near the end of my series. I love to hear artists take the blues and expand what can be done with the idiom but this is a music with a history and the artists who remain faithful to the roots help keep it strong. These are the sounds that made me a blues fan. As with the Contemporary categories, the Blues Foundation honors a male and female artist as well as an album. As with the contemporary breakdown, we'll begin with the women.