December 2011 Archives

I never get tired of saying this: what a great year for music! It's not a sentiment you'll hear many places these days as powerful media outlets champion the uninspiring and the too cool crowd sits at a table looking for an excuse to turn a deaf ear to anything and everything. I'm no longer encumbered by the pointless, fruitless pursuit of cool and can immerse myself in and gush about music ceaselessly and with alacrity. 2011 was a balanced musical meal. I made fabulous new discoveries, reveled in the continued excellence of artists who have become a staple of

Lisa Mills – Tempered In Fire

Southern soul by way of England
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Lisa Mills is blessed. Blessed, that is, with a vocal abilities that seem to encompass and embody every cliché ever applied to a gruff, gargle-with-broken-glass yet velvety-smooth voice. It’s a remarkable instrument indeed, and she employs it magnificently on Tempered In Fire, her natural melisma and southern drawl at times reminiscent of Lucinda Williams, while elsewhere she exudes the fiery passion and gritty intensity of the late, great Otis Redding. Mills is from Mississippi, but Tempered In Fire was recorded in Kent, England, and there’s a vaguely intercontinental feel to proceedings. Most of the songs lean heavily to southern soul,

Catherine Russell – Strictly Romancin’

A lively and engaging collection with an old-timey feel
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Although there’s really no definitive definition of just what jazz is, it’s generally considered a bit more cerebral than typical pop music. Yet many jazz standards – the songs that form the bedrock upon which countless improvisers and interpreters add their personal touch – began life as simple pop ditties. Catherine Russell is undeniably a jazz singer, yet she brings a playful, irreverent approach to the music that keeps the emphasis firmly on fun. She’s backed by a superb aggregation that begins with a jazz quartet (Matt Munisteri on guitar and banjo(!), pianist Mark Shane, with bassist Lee Hudson and

The Sweet Pain of Discovery: Alabama Shakes' "You Ain't Alone" (Video)

Alabama Shakes and so will you.
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Every so often I stagger upon a piece of music by a band or artist that I’ve never heard of that simply blows my mind. It takes away all my stalwart self-importance and baroque semantics (nearly), strips away my sureness and leaves me a trembling bulk of reverential madness. The last time that happened, the suspect was one Gary Clark Jr. I’m still trying to track down that license plate. This time, I’d like to introduce you to Alabama Shakes. Based out of Athens, Alabama, this outfit is led by the everywoman presence of Brittany Howard. She is a

Rick Danko's Woodstock, Part One

Wit and Wisdom In the Midnight Hours
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The Band’s Music From Big Pink was such an important record in my young life, especially as an aspiring musician. To my twelve-year-old ears, this was music I could latch onto without betraying the British invasion, which had been the core of my listening material for several years. I was lucky to have had a cousin from Chicago who was a guitarist in a semi-popular regional band and had every record I could imagine. He spent his summers down south so, for three months each year, I had access to great music, guitar lessons and his vast knowledge of the

Best Songs of 2011: Tom Waits, Wilco, Gillian Welch, Tapes 'N Tapes, Fleet Foxes, Cure, PJ Harvey

I'm not saying these are the best songs of 2011 I'm just saying they (mostly) came out this year and that I like them (for now.)
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It is tradition in my house for me to make my wife a mix-tape (or mix-CD or mix-playlist) for Christmas. Initially the songs I added were love songs or songs that expressed some sort of fealty towards her, but after a few years of this I ran out of good love songs and started mixing songs that I had discovered that year. I am much more of a music obsessive than my wife so she enjoys getting to hear interesting new music without having to do all the work of seeking out new tunes nor listening to all the crap

Richey Furay Band - B.B. Kings, NYC 11/11/11

A Mystical Date, A Mystical Performance
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11/11/11, the mysterious “day of ones” was alternatively dreaded and anticipated. New York City drew the biggest crowd ever for the Veteran’s Day Parade – on a very cold day - and Egypt closed the pyramids to avoid uncontrollable crowds of mystics and seers. And Richie Furay played B. B. King’s for the second time this century. To say that Buffalo Springfield, and its various tentacles, was not the biggest American influence on my musical tastes would be to suddenly declare that Jackson Browne does not exist. They were and are my US version of The Beatles or The Stones.

Music DVD Review: Klaus Schulze featuring Lisa Gerrard - Dziekuje Bardzo

The Krautrock legend and Goth queen collaborate for a magnificent concert.
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Although the Klaus Schulze/Lisa Gerrard concert DVD Dziekuje Bardzo has been out for a while now, it has been somewhat difficult to find until recently. With that in mind, I thought a review of it might be of interest to some of our readers. Both of the artists have impeccable credentials. Klaus Schulze is a Krautrock legend. He was a founding member of Tangerine Dream, and left them to form Ash Ra Tempel, in 1971. But it was as a solo artist that Schulze really hit his stride. Beginning in 1972 with Irrlicht, Klaus has released somewhere upwards of 200

Melanie Amaro Wins 'X Factor' Votes, Less Impressive Next Day WIth Reporters

Will The Real Melanie Amaro Please Stand Up?
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Melanie Amaro is The X Factor’s first winner stateside and I was honored to be given the opportunity to once again sit in on a conference call with her on Friday, less than 24 hours after her big win. Right off the blocks Melanie shows what I believe to be her true personality: smug, ungracious, and robotic. The first question to Melanie was asking who she felt was her biggest competition and not surprisingly, she says she considered Chris Rene to be her biggest threat because (and I quote), “everyone thought he was talented and an original artist... well

Melanie Amaro Wins 'X Factor' Season 1; Blandness Triumphs

Josh Krajcik and Chris Rene come in second, third...
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Tonight the first winner of The X Factor (USA) was crowned and America has spoken and chosen Simon Cowell’s act Melanie Amaro as its champion. If you think I’m gracious or even partly excited for her, you’re mistaken. It smacks of deceit and a fixed ending when the contestant Simon originally sent home and went back in a very dramatic fashion to fetch from her home in South Florida wins the entire competition. Since I already let the cat out of the bag and you know the winner, let’s traipse through the entire two-hour finale and see how we

X Factor Finale: Chris Rene Steals The Show, The Season On Star-Studded Finale

The voting is ongoing, winner announced tomorrow night...
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Here we are, kids! This is the moment we’ve been waiting for: the final performance night for season one of The X Factor (USA), Simon Cowell’s baby he brilliantly brought over to America. The winner will receive a $5 million recording contract with Sony Music and an “iconic” Pepsi commercial. Down from 100,000 auditions- we’re looking at the final three: Josh Krajcik (Over 30s), Chris Rene (Boys), Melanie Amaro (Girls). First up is Nicole Scherzinger’s act, Josh Krajcik doing “Uninvited” with Alanis Morissette which starts off low, slow, and really rocky. The best part is when Alanis comes out

X Factor Season 1: And The Winner is...?

Predicting 'The X Factor' Season 1 winner...
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Tonight we will watch the Top Three X Factor contestants perform for our votes for the final time before America votes on who will be the first US winner of the $5 million Sony deal and “iconic” Pepsi commercial. The lucky souls are Chris Rene (LA Reid’s “Boys” team), Josh Krajcik (Nicole Scherzinger’s “Over 30s” team), and Melanie Amaro (Simon Cowell’s “Girls” Team) which is a nice, diverse group and that makes me happy.  Now we get to the portion where I tell you who will win, who won’t win and why either of those are possible. Let’s start

Nanci Griffith "Can't Help But Wonder Where I'm Bound" Helps Me Not Judge a Book By Its Cover

Sometimes we need reminding that people are not always what they seem.
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My wife teaches French at university. Before we started a family she was also the Director of the Belgium Program - the universities study abroad program. This meant that for three months in the fall we would take about 30 students to Europe. It was as fun and exciting as that sounds but also exhausting and infuriating. We saw some amazing things and visited truly wondrous countries and cultures, yet we also lived with 30 students who were loud, argumentative, and who often emanated smells that would curl the nose on the Pope. For the most part our students were

Nick Moss - "Kind Of Ghetto" - Live on Don Odells 'Legends' (Video)

A Nick Moss live jam...
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I have the cure for your Monday blues, kids. We have fresh new video from Nick Moss & The Flip Tops from a recent appearance. My day just got better and now so can yours! It's been a big year for Moss, having toured the US and Europe while finishing and releasing his ninth (and quite possibly finest) album Here I Am last month. Here I Am captured some of Moss' most stunning lead work to date. Song times are extended, jamming is plentiful, and styles and textures of the music are changed and through it all, He lays down

DeepSoul Holiday Edition: Stevie Wonder - "Someday at Christmas" and "What Christmas Means to Me"

By showing Christmas' dual sides--joy and reflection--Wonder's R&B-tinged songs have taken their place in the holiday music canon.
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This final DeepSoul Holiday Edition features not one, but two classic Christmas songs with a twist of R&B. Both feature a young Stevie Wonder an artist who had outgrown the "Little Stevie Wonder" phase and was transforming into the astoundingly multi-talented, mature musician we know today. While the 1967 album Someday at Christmas may not appeal to everyone--AllMusic dismisses it by deeming it "the obligatory Stevie Wonder Christmas album" which is "par for the course, with standards like 'The Little Drummer Boy' coming off better than the new songs written for the project." I respectfully disagree, as "Someday at Christmas"

Chris Cornell's Solo Acoustic 'Songbook' Enjoyable, Uneven

Cornell's solo acoustic live album finds a key and sticks with it...
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Chris Cornell is the latest rocker to unplug, releasing a solo acoustic live album Songbookthat plays almost like a greatest hits album that summarizes his work with Soundgarden, Audioslave, and his solo career (with a few covers thrown in). Songbook suffers from the trap to make solo acoustic music languid, static, and stiff. The acoustic strumming varies little from one song to the next. You can start slowly tapping your foot from the opening notes of "As Hope And Promise Fade" and still be in time and rhythm as the closing notes of "Imagine" close the live portion of the disc. Cornell's

Gary Wright - 'The Dream Weaver' 24KT Gold Limited Edition: Audio Fidelity Remasters '70s Soft Rock Synth Classic

Gary Wright's The Dream Weaver stands as a slice of 1970s soft rock.
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Singer/guitarist Gary Wright initially made his mark as a member of 60s band Spooky Tooth, then became the go-to studio guy for such artists as George Harrison and Ringo Starr. Finally signing a solo deal with Warner Bros. Records in 1974, he next released what would be his most successful album: 1975's The Dream Weaver, which spawned the massive hit single "Dream Weaver." That song has become synonymous with 1970s rock and remains a staple of classic rock radio. Audio Fidelity, which issues remastered CDs covered with 24 karat gold, recently released a enhanced edition of The Dream Weaver, which

Gary Clark Jr Performs "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" With Alicia Keys (Video)

Two great talents share a stage...
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You really should have taken our word for it but for those of you not willing to give yourselves over to our expertise, we have a new Gary Clark Jr. endorsement to bring you: Alicia Keys. That's right. Grammy-winner Alicia Keys thinks Clark is special (he is) and thinks he's going to blow up (we hope). We've even got video of she and Clark doing a duet of George Harrison's Beatles classic "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" (we wish we had the full thing!). Let me also say whether it's on a one-off single, a soundtrack, a charity compilation, or

Florence And The Machine Perform "Spectrum" On 'X Factor' (Video)

The best 5 minutes of 'X Factor' Season 1 and I'm totally (not) biased...
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"The British are coming! The British are coming!" Two sensations that originated across the Atlantic have made their assault on American shores and I'm ready to be conquered by at least one of them. The first season of the US edition of Simon Cowell's X Factor will finish this week. British sensation Florence + The Machine performed on last week's 'Results Night,' as she looks to capitalize on the success of her debut and reach a larger US audience. I've only watched 10 minutes of X Factor this season but based on what I saw and heard on this video of Florence performing "Spectrum"

Marcus Canty's Luck Finally Runs Out; Chris Rene, Melanie Amaro, Josh Krajcik Advance To 'X Factor' Season 1 Finals

The final three have one more chance to impress you and win your vote before the winner is announced...
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We’re one week away from finding out which contestant will be crowned the champion of The X Factor USA’s inaugural season garnering a $5 million recording contract with Sony Music and an “iconic” Pepsi commercial. The final four kicked off the show with a “No Diggity” and “Shout” mashup and it looked like a Chris Rene show with his three friends as backup singers. He started it off and commanded the attention and spotlight the entire time. Josh looked so uncomfortable and was even reading lyrics off his hand! Now we go through last night’s performances and we’re reminded that

Crosby, Stills, and Nash S/T Debut Gets the 24 Karat Gold Treatment

Audio Fidelity's 24 karat gold remastering treatment enables listeners to fully appreciate the trio's still unique sound.
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Listening to Crosby, Stills and Nash's self-titled 1969 debut album is like stepping inside a time capsule. Graham Nash, who had just left his previous group The Hollies, joined forces with singer/songwriters David Crosby (ex-member of The Byrds) and Stephen Stills (formerly of Buffalo Springfield) to produce an innovative fusion of folk and rock. Its songs, filled with the trio's exquisite harmonies, reflect the late 1960s vibe yet seem timeless and still unique. Audio Fidelity's 24 karat gold remaster, overseen by engineer Steve Hoffman, refines the tracks, enhances the bass, and boosts the intricate harmonies to let the music shine
Three very special people in my life are struggling today. They're in three different places -- geographically and emotionally -- and I can't be. Of course it's also dawned on me even I could, I'm not sure how much I could really do for any of them. I've summoned the power of prayer and positive thinking. I believe in those powers yet they remain a mystery to me. I want to help them all but I'm afraid there's nothing I can do for any of them, and I feel like shit. I've felt waves of anguish overflow their banks

Sebastian Bach "TunnelVision" Video Forgettable Fun

Just go with it...
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Sebastian Bach has a new video for “TunnelVision” off his recent release, Kicking And Screaming and an international tour slated for early 2012- how this man stays so busy will forever escape me. I have reviewed the previous video, “Kicking And Screaming” as well as his entire recent album by the same name and I have had mixed feelings on each new piece that transpires along the way; As a long-time Sebastian Bach fan I’m genuinely happy he has put his name on a piece of work that doesn’t make me cringe in embarrassment, right out of the box. Then

X Factor Final 4: Melanie Kills It, Josh Surprises, Chris Rene Owns The Night; End Of The Road For Marcus

Marcus has been on the verge of elimination for weeks... is it finally his time to go?
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After reminding us of last week’s Rachel Crow nightmare (hear what Rachel had to say about it the day after), The X Factor gets quickly down to business with contestants doing their Pepsi Challenge songs picked by the fans. The voting for the three contestants who'll make it to the Finals is completely up to America -- no survival song, deadlocks, or judges -- votes have never been more vital. Marcus Canty does “I’ll Make Love To You” by Boyz II Men and it was a great song for him. It was like Bobby Brown doing Boyz II Men

The Avett BrotherPerform "Laundry Room" Live at CMT's "Artist of the Year" (VIDEO)

North Carolina's the Avett Brothers bring Nashville's elite to their feet with a resounding live performance.
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Nashville take note: This is how you do country music (and yes, it involves a cello)! Americana-bluegrass favorites the Avett Brothers brought a room of country music's elite to their feet last night at CMT’s “Artist of the year 2011.” Performing “Laundry Room” from 2009’s I and Love and You, the Avetts showed us why their shows are among the most entertaining live performances around right now. In a world where the commercial music scene (both country and pop genres) is laden with cheesy and trite lyrics and highly tracked live performances, the Avetts remind us of what truly great

Tedeschi Trucks Band, Sugar Ray & The Bluetones, Tab Benoit, and Johnny Sansone Lead 33rd Blues Music Award Nominees

Winners be announced at the May 10 ceremony in Memphis
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The 33rd Blues Music Award nominations were announced today and Tedeschi Trucks Band, Sugar Ray & The Bluetones, Tab Benoit, and Johnny Sansone led the way with four nods apiece and winners be announced at the May 10 ceremony in Memphis. In addition to the four-time nominees, there were also several receiving three apiece, including Eugene "Hideaway" Bridges, Lazy Lester, David Maxwell, Ana Popovic and Johnny Rawls. Album Of The Year nominations went to the collaborative effort Chicago Blues A Living History - The (R)Evolution Continues, Rock And A Hard Place by Eugene "Hideaway" Bridges, The Lord Is Waiting & The Devil Is
Happy birthday to the Achtung Baby, which as of last month is officially no longer a spring chicken. As part of the celebration of the 20th anniversary of U2’s landmark, career-saving album, Q magazine – with help form U2 themselves – put together AHK-toong BAY-bi Covered, a tribute album that features a track-by-track take by artists who know and love U2. I want to pause just a second to thank U2 for taking care of fans with this release. Q can be difficult to find on newsstands outside of the UK, and it is my understanding that newsstand editions shipped

DeepSoul Holiday Edition: James Brown - "Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto"

Leave it to the Godfather of Soul to transform a holiday song into something much bigger.
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No one's Christmas collection should be without James Brown's The Complete James Brown Christmas. Where else can you find carols accented with the occasional "good gawd" and grunts, and wishes for all "soul brothers"? "Go Power at Christmas Time" brings the horn-filled funk, and a truly passionate "Please Come Home for Christmas" allows Brown to display his penchant for drama and heart-wrenching emotion. But one of the most famous tracks from the album remains "Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto." Unlike other artists who record traditional Christmas songs, Brown infuses each song with his signature grooves and some topical

Paul McCartney's "Cathartic Journey" On 'The Love We Make' More Than Ego Trip?

The documentary follows McCartney around New York as he prepares for his performance at 2001's Concert for New York City.
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The tenth anniversary of 9/11 brought numerous reflections in the form of books and documentaries. One particularly curious entry is The Love We Make, a film billed as "a chronicle of Paul McCartney's cathartic journey through New York City in the aftermath of 9/11." Instead of providing any deep analysis or shedding any light on McCartney's true emotions, the movie follows McCartney as he prepares to headline the Concert for New York City. While he seems to genuinely care about New York, one cannot help but wonder about the exact purpose of the movie. First, the back story: McCartney's plane

No Controversy When Florence And The Machine Perform "No Light, No Light" for Saturday Night Live (Video)

Florence And The Machine Perform "No Light, No Light" For SNL
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Florence Welch sings "You can't choose what stays and what fades away" in her song "No Light No Light" and she has found that out the hard way as the video she released for the song has drawn controversy in some quarters as having a racially insensitive bent to it. I didn't get that from it when I watched it the first several times. It's also drawn some flack for the religious imagery, as well. I didn't know about the flap until after watching it. I'm probably not qualified to tell anyone whether they should take offense at something on

Nick Moss At Absolute Best On 'Here I Am,' Among Best Albums Of 2011

Moss has outdone himself again...
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Nick Moss made a decision on his previous record Privileged to open his sound beyond Traditional Chicago blues, the hallmark of his career through seven records that made him one of the most popular figures on the current blues scene. He knows that sound, having learned from and worked with the greats like Willie "Big Eyes" Smith and Jimmy Rogers, both of whom were great artists in their own right and also tie into the tree of the immortal Muddy Waters. It's a sound and style he knows and one that comes from his heart. It's always a risk to change something

Hedvig Mollestad Trio - Shoot!

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Okay, she doesn’t have the name or the look of a Jeff Beck or Jimi Hendrix, but Hedvig Mollestad Thomassen is the most exciting guitar player I have heard this year. I hate having to say this, but image is everything in music today - and this stunningly beautiful Norwegian woman plays like a soul possessed. It is hard to believe that Shoot! is the Hedvig Mollestad Trio’s debut recording, because it is a master class in how a group can meld rock and jazz in 2011 without sounding hopelessly retro.  The one thing I cannot stress enough is that

John Denver & The Muppets Find the True Meaning of Christmas

Two beautiful girls, John Denver, and some puppets help me enjoy the holiday.
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With the exception of my mother my entire family are completely absent of the Christmas spirit. We're grinches. We're hum-bugs. As a teenager I hated everything about the Christmas season (except of course getting out of school and receiving presents.) I hated that stores tried to pressure you into buying a lot of useless gadgets. I disliked all the tacky knick-knacks you were supposed to hang on your walls and yard. I thought all Christmas trees were gawdy and useless. I despised the rampant consumerism and loathed the need to buy everyone junk they really didn't need nor want. I

Rachel Crow: Nicole Scherzinger Cried For 90 Minutes Following Elimination

Dynamic little Rachel Crow reflects on her 'X Factor' experience after being eliminated...
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Last night’s X Factor sent home an early favorite and for the second straight week it was one of Simon Cowell’s girl contestants, Rachel Crow. Rachel had a very strong night with her live performances, her save me song after being in the Bottom Two was wrought with emotion and as a result, very powerful and moving. It was not enough to save her from the deadlock that put her fate in the hands of America who somehow gave Marcus more votes. I have a theory on that, which I’ll get to in a bit. I got to sit in
Well, it has been a couple of months now since R.E.M., as they put it in their official statement ‘called it a day.’ I think I now understand what people of my parents’ generation meant when they say ‘I just haven’t been the same since Elvis died.’ Rather than continue to navel-gaze or try to kid myself into thinking R.E.M.’s retirement from making music together is a. for the best, or b. even moderately acceptable, let’s take a look at the legendary Athens-Ga.-based rockers’ final release to contain new material, Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage: 1982-2011. That

Rihanna Lets The Music Do The Talking On 'Talk That Talk'

A refreshing step into the sun for a singer who's seen her fair share of shadows.
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At just 23 years of age, Robyn Rihanna Fenty has been through a hell of a lot. The Barbadian singer, upon her initial arrival on the pop music scene, was bound by comparisons to Beyoncé and other similar vocals. She was cute and innocent, everyone’s girl from the Caribbean. But sometimes life gets in the way of even the best intentions and Rihanna’s conversion took place not so much by design but by inevitability. A domestic violence incident involving her and Chris Brown, who astonishingly still has a career and pathetic platoons of fans, was explicably life-altering for Rihanna. Suffering

Did LA Reid Sabotage 'X Factor' Semifinals?

Rachel Crow is sent home...
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Lenny Kravitz opens tonight’s The X Factor with a song off his upcoming album Black and White America, quickly followed by “Are You Gonna Go My Way.” Nice way to kick things off, we got less talking by Worthless Host Steve Jones, and more music. When asked about the highlights of last night’s show, all the judges picked Chris Rene’s original song with Paula Abdul insisting they all had highlights. With only five contestants still battling for the $5 million dollar prize, the show moves along pretty quickly; Nicole Scherzinger’s final act Josh Krajcik is first announced to be safe

Coldplay Announces 2012 'Mylo Xyloto' N. American Tour Dates

The band kicks off 21 dates beginning in April...
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Coldplay have announced the first run of North American tour dates in support of their latest album Mylo Xyloto. The tour kicks off in Canada in April and will take the band through arenas down the west coast, heading east hitting mainly dates in the South before working their way up the East Coast. There are some major markets missing from this list -- the Midwest and upper Midwest are barely represented at all -- and the announcement on Coldplay's web site says "Here Is The Full List Of Shows Announced So Far," so stay tuned. It's quite possible many

Live From New York, It's Florence And The Machine: "Shake It Out" (SNL Live) (Video)

It takes a lot to make SNL worth watching... Florence does the trick...
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I spent many a year cursing YouTube for being nothing more than a place for dopes to shoot videos of themselves doing ridiculous things and pretending they were spontaneous or as an endless repository of cute pets doing cute pet things. I’m willing to admit I was only partially wrong. YouTube has made it possible for me to not watch Saturday Night Live but still see this incredible performance by the incredible Florence + The Machine. I know, you thought once I’d reviewed Ceremonials I’d be done raving about her; you thought wrong. I love that record and this performance

Chris Rene And Rachel Crow Shine As 'The X Factor' Top 5 Dance To The Music

The Top 5 sing a pair of songs and one will go home tonight. Who will it be?
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This week’s X Factor is down to the final five contestants vying for a place in the semi-finals and one of them is two weeks away from being crowned the winner of a $5 million dollar contract with Sony Records. Tonight they are tackling two songs a piece and the first round is supposed to be “the best dance songs” we’ve ever heard. Simon Cowell’s new show pony, Melanie Amaro, does the abominable remix ofAdele’s “Someone Like You.” Her tempo barely picked up while the music sped on and the dancers ran crazy. I hated it. I love that song and

James Durbin's "Love Me Bad" Video As Cliche As The Single

"Love Me Bad," album bad, video bad... at least he's consistent
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James Durbin recently unleashed his first post-American Idol album Memories Of A Beautiful Disaster and today we get to see the full video from his single “Love Me Bad.” I was not too kind to James, the single or the album as a whole in my previous reviews of them but the video is a different animal and can sometimes expand the appeal of a song. Not this time. We start much the same way many edgy, pseudo-metal videos are starting these days…angry singer, in a hot muscle car he can’t afford, driving to the desert. James is replete with all the
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2012 was announced today and it includes Guns N' Roses, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Beastie Boys, Donovan, Laura Nyro, and The Small Faces/The Faces, Don Kirshner, Freddie King, Glyn Johns, Tom Dowd, and Cosimo Matassa. The biggest deal in all of this to me is Freddie King, who is by far my favorite on this list, and goes in as an early influence. He's no longer with us and won't be there to accept the honor and will be overshadowed by "bigger" names, but the Texas Cannonball was undeniably an

Black Keys, Amy Winehouse, The Cure, T-Pain, Robin Thicke; New CDs Dec. 6, 2011

And somebody is in real trouble for this new Travis Tritt CD...
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There's been an alarming development and before we can continue with the important business at hand of skimming the bountiful new releases, we're going to have to address this issue. I thought we hurled Travis Tritt into The Abyss? I'm launching an investigation. 60 days in the stocks for whoever let him out! The big release this week is undoubtedly The Black Keys' El Camino. We've been talking about it for awhile now with much excitement. We also listed the first month of their planned N. American tour. "Lonely Boy" has been a hot single for them and now we

DeepSoul Holiday Edition: Kurtis Blow - "Christmas Rappin'"

One of rap's first successful artists kicked off his career with this hip hip holiday classic.
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'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the... Hold it, now wait, hold it, that's played out! With those two lines, rapper Kurtis Blow launches his own take on the holidays, "Christmas Rappin'." Over a funky beat, Blow offers his version of "a red suited dude, with a friendly attitude and a sleigh full of goodies for for the people on the block." One of the first Christmas rap songs, it stands as another great example of the old school style, namely describing a party and boasting of one's MC prowess. In addition, "Christmas Rappin'" kicked off Blow's
Mark Lanegan will release his first album since 2004 under his Mark Lanegan Band moniker when Blues Funeral is issued Feb. 6 and he's offering fans a free download of the first track from the record, "The Gravedigger's Song." Lanegan has been working steadily since the 2004 Bubblegum, recording a series of acclaimed records with Isobel Campbell as well as partnering with Greg Dulli for a collaboration they called The Gutter Twins. They released Saturnalia through SubPop and toured in support of it. Blues Funeral was recorded with Alain Johannes, with whom Lanegan has worked before, as well as the

Way Down That Lonesome Road – Lonnie Johnson In Toronto 1965-1970

A loving and lovely tribute to a seminal bluesman
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Lonnie Johnson was a formidably influential musician in his day. A fluid and accomplished guitarist, he straddled the worlds of blues and jazz, recording with both Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, and is cited as a formative influence by no less than B. B. King. A quiet and unassuming man, he was more than willing to perform whatever his audience preferred, including whatever was popular at the time. But he was arguably at his best as a bluesman, and most of his recorded legacy remains filed under blues. Mark Miller, the dean of Canadian jazz journalists, has crafted a loving

Smashing Pumpkins - "Doomsday Clock" Live (Video)

If you left the Pumpkins with James and D'Arcy, you missed out...
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I snatched up The Smashing Pumpkins’ Gish and Siamese Dream reissues released last week and have thoroughly enjoyed revisiting two seminal albums of my generation. It’s amazing what a little time and distance can do when it comes to considering music. We’re years removed from the videos and the hype and left only with the music. It was exhilarating being reminded how forceful they were and experiencing how well this music stands up all these years later. Pop culture started to abandon the Pumpkins as the original lineup of Billy Corgan, James Iha, D’Arcy, and Jimmy Chamberlain splintered after the

Gary Clark Jr - "Bright Lights" Live at RollingStone Online (Video)

The third and final installment of Clark's performances for RollingStone Oneline
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Welcome to the third and final installment of this week's series of live performances by Gary Clark Jr. for RollingStone.com. We already watched/heard him perform "When My Train Pulls In" and "Things Are Changing," both from the Bright Lights EP. Today, we get to the title track. I saved this one for last not just because RS sequenced it this way but because this is the first change we get to hear a really different version of one of Clark's songs. The first two songs sound similar to the EP because they were filmed much the way they were recorded-

Warrior Queen: Lady Gaga's "Marry the Night" (Video)

Music videos still rule.
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Apart from perhaps the wild hours of the early morning, music videos don’t seem to be part of the agenda over at MTV. It’s all the more ironic when the channel that originally killed (or maimed) the radio star offers up a slab of “awards” for the music videos they rarely play. Luckily, the art of music videos remains and some artists are putting out impressive short films that call to mind the experiences of Michael Jackson videos like “Thriller” and “Black or White.” In that tradition of music video events comes the latest from Lady Gaga. I have

Astro, Drew Ryniewicz Chart Course For Recording Future As 'X Factor' Run Comes To End

Neither thought they should have been sent home nor do they see it as a setback as they look to continue their music pursuits...
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Last night's double elimination X Factor episode narrowed the field down to our Top 5 who are still in the running for $5 million and a record deal. Astro and Drew Ryniewicz didn't make the cut but both discussed plans to pursue careers in music even though their run has come to an end. As anyone who reads my X Factor reviews know, I was definitely newly on TeamAstro and was ecstatic to see one-note, whiny Drew leave us at last. Astro is first up on the two-part confernce call and for the first time since I’ve been doing these, I actually felt a little

Black Keys Announce N. American Tour Dates Ahead of New CD 'El Camino'

One of the hottest bands in the US gets ready to hit the road with a new album in tow...
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The Black Keys will release their new album El Camino Tues. Dec. 6, having already released the first single from the record "Lonely Boy" and today announced the first run of tour dates in support of the new album. They'll kick the tour off in Cincinnati in March and play mostly through the upper midwest and points eastward. They have a couple shows in Eastern Canada, as well. You have to expect they'll release more dates soon, heading west and south. I'm feeling good about them playing in their newly adopted home of Nashville, and I should finally get to

Chris Rene, Melanie Amaro, Rachel Crow, Josh Krajcik Join 'X Factor' Top 5; Drew Ryniewicz And Marcus Canty Sing For Final Slot

Effervescent hip hop kid Astro goes home; who went with him?
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Two more contestants went home tonight, leaving us with our X Factor Top 5 who are vying the $5 million prize and Sony Music recording contract. Last night I predicted we’d see the end of Drew, Astro or Marcus, let’s see how it all plays out, shall we? We open the show with seven performers and they follow last night's Michael Jackson theme with what may be the best group number I’ve seen on one of these “singing” competitions, with a fairly cohesive rendition of Michael Jackson’s ”Man In The Mirror.” They each had a great solo moment and the performance

Gary Clark Jr Performs "Things Are Changing" Live At RollingStone (Video)

The second in our three-part series...
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This is the second of three songs Gary Clark Jr. performed for RollingStone. We posted "When My Train Pulls In" earlier this week and we'll post the final performance tomorrow, sending us into the weekend on a big high note! "Things Are Changing" first surfaced on Gary Clark Jr's self-titled EP (now tragically out of print and so out of circulation you can't even find an overpriced copy on eBay!) and a solo, live performance of the song was included on the Bright Lights EP. Clark performed "Changing" as part of his three-song set for RollingStone, accompanying himself on electric

'X Factor' Pays Tribute To Michael Jackson; Astro, Chris Rene, Melanie Amaro Deliver Highlights

The X Factor Top 7 Can't Dethrone Michael Jackson As The King Of Pop
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Tonight’s installment of The X Factor has the remaining seven contestants not only performing the songs of the legendary Michael Jackson; they’ll also be in front of three of his sisters, mother and children. No pressure! Nicole Scherzinger’s final act in Over-30s, Josh Krajcik kicks off the show with “Dirty Diana” and promises some guitar playing. He starts off with it over his shoulders but I’m not sure when he’ll be playing it. He sounds great, he obviously has a great raspy voice that’s big and perfect for rock tunes but it’s just not the style we’re used to