January 2012 Archives

Between the Covers: Lyle Lovett, Bob Dylan, Counting Crows Meet Grateful Dead's "Friend of the Devil"

Lyle Lovett, Bob Dylan, Counting Crows and others cover the Grateful Dead classic...
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One of the ways you can measure a great song is by how many times its been covered. That's not a perfect measurement of course because some songs are simply to complicated or long or to perfect to cover while lots of perfectly terrible songs get covered a lot. I don't know if Richard Thompson is being ironic or clever or serious when he covers Britney Spear's "Ooops I Did It Again" but I doubt you'll find too many people who will seriously argue that its a great song. Yet I can't help but think that when a song continually

Leonard Cohen, Lana Del Rey, Joe Louis Walker, Ringo Starr Headline Jan. 31 New Releases

New Music Tuesday returns with a worthy batch of 2012 new releases...
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...and you thought I forgot about you, dear music listeners. I took a break from New Music Tuesday because as you get to the week of Christmas and the first few weeks beyond, the new release well dries up. Welcome to 2012! The new releases are starting to flow again, so let's talk about them. There's only one place to start and that's with the legendary Leonard Cohen, releasing a 10-song collection of brand new songs. Cohen took many years away but has returned to performing and recording and this week we get a new album called Old Ideas. I

Review: Joe Louis Walker - Hellfire

Walker's 'Hellfire' a contemporary blues classic...
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ZZ Top asked the question "how much blues do you use before you use it all?" on their killer groove "What's Up With That?" from their Rhythmeen album. In the case of Joe Louis Walker, a fixture on the blues circuit for decades, and his latest offering Hellfire, the tank is still very, very full. He is singing and playing with the conviction of a young man and the skill of a wizened, hardened veteran. He is as fiery and invested as ever on this record, his first for Chicago's Alligator Records following a string of successful records for Canada's

DeepSoul: Dazz Band - "Let It Whip"

The 1982 classic still drives listeners to the dance floor.
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Combine jazz and dance music, and what do you get? Dazz--no, not Brick's 1976 single "Dazz," which stands for "disco jazz," but "danceable jazz." Formed in Cleveland in the late 70s, the Dazz Band resulted from merging two local funk groups, Bell Telefunk and Mother Braintree. Led by Bobby Harris, Dazz underwent several personnel changes before settling on a permanent lineup in 1978. Originally called Kinsman Dazz (the word fusing the phrase "danceable jazz"), they charted two minor hits in 1978 and 1979 before moving to Motown in 1980. It took only two years before they scored their biggest hit "Let It Whip," a funky,

Garbage Set May 15 Release Date For 'Not Your Kind Of People'

Band also gearing up for world tour in support of fifth album...
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Garbage will unveil their first new album in seven years when Not Your Kind Of People is released through the band's new label Stunvolume Records on May 15. Details about the new set are scarce and we don't have tracklisting, artwork, or a date for the first single from the set but this album has been in the works for awhile and band members have been talking about the process and direction of the music. In the press release from the band announcing the new record, Duke Erikson said "Working with Garbage again was very instinctual. "Like getting on

Jazz Review: Mike Wofford and Holly Hofmann Quintet - Turn Signal

A swing down memory lane.
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It’s not every day that I get to check out the work of a “jazz power couple,” but that’s just what Turn Signal packs. Pianist Mike Wofford and flutist Holly Hofmann lead a quintet into some familiar territory with this recording and it’s a beautiful swing down memory lane. The arrangements in Wofford’s first quintet session as co-pilot are neat and tidy without being rigid. There’s a slow, delicate swing through each of the seven tracks. The expanded orchestral capabilities make for a good foundation for Wofford’s arrangements and he makes the most of his band members, including trumpet Terell Stafford,

Baby's First Concert: Rhett Miller, Old 97s, And The Beginning Of An End…?

The Blinded by Sound family is growing...
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The Blinded by Sound family is growing. And I don't just mean those of you who have taken to writing with us, therefore joining our little slice of internet heaven. All I need to do is look down at my ever-expanding belly and it's pretty darn obvious that my husband and I will welcome our own little BBS bundle in the coming months. And with this news I realize that life as a music fan, as I have known it, will be forever changed. Years ago I faced the music scene with reckless abandon. It didn't matter when or where

Kellie Pickler - 100 Proof

Pickles returns with an old time country album
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She captured the hearts of America during season five of American Idol with her infectous smile and personality. America's good ole country girl has made a splash in country music since her debut album Small Town Girl came out in 2006. It went on to sell 877,000 copies, and along with her sophomore release, Kellie Pickler, Kellie has become the eighth highest grossing Idol contestant and she didn't even win the contest. Kellie's first two albums featured a more country-pop style in the vein of Shania Twain, Faith Hill, and Taylor Swift (her best friend). 100 Proof changes all of

Jack and White - Winter EP

Jack and White return with their second EP, Winter
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Jack and White return to the music scene with the release of their second EP Winter. Jack Matranga and Brooke White are doing things a little differently than most people these days. Instead of recording a new full length album every year or two, they have decided to release a new set of songs in EP format every 4-5 months. With the release of their first EP Gemini EP, only five months removed, the duo returns with four new tracks. The EP comes out at all major retailers on January 31st, but iTunes has it available for the first week at

Review: Anthony Green - Beautiful Things

The beauty of honesty.
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The art of self-realization sometimes comes to us in indulgent doses, with singers and bands floating their thoughts on waves of pretentious wanking and bullshit esotericism. Anthony Green, he of the oft-esoteric Circa Survive, takes the higher road with his Beautiful Things. This is the second solo album for the former vocalist of Saosin. It comes after 2008’s Avalon and is a hodgepodge of indie rock, psych rock, alt-country, folk, post-punk, post-whatever madness that can be hard to get a read on at first. Luckily for Green, the stylistic busyness works in his favour when it comes to spinning the

American Idol Goes Deep In The Heart Of Texas: Skylar Laine, Baylie Brown, Kristine Osario Delight

A bad night in Aspen is quickly forgotten as some real talents stand out in Houston...
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American Idol auditions move to Houston, Texas and if everything’s bigger in Texas, I hope it’s the talent and not the amount of crap like we had in Aspen last night. Skylar Laine is a firecracker who sang a spot on rendition of “Hell On Heels” by the mega-talented Pistol Annies and it took less than five seconds for all the judges to give her a Texas-sized yes. We will see her in Hollywood; I predict her to be a Top 12 Girl contender. Baylie Brown is another re-do that is auditioning for a second time (seems to be a trend

Dead Kennedy's East Bay Ray Returns With New Band, CD

Dead Kennedy's guitar legend East Bay Ray is back with his new band the Killer Smiles.
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I’m not sure if it’s fair to say that East Bay Ray was the “secret ingredient” in the Dead Kennedy’s, but I always felt he never received the recognition he deserved in that band. His melding of classic surf-tones with the speeded-up qualities of punk was simply brilliant. One listen to “Holiday In Cambodia”  confirms this even 30+ years later. This was the type of combination I was hoping for with East Bay Ray and the Killer Smiles. As it turns out, it is an interesting album, and something of a mixed bag. The vocals of Skip McKipster are a

'American Idol' Gag Reel: Magic Cyclops Headlines Forgettable, Regrettable Night In Aspen

Haley Smith, Shelby Meredith, and Jairon Jackson stand out on a bad night of auditions...
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American Idol auditions keep on rollin’ and tonight they rolled into the land of pretty people wearing UGGs year round; Aspen, Colorado. Lest you think it’s just all puppies in purses and furry boots, we also were “treated” to ugly yellow jumpers, a Magic Cyclops, and Rocky Mountain Oysters. After three talent-laden episodes, it was only a matter of time before we got to the gag reel of auditions. We were told 31 Golden Tickets were given out however only nine of those were featured on camera and of those nine, only three made any sense to me whatsoever,

Gary Clark Jr. Electrifies "When My Train Comes In" For Dave Matthews Band's Chicago Caravan

Six scorching minutes from Gary Clark Jr and his band...
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We have new video from the amazing Gary Clark Jr., once again great footage from his fantastic set at Dave Matthews Band's Chicago Caravan stop. "When My Train Pulls In" can be found in solo acoustic form on Clark's Bright Lights EP. This version features Clark and his touring band and it is electric in every sense of the word. It's a great song and works in the ruminative, singer/songwriter treatment its given on the EP but this scorching six-plus minute performance boasts a blazing guitar solo to close the song. He's such a creative, fiery player. There are

Jazz Review: Eddie Daniels/Roger Kellaway - Live at the Library of Congress

In service of music and friendship.
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It pays to remember the beauty of the humble foundation. In these days of instant gratification and ego-stroking, it can be tough to lay down one’s sense of pride in service of something greater. With Live at the Library of Congress, the latest recording from Eddie Daniels and Roger Kellaway, these two musicians play in service of music, friendship and the joy of sharing an experience. Daniels’ clarinet and Kellaway’s piano are the only instruments required to set nine compositions to life before a very fortunate audience. Recorded in February of 2011, Live at the Library of Congress is a

James Durbin Takes Second Bite At Bad Apple "Love Me Bad," Offers Free Download

"Love Me Bad" gets unplugged: can stripping the song save it?
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James Durbin just can’t leave well enough alone and has released an acoustic version of his first single “Love Me Bad” off his post-Idol debut album, Memories Of A Beautiful Disaster. My first go ‘round reviewing this song, I was really rough on it, but not unjustly so. It’s a bit of a mess, his voice sounds like anyone doing Adult Contemporary Rock for any band, which is a shame for someone who possess as much raw vocal talent as Durbin does. If I thought the vocals were disappointing, the lyrics were actually far and away the worst part of

James Durbin Releases 2 Videos For "Stand Up," Including Sports-Theme For Super Bowl

Durbin's contribution to NFL compilation gets two videos, and neither of them are going to beat the spread...
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Just when you thought it was safe, James Durbin is back with another generic video for one of his over-produced, generic songs off his debut album Memories Of A Beautiful Disaster,“Stand Up.” The single was originally released as part of an NFL compilation and while it’s a pretty hideous radio-rock song, it fits more in that environment than on the debut effort of a young man imploring us to “Give Metal A Chance” during his Idol run where he finished in fourth place. I’ve exhaustively covered my thoughts on James from his entire Idol journey, even writing a hate

Between the Covers, Travel Edition: Counting Crows, Grateful Dead, Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, Frankie Goes to Hollywood

Frankie Goes to Hollywood, the Counting Crows, Israel Kamakawiwo'ole and the Grateful Dead cover songs by Springsteen, Joni Mitchell, Judy Garland, Louis Armstrong and Dylan
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In the just under ten years that my wife and I have been married, we have lived in nine different abodes within six different cities. There are some distinct advantages to moving on a regular basis. We never get bored with one place as there are always new things to explore. We've met lots of interesting people and experience some fascinating cultures. We've now got a great big box of stories to tell and those I shall treasure until the end of my days. Of course there are also various disadvantages, too. Our lives are continually torn up at the

DeepSoul: Skipworth and Turner - "Thinking About Your Love"

There are songs that move you, and others that simply make you move.
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There are songs that deeply move you, and others that simply make you move.  Skipworth and Turner's 1985 R&B hit "Thinking About Your Love" is one of those feel-good tunes that features a danceable groove, unforgettable piano riff, and a funky lead vocal.  New York-based keyboardist Rodney Skipworth and Memphis native Phil Turner first met in New York City while working with other bands.  While they knew each other through the music scene, they did not join forces until Turner one day walked into the fast food restaurant where Skipworth worked during the day.  Signing to the 4th & Broadway label,

A Preview Review: 'Chimes Of Freedom: The Songs Of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International'

Thinking about 72 Bob Dylan covers and what to expect from them...
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Put this on the list of things I meant to bring up a month ago when I first learned of it. There's a new compilation out today called Chimes Of Freedom: The Songs Of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International. As the title implies, this is a collection of Bob Dylan songs honoring and benefitting Amnesty. It's a 4-CD collection with 73 songs, 72 of them covers of Dylan songs by other artists with the 73rd and final song being Dylan performing the collection's title track. Bro. Mat Brewster unveiled a brand new series devoted to covers and

Bruce Springsteen To Kick Off 'Wrecking Ball' World Tour in Atlanta

Springsteen and The E Street Band announce first US leg of tour for 17th studio album.
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Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band will launch the first leg of their Wrecking Ball tour in Atlanta on March 18, playing East Coast and upper midwest dates through early May before jumping the Atlantic to play Europe with a presumed second US leg aimed for the fall. Among the first dates include stops in Greensboro, NC, a market that while not the biggest on the eastern seaboard has become a favorite for the band. There will be multi-night stands in Philadelphia, New York, and of course New Jersey with stops in Detroit and Cleveland on the docket as well.

Review: The Habit - Lincoln Has Won

The finest road-warrior I have heard in a long time
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A friend of mine sent me a copy of The Habit - Lincoln has Won, and told me he thought I would like it. Well I gotta say, it surprised me right off the bat. The sound reminded me of the good-old days of what we used to call “college rock.” You know what I mean, the sounds in the mid-eighties of bands such as R.E.M. and such. Not to put this style of music down in any way, but what once sounded so fresh in 1985 has changed quite a bit over the years. The fact that The Habit

The Cure 'Bestival Live 2011': A Tale of 2 Sisters

A nearly perfect live album from a classic band brings sisters together...
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Bestival Live 2011 by The Cure was released in early December, 2011 and while I have been listening religiously since the moment I got it, even starting and scrapping multiple reviews, it took my sister’s visit last week to kick me into gear and get it done. The clincher was when driving around town with her listening to the discs, sharing lip gloss and laughing continuously (just like when we were 15 and 19), she asked if I’d finished my review; when I answered I had not she suggested we review it together. Genius, I tell you! So here you

Eddie Vedder Announces 13-Date Solo Tour Prior To Pearl Jam Summer Dates

Eddie Vedder and his ukulele may be heading to a city near you...
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Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder has announced a quick run of spring US tour dates in support of his solo album Ukulele Songs. He will launch the solo dates beginning in Vegas in April and wrapping up in Orlando in mid May before heading back on the road with Pearl Jam this summer. Pearl Jam will be on tour throughout the summer, kicking things off in June. We don't have any details on a follow-up to their 2009 album Backspacer but there have been rumblings about activities swirling around the internet, including comments from bassist Jeff Ament to Rolling Stone

Garbage Launches Stunvolume Records, Preps Spring Release For Album 5

Down with corporate label greed; Garbage goes indie
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Garbage is ramping up for a spring release of their as-yet titled fifth album, their first new record in seven years by setting up shop with their own label, Stunvolume Records. It's a time of new beginnings for the quartet, still comprised of vocalist extraordinaire Shirley Manson, drummer Butch Vig, and guitarists Duke Erikson and Steve Marker. They're recording for the first time outside of the Madison, WI area and are putting finishing touches on this new set in Los Angeles. The band acted as their own producer per the norm and it's being mixed by Vig and Billy Bush.

Florence And The Machine To Launch 15-City US Tour in April

Florence + The Machine bring the 'Ceremonials' tour stateside...
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Florence + The Machine will kick off a 15-city US tour beginning in Santa Barbara in April with festival appearances at Coachella and New Orleans Jazz Festival also on tap. What the tour will not include is a stop anywhere near me. Booooo! The 15 date trek actually lives out most of the middle of the country, focusing mainly on the coast although she does hit Minneapolis, Milwaukee, and St. Louis. St. Louis is only six hours from here. Hmmm... Florence released her second LP Ceremonials to massive acclaim and strong sales and it made many "Best of 2011" lists

American Idol San Diego Auditions: Beautiful City, Weak Contestants

You will all pay dearly if one of these contestants wins Season 11...
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Sunny and beautiful San Diego, California is home to some of the most breathtaking scenery in the nation and the American Idol judges are hoping it’s also offering up talent that’s even half as inspiring as they take in both aboard the USS Midway.  Right out of the gate we get the “average looking girl with a hot body wearing way too little clothing” while singing in a key not invented, or accepted by human ears. She was creepily ogled by all and sent on her tacky little way, sans Golden Ticket.  Single mom Ashley Robles is next and she

Eban Frankewitz, Hallie Day, Heejun Han Standout on 'American Idol' Season 11 Auditions, Pittsburgh

Another audition and a few more candidates for the crown emerge...
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Night two of American Idol auditions took us to Pittsburgh, PA for the first time in the show’s history which is really hard to believe; after such a long wait the city did not disappoint as 38 golden tickets to Hollywood were handed out. I find that number a little staggering because in the entire hour long episode, only two really stood out to me (for the right reasons, at least. I’ll get to the “planker” here in a minute). We had a charming little sweetheart named Eben Franckewitz who apparently gets Justin Bieber comparisons a lot for his floppy

Review: June & Jean Millington - Play Like A Girl

Two Rock 'N Roll Survivors from the first all female band who ever released a major label album.
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Does anyone remember the group Fanny? They were briefly popular in the mid-seventies, and had something of a hit with a song called “Butter Boy” in 1975. It was a pretty catchy tune, and was on the great Casablanca label - which at the time was cool enough in my book. They never really went anywhere after that song, so when an album by June And Jean Millington, titled Play Like A Girl showed up in my mailbox, I was more than a little surprised. To my utter amazement, it turns out that Fanny were the very first all-female group

Legendary Vocalist Etta James Passes at 73 (January 25, 1938 – January 20, 2012)

Greatest female vocalist of all time leaves behind an unassailable legacy of brilliance...
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Legendary singer Etta James passed away today at age 73 due to complications from luekemia. James was also dealing with several other health concerns that included dementia and hepatitis C. She would have turned 74 next week. James was and is the greatest female vocalist of all time. I know we tend to get sentimental and are given to hyperbole when someone passes but I've been saying this for many years now. I also realize we tend to confuse "favorite" with "best" but if anyone wants to challenge me on this be prepared for a fight not because I can

Phillip Phillips, Colton Dixon, Shannon McGrane Dazzles On 'American Idol' Season 11 Debut

The opening night gives us some contestants likely to be with us all season long...
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Welcome to the 11th season of American Idol. We have one episode already in the books and if the talent pool from Savannah, Georgia is any indicator, this will be a season chock full of talent and big, trainwreck-ish personalities. I’m a huge fan of both but we all know I can’t resist a good awkward silence and the sweet sound of contestants imploding under all the Idol pressure. Steven Tyler, JLo, and Randy Jackson all return as judges with the ever-annoying and never-aging Ryan Seacrest back on hosting duties. First up is 17 year-old David Leathers from North Carolina who

Bruce Springsteen's New Single "We Take Care Of Our Own" Safely Supplies Anger With A Purpose

Springsteen is on familiar ground musically and thematically with the first single from his upcoming album...
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Bruce Springsteen has released "We Take Care Of Our Own," the first track and single from his 17th studio album Wrecking Ball. It is available digitally and you can stream it for free and sing along with the lyrics as they dance before your eyes. What do we make of the tune? It's a welcome return from the overproduced, overloud pop turd "Working On A Dream." "We Take Care Of Our Own" returns Springsteen to the anthemic sound so familiar to his fans. How familiar is familiar?  It's a difficult balancing act for an iconic, veteran artist to constantly

Springsteen Lowers Boom With 'Wrecking Ball' March 6

17th album from Springsteen is said to be a topical, angry record...
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The announcement comes on the same day Springsteen releases the first single from the album "We Take Care Of Our Own." Let's talk about what we know about this record. With the release of "We Take Care," Springsteen fans have now heard three of the 11 tracks from this record, in some fashion. "Land Of Hopes and Dreams" was a new song played every night of the E Street Band reunion tour at the beginning of the decade. The live version of "Land" was was released on the New York City live album and also appeared on Essential Bruce Springsteen.

Katherine Heigl Directs Husband Josh Kelley's Video "Naleigh Moon"

Song and video for couple's daughter is from Kelley's 2011 CD 'Georgia Clay'
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Josh Kelley has released a video for "Naleigh Moon" from his 2011 album Georgia Clay and he got some high-profile help from his wife, actress Katherine Heigl, who directed the clip. High-power couples working together is nothing new but Kelley didn't tap Heigl -- did I really just type that? -- for the director's gig because her name would get in the paper but instead because the song was written about and for the couple's daugher. "Naleigh Moon" is a family affair and the music video includes home video footage of the family. Kelley had another reason for -- aww, what

Between the Covers: Madeline Peyroux Covers Dylan's "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go"

A new feature about cover songs starts with (what else?) a Bob Dylan cover.
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I've mentioned before that I love a great cover song. There is something incredibly fun, wonderful and delirious about hearing a song redone fantastically well. A great cover song can completely transform the original. Think of Jimi Hendrix's version of Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower." Jimi took a relatively obscure Dylan track and made it huge - an electric monster of a song - and he made it his. Dylan himself now plays it like the Hendrix version and it is now one of Dylan's most popular tracks. But a great cover songs doesn't have to be revolutionary it can

DeepSoul: Freddie Scott - "Hey Girl"

While covered by many artists, "Hey Girl's" original 1962 version reaches emotional heights due to its underrated lead singer.
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It's one of those songs you've heard numerous times, covered by everyone from Billy Joel to Michael McDonald, Ray Charles, The Temptations, the Righteous Brothers, and even Donny Osmond. But the original 1963 version of "Hey Girl" receives little airplay today, which is unfortunate. Soul crooner Freddie Scott used his impassioned vocals to create an underrated R&B classic ballad, written by two very well-known and gifted songwriters: Carole King and Gerry Goffin. Before "Hey Girl's" success, the Providence, R.I.-born Scott had already earned a reputation as a behind-the-scenes singer, songwriter, and producer. After stints at tiny labels such as Bow

The Black Keys 'El Camino' A Tiny Spark, Not An Inferno

The latest from The Black Keys is a solid, steady record, not a classic...
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Writers' block and laziness have conspired to constrict my workflow to little more than a trickle. Blame me, the cosmos, the distractions of life in the 21st century. Blame Black Keys. What? Most of the reviews I haven't written are down to me not persevering but not this one. The reason I haven't written this until now is because I've been pretty well flummoxed by it. I bought it the day it came out and I've listened to it several times from beginning to end as well as cherry picking a few favorites along the way but no matter how

Bieber Slayer: Esperanza Spalding 'Radio Music Society' Due March 20

Grammy winner preps new set for spring release...
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Grammy-winning bassist Esperanza Spalding has prepped a brand new album Radio Music Society set for release in both standard CD and a deluxe CD/DVD edition on March 20. Most of us first learned of Spalding in 2010 when she beat out vapid pop sensation Justin Bieber for the Best New Artist Grammy in 2010 on the strength of her acclaimed recordChamber Music Society. It was the least expected win since Jethro Tull beat Metallica for the metal Grammy 20 years ago. The kids on Twitter were outraged while grownups everywhere cheered (none more than the parents of Bieber fans, I'd imagine). Spalding

Jazz Review: Jamie Ousley - A Sea of Voices

Dive in, the water's wonderful.
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The nature of water is at the core of Jamie Ousley’s lovely new record, A Sea of Voices. The bassist, recently named the “Best South Florida Jazz Musician of 2011” by Boca Life magazine, plays with cordiality and fluidity. Ousley has assembled a beautifully balanced band for the recording, including pianist Joe Davidian and drummer Austin McMahon. Guest musicians include vocalist Nanami Morikawa, percussionist Carlomango Araya and pianist Gabriel Saientz. Ousley and his group play with a sense of wholeness, rendering each composition on the record a complete experience with no missing pieces. There are brave flourishes of piano and

Bluesman Otis Taylor's 'Contraband' Due Feb. 14

EIghth Telarc release follows up 2010 'Clovis People, Vol. 3'
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Blues great Otis Taylor has prepared Contraband for a February 14 release date, following up his masterful 2010 release Clovis People, Vol. 3. The 14-track album was recorded before and after major surgery to remove a cyst that had connected to his liver and spine and the blues master is once again telling deeply personal, provocative stories that have long been the heart of his songwriting. The title, Contraband, was a term used for escaped slaves who escaped across the Mason-Dixon line and lived in camps where life was often as bad or worse than it was on the plantations they fled. Of the

Van Halen Release Video For New Single "Tattoo"

Van Halen (almost) as we remember them...
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The moment we never thought would happen (again) is here and I am ridiculously giddy about it. I remember how excited I was to get two new David Lee Roth/Van Halen tunes on Best of Van Halen Vol. 1 back in the mid-'90s and I love those tunes (shut up!). It looked for a moment Dave might really return to the fold but it was short-lived. Roth reunited with (most of) the band for a tour a couple years back but it never seemed likely there would be new music from the (mostly) original lineup of the band... and then

Kayo Dot's Toby Driver on "Jazz," Mysticism and Lazy Listening

Interview with Kayo Dot's Toby Driver...
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I recently had the opportunity to talk to Kayo Dot's Toby Driver about the band's new record, Gamma Knife, and some other subjects, including the nature of "jazz" and other genre conventions. The conversation was an interesting one and Driver's opinions are compelling. Kayo Dot has always been a band to defy easy categorization and it should be that way. There are various style elements to the music that are impossible to pin down. Whether they're labelled an "avant-rock/experimental music group" or whether you, like me and many other critics, discover elements of free form "jazz" in the music,

DeepSoul: Angela Winbush - "It's the Real Thing"

Enjoy a slice of 80s funk from an underrated and powerful soul diva.
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Of all the 80s soul divas, no one personified the triple threat--singer/producer/songwriter--like Angela Winbush. Her vocal range still astounds, and her gospel-tinged inflections elevate even average songs into intense performances. Documentaries such as Unsung posit that Winbush was simply "too soulful" to cross over into the pop mainstream, which is a puzzling claim. Powerful singers should transcend genres, and Winbush is one of those artists who deserves more success. Nonetheless, she remains an R&B favorite and an example of a strong woman who maintained complete control over her sound and image. Born in St. Louis, MO, Winbush grew up singing

Rick Danko's Woodstock Pt. 4: New Year's Eve At the Bearsville Theater 1991

1991-92 Could Not Have Been Better
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The Band’s fourth studio LP, Cahoots, was released on September 15, 1971. Just over a year later, Steely Dan’s Can’t Buy A Thrill hit the radio waves and record charts. Steely Dan came to the forefront, as The Band seemed to lose their way on Cahoots, an album that is mediocre at best. Steely Dan carried on as “the thinking fan’s band.” “Can’t Buy A Thrill” was sarcasm and anger with a bit of sentimentalism mixed in for good measure. Cahoots contained two great singles, “Don’t Do It” and “Life Is A Carnival” but also included tracks that do not

Guy Davis To Release 2-CD Version of One Man Show "The Adventures of Fishy Waters: In Bed with the Blues" Feb 21

Guy Davis releases "audio play" of show he's performed since 1994...
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The new year is already taking shape with exciting blues releases coming our way beginning with Joe Louis Walker this month and now we are getting the first details about the Feb. 21 release of new music from Guy Davis. Guy Davis will release a 2-CD "audio play" version of his one-man play The Adventures of Fishy Waters: In Bed with the Blues. Davis, the son of noted, treasured actors Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, has performed this play all over the world since 1994 and he'll be performing exceprts from it throughout 2012 to support this first-ever audio release through
Anyone looking for signs the Mayans may be right about 2012 need look no further than this latest news from Camp Shinedown, where the rockers have finished work on their fourth album Amaryllis, due in stores March 27. Amaryllis is the followup to their smash hit The Sound Of Madness, which featured what might be the dumbest song and video I've ever seen/heard in my entire life, "Second Chance." Imagine a dumb, meathead rock version of The Fresh Prince And DJ Jazzy Jeff's "Parents Just Don't Understand" and a dumb video montage of Mr. Holland's Opus for dummies and you've got "Second Chance." I'm still

Rick Danko's Woodstock: New Years Eve 1991/92

Steely Dan Meets The Band
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The Band’s fourth studio LP, Cahoots, was released on September 15, 1971. Just over a year later, Steely Dan’s Can’t Buy A Thrill hit the radio waves and record charts. Steely Dan came to the forefront, as The Band seemed to lose their way on Cahoots, an album that is mediocre at best. Steely Dan carried on as “the thinking fan’s band.” “Can’t Buy A Thrill” was sarcasm and anger with a bit of sentimentalism mixed in for good measure. Cahoots contained two great singles, “Don’t Do It” and “Life Is A Carnival” but also included tracks that do not

Brandon Isaak - Bluesman’s Plea

Jump blues guitar slinger tries his hand at a solo outing with excellent results
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The notion of an intinerant bluesman, guitar slung across his back as he travels dusty roads and plays for his supper, is quaintly out-of-date. Yet Bluesman’s Plea, the first solo outing from Brandon Isaak, frequently conjures just such an image.  Isaak, usually found fronting Vancouver-based jump-blues band The Twisters, is largely on his own with Bluesman’s Plea, and instrumentation is primarily acoustic. There’s nothing quaint or dated about Isaak’s music, though. An all-original collection (eleven songs, with three ‘bonus’ cuts), there are enough ‘modern’ touches, courtesy of producer, engineer, drummer (oh, and younger brother, too) Chris Isaak, to keep this
Holy Jamaican Bobsled Team, Batman! Van Halen is heading back on tour with David Lee Roth out front and they've recorded a brand new album- the first album to feature Roth on vocals since the 1983 album 1984! It was all announced last night at a brief club show in New York City last night with our beloved hero Diamond Dave dressed like he's been working on the railroad. This isn't the first time Roth has been back with the brothers Van Halen (and Eddie's kid, Wolfgang) and it's not the first new music with Roth, but there is still

Review: Kayo Dot - Gamma Knife

A genre-defying challenge.
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The incongruous, sometimes wacky metal-jazz fusion of Kayo Dot is back with the Boston band’s latest release. Gamma Knife is available digitally now on Kayo Dot’s Bandcamp page and will see a vinyl release in April of 2012 just ahead of a United States tour set to commence in May. Toby Driver (guitar, vocals, keys, bass guitar) has perhaps been the only constant in this experimental outfit. He has dutifully buried much of Kayo Dot’s original metal edge, pissing off fans of records like Choirs of the Eye and Dowsing Anemone with Copper Tongue while heading off in a John

Jazz Review: Jimmy Owens - The Monk Project

A lively, daring take on Monk.
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The tribute is big stuff in jazz and the tribute to Thelonious Monk is really big stuff. That Jimmy Owens would choose to do such a thing on his debut recording as a leader on IPO Recordings is gutsy, to say the least, but The Monk Project largely works because of the trumpeter’s commitment to Monk’s insistence that those tackling his work “play it right.” The jazz world is a tricky one, sometimes a maddening mistress. It can be narrow-minded and big-headed, often snubbing the “outside world” in favour of its own mores. This approach, while sometimes vital when it

Metallica Releases 'Beyond Magnetic' EP Jan. 31

Physical release follows last month's digital release...
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Metallica will a physical release of their Death Magnetic outtakes EP Beyond Magnetic on January 31, following the digital release last month. The four song EP features tracks cut during sessions for the DM record, released in 2008. The songs saw limited release over the past couple years and were featured during the band's 30th Anniversary celebrations in San Francisco last month. The four songs are "Hate Train," "Just A Bullet Away," "Hell And Back," and "Rebel Of Babylon." Of the four songs, the band says these are rough mixes. They were considered for inclusion on DM but were jettisoned, at which point they didn't get the final

Favorite Albums of 2011: Clams Casino, Jay-Z/Kanye, Common Danger Mouse/Daniele Luppi, Coldplay, The Roots, Florence and The Machine

16 albums ranging from hip-hop and electronica to pop and classical.
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This is the seventh year in a row that I have done a year-end list of Favorite Albums and I have to confess that this one was difficult. It wasn't difficult in the sense that not enough good music came out in 2011 but the opposite instead. Once the year started, it never seemed to let up as some sort of quality music came out week after week. There are 16 albums on my list this year. I started out with nearly double that (and that doesn't even count my list of 2011's Best EPs). The albums are listed in

Joe Louis Walker Releases 'Hellfire' January 31

Ace guitarist's first set for new label Alligator Records...
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Blues Music Award-winning guitarist Joe Louis Walker has jumped ship to the Chicago-based Alligator label for his upcoming record Hellfire due in stores January 31, 2011. Walker's 11-track new record is one of the first major blues releases of the new year and was produced by Grammy-winning songwriter/producer Tom Hambridge, who recently produced acclaimed albums for Buddy Guy (among others) as well as resumed his own solo career with Boom!. Hellfire is Walker's 24th album and follows up the live album he released from a series of performances taken from the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise. Walker has been nominated

Rick Danko's Woodstock, Part Three

A Mullet, A Baby Deer and A Joyous Noise
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The Rick Danko/Graham Parker evening at the Bearsville Theater was such a success Rick and I talked about doing one each month with different special guests. As the season wore on and Rick’s money woes increased, he wanted to host a night at the theater twice a month. We never seemed to have a problem attracting special guests with drawing power for a capacity crowd for all performances. Rick would have been happy with one night at the theater every week but I knew that would be overkill for ticket buyers despite the creative spin we could put on the

Best of 2011, The EPs: Air Drops, Clam Casino, Giraffage, Supreme Cuts, Wise Blood

Sterfish weighs in on his favorite EPs of last year...
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Each year I do my Favorite Albums list, there are maybe one or two EPs that I like and offhandedly mention. This year, I decided to put these little collections of excellence into the spotlight for the first time. The five EPs below are listed in alphabetical order by artist and are available from your favorite digital music merchant unless otherwise noted. Air Drops – EP: This debut is a wonderfully realized collection of fun, dreamy electronica/pop. The mellow opener "Desi" features piano and a children's choir combined with some spacey synths. "Champion's Chariot" features an unexpected (yet completely welcome)

Rick Danko's Woodstock, Part Two

A Canadian and A Brit Keep Woodstock Alive
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The bar and theater were empty save for me and Rick, the brightest lights in the room were the exit signs, and I had just listened to a brand new Danko song five times in a row. Each replay of “Driftin’ Away,” sounded better, especially with Rick’s live harmony. The sun was about to rise and I had a day of work ahead in the Bearsville office but Rick wanted to keeping playing tapes for me. He played, and then gave me, copies of a recent solo show he had done a Amherst College along with a writers-in-the-round tape with