March 2012 Archives

Music Review: Nektar - Man In The Moon and Evolution

Prog stalwarts Nektar reissue albums from 1980 and 2004.
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Nektar were a German progressive rock band who hit a commercial and artistic peak in 1974, with their Remember The Future album. In many ways, 1974 was the last year that prog was taken seriously in the marketplace. People quickly soured on double-Lps PP devoted to a single song (see Tales From Topographic Oceans by Yes), and punk was just around the corner. Nektar didn’t get the memo however, and pressed forward. By 1980, they had released a couple more albums, and dramatically re-shuffled their lineup. Meanwhile, prog had bogged down into a wasteland of failed ideas, and had been

Janiva Magness Tops Weekly Blues Radio Charts, Nick Moss Re-enters Top 20

Top 20 Albums at Blues Radio for the Week of March 30
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I don't know how long it's been since we checked in at Blues Radio and looked at which albums were leading the way having run a double secret errand this week reminded me of this dormant column and got me in the mood to revisit it. The latest from Janiva Magness, Stronger For It, is topping charts this week with Joan Osbourne's Bring It On Home following her. If you're curious, yes, this is the same Joan Osbourne who had a huge hit in the '90s with "One Of Us." I wasn't a huge fan of that song but she's

Review: Cannibal Corpse - Torture

Face-destroying death metal.
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Cannibal Corpse has been grinding up body parts and destroying faces for about two dozen years now, with a dozen full-lengths and a trail of gore to show for themselves. The band that once raised the soiled bile of the likes of Bob "Where Are My Keys?" Dole and Joe "Where Are My Principles?" Lieberman supplies more death metal devastation with their 12th release, Torture. Cannibal Corpse originated from the ashes of Buffalo-based death metal acts like Tirant Sin and Leviathan. They've gone through a few personnel changes since their inauguration in 1988, but the modern manifestation still breathes fire.

Springsteen Doesn't Start 'Incident' On "Streets Of Philadelphia" (March 29, 2012 - Philly Night 2 Setlist)

But it's another sunny day in the City of Brotherly Love...
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I knew I was going to do it at some point. I started in with it in Atlanta but I held back. I want it said from the outset I'm not surprised, I am angry. I would be angrier but the atrocity was committed against Philadelphia and that's one of my forbidden cities- sucks to be them. That doesn't mean Bruce Springsteen's actions were not depraved and indecent and must therefore be held up for scorn and ridicule. Those of you sensitive sycophants should skip ahead a few paragraphs where I will rave about some of tonight's happenings. The

Review: Madonna - MDNA

Madonna's a different kind of girl.
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Madonna isn’t the best singer in the world, but she may well be the best pop artist on the planet. While her vocal talents are certainly passable, to suggest she’s more noted for her ability to provoke and entertain isn’t too provocative. Her albums have emphasized this quality, providing impressive soundscapes and melodious excursions rather than vocal gymnastics and subtle observations. Madge’s 12th, MDNA, is no different. The record is a taut, well-tuned and well-toned album that allows the superstar to get personal, tense and spectacular – sometimes all at once. It is as understated as a sledgehammer to the

American Idol Top 9 Perform Songs By Their Heroes (Video)

In case you missed it, here are the performances from your AI Top 9
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The Top 9 contestants on Season 11 of American Idol performed last night and tonight one of them will go home. Our Chief AI correspondent and resident expert Heather will be weighing in with her thoughts on last night's performances. In the meantime, you can catch up on what you missed if you were unable to watch or suffer from situational ADD and can't stand to wait through the commercials, ridiculous product placement, and (often) inane judge banter. My understanding of last night's themes is that the contestants -- Colton Dixon, Phillip Phillps, Jessica Sanchez, Heejun Han, Hollie Cavanaugh,

Springsteen Serenades Philly With A "Seaside Bar Song" On 1st Of 2-Night Stand (Setlist March 28, 2012)

The setlist is still pretty static but "Seaside Bar Song" was a big shocker tonight in Philadelphia
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The first of two nights in Philadelphia and let's go ahead and dispense with suspense: no "Incident on 57th Street" tonight so we'll look for that tomorrow. With that out of the way, let's talk about what did get played. There was one tour premiere and another rarity performed tonight and the premiere is a stunner: "Seaside Bar Song" from Tracks. The Springsteen songbook is extensive so guessing would be difficult under any circumstance but I would have never guessed this one. Ever. Unless I started alphabetically and started with "A Night With The Jersey Devil" and kept guessing until I got

McCartney Remasters 'RAM' For Deluxe Edition Reissue May 22

Latest in the McCartney Archive collection...
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The Paul McCartney re-issue campaign continues and this time it is his 1971 album Ram that's getting the deluxe, remastered treatment and will be released May 22. This is one I've anxiously awaited. I'm not alone in having a deep, abiding love for The Beatles and am probably not alone in being a little late to delve into the respective solo careers of the Fab 4, but I've indeed expanded my collection. Paul's solo catalog is easily the most voluminous and I held out buying more than a couple good compilations because one of the voices in my head

Lionel - Tuskegee - Draft

Line dancing on the ceiling?
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The seeds had likely been sown long before they surfaced in his songwriting, yet to various degrees throughout his career Lionel Richie has shown he has a soft spot for country music. In Commodores songs like “Easy” and the underrated gem “Lucy” the influence was evident; whether in his down-to-earth, say-what-you-feel lyrics—“I gave you my heart and I tried to make you happy, but you gave me nothing in return,” he sang in “Sail On,” another one that sounded more Music City than Motown—or in the earthy, Southern drawl in Richie’s delivery. Upon going solo, however, Richie branched out

Eric Bibb's 'Deeper In The Well' Never Runs Dry

A timeless, beautiful record...
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Eric Bibb tells us in "Music" from his latest album Deeper In The Well genres and labels are meaningless to him, that it's all about the feeling. He's 100 percent right, of course, but to ignore the textures and sounds of the songs on this record is to miss out on its beauty. Bibb intricately and deftly blends folk, vintage hill country, Delta blues, Louisiana Cajun, traveling medicine show, and gentle swing throughout the 13-song disc. If that sounds ambitious, chaotic, noisy, or disjointed, you are in for a pleasant surprise as it is brilliantly executed. Musicologists will tell you all

Don't Underestimate The Missionary Position Or Its 'Consequences'

Seattle-based indie rockers grin at the rottenness of it all...
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I'm not sure which is cooler: stumbling on to a great new band on your own or when a friend turns you on to them. They're both great in their own way and in the case of my introduction to The Missionary Position, it was a case of the latter. I was drawn to them before I'd heard a note because I'm sorry but this might be the greatest fucking bandname ever. Yes, that makes me very juvenile but it doesn't make me wrong; it's a great name for a band. What makes it better is the music is great and the

Springsteen Joined By Peter Wolf, Debuts "Thundercrack," "Jackson Cage" In Boston (March 26, 2012 Set List)

The 'Wrecking Ball Tour' continues across N. America...
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Bruce Springsteen brought his Wrecking Ball tour to Boston and we once again have the grab bag of cool rarities, tour premieres, and warhorses that should be put out to pasture or euthanized altogether. "Badlands" returns to the #3 hole tonight after having been replaced by "Prove It All Night" in Tampa. The "E Street Shuffle" had followed "My City Of Ruins" the first two shows of the tour but has been benched of late, tonight for "Thundercrack." It hurts me to see "E Street Shuffle" getting tossed aside (especially with some of the tired turds that still get played too

DeepSoul: The Tavares - "It Only Takes A Minute"

It should take only a minute to fall for this 1975 R&B hit.
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It should take you only a minute--or four at the most--to fall in love with The Tavares' 1975 hit "It Only Takes A Minute." My bad puns aside, the danceable track represents one of the group's first crossover hits as well as a perfect slice of mid-70s soul. While The Tavares' music resembles the Philadelphia International sound, the group hails from New Bedford, Massachusetts. The five Tavares brothers--Ralph, Pooch, Chubby, Butch, and Tiny--began performing as "Chubby and the Turnpikes," playing R&B covers in local clubs. As they honed their sound during the late 60s and early 70s, they finally caught

Madonna, Eric Bibb, Missionary Position, Paul Weller, Shinedown Among New Releases for 3/26 and 3/27

New Music Monday and Tuesday this week...
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We have an unusual week this week where some titles are being issued on Monday while the rest will come out on the standard Tuesday release date. I'm not sure what the purpose is but according to our pals at NewMusicTipsheet, some titles are slated for today and others tomorrow. Buyer beware... There are a couple great releases out this week and a few others I want to highlight. We'll start with Madonna and her MDNA record. I actually can't believe this isn't already out. The Super Bowl was so long ago and she's released a pair of singles

Corritore And Tail Dragger: 'Longtime Friends In The Blues'

Tail Dragger is as fiery as ever and you know he's got a helluva band...
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Stephen King has a short story called "I've Been To Rock & Roll Heaven (And You Know They've Got a Helluva Band)." It's a fun story and one of the first things I thought about when I held Longtime Friends In The Blues in my hands. Take the unmistakable, inimitable voice of Tail Dragger and pair him with one of the blue's premier harp stylists in Bob Corritore and then assemble a crack bank like Chris James and Kirk Fletcher on guitar, Patrick Rynn on bass, Brian Fahey on drums, and the great Henry Gray on piano and vocal for

Springsteen Debuts "American Skin" in Tampa As Nation Mourns Trayvon Martin; Shakes Up 'Wrecking Ball' Tour Setlist

Springsteen's March 23 featured 7 tour premieres but one stands out...
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Maybe one day I'll lose interest in giving the finger to the namecallers and hecklers who doubt me but being right in the face of wrongness hasn't lost its appeal. I was very critical of Springsteen's opening night set list in Atlanta for being unimaginative and predictable. I was more complementary something one reader missed the next night when he made just a couple of minor adjustments to his Greensboro set list. Bruce played his third show in a five day span and he took a blowtorch to the setlist and shook things up while maintaining a focus on songs from

Mouse On Mars - Parastrophics CD Review

A wild ride of an album...
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Mouse on Mars have never sounded so weirdly retro-futuristic than on their latest album, Parastrophics. Along with a vast array of equipment, Mouse on Mars are comprised of Jan St. Werner and Andi Toma. Ever the enigmatic musicians, there has been a long period of silence from them since their 2007 collaboration with Mark E. Smith of The Fall (as Von Sudenfed). Parastrophics marks their triumphant return to electronic music, and is wildly eclectic. When listening to this disc, there are times when I wondered if their equipment placed ads in the “Casual Encounters” section of Craigslist. It sure seems

Review: Church of Misery - The Second Coming

Take a walk on the doomed side.
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The second of two reissues from Japan doom metallers Church of Misery, The Second Coming is more raucous than the band’s debut, Master of Reality, but it’s still every bit the killer recording for genre fans. The Second Coming is Church of Misery’s second “official” full-length and it still packs all the grooves and doom goodness the band is known for, but it’s got a bit of a quicker clip and the jams don’t play out as long as they did on Master of Reality. Once more, serial killers are in full bloom and the Church’s fascination with the sociopaths

Review: Church of Misery - Master of Brutality

Serial killer-themed sludge rock from Japan. Yep.
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Japan’s Church of Misery has made creepy waves with its serial killer obsession, grinding out sludge and doom metal with themes that many find disturbing. Their 2001 debut, Master of Brutality, now sees a reissue (along with their 2004 follow-up The Second Coming) and it is a menacing way to dip into the blood pool for fans who have missed the bus on the first pass. Perhaps the most stunning thing about Master of Brutality is the fact that Church of Misery is Japanese. The record is filled with Southern-fried sludge with a little Black Sabbath kiss. Sure, bands like
It’s time again for the American Idol Top 10 results show but, never fear – no matter who gets eliminated this group will tour all summer to support the American Idols Live! Tour. Tonight we get performances by “Indie-pop sensation” Lana Del Rey as Ryan Seacrest calls her, and last season’s third place finisher, The Growler herself Haley Reinhart. The finalists kick off the show with Billy Joel’s “The Longest Time” (for those of you who missed it, Billy Joel songs were the theme for last night's performances) in the almost-always-unnecessary group number. Two bonuses tonight were it appeared they

The Vibrators - Pure Punk

The title says it all and I wouldn't have it any other way!
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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 amount 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 surprised

Jazz Review: Jane Scheckter - Easy to Remember

More from the Great American Songbook.
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Tackling the Great American Songbook is a rite of passage for jazz vocalists regardless of age and experience. There is little doubt that the songs work, but there is a tendency for things to get somewhat samey. If I had a nickel for every recording from a modern jazz singer that takes on the works within, well… Jane Scheckter’s Easy to Remember is yet another jazz vocal album that takes pages out of the Great American Songbook. The good news is that she can sing. She wields her experience proudly, but still vocalizes with the wonder and energy of someone

Still Rock & Roll To Me: Phillip, Elise, Colton Win Night With Songs Of Billy Joel On 'Idol'

Tough night for Deandre, Erika, and Joshua. Who will go home tonight?
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Tonight on American Idol the Top 10 finalists celebrate the songs of Billy Joe,l which I feel might be a bit of a disaster with such a young contestant pool but there could also be a few pleasant surprises; let’s hope for more of the latter. Deandre Brackensick kicks off the show with “Only The Good Die Young” and while it’s a good song for him because it allows a lot of movement which Deandre proved is a strength of his during the “Stevie Wonder” theme, this was just campy and like a karaoke performance. Randy Jackson said it didn’t

Chris Rene Official "Young Homie" Video Unveiled

'X Factor' finalist issues debut video...
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Chris Rene was the third place finisher on The X Factor last season and the unequivocal “fan favorite” since his very first audition where he performed an original song, “Young Homie.” That’s not only a risky move but, relatively unheard of in these singing competition shows, a risky move that garnered his audition clip 13 million views on YouTube and a loyal following of people from all walks of life, age groups, and backgrounds. Some have an addiction story similar to Rene’s, or know someone who does, if that doesn’t connect you to this young father of two then his

Review: White Hills - Frying on this Rock

Droning, repetitive space rock for your earholes.
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An expansive master class in droning psychedelica, White Hills’ Frying on this Rock is a somewhat energetic and somewhat draining recording that tears at the edges of the universes and peels back the stars to see what’s beneath. This is intelligent, weighty space rock, brought as a platter of seemingly spontaneous spaciousness, but it’s also a study in excessiveness and overdoing it. White Hills capably builds layer on top of layer on top of layer, encrusting expansive and repetitive jams with a somewhat murky barrier but still somehow allowing the music to have meaning. White Hills is guitarist Dave W.

Norah Jones Announces 'Little Broken Hearts' World Tour

A few European dates precede a long summer run through N. America...
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Norah Jones has announced the opening run of dates for her world tour in support Little Broken Hearts, her new album due May 1. The first several dates are in Europe before she kicks off the North American run in Indianapolis on June 20. I have three chances to catch her in relatively close proximity: I can go four hours east to Atlanta and see her at the Fabulous Fox Theater, 4 hours west and see her at Memphis' Mud Island Amphitheater, or I can do what God wants and go two hours north and hear and see her

Lurrie Bell - The Devil Ain’t Got No Music

National Treasure Lurrie Bell makes the devil's music sacred...
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“As long as there is a black church there will be blues musicians,” says Sterling Plumpp’s introductory quote to Lurrie Bell’s The Devil Ain’t Got No Music, and it’s apt indeed. It’s Bell’s first all-gospel recording, but were it not for the lyrics, this collection would unquestionably be filed under blues. The blues and the black church have a long and rich relationship, of course. Widely considered ‘the devil’s music,’ the blues were banned in many a religious household, and blues musicians were almost universally thought to be headed straight to hell. Yet musically, gospel and blues are two sides

Neil Young & Crazy Horse Release Covers Collection 'Americana,' First Album in 9 Years

Neil Young & Crazy Horse reunite...
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Americana, the first album Neil Young has recorded with his band Crazy Horse in nine years, will be released June 5. The tracklisting for Americana includes some American folks songs, many popular in the protest movement, while others have meanings of a more sinister meaning. I'm reminded of the year David Letterman introduced the stunning-yet-humorless Susan Sarandon and her then-"husband" Tim Robbins to present an award at the Oscars by wondering what they were pissed about this year. Springsteen has issued his State Of The Union record and now we get something similar from Young courtesy of a collection
This week's New Music Tuesday roster isn't loaded with superstar names but there are some very interesting new albums worth spotlighting. Grammy-winner Esperanza Spalding's Radio Music Society comes out this week and grownups everywhere once again thank her for besting Justin Bieber for that Best New Artist award. Our friends at Delta Groove have a pair of big blues releases this week as well. Reviews are forthcoming but in the meantime, let's go ahead and talk about both. Harp pro Bob Corritore has paired up with the inimitable Tail Dragger for Longtime Friends In The Blues. Corritore and Tail Dragger are joined

Springsteen Storms Greensboro, NC And The Songs Remain The Same, Until...

March 19, 2012 Bruce Springsteen's 'Wrecking Ball' Tour Rolls into Greensboro...
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I watched the Twitter feed tonight as Bruce Springsteen's March 19 show in Greensboro, NC was updated on my timeline and I continued to get angrier and angrier. Scathing, angry thoughts rushed through my head as I prepared to excoriate him. I grabbed my copy of The Bill of Rights and The Federalist Papers from history classes years ago to find any indication that freedoms of speech and expression included the right to bear bricks. Finding no such legal ground to stand on, resignation set in and I didn't know if I was even going to bother. If Bruce doesn't care enough

DeepSoul: Erykah Badu - "Otherside of the Game"

This 1997 track from 'Baduizm' helped establish Badu as the queen of neo-soul.
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In the mid-90s, a new genre of R&B emerged that combined hip hop with old school soul that harkened back to artists such as Marvin Gaye and Donny Hathaway. No one personifies this neo-soul movement more than Erykah Badu, a singular talent who blends her Billie Holiday-tinged voice with hip hop beats, poetic lyrics calling for black pride, and an artsy, bohemian image to create an organically soulful mix. Her debut album, 1997's Baduizm, signaled the arrival of an artist who respects the past but lives very much in the present. While "On and On" became the album's best-known hit,

Former 'Idol' Casey James' Doesn't Disappoint On Self-Titled Debut

American Idol Season 9 third place finisher comes out strong on his debut album
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In the world of American Idol, Casey James will not only always be known as the guy Kara Dioguardi asked to remove his shirt during auditions, but also probably one of the best musicians the contest has ever seen. Armed with his guitar, Casey wowed America not only with his bluesy voice but his ability to shred the axe. Every week he got better as the competition moved towards the finals before finally being eliminated just before the finals. Lee DeWyze would eventually win that year, but it was his runner-up, Crystal, and Casey that most people were waiting to

Springsteen Set List Commentary: 'Wrecking Ball' Tour Gets Rolling In Atlanta Mar. 18, 2012

The tour begins in earnest at Atlanta's Phillips Arena...
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Time to revive a time-honored tradition and staple of my freelance writing career: the Bruce Springsteen set list commentary. Why do I do it? I love Bruce, I love his music, and love writing and talking about both. I wish I had the resources to follow the E Street Band around the world; I don't. I've been to many shows and traveled great distances to do so but I'm a working stiff, so this is water cooler talk for Bruce fans wherein we say to each other "Did you see what Bruce played last night?" and discuss the good,

Ex-Norah Jones Sideman Adam Levy Talks About Songwriting: Literate, Not Literal

Exclusive interview with singer/songwriter Adam Levy...
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As a teenager first learning to play the guitar, Adam Levy wasn’t bent on mastering the signature riff to “Purple Haze” or the chord sequence in “Stairway to Heaven.” Instead he practiced stuff like Paul McCartney & Wings’ “Junior’s Farm,” or “China Grove” by the Doobie Brothers. “I wasn’t really interested in the things that people often turn to,” Levy recalls. “I still can’t play ‘Purple Haze’ or ‘Little Wing’ or any of that.” His six-string instincts and musical curiosities have served him well over the years as a sideman and session player—Levy’s credentials include studio work with the

Jazz Review: Tania Maria's 'Tempo' Is Brazilian Jazz At Its Finest

Veteran performer continues to deliver...
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Charmingly intimate, Tania Maria's Tempo is a duo album that finds the pianist/vocalist pairing up with bassist Eddie Gomez for a run through eight beautiful pieces of work. Maria released her debut, Olha Quem Chega, back in 1971 in her birthplace of Brazil. A move to France in the late 70s really allowed her to reach the stratosphere of the international jazz community and she was eventually noticed by Charlie Byrd at an Australian concert. From there, Maria was introduced to the founder of Concord Records, Carl Jefferson, and the action headed to North America. Since then, she has over 25

Barrett Martin Group Unveil Artwork, Tracklisting for 'Artifact,' Due May 15

Martin follows 'Atlas' with 'Artifact'...
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The Barrett Martin Group will release their second album May 15 when Artifact and have unveiled the artwork as well as tracklisting for the 14-song followup to last year's debut Atlas: Latitudes, which will be released through Martin's own Sunyata Records label. Artifact was conceived of as a companion piece to the debut and many of the ideas for these songs originated during those sessions, even if they weren't completely arranged, recorded, or mixed until after that set's release. Following the release of Atlas, BMG played a series of shows in the Seattle area where they are headquartered. Martin has been exceptionally busy of late,

Garbage Hits All The Right Notes With New Single "Blood For Poppies"

Welcome back, Garbage!
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We've waited seven long years for Shirley Manson, Butch Vig, Duke Erikson, and Steve Marker to reunite to make a new Garbage record and that wait is finally over with the announcement of Not Your Kind Of People and the release of "Blood For Poppies" as its first single. My excitement and interest in my March Madness bracket was quickly forgotten and all I could think about was getting home to take advantage of the free download of "Poppies" and after listening to it repeatedly, I've been dying to share my thoughts with all of you because I love it! "Blood For Poppies"

Seattle's The Missionary Position Release Sophomore Effort 'Consequences' March 27 (Video)

Jeff Angell & Co. follow up 'Diamonds In The Dead Sky'
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The Missionary Position have revealed the artwork and tracklisting for their March 27 album Consequences. Diamonds In A Dead Sky, released in 2009, was the first record Jeff Angell issued under the fantastic The Missionary Position moniker in the aftermath of the demise of his previous band Post Stardom Depression. That album was in many ways an Angell solo record with several friends friends making guest appearances. That debut record drew considerable praise and in the process of touring to support it, Angell solidified the band's lineup with three permanent members. With a steady group of musicians to work with, he

Tord Gustavsen Quartet - The Well Jazz Review

"Abstract lullabies" is just one description
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Tord Gustavsen is a Norwegian pianist who performs a form of jazz I have never encountered before. In an interview with Christian Stolberg he recently alluded to a “notion of abstract lullabies [which] still describes what I do quite well.” It is an amazing statement. I cannot thing of another musician who would have the guts to say such a thing. Moreover, after listening to The Well, it is an incredibly accurate description of the feelings one gets when listening to this music. The Well contains 11 songs, all of which fall on the relatively “peaceful” side of the
Garbage is set to end their seven-year recording hiatus on May 15 with their fifth studio album Not Your Kind Of People and we now have the complete tracklisting for the standard and deluxe editions of the CD as well as the first single for the record. Making matters better, they're giving their devoted fans that first single for free through their web site! Let's talk about the tracklisting for the record and its two configurations first and we shall come back to "Blood For Poppies," the first single (which I'm listening to right now). The standard edition of the disc
American Idol finally found a way to drum up some ratings for their lackluster season so far and booted a contestant who had hidden a criminal past. Jermaine Jones was confronted and asked to leave on camera, which was so trashy and sensational, obviously meant to be titillating and get us talking. It worked. Tonight they’re pressing forward with eliminations as planned. The ten (or eleven like last season) who make it tonight will be guaranteed a spot on the American Idol Summer Tour (barring a hidden criminal past of course). After a hideous Ford commercial and Tommy Hilfiger

Review: Insense - Burn in Beautiful Fire

A silly and strange metal record.
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Oslo’s Insense has the stamp of approval from In Flames’ Anders Fridén (he also manages the band) and the studio magic of Daniel Bergstrand (Meshuggah, In Flames) on their side, but Burn in Beautiful Fire may well be the silliest and strangest metal record I’ve heard so far this year. This, Insense’s fourth full-length, was released last year in Europe and helped vault the band to festival bookings at Hove, Norway Rock and the Inferno Festival. It was also nominated for a Norwegian Grammy Award for Best Metal Album in 2011 and is Insense’s first on Norway’s Indie Recordings. Insense

Anders Jormin - Ad Lucem Review

Swedish jazz from another world
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If someone were to ask me what my first impression was of the new Anders Jormin disc Ad Lucem, I probably would have called it "Swedish jazz from another world." Upon further listening however, I realized that what I was hearing were actually ancient (and beautiful) Latin texts, accompanied by some highly inventive music. Anders Jormin is a master of the double-bass, and on Ad Lucem he is joined by Frederick Ljungkvist (clarinet, bass clarinet, tenor saxophone), Jon Falt (drums), and the vocals of Mariam Wallentin and Erika Angell. Ad Lucem is his third recording as leader for the ECM

Jazz Review: Marshall Gilkes - Sound Stories

Freedom through composition.
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One of the reasons I dig jazz is the freedom involved. Past all the customarily inane quarrels about what jazz is and isn’t lies a humble belief in following the music where it leads, even if it’s off the sheets of the composition at times. With his new record Sound Stories, trombonist Marshall Gilkes walks the line between compositional organization and improvisational autonomy without missing a step. He’s accumulated a group of cunningly compatible players to go through his arrangements with an orchestral resolve and it works like a charm. On Sound Stories, Gilkes plays with saxophonist Donny McCaslin, pianist

Nick Moss Announces April West Coast Tour

Viva Las Vegas, baby!
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Our pal Nick Moss is gearing up for another full spring and summer of touring, heading back to the West Coast for another run of dates including a long overdue stop in Las Vegas. BlindedBySound actually has a Vegas blues correspondent, making arrangements to be at Boulder Station Hotel & Casino on April 21 for that special show. Moss and his band have been touring heavily to promote the acclaimed Here I Am release from last fall. He'll kick things off from his home base of Chicago, playing Rosa's Lounge. Rosa's is one of the remaining blues joints that played host

Sly & Robbie Go All In on 'Blackwood Dub'

The ultimate rhythm section go all in dub-style
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It has been a while since I have heard a really good, solid dub album. But if anybody could do it, and do it right, it would have to be Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare. The pair comprise the ultimate reggae rhythm section, and are legends in their field. Sly’s drums and Robbie’s bass have anchored some of the greatest songs of the past 30 plus years, and they are still going strong. Blackwood Dub is a return to their roots, and is their first pure dub album in years. One thing about these studio mainstays is the fact that
Tonight on The Voice judges Cee-Lo Green, Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton and Adam Levine must choose between twelve more acts vying for a spot on the live shows. This will comprise six duos from the same team and after a duel in a boxing ring stage their mentor must select who goes home and whom moves on to the loves shows to sing for your votes. Christina Aguilera’s first group -- Sera Hill and Geoff McBride -- will battle on Aretha Franklin’s “Chain Of Fools.” Sera is clearly a favorite of Xtina’s after she joined her onstage during her audition, then at

Meat Loaf Still Obsessed With 'Hell'; New CDs From Janiva Magness, Decemberists

New Music Tuesday March 13, 2012: A light week but a few titles worth your consideration
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There are some ideas so obvious you should be able to see them coming from a mile away and you feel stupid when you get blindsided by one. Such is the case with the title of Meat Loaf's latest album Hell In A Handbasket. Other artist-title pairings this week that get a rating of "Duh" would be Cannibal Corpse's Torture and Baptized In Filth by Impending Doom. Yes, kids, the new release chart is that barren this week I actually started with Meat Loaf. It's actually a fortunate thing for me because I've got some major titles upcoming (Norah Jones, Florence & The Machine

National Treasure Lurrie Bell Sets April 17 Release Date For 'The Devil Ain't Got No Music'

First solo album from Bell since 2007...
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National Treasure Lurrie Bell returns with his first solo album since 2007 with The Devil Ain't Got No Music on April 17 and I've already pre-ordered my copy! This new set features gospel and spiritual standards, many of which have worked their way into the blues canon. Now we'll have versions of them by these sacred standards from a living, breathing National Treasure. Just so we're clear, it is incorrect to simply say Lurrie Bell- it's National Treasure Lurrie Bell. Yes, the whole thing. Yes. Every time. Joining National Treasure Lurrie Bell on this record are the great Joe Louis Walker (who

Peter Karp, Sue Foley New Collaboration 'Beyond The Crossroads' Due April 17

The follow-up to their chart-topping first collaboration...
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Peter Karp and Sue Foley were a pair of gifted solo artists who took the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup approach and realized two great tastes can taste great together when they recorded the fabulous, intensely personal, chart-topping He Said She Said in 2010, and they've announced the followup to that record Beyond The Crossroads on April 17 by Blind Pig Records. If you're hearing of Karp and Foley for the first time through this article, first of all, welcome. Second, you're welcome because Peter Karp is one of the finest songwriters on the planet and through him I discovered Sue Foley, an equally amazing vocalist,

DeepSoul: The Trammps - "Disco Inferno"

The Trammps' lead singer Jimmy Ellis' recent death inspires renewed appreciation of this classic dance track.
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Burn that mother down. To this day, those four words conjure images of white polyester suits, flashing lights, mirror balls, and Saturday  Night Fever. The Trammps' 1977 smash "Disco Inferno" became an instant dance classic through its appearance in the iconic film, but the group ultimately fell victim to the "Disco Sucks" backlash of the late 70s. Original lead singer Jimmy Ellis' March 8 death from Alzheimer's disease, however, has brought the funky group back into the public's consciousness. Their sharp threads, slick dance moves, and Ellis' soulful voice brought to life an irresistibly danceable song that is still played

Between the Covers: Totally Different Versions by Bill Frisell, Tori Amos, Richard Cheese and The Watson Twins

Sometimes a great cover means completely changing the sound of the original
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While there are some very excellent covers that stick with the basic formula of the original, my heart will always lie with those that get adventurous. Covers that break the original down to the bare bones and then layer it back up with something totally different.  There is something amazing in listening to a song for a few seconds or even minutes before you realize that you know that song.  To be surprised by a song you've known for years is one of the greatest things about an interesting cover."I Heard it Through the Grapevine" - Bill FrisellFrom the album

Fiona Apple's 23-Word Title Album Has June Release Date

Fiona's latest transmission to Planet Earth since 2005...
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Fiona Apple will release a new studio album this year and it has a 23-word title: The Idler Wheel is wiser than the Driver of the Screw, and Whipping Cords will serve you more than Ropes will ever do Oh, Fiona, some people have to work at crazy while it comes naturally for others. We love you so and can't wait to hear this new record because as batshit loony as you appear to those of us residing on planet Earth, you are one hell of a singer and songwriter. Those of you with good memories will remember Apple's sophomore

Eric Bibb Releases 'Deeper In The Well' March 27

Acclaimed singer/songwriter releases first set for Stony Plain Records...
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The amazing Eric Bibb will release his first album with Canada's Stony Plains Record on March 27 when he issues Deeper In The Well. The 13-track set was recorded in four days last September and features Bibb originals as well as covers of Bob Dylan's "The Times Are A-Changing" and Taj Mahal's "Every Wind In The River." The disc was recorded in Louisiana, where he co-produced the album with Michael Bishop and Matt Greenhill and was joined by multi-instrumentalist Dirk Powell, Cedric Watson (fiddle), drummer Danny Devillier, and Grant Dermody (harmonica). There are also guest appearances from Michael Jerome Brown

Diana Krall Announces 40-City 'Summer Nights' US Tour

Most extensive tour for Grammy-winning singer since 2009
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Grammy-winning jazz vocalist and pianist Diana Krall and her band are hitting the road for an extensive U.S. tour this summer, her longest venture in three years. Krall will play a handful of March dates on the East Coast before launching the major trek in June at Baltimore's Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. She'll hit 40 cities by the time she's done, finishing with a two-night stand in Woodinville, WA. She and her band Anthony Wilson (guitar), Robert Hurst (bass), and Karriem Riggins (drums) recently helped back Paul McCartney on his love standards album Kisses On The Bottom (and I hope the title

American Idol Evens The Score; Top 12 Revealed as One Contestant Departs

Who didn't see this one coming?
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American Idol’s final 13 lose a member tonight, but not before we’re tortured with the first of many Ford commercials featuring all the contestants. I already speculated that this season is skewed toward a girl to win or at least a strong girl in the finale and the way we’re doing the vote off with the judges having the final say ( I predict a guy will go home regardless of the girl being weaker) all signs are pointing to yes. Then Jimmy starts off the show by saying essentially to lay off the girls because no one can

Ruthie Foster Succeeds on 'Let It Burn'; Tackles Adele, Black Keys, Johnny Cash

A few Foster originals and an eclectic group of covers leads to a satisfying, soulful listen...
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Ruthie Foster has won Blues Music Awards the past two years largely on the strength of her 2009 LP The Truth According To Ruthie Foster. A quick glance at the trackisting of her 2011 effort Let It Burn prepares us for an eclectic ride as we see a mix of originals and covers from artists ranging from Adele, The Black Keys, David Crosby, Pete Seeger, Robbie Robertson, and Johnny Cash's "Ring Of Fire." She is joined by special guests The Blind Boys of Alabama and William Bell, the Blind Boys contributing to Crosby's "Long Time Gone" and "The Titanic" while Bell joins her

Florence And The Machine Release 'MTV Unplugged' CD/DVD April 9

11-song set features cameo from QOTSA Josh Homme...
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Florence & The Machine will release their performance on the venerable, once-clasic MTV Unpluged series in a bevy of packages on April 9. She is taking pre-orders through her own online store, adorably called the Flotique, and fans who pre-order from the Flotique get a poster as an added bonus. I don't know about you, but that made my day. This is Florence's first official live release although iTunes has issued a couple of exclusive live performances through their digital music store (her set for the London iTunes Festival as well as set in SoHo). The 11-song set features songs from her

Review: Djerv - Djerv

Norwegian hard rock with a secret weapon: Agnete Kjølsrud!
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Some might call it metal, some might call it hard rock and some might not give a shit what to call Djerv. The Norwegian band’s sonic attack comes coated with strips of black metal, hard rock, regular rock, glam metal, and the proverbial kitchen sink. They aren’t the most ground-breaking band on the tag, but they do spit fire through razor wire. That counts for something. At the centre of it all is vocalist Agnete Kjølsrud, an authentic rocket of a singer who hoists this strident trio on her shoulders. Her vocals are unspoiled and lethal all at once, with

Jessica Sanchez Shines, Hollie, Skylar Soar; Colton Dixon, Elise Testone, Shannon Falter On 'Idol'

The songs of Whitney Houston and Stevie Wonder got the 'Idol' treatment...
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Tonight on American Idol is the Top 13 contestants will sing the songs of Stevie Wonder and Whitney Houston for your votes, but not really. In another “we stole this from The X Factor” move, judges Randy Jackson, Steven Tyler, and JLo will be the final say in who is first to leave by selecting from the lowest vote-getter of the guys and the girls and selecting between the two who will stay. Up first we have Joshua Ledet who is singing “I Wish,” which is what I selected for him when choosing which song each contestant should sing. Jimmy

Eddie C Campbell Keeps West Side Alive on 'Spider Eating Preacher'

It's a family affair on Campbell's latest, featuring National Treasure Lurrie Bell...
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Spider Eating Preacher could be subtitled "The Great West Side Preservation Society" as Eddie C. Campbell, with guidance from longtime friend and producer Dick Shurman, has recaptured the magic of that beautiful style. That shouldn't come as a surprise as Campbell as a dear friend and bandmate of Magic Sam, one of the true pioneers of the sound, nor should anyone be surprised Campbell has recaptured that essence without making a record that sounds dated, ready to be catalogued in a museum somewhere before it's ever really heard. Preacher isn't some collection of covers of tired material from the beloved blues canon

American Idol Top 13 Tackle Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston: What Should They Sing?

Let's play our guessing game, kids...
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Welcome to this season of American Idol’s first installment of “What Should They Sing?” something I will try to do all season long, where I pick what song I think each contestant will or should sing, based on that week’s theme. Now that we’re down to our Final 13 we get our first official theme which is Whitney Houston songs for the girls, and Stevie Wonder songs for the guys. I think both genders got a little screwed with this, none of these chicks can hang with Whitney and while it’s true for Stevie as well the guys at least

Jazz Review: Triosence with Sara Gazarek - Where Time Stands Still

A Seattle-born singer and a German trio create something wonderful.
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What do you get when you take a successful German instrumental jazz group and combine them with a Seattle-born singer with near-faultless tone and phraseology? Where Time Stands Still offers an answer. The record from Germany’s Triosence with the vocals of Sara Gazarek is a delightful demonstration of the futility of musical margins when it comes to thrashing out a legitimately divine piece of art. Triosence features pianist and composer Bernhard Schuler, bassist Ingo Senst and drummer Stephan Emig. The band was formed in 1999 and has won several awards on Germany’s jazz landscape. Gazarek has three of her own albums as

Bruce Springsteen - 'Wrecking Ball': Everything You Know Is Wrong

Don't believe the hype, believe in Bruce...
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Ever find yourself listening to an album for the first time and coming away with a feeling completely different from what you were expecting? Thanks to the mouthbreathers over on the notorious Bruce Springsteen site Backstreets – Michael Stipe’s quip, ‘this is why the Internet sucks’ comes to mind – I was caught off-guard early Tuesday morning when I slid Wrecking Ball into my car’s CD player for the first time. In the aftermath of the release of the lead single and opening track “We Take Care Of Our Own,” the seemingly unavoidable leak of the entire album occurred, and,

The Voice: The Battle Begins, Round 1

The Voice 'Battles' sequence begins...
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Tonight on The Voice we will watch as the show’s four superstar mentors Cee-Lo Green, Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton and Adam Levine pare their teams down from twelve to only six. Adam makes the first battle pairings of the night after delivering the news to his twelve acts. First to go head-to-head are former Mousketeer Tony Lucca and Atlantan Chris Cauley who will be vocally sparring on U2’s “Beautiful Day.” This is an interesting matchup because they’re not just similar but just about carbon copies of each other. Chris admits he’s nervous to be up against Tony with all
Let's get this out of the way right from the start: if you're a fan of anyone other than Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, you might want to skip a couple paragraphs because that's the release of the week and we're going to spend a little time talking about it before we skim the rest of the list and see what else might be coming out this sixth day of March. That's right, kids, it's BossTime. Springsteen is releasing Wrecking Ball in a standard and deluxe edition, the difference being two bonus tracks. I'm not going to rehash my

Bruce Springsteen Subtle As A 'Wrecking Ball' On New Album, For Better And Worse

The State Of The Union According To The Boss...
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The plight of the working man and his struggle for dignity and the distance between the American Dream and its reality have been mainstays in the Springsteen songbook, so no one should be terribly surprised that the housing crisis that sank the American economy in 2008 and the Occupy Wall Street movement that erupted in 2011 would inspire a new batch of songs, and it did. Sort of. I couldn't help noticing how many of the songs of Wrecking Ball I already knew when the tracklisting was announced even though they'd never been released on a Springsteen studio album. The title track,

Gary Clark Jr Performs Muddy Waters' "Catfish Blues" At "Blues At The White House" Ceremony

...and we're totally taking credit for it...
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I feel like a proud papa tonight as I watch my beloved Gary Clark Jr. perform a sensational cover of Muddy Waters' "Catfish Blues" at The White House at a ceremony honoring the blues. I'm pretty sure Gary would want to acknowledge the constant cheerleading and support of BlindedBySound as the reason behind his invite but we're far too modest to take (all) the credit for it. I guess we have at least one reader in Washington D.C. in the events planning department (or whatever it is they call it) so I'm sure my amigo Nick Moss or other site favorites will

DeepSoul: Eddie Floyd - "Knock on Wood"

No, this isn't about the disco version, but the original, Southern-soul-drenched track featuring Floyds' flawless vocals.
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Before discussing this week's DeepSoul track, I must clarify what this column is not about. When I write "Knock on Wood," I am not referring to Amii Stewart's 1979 disco tune. Because it became a monster hit, topping the pop, soul, and dance charts, it stands as the most well-known version of the track. Nevertheless, Eddie Floyd's 1966 original exemplifies gritty Southern soul, otherwise known as the Stax sound. Born in Alabama in 1935, Floyd's family relocated to Detroit early in his childhood. While in the Motor City, he eventually founded the Falcons, a harmonic group that had a major
Tonight begins the process on The Voice where we watch the four mentors Cee-Lo Green, Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton and Adam Levine whittle their teams down from twelve to six. This is probably the most intriguing semi-final type set up of any of these music competition shows as the artists from the same teams are pitted against each other, going head to head in a boxing ring on the stage. Their coaches pick the song and then mentor them to prepare them for the performance that will either get them into the next round, or send them home earlier

Review: Carolina Chocolate Drops - Leaving Eden

Drawing out tradition with a good solid coat of modern cool.
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Based out of Durham, North Carolina, the Carolina Chocolate Drops entered the broader consciousness with an old-time string band rendition of the Blu Cantrell song “Hit ‘em Up Style (Oops!)” and grew from there. Their 2010 release, Genuine Negro Jig, earned the group a Grammy. The follow-up to that album, and the band’s third release, is Leaving Eden. It features more of the same authenticity fans have come to expect from Carolina Chocolate Drops and an expanded line-up to boot. Founding members Dom Flemons and Rhiannon Giddens have brought multi-instrumentalist Hubby Jenkins, beatboxer Adam Matta and cellist Leyla McCalla into

Norah Jones Streams "Happy Pills" From 'Little Broken Hearts'

First song from her new record and you can hear it here!
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BlindedBySound favorite Norah Jones announced her new record Little Broken Hearts due for release May 1 earlier this week and we now have our first taste of the record as "Happy Pills" is streaming and we are thrilled beyond belief to share it with you. Hearts was produced by Danger Mouse, who seems to be the hot hit making machine of the moment and that's normally the kind of thing that would make me cringe where Norah is concerned because I'm such a fan of what she does on her own, but I adore the songs she did on Mouse's Rome "soundtrack" so I'm actually

Mark Lanegan Announces N. American 'Blues Funeral' Tour Dates

...and I'm still not going to see him.
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It looks like another streak will continue where my relationship with Mark Lanegan is concerned as he announces what amounts to perhaps his most extensive N. American tour as a solo artist in support of his excellent new album Blues Funeral. It seems clear I'm never going to see one of my favorite vocalists of all time and a pillar in the Josh Hathaway Pantheon Of Eternal Musical Greatness because he's not coming anywhere near me on his 12-date run through N. America. The tour kicks off on the East Coast in New York on May 10 and will hit small

Remembering Davy Jones: An Ultimate Monkees Playlist

Jones may not have been the first teen idol, but his role in the first made-for-TV band proved crucial to their success.
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Davy Jones may not have been an innovator musically, nor was he the first teen idol. However, he played a key role in The Monkees, the 1960s made-for-TV band that once rivaled The Beatles in popularity and helped create the modern music video. Jones' February 29 death at age 66 has provoked numerous tributes, particularly from Baby Boomers who plastered Jones' grinning image on their bedroom walls, watched every Monkees episode, and swooned at the British heartthrob during his infamous 1971 Brady Bunch guest appearance. But did his teen idol status overshadow the music? It's not surprising that Jones handled

Jazz Review: Josh Ginsburg - Zembla Variations

The Brooklyn-based bassist debut is a passionate treat.
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Zembla Variations is Brooklyn-based bassist Josh Ginsburg’s debut recording of all-original pieces. Out now on Brooklyn Jazz Underground Records, the album demonstrates Ginsburg’s command of the composition and his love of Brooklyn. Zembla Variations takes its name from a small furniture company in Red Hook and is ensconced in the neighbourhood. Ginsburg wrote all but one of the pieces on the record over the last five years in the Brooklyn locale and it shows in the dreamlike but grounded construction of the songs. There is an understated, working class texture to his arrangements that makes things feel remarkably alive and

Review: Doe Paoro - Slow to Love

"Ghost soul" arrives.
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Doe Paoro describes her sound as “ghost soul” and the terminology fits like an eerie glove. Her lingering, out-there tone is disconnected and yet wholehearted. Slow to Love, the Brooklyn-based artist’s debut record, is a succinct jaunt through slightly haunted old-school R&B, soul, pop, and funk. There’s a lot to nod your head to, but there’s also a deeply unsettling vibe rest just under the surface. Paoro’s study of lhamo, Tibetan-style operatic singing that she came across when travelling through the Himalayas, may have something to do with that. There are also strokes of Imogen Heap, Portishead and Lykke Li
The ink had barely dried on X Factor winner Melanie Amaro’s contract before rumors of firings, hirings, other contestant contracts and overall dissatisfaction started swirling around regarding the show. In a conference call last week with The X Factor creator (and mentor to Melanie Amaro), Simon Cowell and the only other mentor who retained their job L.A. Reid, a lot of these rumors were laid to rest and a few exacerbated. March 1st begins the online audition process for the show (rules and regulations can be found here) When asked what they were looking for this season, Simon mentioned they

American Idol: Meet Your Top 13

The crowd has been thinned out. How does the field look to you now?
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Tonight’s American Idol narrows the field from 25 to the final Top 13 who will sing for your votes every week hoping to be crowned the next American Idol in May. The Top 13 will be comprised of the top five guys and the top five girls voted in by America with three wildcard spots chosen by judges Steven Tyler, Randy Jackson and JLo who get to choose one contestant each to save with this coveted second chance. Host Ryan Seacrest tells us repeatedly that over two nights of voting they received more than 33 million votes for these

Sisters Weren't Doing Much For Themselves as American Idol's Ladies Take Center Stage

Does this year's crop of female talent have a lot of upside or are they really this bad?
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Tonight on American Idol it was the girl’s turn as the Top 12 Girls tried to wow the judges and America for votes and a shot at the final Top 10 voted in by the viewers or even one of the three Wildcard spots chosen by judges Steven Tyler, Randy Jackson, and Jennifer Lopez. Ryan also reminds us that a girl hasn’t won the competition in the last five seasons. Kicking things off is Chelsea Sorrell, who takes a stab at Carrie Underwood’s “Cowboy Casanova” and it’s a good thing she’s a pretty girl because she did nothing for this song.