December 2012 Archives

Noel Gallagher Indeed A Magician on 'International Magic: Live At The O2'

Gallagher chronicles the fantastic first chapter of his life as a solo artist...
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Noel Gallagher has spent the past two years launching his (long awaited) solo career, promoting his High Flying Birds album with an extended world tour. He chronicles this opening chapter of his post-Oasis life with International Magic: Live At The O2, presented on DVD, Bluray, and a deluxe Bluray that includes a CD of demos from the HFB sessions and in so doing likely brings this chapter to a close. He deftly mixes the bulk of his debut solo record with Oasis hits and B-sides as well as a B-side of his own and one new song. The pacing and composition of the show

Review: Tame Impala - Lonerism

Believe the hype: one of the year's best records...
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I hadn't ever heard of Tame Impala or their 2012 album Lonerism until I saw it touted as among the best albums of the year on several prominent year-end lists. I don't know how I missed it and them until now but all the praise made me curious to see if it belonged on my own list. I've now spent a couple weeks with the record and I'm pleased to report it's almost as good as I hoped, almost living up to the hype surrounding it. It's impossible to discuss this album without dealing with the obvious so let's begin there before

RJ Mischo - Make It Good

Mischo’s Delta Groove debut finds the Minnesota-based harmonica master as exuberant and inventive as ever
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RJ Mischo is a musician whose abilities on his instrument can be utterly mind-boggling. But Mischo’s instrument is the harmonica, and his chosen genre (though many would say the music chooses the man) is the blues. World-wide fame and untold riches seem unlikely; to quote Fats Domino, “Ain’t that a shame …” For his tenth recording Mischo’s gone for a raw, raucous sound, his harp tone dirty and distorted and many of his vocals the same. Most tunes feature a full band consisting of guitarists Johnny Moeller and the late and sadly missed Nick Curran, with veterans Wes Starr on

DVD Review: The Yardbirds - Making Tracks

Jim McCarty and Chris Dreja keep The Yardbirds name alive with a new, young band
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It’s not exaggerating to suggest that The Yardbirds are one of the most important bands of the Rock and Roll era. Pushing the boundaries between blues, hard rock and psychedelia, the band helped launch the careers of Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page and many of their songs are considered classics. These days, the band consists of original members Jim McCarty on drums and Chris Dreja on rhythm guitar, along with singer Andy Mitchell, lead guitarist Ben King and bassist Dave Smale. The band tours and plays their classic 1960s songs, along with newer material from 2003’s Birdland. The

Blu-ray Review: Lady Antebellum - Own The Night World Tour

Country superstars captured live in Little Rock, AR
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In the short time since they formed in 2006, Lady antebellum has gone from playing acoustic shows at gas stations to headlining arenas, selling millions of albums and winning numerous awards and critical praise for their albums. Their music blends country with pop and rock with tight vocal harmonies. Their lives shows are energetic affairs, with fans singing all the words to their many hits. A stop in Little Rock, AR, on their 2011 tour for Own The Night was documented and makes up the new Blu-ray, Lady Antebellum – Own The Night World Tour. The Blu-ray mixes concert performances

Blu-Ray Review: Paul McCartney - Live Kisses

An intimate performance at the legendary Capitol Studios in Los Angeles.
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Paul McCartney has always had an old-time sensibility that has come out in his music on numerous occasions. Songs such as “When I’m Sixty-Four” and “Honey Pie” have more to do with the music his father would have grown up with than the songs the Beatles were writing during the 1960s. There’s a reason for that – It was the music that McCartney heard as a young child via his father or through parties his family would have when people would get together to sing these songs around the piano. McCartney had wanted to do an album of standards for

Let The Music Play – The Story Of The Doobie Brothers DVD Review

More than 40 years on, these classic rockers keep rolling.
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To say the Bay Area music scene had a lasting influence on Rock and Roll would be an understatement. At the tail end of that period came the Doobie Brothers, named after their left-handed cigarette of choice. The Doobie’s sound was unique, contrasting Tom Johnston’s chunky guitar rhythms against Pat Simmons’ more intricate finger picking style and incorporating three-part (or more) harmonies. The formula worked, as more than 40 years later, we are still talking about them. The DVD, Let The Music Play – The Story Of The Doobie Brothers, does justice to the legacy of this classic band. The

Tail Dragger Feat. Bob Corritore - Longtime Friends In The Blues

An absolutely top-notch collection of hardcore Chicago blues
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Vocalist Tail Dragger – more on that name a bit later - and harmonica ace Bob Corritore first met at a tribute to Howlin’ Wolf a day after the blues titan’s death back in 1976. They’ve been friends and occasional musical accomplices ever since, but this is their first outing as co-leaders of a band. Legend has it Tail Dragger – real name James T. Jones – got his moniker from Wolf himself, who complained that Jones was always ‘dragging his tail in late.’ Earlier in his career he came across as a bit of a Wolf imitator, but he’s

Julius Pittman And The Revival – Live Tonight

A little bit ragged and a whole lot righteous …!
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Like so many musical fads, the so-called ‘neo-soul’ revival seems to have receded once more from mainstream attention.  That doesn’t appear to faze Julius Pittman and his crackerjack crew – they play gloriously greasy and boldly brassy soul as though it’s never gone out of style. Pittman, a monster on both piano and organ, is possessed of the perfect soul voice, raspy and rough and bursting with passion.  When he testifies – and testify is the right word, as there’s a genuine gospel fervor at work here – he leaves absolutely no doubt that he means every word. Live Tonight,

Daniel Maloso - In and Out: CD Review

One of those rare dance records which are eminently listenable both on and off the dance floor...
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With the 1982 release of "Planet Rock," Afrika Bambaataa invented the short-lived, but brilliant genre of electro-funk. He had help of course, most notably from precursors like Kraftwerk, and his fellow Tommy Boy artists. Hipsters like Beck have revisited the music over the years, but I have never heard anyone get it so right as Daniel Maloso does on his new album In and Out. In and Out is much more than a simple acknowledgement of a very cool musical form though. His record label Comeme specializes in what they describe as “Latin-influenced dance music.” I will certainly not argue

The 44’s - Americana

Americana by way of a hot, sweaty roadhouse
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The term ‘Americana’ usually conjures up acoustic instruments – guitar, banjo, fiddle – and music that sounds as though it should be barefoot on the back porch. The 44’s have a different take on Americana – theirs is sweaty, roadhouse music, raucous and raunchy and meant to be played loud to cut through the haze and the noise. It’s tough and swaggering and dangerous, best served where there’s lots of both cold beer and room to dance. The 44’s – guitarist and vocalist Johnny Main, drummer J. R. Lozano, bassist Mike Turturro, with Tex “The Weeping Willow” Nakamura on harmonica

DeepSoul: Stevie Wonder's "Love's in Need of Love Today" Timeless and Timely Message Post-Newtown, Pre-Holidays

In difficult times, Wonder's timeless message of love and peace still deeply resonates.
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Originally I planned to spotlight another holiday track with a soul twist.  The mass shootings in Connecticut, however, have cast a shadow over what should be a joyous season.  As the world tries to comprehend the loss of so many innocent children and dedicated educators, music can be a source of comfort.  Comfort, joy, sorrow, and mystery comprise just some of the subjects Stevie Wonder covers on his landmark 1976 album Songs in the Key of Life, a philosophical work clothed in soul, rock, and international sounds. One track that perfectly captures the grief we feel--and perhaps hope as well--is

Review: Michael Bram - Suitcase In The Hall

Bram steps out from behind Jason Mraz and issues a fine solo record of his own...
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Michael Bram by day serves as Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Jason Mraz's drummer and by night has launched a solo career releasing his latest solo album Suitcase In The Hall through the VizzTone label. Those looking for a carbon copy of the more widely known Mraz and his pop-oriented singer/songwriter sound may be disappointed but careful listening reveals connections beneath the surface of his roots-oriented sound that mixes blues and country leanings with solid songwriting. Bram plays many of the instruments on the album and wrote the majority of these tracks. He gets some instrumental and production help from the multi-talented Dave Gross and

DVD Review: Stray Cats - Live At Montreux 1981

An early show from these rockabilly revivalists
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The year was 1981. Disco was fading while punk was morphing into post punk and new wave. The 80s hair metal scene was just beginning to take root, but three guys from Long Island, NY, had different ideas for what their new music should sound like. Instead of looking forward, they looked to the past, specifically the rockabilly music of the 1950s. Formed in 1980, they called themselves the Stray Cats and none of its three members (Guitarist/vocalist Brian Setzer was the oldest at age 22) were even born when rockabilly was in its heyday, yet here they were with

Gary Clark Jr, Nick Moss Join Magness, Nemeth, Tedeschi Trucks Band Among 34th Blues Music Award Nominees

Legends, fresh faces, and favorites among the nominated (as well as the snubs)...
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Nominees for the 34th Blues Music Awards have been announced and once again Janiva Magness is out front along with John Nemeth when it comes to most nominations and Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi are once again well represented as they have been the past two years. I'm mostly pleased with the nominees and will enjoy voting for some great artists and records and will struggle to choose among them in some categories. I'm also annoyed past the point of outrage some deserving artists and their albums aren't on the ballot enough or at all. I didn't have the opportunity

Hit Parade: Bruno Mars - Locked Out of Heaven

Try though I might, I couldn't find anything to not like about this song...
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Rihanna's hold on the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 didn't last all that long, despite her best efforts to garner attention by flighting solo on a transatlantic mission or whatever it is she was up to. Now, a gentle man named Bruno Mars and his song "Locked Out of Heaven" reign supreme. I knew less about Bruno Mars than any other Hit Parade subject heading into this particular endeavor. That includes Carly Rae Jepsen, but that's only because I got to her so long after the fact because how could the song of the summer go unremarked upon?

DeepSoul Holiday Edition: Take 6 - "Oh! He Is Christmas"

Take 6 lends their unique brand of jazz-inflected harmonies to a contemporary gospel tune.
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Acapella group Take 6 has performed with everyone imaginable, from Don Henley to Stevie Wonder. Their complex harmonies, jazz, do wop, and R&B influences, and contemporary take on gospel music has distinguished the sextet from other acapella artists. After releasing their 1988 major label debut Take 6, the group earned a Best New Artist nomination and Grammys for best jazz and gospel performances; since then, they have never looked back. Early in their career, Take 6 recorded He Is Christmas, mixing in traditional carols with original compositions. The 1991 album put their spiritual roots at the forefront of their music while incorporating modern R&B beats
If the Mayans are wrong and we cruise into 2013, we'll all live long enough to see the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame actually do something right as they induct Canadian trio Rush along with Heart, Public Enemy, composer Randy Newman, Donna Summer and Albert King. The sun shines on a dog's ass some days. Let me go Stella McCartney and say about fucking time! I've mentioned before I don't count myself among the legion of Rush fans but it's beyond ridiculous it's taken this long to get them on the ballot, so say nothing of -- oh,
It's the End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine). In fact, I feel pretty good about it, really. I'm #TeamMayan all the way on this whole end of the world thing. I'm bold enough to say it: I'm pro-Apocalypse. Now before one of you goes running to fetch the men with the nets and I-Love-Me jackets, let me be clear: I'm not cheering on my death. Or yours. To quote Willie Nelson, I've seen all this world I care to see: The Red Sox won a couple World Series, Alabama won a couple National

Two-Fer Tuesday: Vintage Trouble

Rhythm & Blues with verve and soul
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I'm head over heels for these guys! Hot off their appearance on the Late Show With David Letterman last week, Vintage Trouble are burning up the Internets with their fabulosity. With stellar retro cool vocals and assertive presentation, how can you not want a little Trouble in your life? You get why, right? Even my 16 year-old son gets it. We spent the other day listening to The Bomb Shelter Sessions for a few hours and my kid says, "the singer's voice sound familiar. Why is that?" After thinking it over and running through my artist playlist, it dawned on me: Ty

CD Review: Simon Townshend - Looking Out Looking In

Pete's younger brother delivers a strong set of songs on his seventh solo album.
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It’s hard to make a name for oneself when the shadow of their famous sibling looms so large, yet, in Simon Townshend’s case, he has managed to do just that. Besides lending his talents to The Who and Roger Daltrey’s live shows, Townshend has performed with the likes of Jeff Beck and Pearl Jam and began his musical career at a young age, contributing backup vocals to Tommy at age nine. He’s also released seven solo albums, the latest of which is called Looking Out Looking In. Music has run through the Townshend family’s blood for some time; with Simon

The Mannish Boys - 'Double Dynamite'

This is how it’s done …
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The Mannish Boys have become, over the course of six recordings now, a genuine blues powerhouse. A supergroup of sorts, they’ve always been a review-style band, with a rotating cast and more guests than one can shake a stick at. It helps that the guests are chosen from Delta Groove’s rather impressive roster; the Mannish Boys are led by label honcho and ace harmonica player Randy Chortkoff. The remainder of the core band includes mainstay Finis Tasby and newcomer Sugaray Rayford sharing vocals, with Chortkoff on harp, Kirk Fletcher and Frank Goldwasser on guitars, and the rock-solid core of drummer

Grammy Nominations Another Mess Of Disappointments, Surprises

Good, bad, and bewildering... in other words, exactly what we've come to expect from The Grammys...
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It's that time of year again: Grammy nomination season and as is usually the case, I consider myself (mostly) disappointed. I'm not going to expend much energy detailing the many ways the Recording Academy has lost its way as an organization and how it annually fails. To borrow from former NFL head coach Dennis Green, they are who we think they are. There are some bizarre and inexplicable choices in the major categories but there are a few inspired moves this year so we'll highlight a few of each. Let's start with things that please me: Jack White's Blunderbuss

Review: Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit - Live From Alabama

Former Drive-By Trucker Isbell brings his successful solo career to the stage on band's first official live album...
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Jason Isbell left Drive-By Truckers to strike out on his own, fronting a new band called The 400 Unit and Live From Alabama marks their first live album after three successful studio releases, the most recent Here We Rest drawing widespread acclaim. The Green Hill, AL native recorded shows in Birmingham and my current hometown of Huntsville and from those shows we have these 13 songs featuring two covers and 11 Isbell originals. Of the Isbell originals, two come from his time with DBT including the title track from their Decoration Day LP as well as another song from that

Dave Brubeck: 1920-2012

The music legend broke through jazz's conventions and created a sound uniquely his own.
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A jazz giant who combined classical music with jazz passed away December 5, 2012, a day short of his 92nd birthday. Dave Brubeck, the pianist/composer who helped jazz retain its “cool” status in 1960, will forever be remembered for a song he did not write: “Take Five,” its 5/4 time a first for the music genre. Penned by his alto saxophonist, Paul Desmond, the single propelled Brubeck to legendary status and became one of the most recognized jazz tunes of all time. If he had followed his original career plans, however, we would have never heard his music--instead, he would

Review: Alexi Murdoch - Towards the Sun

...minimalist musical mantras...
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Alexi Murdoch is an artist I’ve written about before. I consider him one of the best “discoveries” I’ve made in the last five years and I still listen to his debut album Time without Consequence regularly. In the meantime I’ve been trying to convert anyone I could to an “Alexite” and must have loaned Time Without Consequence to at least a dozen people. And why? Because, as I’ve stated in my review of his debut album, I believe that he is “an artist our generation can proudly display when challenged by our elders to come up with a reply to

Mississippi Heat – Delta Bound

When Lacocque’s well-oiled Mississippi Heat hits, the results are sublime
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Much like the musical reviews of old, Mississippi Heat is a fluid and constantly changing musical collective.  Each recording features a core band led by Pierre Lacocque, usually with a slightly different lineup from project to project, with a series of guests to add vocal and instrumental variety. On hand this time out are regular vocalist Inetta Visor, with guitarists Giles Corey and Billy Satterfield, bassist Joseph Velez and Kenny Smith on drums.  Keys are shared by Chris ‘Hambone’ Cameron and Johnny Iguana.  The guest list includes guitarists Billy Flynn and frequent collaborator Carl Weathersby, Chubby Carrier adding Cajun

Big Pete – Choice Cuts

Old school done right...
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Don’t have a copy of Big Pete’s Choice Cuts as yet? Then do this: go to the loneliest railroad crossing you can find on a dark, dark night. Stand as close to the tracks as you dare (safely, please) until a roaring freight train overwhelms your senses with sheer, unstoppable, ground-shaking power. That’ll give you a feel for what Big Pete’s amplified harmonica sounds like - dirty and dangerous, gloriously greasy and magnificently muscular. Pieter “Big Pete” Van Der Pluum’ isn’t the typical blues background; he’s Dutch (as one might guess, with a name like that), and lucked into this

Rod Piazza And The All Mighty Flyers - Almighty Dollar

The Flyers live up to their new “All Mighty” billing
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After many years and countless gigs, Rod Piazza’s got himself a new band.  The core players are back, of course – Miss Honey on piano, guitarist Henry Carvajal, and drummer Dave Kida – but this time out, rather than The Mighty Flyers, they’re billed as “The All Mighty Flyers.” It’s an important, if small, distinction.  As one of the harmonica’s greatest virtuosos, Rod remains up front.  But there’s a real band feel to this outing, albeit with lots of guests along for the ride.  It’s primarily a covers collection – Piazza only wrote two of the dozen tracks – and

Two-Fer Tuesday: The Mavericks

Revisiting a favorite, I discover a great surprise from The Mavericks
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Back in the '90s, I was transitioning from San Diego girl to Denver girl, from country back to blues and rock, from just a single gal to oh-my-God-I'm-a-mom; it seemed there was always something coming at me and I did what I've always done when life overwhelmed me: I dove deeper into music. One of my favorite bands from that time was The Mavericks. They were country. They were rock. They were a little bit of everything that scratched all my musical itches. I didn't have to make mix tapes or buy a bunch of CDs by other artists as
Soulful takes on Christmas standards and original songs add another dimension to the holidays.  The second annual Deep Soul: Holiday Edition will spotlight some wonderful treasures that perfectly accompany any family gathering, and celebrate all the elements of the season: childlike wonder, spirituality, and the warmth that comes from gatherings with friends and family.  I'll kick off this series by examining a track from 1992: "Soul Holidays" by the While their recordings often incorporate hip hop beats, the Sounds of Blackness actually dates back to 1969.  Formed at St. Paul, Minnesota's Macalester College, they hired director Gary Hines in 1971

Concert Review: Florence + The Machine at the Zenith in Paris November 27th 2012

...a barefoot Florence giving an extraordinary and very physical performance as always with lots of running around, twisting and twirling and jumping up and down like a ballerina on ‘roid-rage...
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It’s a chilly and rainy day in Paris and, although it’s only 16:30 and the gates aren’t supposed to open until two hours later, people have already lined up in front of the Zenith, huddling together under their umbrellas and slowly singing the chorus to their favorite songs. I love the vibe before a big concert; it has that unmistakable feeling of calm before the storm. My wife and I have come to see Florence and the Machine who are nearing the end of their long and probably exhausting Ceremonials tour and have just a few venues left to

See Florence And The Machine "Lover To Lover" Video

She's not quite done promoting her brilliant 2011 sophomore effort 'Ceremonials'
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It's been awhile since we checked in with Florence + The Machine and it's because I thought she was poised to wrap up the promotion cycle for her fantastic 2011 album Ceremonials -- a cycle that saw her perform on Simon Cowell's US X Factor, Saturday Night Live, and release an MTV Unplugged performance -- but it seems I was wrong. Flo has just released a new video for "Lover To Lover" and is issuing a single as she continues to play shows in support of the album throughout Europe this month. She also found time to join The Rolling Stones on stage at

Led Zeppelin's Reunion Show 'Celebration Day' A Triumph

The song and magic remain the same decades later...
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The Led Zeppelin "reunion" we always knew could happen, suspected one day might, but with each passing year abandoned hope for finally happened in 2007 and then in the most bewildering fashion, nothing ever came of it. There would be no more shows. There was no discussion of ever releasing this one; it sat there a novelty, a curiosity, a tantalizing precursor to nothing. Until now. Celebration Day has finally been released, allowing fans the world over to hear Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, and John Paul Jones perform the music they created with John Bonham all those years ago for the