March 23, 2009

Monday Music Roundup

[Editor’s note: While I’m somewhere between Luckenbach and Marfa today, I’ve asked my friend Dainon to write today’s Monday Music Roundup. He has superb taste. You are in good hands]


Cotton Jones Blood Red Sentimental Blues
Cotton Jones
Cotton Jones’ EPs have surfaced here and there (mostly whenever Maryland’s Michael Nau was taking breaks from his other outfit, Page France), but he finally got serious and released a full-length of this half-folky, half-psychedelic stuff earlier this year. It works better than all that came before it, too. Page France was one of those love at first listen sorts and he gets it right on this band and number, too, just in an all new way. Here, you see dust particles hanging in the sunlight. You fully expect the organ to kick in when it does. You can even feel its sepia tones.

Also, if whistling makes you happy and you know it, turn up “By Morning Light” and tap-tap-tap along to that ketchy rhythm.

Look In On Me
James Jackson Toth

jamesjacksontothRemember Wooden Wand & The Vanishing Voice? Maybe? James Jackson Toth spearheaded that movement but, in this music lubber’s opinion, it wasn’t entirely listenable. And his first solo album is kinda wordy and scattered, too, but, when he’s channeling early Mick Jagger, as he is here, it feels warm and right and slightly drunk. There’s a story to attach to this, too, one that involved a ridiculously great night, a morning-after walk of shame and still buzzed smiles as this song up and declared itself the perfect soundtrack of that long moment, but that’s all that needs to be said about that.

Also, try his “Beulah The Good.” It’s a different sort of fantastic, but an absolute thrill ride all the same.

samrobertsbandThem Kids
Sam Roberts

One of those Big Deals up in Canada who still hasn’t managed the same kinda success south of their border, I read someplace that this album has enough heart in it to change alla that noise right quick. Perhaps. Listening to Sam Roberts channel the energy of the Strokes here (without the silly pretense to go along with it), it’s hard not to believe that. If you’re not a giddy headbanger singing “The kids don’t know how to dance to rock ‘n roll!” by the tail end of this one, well, rewind and repeat it already. Only do it louder this time. That’s an order.

Also, the lovely “Words and Fire” deserves to land on movie soundtrack in the near future. Just saying.

Funeral Song
Laura Gibson

lauragibsonI like this description of this lovely Portland-based singer-songwriter, borrowed from Hush Records … “She couldn’t tell you what band put out what particular album in what year, but she could probably describe where she was, how she felt and what you talked about, when she first met you, or what the trees looked like the last time her heart was broken.” Laura’s voice comes from another time. Listen closely to this song and you might hear some Billie Holiday in there. Listen closer and you’ll hear a saw being played.

Her recently-released Beasts of Seasons is a disarmingly good album that seeps into your skin the more you allow it to. Her songs sound like shared secrets. She recently said she is more influenced by her books of poetry than she is other musicians; there appears to be some real truth to that.

Also? “Where Have All Your Good Words Gone?” is likely to knock you flat. Catch her when she plays with Damien Jurado at the Hi-Dive in Denver on 4/4.

mellowowlBottle Rockettes
Peter & The Wolf

You gotta love a guy (Redding Hunter) who records his own CDs, designs each cover with his own artwork (owls wearing bling necklaces are big right now) and makes his way across the US of A, playing ramshackle house parties for gas money. Fresh off 5+ shows at SXSW and currently working on something he’s wont to call his “disco record,” this song is a fast favorite off Mellow Owl, Peter and the Wolf’s latest offering. Is it enough to say this one feels like a summer’s day? Sure, there’s a lazy love story in there, too, but it comes second to the feeling of it. This one really benefits from the vocals of Moss Bailey, too, who pops up all over the album.

Also, “Trainhopper” is classic PATW: an acoustic geet, the story of some kinda gypsy wanderer and lots of those long drawn-out oooh’s to dress it up right nice.

And, just for fun, here’s Peter & The Wolf in action from a couple weeks back. This is an old one called “Silent Movies,” recorded live at KRCL 90.9 in Salt Lake City, UT, where he both managed to play one bar with a transvestite blues house band (yep) and one packed-to-the-rafters house show while he was in town.

[aw heck Dainon. You’re so hired]

April 6, 2007

Brushfire Records prepares to liberate the animals, orchestrally (with ALO)

Santa Barbara, California good-time jam band Animal Liberation Orchestra (ALO) is preparing to release their newest album on May 1st, their second on Jack Johnson’s Brushfire Records label. Entitled Roses & Clover, it’s the follow-up to last year’s Fly Between Falls, and a short video is available showing the band in (and around) the studio during the making of the album:
[Windows Media] [Quicktime]

This new track surprised me when it started, with the striking piano chords, the expansiveness of the Eagles, and the lyrics about Maria which made my thoughts flash briefly to the Counting Crows. I am very much looking forward to hearing the rest of this album (other tunes are described as “ukulele-led funk workout” and “sun-drenched reggae-tinged” tracks) if this is any indication:

Maria – ALO

A headlining U.S. tour with ALO kicks off on Cinco de Mayo at the San Francisco Fillmore.

And despite some crazy random APRIL snow showers today (?!) I am planning to head up to Denver tonight to see Peter & The Wolf at the Hi-Dive (with two great others, Saddle Creek’s Maria Taylor, and local Gregory Alan Isakov). My pal Dainon originally recommended Peter & The Wolf to me, and since then I have been wanting to catch his live show, which I hear is superb. This scratchy A.M. radio-goodness tune from him is pretty close to perfect:

Silent Movies – Peter & The Wolf

November 13, 2006

Monday Music Roundup

At my lovely university in California, things were usually scenic and tranquil when walking across campus; vivid green grass, carefully manicured flowers, and lots of squirrels frolicking. Those dang squirrels would always look at me a bit askance (I swear) as they froze in my path, weighing which direction to run, and the thought would often fleetingly cross my mind that this would happen. See, I’m not crazy.

Here’s some new songs that I have added into regular rotation this past week that I think you’ll like too:

Gretchen My Captain
As Fast As
Ahh, opening bands: something you don’t count on liking, but it is always a treat when you do. I saw Portland, Oregon’s As Fast As (as fast as what?) on Saturday night opening for Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers, and I was impressed by their alternating arena rock/pop-deluxxe sound (which reminded me of sort of Van Halen meets Marcy Playground). With their windmill guitar moves, matching fu-manchu moustaches, and interesting use of instruments, these guys were clearly having fun. This song features an amplified ukulele with heavy distortion, and sounded like nothing I’d ever heard in a song when they busted it out live. Nice whistle solo too — this song is catchy (admitted: the vocals at the beginning may first strike you as grating, but give it to 0:53 where it all soars, and then if you don’t like it, you have my unnecessary permission to delete). As Fast As are heading out with Under The Influence of Giants next, and then the travesty that is the re-formed INXS. Their album Open Letter To The Damned is available now for a scant $8.

Silent Movies
Peter & The Wolf
Okay, so I am hopelessly falling all over myself in love with this song. A friend recommended that I check out Peter & The Wolf, fronted by Austin’s Red Hunter, and emailed me “Silent Movies” to listen to. It is an irresistible blend of scratchy M. Ward old-time radio sound, combined with these fantastic harmonies that would make Brian Wilson blush. From the album Lightness (2006) on Los Angeles’ The Worker’s Institute label (home to Sigur Ros). Listen to more goodies on their MySpace.

Janie Jones” (Clash cover)
In between his demanding schedule of beating photographers bloody, getting Kate Moss’ engagement ring stuck on his own finger, and just generally imploding, Pete Doherty and his Babyshambles cohorts have teamed up with Strummerville (the Joe Strummer Foundation for New Music) to record this cover of the Clash classic. I am not sure how they all fit in the studio, but Doherty joins 21 other musicians on the single, including fellow ex-Libertine Carl Barât, The Kooks, We Are Scientists, and the Guillemots. Sounds a bit unnecessary, but whatever, the resulting tune is fun.

Middle Distance Runner
So what IS it with all these oddly-named bands in the roundup this week? It’s a leitmotif. Middle Distance Runner was a recent and pleasurable find for me this weekend over on Some Velvet Blog. Bruce says, “If you dig The Format or Hot Chip or The Changes or The Spinto Band” (I do) “then you’ll dig MDR’s Plane In Flames” (and I do). One just needs to hear those opening handclaps to know we are on the right track towards pop goodness.

Greatest Mistake
Handsome Boy Modeling School, featuring Jamie Cullum and John Oates
This isn’t a new addition to my rotation, but one that popped up recently on shuffle and I remembered how much I enjoy singing along to it in my best soulful falsetto. From the diversely chill and superbly star-studded White People album (2004), Handsome Boy Modeling School teams up here with British skateboarding jazzmaster wunderkind Jamie Cullum and the moustachioed half of Hall & Oates. The resulting song is slinky and absolutely fantastic to belt in the shower.

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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