Monday, August 31, 2009

Anjulie Booms again

At the end of last year, I was sent a three track teaser for upcoming artist Anjulie, and shared one of those, Boom (which now has a new video, see above), with you all. At the time I commented on the fact that it reminded me of Bitter:Sweet, with the other two closer to Little Jackie or Lily Allen. Well since then (last month as a matter of fact), she's released her self-titled debut, and I got a chance to see what direction the album would take.

To be honest, in hindsight the promo actually turned out to be a pretty good barometer, although not completely, exactly representative. While all three songs from the promo appear on the album, the ten other new tracks mostly fall between the two ends of the spectrum I picked up on before. Many of them have that retro-lounge feel, minus the space element. Many of them have that piano sparkly soul attitude to them. Although ultimately I think I would have preferred the album to have gone one way or another, the middle ground is enjoyable in its own right. Try one of the new tracks, Rain, below.

Visit her website, her label Hear Music, and become her friend on MySpace.

Jesse Matheson's Pleasures

If for no other reason than the cover, I had to five Pleasure Pounds a chance. I don't know much about Jesse Matheson, the musician behind the album, but I will tell you that after listening to it, I was hooked. It's got songs about girls, about food, about sexual innuendo connecting the two, booty, motel porn, getting drunk, and doing it in graveyards. Honestly, it's like he made a check list of things that guys couldn't resist and went right down it. It's all delivered in a dry, dead-pan sort of way that kind of reminds me of a toned down G. Love with a little less funk and a little more straight forward acoustic strum. Try out Make Out below, and get your hands ready for some clapping.

Visit his label Copperspine Records and become his friend on MySpace.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday Soul - My Desires Are Getting the Best of Me

So last night I made my way to night two of the Brooklyn Soul Festival that I wrote about a few weeks back, and it was smokin'! The evening opened with the Sweet Divines, the night's house band in effect, performing a set of their own. After some sweet 45 spinning, the magnificent Maxine Brown took the stage, burning things up like a woman a quarter of her age. Another 45 set followed, with Otis Clay commanding the stage for the remainder of the evening with his bluesy, gospelish style of soul. Earlier in the day, there were some vinyl vendors playing their wares, and I was able to pick up a few things, including the following 45.

Before sharing it with you, I want to give a big shout out to Stephen and Marisa for taking a country bumpkin like myself under their wings and showing me around, and especially to Stephen for giving me a place to rest my weary head. Now, on to the music - listen and enjoy!


you look so good to me baby
i see your face everywhere i go
i'm trying to resist temptation
but i can't hold out much more
can't keep on smiling in his face
and all the time wishing you were mine
cuz every time he tells me how much he loves you
i turn away to keep from cryin'

but i know, i know it's wrong
as wrong as can be
but what can i do when my desires for you
are getting the best of me

George Jackson - My Desires Are Getting the Best of Me : My Desires Are Getting the Best of Me 7"

George Jackson - Find 'Em, Fool 'Em and Forget 'Em : My Desires Are Getting the Best of Me 7" B-side

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Herbaliser, refined

Last year, The Herbaliser's last album, Same As It Never Was, easily earned a berth on my best of list (see my original post on it here). That being said, I was eager to get my hands on their latest release this month, Session 2. Those of you who are familiar with the band are probably familiar with Session One, their album from 2000 where they selected eight tracks from their catalog to strip vocals away from, expand, and instrumentally jam the marrow out of live in the studio.

Session 2 resurrects this strategy, this time with twelve tracks from different points in their career. The band's been at it for a while now, and it's evident in these recordings. More recent songs (from their last album and Take London for example) clearly show that as they've progressed, their album sound has grown quite similar to their live sound (take Geddim!! below as an example). Older cuts, on the other hand, show a development that's only improved with age. While those unfamiliar with the band might not want to start here, Herbaliser fans will find this a refreshingly funky take on old familiars.

Visit their website, their label !K7, and become their friend on MySpace.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Couldn't Stand the Rain

the storm's passed over
and i'll miss the thunder
that bridge i hid under
can't save anyone anyhow

i couldn't stand the rain
i couldn't take the pain
my life will never be the same
there's no one here to blame

the sky's turning brighter
so i stepped out of my shelter
my heart's getting lighter
and i live in the here and now

i couldn't stand the rain
i couldn't take the pain
my life will never be the same
there's no one here to blame

there's always a silver lining
the sun is always shining
so chin up now
stop your whining
keep on fighting

i couldn't stand the rain
i couldn't take the pain
my life will never be the same
there's no one here to blame

Mindy Smith - Couldn't Stand the Rain : Stupid Love

Visit her website, her label Vanguard Records, and become her friend on MySpace.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


You're probably familiar with the (RED) campaign. Since it began in the spring of 2006, it's raised more than $130 million to work towards eliminating AIDS in Africa, a daunting task needless to say. It's but one of the many pronged efforts by the Global Fund, and one that has connected with music. (RED) NIGHTS is a series of concerts across the country that will not only draw attention to the program with hopes of sparking action, but will also raise even more money for a cause that should be all of ours.

Below you'll find the remaining concerts in the series for the year. Consider attending one, or supporting the (RED) campaign in some fashion.

September 12 Ingrid Michaelson @ The Paradise Boston, MA
September 13 Sondre Lerche @ The Paradise Boston, MA
September 24 Joshua Radin @ House of Blues Chicago, IL
September 25 Brandi Carlile @ House of Blues Chicago, IL
October 3 Ingrid Michaelson @ House of Blues San Diego, CA
October 4 Thievery Corporation @ House of Blues Dallas, TX
October 9 Thievery Corporation @ The Fillmore Miami, FL
Oct. 31 & Nov. 1 Built to Spill @ The Fillmore San Francisco, CA

New R.E.M. - Live at the Olympia

Living Well Is The Best Revenge

For all you R.E.M. fans out there, the band has plans to release a double live album late in October titled R.E.M. Live At The Olympia. Between the two discs are 39 tracks recorded at Dublin's Olympia Club from rehearsals where the group tried out new songs for their 2008 album Accelerate. Also among the 39 tracks are some serious classics from their deep catalog, songs like Disturbance At The Heron House, So. Central Rain, Driver 8, Gardening At Night, etc. I haven't had a chance to preview it, but it seems like a filling mix of songs both old and new. There'll also be an edition that comes with an additional DVD with footage of the recordings. Keep your eyes open for it!

Visit their website and become their friend on MySpace.

Musical Twilight

"Crepusculo means twilight in Spanish - the time when everything shifts, from day to night, things become still and glowy, birds fly around, and songs from this album kept coming to me at this time of day. I've come to see the twilight as the beginning and not the end."

-Jessica Peters Malmberg

Listening to Petracovich's music makes me feel like I'm floating in twilight. It's lush, it's rich, it carries weight, it glides. Jessica Peters Malmberg forms the core of Petracovich, and it's around her and her experiences that this album revolves. Written while she was pregnant with her first child, who was lost after only eight days in this world, the album was placed aside, to be dusted off when the pain subsided. Along with the release of the album, she's claimed a new found happiness with another child on the way.

Although written before the dark event, it still carries a dark beauty to it, like soft, deep red, velvet cloth: luxurious to touch, yet evocative of a sense of anticipation of thinly veiled gloom, not yet realized, but lurking. Listen to the beauty of Mockingbird below, a song from her new album Crepusculo, whose slow pacing and quiet despair do a wonderful job of revealing the album's allure.

Visit her website and become her friend on MySpace.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

From Where I Stand

if where i am's not where i'll be
in a year or two or three
i hope that where i walk i'll leave a trail
and that it is still possible to change the world

we are forced to accept the people that came and went
though maybe we would have liked to stay
but the thing about love
just because someone's giving up
doesn't mean that it really goes away

so if you're hiding, come out
and if you're crying for help
just know that on this road you're not traveling alone
and from where i stand this looks like home

Become her friend on MySpace.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ingrid Michaelson's Everbody Contest

Today the third album from TV show soundtrack darling Ingrid Michaelson is set to be released. Titled Everybody, it's the follow-up to her 2007 album Girls and Boys, which slowly gathered momentum and propelled Ingrid into the hearts of listeners everywhere, and Be OK, the benefit collection of b-sides, covers, and live recordings. If you haven't snuck a listen, here's the first single from the album, Maybe.

taken from her new album Everybody

This latest album clearly displays a lot more production fire power. While her first studio album showcased a quiet, introverted, almost awkward voice, with an acoustic sound that matched her almost timidness, this third album comes through packing a much more powerful sonic punch, not simply relying on Ingrid's guitar, but also employing other instruments to carry the sound. Ingrid and her lyrics hold more certainty as well, growing from that injured girl we first met into a women willing to emphatically express herself.

If you haven't pre-ordered the album, or ran out this morning to pick it up, I've got a copy to give away. Simply leave a comment (or email me) with your name and email address and you'll be in the running. I'll choose a winner at random Saturdayish and notify them via email.

And in the meantime, here's a favorite of mine from her last album, Be OK, a benefit for Stand Up to Cancer.

Visit her website, her label Original Signal Records, and become her friend on MySpace.

Upcoming Tour Dates

31 Dennis, MA @ Cape Cinema

09 Toronto, Canada @ Mod Club Theatre *
10 Montreal, Canada @ Petit Campus *
11 S. Burlington, VT @ Higher Ground *
12 Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club * SOLD OUT
13 Albany, NY @ Valentines *
16 New York, NY @ Webster Hall *
17 Philadelphia, PA @ Theatre of the Living Arts *
18 Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club *
19 Charlottesville, VA @ The Southern *
21 Carrboro, NC @ Cat's Cradle *
22 Atlanta, GA @ The Loft @ Center Stage *
23 Athens, GA @ The Melting Point *
24 Birmingham, AL @ Workplay *
25 New Orleans LA @ The Parish @ House of Blues *
26 Houston, TX @ Warehouse Live Studio *
28 Austin, TX @ The Parish *
29 Dallas, TX @ House of Blues *

01 Tucson, AZ @ Club Congress *
02 Scottsdale, AZ @ Martini Ranch *
03 San Diego, CA @ House of Blues *
04 San Juan Capistrano, CA @ Coach House *
06 W. Hollywood, CA @ Troubadour
07 W. Hollywood, CA @ Troubadour SOLD OUT
09 San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall
10 Redding, CA @ Cascade Theatre
11 Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom
12 Seattle, WA @ Neumos
13 Vancouver, Canada @ Venue
15 Boise, ID, @ Knitting Factory
17 Salt Lake City, UT @ Avalon
18 Aspen, CO @ Wheeler Opera House
19 Denver, CO @ Gothic Theatre
21 Minneapolis, MN @ Fine Line Music Cafe
22 Menomonie, WI @ Great Hall @ University of WI
24 Madison, WI @ Barrymore Theatre
25 Milwaukee, WI @ Turner Hall Ballroom
26 Chicago, IL @ Park West
27 Ann Arbor, MI @ The Ark
29 Cincinnati, OH @ 20th Century Theatre
30 Louisville, KY @ Headliner's
31 Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom

02 Nashville, TN @ The Belcourt Theatre
03 Asheville, NC @ The Grey Eagle
04 Towson, MD @ Recher Theatre
05 Pittsburgh, PA @ Mr. Smalls Theatre

* with Greg Holden

Monday, August 24, 2009

Thunder Power strikes again

A few months ago, you might remember me writing about Omaha based band Thunder Power and their split EP (with Alessi's Ark) Friend Ships. Well, since said split EP wasn't exactly commonly available, the band's decided to release their three tracks from it, along with two new ones, on a brand new Thunder Power only EP titled And Everything After. Obviously I'll stick with what I said about the three tracks I had heard previously. The first of the new tracks here, Ship In a Bottle, rollicks along, and kind of reminds me of those free credit report commerical's ditties, but in a good, entertaining way, as you can hear for yourself below. The other new song here, Burden of Proof, closes the EP, and also features Matt Hutton's vocals, in counterpart to the three songs previously released, which all featured Kacynna Tompsett (and which I'll admit I fancy).

and an unreleased track from their recent Daytrotter Session:

Visit their label Slumber Party Records and become their friend on MySpace.

Funny People

So I don't know if any of you have seen the film Funny People, the latest from Judd Apatow that opened last month and stars Adam Sandler as a comedian. Yeah, I know, it seems like a real stretch for him, truly a role that required him to push his artistic abilities. I guess the hitch is that he's a comedian who's terminally ill. That's a role I wouldn't want to fulfill in real life. I haven't seen it either, but looking at the reviews, critics are all over the place on it.

The soundtrack seems to cater to an older crowd, with about the newest artist to hit the music scene represented by Andrew Bird. From there you have you travel back a bit to Wilco, after which you get to folks like John Lennon, James Taylor, Warren Zevon, and Neil Diamond (whose song is at least an early take of We, from his 2005 album 12 Songs, and which you can hear below). Not that makes that fact makes it an unenjoyable album. About the only song here that I cringe at and have to skip over is Adam Sandler's cover of the John Lennon song Real Love. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy me some Lunchlady Land or The Chanukah Song, but listening to Sandler try to play a song from the serious end is kind of painful. Funny as all get out comedian, not so great heartfelt singer. Here's the entire track listing:
1. Paul McCartney - Great Day
2. Coconut Records - Wires
3. Robert Plant And The Strange Sensation - All The King's Horses
4. James Taylor - Carolina In My Mind (Live)
5. Warren Zevon - Keep Me In Your Heart
6. Adam Sandler - Real Love (Live)
7. Neil Diamond - We (early take)
8. Wilco with Andrew Bird - Jesus, Etc. (Live Summer '08)
9. Adam Sandler - George Simmons Soon Will Be Gone
10. Coconut Records - I Am Young
11. Larry Goldings - Memory (From Cats)
12. Warren Zevon - Numb As A Statue
13. Ringo Starr - Photograph
14. John Lennon - Watching The Wheels (Acoustic)
Highlights include (besides the Diamond track, my favorite), the live cut from Bird and Wilco, the interesting selection from the musical Cats, and the closing cut, an acoustic demo by John Lennon of Watching The Wheels, a song that was released after his death in 1981.

Visit the movie's official website and the soundtrack's label, Concord Records.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

That's Amore!

Jazz Brunch Jam - Robert Glasper

“Most people, if they have different bands, they do separate albums, but I felt I’d be making more of a statement if I put it all on one joint.”

-Robert Glasper on his new album Double-Booked

So last week, the second week of my jazz fix, I followed up with Kurt Elling, a vocalist who re-interprets the American songbook, admittedly in a modern way, but still connecting to a very classic timeline in the development of jazz. This week, I wanted to hit you up with someone decidedly more modern, Robert Glasper and his new album Double-Booked (so new, it doesn't hit for another two days). Glasper has got his feet firmly planted in two kingdoms, hip hop and jazz, exemplifying influences as diverse as J Dilla and Herbie Hancock, and this album pushes that up front and center.

The album, as set up in a phone conversation intro, puts Glasper into two gigs on the same night. The first gig is for The Robert Glasper Trio, plays out a more traditional feel, and is comprised of the album's first six tracks. It's chaotic but tight, with Glasper's piano firmly guiding his accompanying musicians through a set that ends with a Thelonius Monk cover, Think of One, but even here, Glasper isn't ready to let tradition reign supreme. Interwoven within its 9 minutes and 14 seconds, he deftly adds some of Ahmad Jamal’s Swahililand, whose chords formed the basis for the De La Soul joint Stakes Is High, co-written by no other than J Dilla.

1. Intro
2. No Worries
3. Yes I'm Country (And That's Ok)
4. Downtime
5. 59 South
6. Think of One

The second gig / half of the album kicks off with another phone message, this one from ?uestlove evolving into a little ditty with Mos Def adding some vocals, firmly announcing you best be ready for something absolutely different! But just to make sure that you know where he's coming from, Glasper opens up with Butterfly, a Herbie Hancock number (Glasper has had a Hancock track on every one of his albums - tell you anything?), albeit a radically reshaped and enhanced version, and this also includes a Dilla beat. This second set, the second half of the album, kicks and expands the boundaries and hence is performed by the Robert Glasper Experiment.

7. 4eva
8. Butterfly
9. Festival
10. For You
11. All Matter
12. Open Mind

In other words, it's like you're getting two albums for the price of one. I can't share any tracks for you to download, but stream a couple below, and pick up one from his debut album, yet another Hancock tune, Maiden Voyage.

and an older one from his debut album to take home with you:

Visit his website, his label Blue Note Records, and become his friend on MySpace.

Sunday Soul - Theme from S.W.A.T.

From the original 1975 TV show S.W.A.T.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Daniel Merriweather's Change

Mark Ronson has struck gold twice at the helm of both Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse. Now's he's going for the hat trick, this time with a male singer by the name of Daniel Merriweather. The two have worked together before with Stop Me (a melding of the Smiths' Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before and the Supremes' You Keep Me Hangin' On) , on Ronson's 2007 album Version, but now Ronson is letting Daniel take center stage with almost an entire album of his own writing, backed by the everything-they-touch-turns-to-gold Dap Kings.

I'm guessing you know where this album is going: dance floor R&B/funk/hip hop edges. I've only heard the first single, Change, which features Wale, so I can't say for sure, but I do know there's another track on the album which features Adele. The album's not out until October, but check out the single (which is already available) below.

and their first pairing:

Visit his website, his label J-Records, and become his friend on MySpace.

Down with the Blues

So just a few days ago I found out that the one local independent music store that I regularly shopped in, ordered new music from, and could dig for vinyl at closed. For good. Damn it all. Literally, I don't know of another place to replace it within a 90 mile radius. Hell, how do you ever replace a place like that? I mean, when was the last time you know of that a music store opened up with crates of old vinyl that you could depend on to dig at week in and week out? Am I suppose to walk in to the local FYE and ask them to get a hold of Mayer Hawthorne's album for me next month? I don't think so. (ironically I just checked their website and the album is listed, although I highly doubt that my local chapter will stock it - maybe I'll try and report back to you on it)

This is reason enough to listen to some good blues music (and drink, but this isn't a beer blog), and luckily I had an album at my pitiful state of dejection arse's hand to spin: Seasick Steve's Dog House Music. Steve was born in the good ol' US of A, and his life follows a Jack Kerouacesque style of roaming from town to town, job to job. It wasn't until 2004, when he was into his 60's, that he found his way to Norway and got his feet wet recording the music that seems like such an integral part of his identity. And it wasn't until just this month that his music was available in his native country, with the re-release of Dog House Music, which was first released in 2006 in the UK.

The album's music could come straight off an Alan Lomax with its story telling, country style blues grain. Indeed, at points it sounds like Steve has just rolled in off the road, sat down at a microphone, and laid it down just like that, many times starting off with a short intro to explain the track. Along the album's story telling journey Steve introduces and plays some stringed instruments of his own making, like the one stringed diddly bow on Save Me (listen to it below). The album's rough, it's raw, there's nothing flashy here. Looking for some gravelly, side-of-the-road blues playing, give Seasick Steve a try.

Visit his website, his label Bronzerat Records, and become his friend on MySpace.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Joy Jones' musical child

"soul is how we roll...but in the purest since. soul distilled. our sound is progressive and vintage, spiritual and is our vehicle for change and insight. wrong notes do not exist in our world. we believe that life’s song is too short to always play in the 4/4. As trailblazers, genres and categories have little bearing on what we do...and what we do is always from the heart. we strive to provide an artistic incubator for artists and musicians alike. we strive to amplify, and testify this love we have for our music worldwide. always representing many sounds, under God with creative liberty and soul sonic grooves for all."

-Joy Jones' musical manifesto

I find it quite appropriate that Joy Jones' debut album Godchild is put out on Future Soul Records, because there's nothing tired about the music this woman produces. She describes her own music as "Afro-beat lullabies, future jazz protest songs and electronic hymns," and honestly, I couldn't do a better job of enveloping her sound in so few words if I tried. Her brand of soul sings like something brand new, incorporating elements of electronica, afro-beat, R&B, all over thought provoking themes that would make Nina Simone proud (check out her cover of Nina's song Be My Husband below). And although the beats feel very electric and inorganic, Jones' voice brings it back to a level human ears can connect with, adding a warmth that prevents it from becoming too future soul, especially as you progress deeper into the album. It's hard to compare her to other artists, so the only one I can come up with is possibly Zap Mama? Regardless, check out the tracks below if you want to try and classify her yourself.

and the original:

Visit her website, her label Future Soul Records, and become her friend on MySpace.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Warm Heart of Africa

This 7" arrived in my mailbox a day or two ago (digitally that is), and I've been playing it ever since. It's the salivating preview for the upcoming full length by The Very Best. You might ask who would go so far as the call themselves not only the best, but the very best? The answer is Esau Mwamwaya, born in Malawi, East Africa, and who until until recently, ran second-hand furniture shop in London, before hooking up with Radioclit. The title track here is also the title track of the album, which is scheduled to drop next month (pre-order it here), and is a flamboyant mix of African rhythms and dance hall stylings. It's a track that screams out for remixing. The flip side, Yalira, has got a more traditional African feel to it, and from what I've read is more representative of the album as a whole. If you really dig them, you can get a physical 7", or you can pre-order the album. So, enjoy both below.

Visit their website, their label Green Owl Records, and become their friend on MySpace.

Those (rockin') Darlins

Just because it's almost the end of summer doesn't mean that you have to stop listening to summer music. Take the self titled debut from Those Darlins for example. Those darlins pictured above are Those Darlins, and their music comes along just like what you'd expect looking at them. Think The Donnas or The Grates brought down home and rockabillified a bit, and here's what you'll end up with: a ton of electrified exuberance that motors along at a healthy clip. The album's an awful lot of fun, and if you've somehow missed it this summer, it's not too late to get in on the fun. The girls will be walking their boots all over the country the next few months, check out tour dates on their website.

Visit their website, their label Wow Dang Records, and become their friend on MySpace.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

No loss for Scratch

I've been sitting on Loss 4 Wordz WAY too long now. It's been in my car literally for months, and frequently gets popped in when I need to switch things up. Today I'm going to remedy my procrastination and share a trio of tracks from it in case it's slipped under your radar. Although it features such heavyweights as Peedi Crakk, Musiq Soulchild, Daniel Bedingfield, Damon Albarn, Kanye West, Talib Kweli, etc., etc., etc.... the mastermind behind it is Scratch, the world famous beatboxer and former member of the Roots. It dropped back at the end of May (again, sorry about my procrastination) and is the first album from Scratch in a long, long time.

As you might guess from the guest line-up, this album truly cuts a wide swath of sounds, and personally, that's what I love about it so much. You start out with the straight out hip hop of Peedi Crakk laying down rhymes on Let's Go, but almost immediately with the next track, Tonite, things smooth out with Musiq Soulchild grooving a little more suave like, making his home city of Philly proud. From there you travel to the more polished dance floor stylings of Daniel Bedingfield with If Our Love Was A Song. Etc., etc., etc.... Yea, Scratch switches up gears constantly here, yea it still flows seamlessly, and throughout it all you'll find traces of the skills he's known for, his masterful scratching and beatboxing. Below you'll find three cuts, all sporting a different flavor, to show the diversity the album flaunts.

Visit his website, his label Gold Dust Media, and become his friend on MySpace.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

hope, danger, loss

"We were still reading for ideas back then, for style. We hadn't figured out what literature was for, actually, that it was mostly about loss, that without hope there was no risk and without risk there was no danger and that every story, in the end, is about danger. We still believed literature could be reasoned with, I mean."

-from Summer, As In Love, from the collection of short stories The Evil B.B. Chow and Other Stories, by Steve Almond

Monday, August 17, 2009

Paper Moon rises again

At the turn of the year I wrote about Paper Moon's EP What Are You Going To Do With Me?, their warm up for their new album Only During Thunderstorms. Well I finally got around to checking out the LP, even though it's been out since March, and I felt I should remind you all about it in case it slipped past you, too. It contains the title track from the last EP plus nine more upbeat poppy synth cuts that feel right in line with the EP. There's no need to over-analyze this, it's simply fun, slightly alterna-retro goodness that's meant simply to be enjoyed. So what are you waiting for? Listen to Say It's All Over now, where the group proves that they can even sing about the end of a relationship and make it sound upbeat.

Visit their website, their label Endearing Records, and become their friend on MySpace.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Jazz Brunch Jam - All Or Nothing At All

I'm going to admit that when I first laid my eyes on Dedicated To You, the image of Kurt Elling on the front made me a little hesitant to give the album a chance. Thoughts that ran through my head: is this guy for real?, is he going for schmaltzy there?, c'mon now there's only one Sinatra!, didn't they already break the mold for male crooners?...

Seriously, I must have looked at it a half dozen times, each time putting it back in my pile of maybe CDs. When I finally got over the hurdle and played it though, I was blown away. The album is a collection of songs all recorded live at the Lincoln Center in NYC, and opens with All Or Nothing At All, a CLASSIC tune from Frank Sinatra's earliest days as a performer, and although recorded by many artists since, of course his version is the one that plays in my head as I prepared to listen to Elling's interpretation. Amazingly, it doesn't disapoint, in fact his fresh arrangement of the song breathes new life into the tune, and this observation holds true for the album as a whole. Songs you might know by heart to the second appear here as if with a new guise. Songs you don't know will be doubly new for you.

And Elling, well he lives up to the persona that he exudes on the cover. What first appears as a costume turns out to be genuine. He's got the voice to match the job. Compare below.

Visit his website, his label Concord Records, and become his friend on MySpace.

Sunday Soul - the Brooklyn Soul Festival

I just found out about the Brooklyn Soul Festival this last week and am seriously considering making a pilgrimage to NYC to check it out. It's taking place on August 28th and 29th and features a line-up of some sweet soulful musicians, both young and old, including Otis Clay, Barbara Lynn, Maxine Brown, Roscoe Robinson, Hermon Hitson, Eli "Paperboy" Reed and the True Loves, and the Sweet Divines. The bill is split between the two nights, with DJs spinning 45's after the live musicians pack it up to keep the party going until 4 AM. On top of the listening part, you'll get a chance to shop for some grooves to bring home with you at the vinyl fair on Saturday afternoon.

Any readers out there planning on attending and want to possibly meet up? Drop me a line and we'll see if we can get our wires connected (especially if you know Brooklyn and don't mind playing tour guide - or if you know a cheap spot to spend a night or two).

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Pretend with Arrica Rose

Sunsets on a quiet beach.
Waves crash on the shore beneath our feet.
Time stands still, the past slips away.
You turn to me and solemnly say…

I’ll love you forever and I’ll tell you other lies.
Forever is like the weather no the sun can’t always shine.
But I’ll love you forever and I’ll mean it when I say it
‘cause I’m desperate. Not for you but for forever.

-from I'll Love You Forever & Other Lies

Although Arrica Rose already has a few albums under her proverbial belt, Pretend I'm Fur, her latest EP, is my first encounter with her. It feels like a tragic one, not because it's horrible sounding, but because it seems so melancholically meditative. Of its seven songs, one is a cover (the Bee Gee's Tragedy) and six are originals, but all seem to ultimately focus on a mournful separation, a relationship soured, a loss of resistance to a lonely fate. And yet although the instrumentation is of a quiet tone, it still floats above a sense of apathetic acceptance. indicating a subtle strength that's not willing to go quietly. Listen to the EP's closing track, my favorite of the seven, below.

Visit her website, her label pOprOck Records, and become her friend on MySpace.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Far, from Regina Spektor

Man of a Thousand Faces

from her just released album, Far

I find it hard not to enjoy Regina Spektor. To me, she feels like a well balanced mix between Tori Amos' depth and earnestness and Nellie McKay's quirkiness. Love her new album, Far. Love it. She also appears on the recent soundtrack for [500] Days Of Summer with her older cut Us (originally on her Soviet Kitsch major label debut).

Visit her website, her label Sire Records, and become her friend on MySpace.

Upcoming Tour Dates

September 11th Myth St. Paul, Minnesota
September 12th Chicago Theatre Chicago, Illinois
September 15th Michigan Theater Ann Arbor, Michigan
September 16th Sound Academy Toronto, Ontario
September 17th Metropolis Montreal, Quebec
September 21st House of Blues Boston, Massachusetts
September 22nd Orpheum Theatre Boston, Massachusetts
September 24th Electric Factory Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
September 30th DAR Constitution Hall Washington DC
October 6th The Tabernacle Atlanta, Georgia
October 7th The Tabernacle Atlanta, Georgia
October 14th Radio City Music Hall New York, New York
October 28th The Greek Theatre Los Angeles, California
November 1st Roseland Theater Portland, Oregon

Horse Meat Disco

"At its heart, disco is about two things: joy, and escape.

Disco channels many things – heartbreak, elation, celebration – in an ecstatic catharsis that’s both emotional and physical. Born out of a time of recession, its lush textures and grand drama conjure a world of glamour and extravagance that’s available to anyone. The dancefloor too casts a particular spell. It is a place to forget about the cares of the day, a place where anyone can be anyone they want to be and a place where you can be yourself. It’s a place to conjure the giddy heights of pure pleasure that the daily grind does not allow. 'In the evening,' as the great philosopher Sheryl Lee Ralph sings, 'the real me comes alive. It’s like magic.' "

-from the liner notes to Horse Meat Disco

Disco music has gotten a fairly bad rep, with visions of Tony Manero in his white suit pointing towards the sky seared into most peoples memory when the term is mentioned. It's a shame really, because just as with all genres, there's the mass produced manure that got mass merchandised and played out to death, and then there are the lesser known gems which still deserve to be spun. While history might have it written down that disco died on July 12, 1979, the truth is it just headed back underground where it had been thriving for years before being "discovered" by mainstream America. Truth is, it's still going strong, you just need to know where to look for it. And a good place to start, if you find yourself in London, is Horse Meat Disco.

While the club's only been around since 2004, it's fame and popularity have spread the world over. Founded by James Hillard and Jim Stanton, the club channels the spirit that flowed in the former disco capitol of the world, NYC, before things got ugly. To help spread the gospel of disco, the club teamed up with Strut Records to put together a collection of classic tracks, dating mostly from the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, into a 2 CD collection. The first disc holds sixteen tracks, mixed together, giving you the feel and rhythm of what a night might be like on the HMD floor. The second disc has twelve of those sixteen tracks in extended, unmixed form. And while Best Of Disco collections are a dime a dozen (although really, who can get enough of Stayin' Alive), unless you're a disco-maniac, the only name on the line-up you'll probably recognize is Smokey Robinson. So if you can get past your disco bias, there really is some exuberant, enjoyable danceable music to be found here.

Plaza - (Got My) Dancing Shoes : Horse Meat Disco