Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions

After disappearing for nearly eight years, Hope Sandoval, the singular voice behinds 90's psychedelic dream pop making band Mazzy Star, has finally returned with her sophomore solo album, Through The Devil Softly. Along for the ride is Warm Inventions partner Colm Ó Cíosóig (drummer from My Bloody Valentine), who also worked with Sandoval on her first solo album back in 2001.

For fans of her old Star material, this latest album, which comes out today, will be welcome to the ears. There's no way you could destroy or cover up Sandoval's trademark vocals, and these songs are no exception. Behind her is that light and delicate instrumentation, not necessarily as fuzzy as in days gone by, but still just as hauntingly beautiful in a baroque chamber pop sort of way. Everything focuses in on Sandoval's voice, as it should be with a voice as entrancing as hers is. Below you'll find the album's opening two tracks, which are excellent indicators of the album's sound as a whole.

and a fun cover of a classic Mazzy Star cut:

Visit her label Nettwerk Records and become her friend on MySpace.

Upcoming Tour Dates

Tue, Sept 29 Hollywood, CA @ Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Thurs, Oct 1 Denver, CO @ The Bluebird Theatre
Sat, Oct 3 Minneapolis, MN @ Music Box Theatre
Sun, Oct 4 Milwaukee, WI @ The Pabst Theatre
Mon, Oct 5 Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall
Wed, Oct 7 Toronto, ON @ The Mod Club
Thurs, Oct 8 Montreal, PQ @ Le National
Sat, Oct 10 Williamsburg, NY @ The Music Hall Of Williamsburg
Mon, Oct 12 New York, NY @ The Bowery Ballroom
Tues, Oct 13 Philadelphia, PA @ First Unitarian Church
Wed, Oct 14 Washington, DC @ The Sixth and I
Fri, Oct 16 Atlanta, GA @ The Loft
Sun, Oct 18 Austin, TX @ Texas Union Theater
Mon, Oct 19 Dallas, TX @ Sons of Hermann Hall
Thurs, Oct 22 Los Angeles, CA @ The Mayan Theatre

Monday, September 28, 2009

New (old) Q-Tip

So after having gone underground for some nine years, Q-tip releases his second album in less than a year, after the aptly titled The Renaissance hit shelves and ears everywhere last November. One could argue though that the new one, Kamaal the Abstract (Kamaal is his adopted Islamic name), isn't all that new, as people have been eagerly expecting it since 2001/02, when it was originally set to be released but was canned by his then label Arista. In the last few years he's gotten control of the rights to the album, re-mastered it, and re-packaged it for its postponed entry into the world.

I'll back up a minute and say that The Renaissance was one of my favorite albums of last year, and I can still spin and enjoy it as much as when I first listened last December. For listeners expecting something following along in the same vein, you're going to be disappointed if you don't come with open ears and mind. In some ways, if you don't intellectually place it in its proper chronological spot, this album will sound like an unconnected musical outgrowth compared to last year's album. You've got to remember that besides the re-mastering (and one additional cut - Make It Work), this album was conceived of and created roughly eight years ago. I know that I had to remind myself of that while initially scoping out this new one.

Kamaal The Abstract experiments across a wide spectrum of sounds and styles, almost to the point where it starts to come apart as a singular entity for me. Sure you've got the hip hop lyricism that Q-Tip pulls from with his time with A Tribe Called Quest, that's almost a given. But you'll also kind some material here that feels more like avant garde jazz, with instruments coming in and out, almost improvisationally. Abstractionisms, the album's seventh track combines the two, along with some guitar work that will leave you scratching your head wondering where it came from. Then there's Heels, a song that feels like a Red Hot Chili Peppers' number. Then you'll find a piano ballad buried at the tail end of the album with Caring. Honestly, Q-Tip was really pushing the envelope when he gave birth to this album, which could explain why Arista had originally shelved it without giving it a chance on the sales floor. Regardless, it's now out of the bag and available for people to see where and how Q-tip was developing after setting out on his own.

takin' it back...

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

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Why Don't You Say Yes?

something inside this tells me
something inside my head

and it's always something else
it's always no
why don't you say yes
it's always something, something else
it's always no
why don't you say yes

Heather Greene - Why Don't You Say Yes? : Sweet Otherwise

Visit her website and become her friend on MySpace.

Friday, September 25, 2009


For all you King Britt fans out there, as well as you mix-masters who are always on the look-out for some fresh beats, head over to his label's page for an absolutely free album of instrumentals, aptly titled Kingstrumentals. He's laid down eighteen analog cuts stripping down to the most basic of equipment: an MPC2000 and stacks of vinyl. None of them are titled beyond being numbered - just eighteen slices of instrumental concoctions of all types of temperaments, mostly running in the two to three minute range. Here's a couple below for you to check out; you can get the rest without dropping a dime, just follow the album title link.

and an older one the King's touched:

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

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Phenomenal Handclap Band

Phenomenal Handclap Band "15 to 20" Official Video from friendly fire recordings on Vimeo.

While there is no discernible hand clapping going on in the above video, it's catchy as all get out (as is the song, which is somewhat important in the grand scheme of things). It's on the self titled release from The Phenomenal Handclap Band. That's right, they're not just good, or even great, at hand clapping, they are in fact phenomenal (although again, the evidence is not in the video).

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

The Years fly by

Reaching back to my high school Spanish class, I roughly remember vosotros translating to something like you all. It is also the name of a record label that has just recently come up on my radar screen which, on their webpage, append with “music for you all.” That might come across as a little pretentious, but listening to Vosotros Presents: The Years proves that they’re on the right track to getting there.

When I first checked out the album, I was a little nonplussed by its title. I quickly figured out that vosotros was the name of the label, but were “the Years” a band? Or was it a compilation of music the label has released over the years? It wasn’t until a few listens in that it all clicked for me; this was a musical time machine spanning five decades of audio enjoyment.

It opens with a short segment that sounds like an early TV announcement introducing The Years. From there we’re transporting to the 60’s with Lose My Number, a soul number featuring Jesse Palter on vocals, and then In THE Crowd, an instrumental number that sports some groovin’ electric organ Jimmy Smith that actually sounds like it was recorded with 60’s technology (you can even hear the tape cut out at the end). The decade draws to a close with a brief interlude similar to the opening intro.

From there we move into the 70’s with a number that I originally would have SWORN was an Al Green number named Let’s Stay In Love. I mean EVERYTHING about it convinces me it’s a long lost take from the Let’s Stay Together sessions, from Sy Bar-Sheshet’s vocal phrasing to the that slow, smooth, and simmering southern sound that Al pumped out with abandon. From there it goes on to You Are The Reason, a number that’s got a Stevie Wonder vibe going on with it, late 70’sish. This decade, just like the 60’s ends with an instrumental number, Theme From "Best Buds", which has got a more pop oriented, 70’s TV theme song polish to it.

You might have guesses the pattern from here, but if not, up come the 80’s with another short interlude, Digital Age Toy Company, which goes electronic on us, and indirect references to Transformers. That digital transformation continues with When Peace And Love Come Together (It Makes You), an instrumental which would have felt right at home in the 80’s with it’s synth-line flourishes and electronic sound effects. We don’t stay still for long, with Heartbreaker, featuring John Robinson and Tiffany Paige trading vocals, propelling us towards the end of the 80’s and early 90’s with an R&B / hip hop number that would have certainly made the top 40 charts back in the day.

A few more brief instrumental interludes later, and you arrive and the end of the musical time journey: We Were Ready, and electronic jolt into the future that is almost too far removed from what's preceded it. And so ends a magnificently enjoyable fast forward visit through fifty years of music. I'll be honest, I still don't know who The Years are, but I'm totally cool with that. Listen to the album intro, These Are the Years, and the Al Greenesque number below to see why.

The Years - These Are The Years : Vosotros Presents: The Years

The Years - Let's Stay In Love (Featuring Sy Bar-Sheshet) : Vosotros Presents: The Years

Visit the Vosotros website.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Game Called Life

It's so hard to turn your life over
Step out of your comfort zone
It's so hard to choose one direction
When your future is unknown

Is this some kind of a joke?
Will someone wake me up soon?
And tell me this was just a game we play
Called life

Yup, that's a ukelele you see there in the hands of Shirli McAllen, who alongside Austin Nicholsen (that's him with the trumpet), form the heart of Leftover Cuties. No, don't expect any Don Ho covers here, instead you'll find an old-timey folksy/jazz atmosphere that takes you back even farther in time than yesterday's post on Vinyl Life. Perhaps it's retro week here at MISB, I'll have to check the calendar.

Regardless, Leftover Cuties, besides having a blushingly cute name, have put out a five track EP entitled Game Called Life in preparation for their first full length album which is due by the end of the year. The opening title track, which you can hear below, is a great introduction to the group, with it's happy-go-lucky whistle-along-ability alongside lyrics that seem a little contemplative and pensive (some are posted above). All five of the tracks here tend to drift on a downhill emotional slope (even Happy Song), making me think that the two are more of a "the glass is half empty" pair. Check out their song below though, even if you aren't in a gloomy mood.

Visit their website and become their friend on MySpace.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Vinyl (and cassette and CD) Life

Looking at the picture of NYC group Vinyl Life above makes me think Beastie Boys circa their Fight for Your Right years. Perhaps that's intentional, as their self-titled first release most assuredly draws upon that period of musical history for their inspiration. If you're looking for a soundtrack for your next throw-back party, you could do much worse than throw on this album, whether it's on vinyl, cassette, or CD, as the band is releasing it on all of the above.

The trio, made up of Butcha, Phaze Future and Richie Roxx, whip up an old school amalgamation of golden era hip hop, breakbeats, and analog electro production that hearkens back to Arabian Prince, Egyptian Lover, and Afrika Bambaataa. The resulting sound owes as much to Kraftwerk as it does the fathers of hip hop, and is just full throttle fun any way you slice it. So spin it in your boombox , thrown on your shell toes, dookie gold chain, Kangol hat, and Adidas track suit, and break out your piece of cardboard 'cuz it'll be like you're getting ready to film Breakin' 3.

Visit their website, their label Tape Theory, and become their friend on MySpace.

More electro-poppin' goodness

Arabian Prince - Innovative Life : Innovative Life: The Anthology 1984-1989

Egyptian Lover - Girls : On the Nile

James Pants - Looks That Kill (Motley Crue quasi-cover) : Cosmic Rapp (Egyptian Lover Remix) 12"

Monday, September 21, 2009


Usually when you think of looping, you think jam bands (Keller Williams for example) or hip hop. What you DON'T think of typically is bluegrass or Americana, or at least I don't. That being said, if you haven't watched the video about, do so now. In it, Barbara Lamb demonstrates how she performs one of the songs, I Was Wondering, off of her new album Twisty Girl. Barbara is a master fiddler who's played for years and years and tries to push the accepted envelope for the instrument. Think of it as electro-fiddle music for the future. While admittedly most of the album has a more traditional ring to it, there's enough modern spice here to catch the ear.

Visit her website and become her friend on MySpace.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Jazz Brunch Jam - Concierto De Aranjuez

Miles Davis. Need I say more? The jazz musician of all time? Possibly. This track, recorded live at Carnegie Hall in 1961, comes from the Legacy edition of Sketches of Spain, the next album released after his career (and genre) defining Kind Of Blue. It's a massively complex orchestral work that infuses Spanish flair into the genius that was Miles. The Legacy edition, in addition to the five original tracks, adds twelve additional cuts, some alternate takes, one live (below), some recordings from other sessions, and extensive liner notes (including some digital ones with rare photos, clippings, etc.).

Visit his website, this release's label Sony Legacy, and become his friend on MySpace.

Sunday Soul - Mayer Hawthorne

I had been REALLY excited to check out Mayer Hawthorne's debut album A Strange Arrangement for a while now, so when I was able to pick it up last week, I was over the moon with excitement. Enough of his music has been out there circulating that I knew I was going to love it, and I certainly wasn't disappointed when I was finally able to listen to the entire thing. The only disappointing thing about it is that it's over in thirty five minutes.

The track I'm going to share today, I Wish It Would Rain, is one that you might have already heard, but I love it above and beyond a whole album of tracks I love. It opens with some notes that majorly remind me of the Weather Girls' It's Raining Men. Whether that's sheer coincidence or not, I can't tell you. Like many of the tracks on the album, this one fronts a retro simplicity to it, a simplicity which serves as a vehicle to share equally simple lyrics that are universally connectible to by every one of us who has suffered love lost.
well i wish that it would rain
heavy rain down from the sky
maybe then you wouldn't see the tear drops in my eye

well i wish that it would rain
it would be a great disguise
maybe then you wouldn't see the tear drops in my eye

and all of the rain drops
that fall down on my face
erase all the memories
of you and your embrace
i long for the moment
that i lose this bitter taste
and i don't want you to see me this way
Behind the tender lyrics are some smooth grooves straight from the Philly playbook. Check out the horns at 1:44 and tell me that they don't make you want to dust off your Delfonics' albums. Besides playing on the Philly tip, Mayer also drops some Motown inspired tunes as well, but everything here is original Hawthorne material. Needless to say, this disc hasn't left my car since I got it, and I'm already looking forward to what's he's got coming next.

Visit his label Stones Throw and become his friend on MySpace.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Human Nature Contest

So a couple weeks ago (back here to be exact), I wrote about the American release of the Motown covers album Reach Out from the Australian sensation Human Nature. In case you missed it and don't have to check out the back link above, here's the gist of it. Smokey Robinson, of Motown fame, worked with the Australian foursome on sixteen classic Motown cuts.

Anyway, today isn't about recycling my writing, it's about me having the opportunity to give away three copies of the album to some lucky readers. All you have to do is leave a comment (or email me) with your name, email address, and the name of your favorite Motown song, and you'll be in the running for one of my three copies. This is open to international readers as well, so for any of you down under who are interested, get typing. I'll choose the three winners at random next Saturdayish and notify them via email. In the meantime, here's another cut from the album with some other versions for your listening pleasure.

Human Nature - I Heard It Through The Grapevine : Reach Out

Gladys Knight & The Pips - I Heard It Through The Grapevine : Hitsville U.S.A., The Motown Singles Collection 1959-1971 [Disc 3]

Marvin Gaye - I Heard It Through The Grapevine
: Greatest Hits

The Slits - I Heard It Through The Grapevine
: Cut

Visit their website, their label Sony BMG, and become their friend on MySpace.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Nitin Sawhney's musical journey

"This is a collection of thoughts, ideas, feelings and catharsis in a city of immense diversity, imagination and beliefs. Featuring a whole range of artists, some less known, some celebrated, this music attempts to capture a zeitgeist and common humanity that pervades superficial divides."

-Nitin Sawhney

The above quote is a piece of the liner notes that you’ll find upon opening up London Undersound, the latest release from Nitin Sawhney, which much like the Grates’ album I wrote about a few days, finally saw its US release some time after being released overseas. And just like the quote suggests, it's an album of subtle exoticness. From the opening track Days of Fire, which features London reggae star Natty, to the closing Indian infused number Charu Keshi Rain, which features Anoushka Shankar, the album takes the listener on a musical exploration around the world.

And I'm not talking those cheap airport souvenir trinket type trip. The influences here are blended in subtly, crafted and shaped to showcase all of the many guests who appear along side Sawney here, musicians such as Imogen Heap, Paul McCartney, Ojos De Brujo, Roxanne Tataei, Faheem Mazhar, Reena Bhardwaj, Aruba Red, and Tina Grace. Sprinkled in the album are intriguing interludes that act as bridges between songs.

Put it all together and you have an album that feels somewhat mystical, somewhat otherworldly, but with a solid enough foundation that it doesn't feel too far out there. Listen to Interlude 1. Ghost Image below to get a sense of the mystical touches, and Daybreak to hear the Middle Eastern portion of the musical voyage that is London Undersound.

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

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Joakim gets cyber-romantical

I'll be the first one to admit that electro- recordings are usually not my cup of tea. For me, a big part of listening to music is emotionally connecting with it, and I often have problems doing that with overly synthetic music. And if I can't, there has to be something else that draws me to it otherwise it's a no-go.

That being put out there, listening to French producer Joakim Bouaziz's (or just Joakim as he goes by) third studio album, Milky Ways, was challenging for me to get into. The opening number, Back To Wilderness (all 8+ minutes of it) has got an almost industrial thundering to it that slowly builds and recedes, builds and recedes, just hammering on through. From there it heads into a electro-disco thing with Ad Me, complete with some warped vocals (vocoder perhaps?). And the album just gets deeper into Wonder Land from there. And there it is - the hook that caught me.

Although electro based, the rest of the album is creative and varied enough to not feel like one or two tracks recycled ten times. Take Love & Romance & A Special Person for example. The name seems totally at odds with the genre, but the computer generated vocals somehow work. Yeah, it doesn't seem right does it? You're expecting some romantic Barry White groove, and it is, just cyber style.

So, give it a try. It might have enough zing in it even if you are anti-electro.

one from last year:

and a little mix of a little bit of everything (left click and then download):

Joakim - Milky Mix : unreleased

Visit his label !K7 Records and become his friend on MySpace.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Grates return (finally)

So the Grates sophomore album Teeth Lost, Hearts Won is FINALLY available here in the States after an inordinately, ridiculously long wait. After being released in their homeland down under over a year ago, the album finally moves north of the equator and you no longer have to pay an exorbitant sum for the import. On top of that, you can catch them live if you live in the western part of the country, as they'll be on tour through the end of October.

Their first album hit me like TWO tons of bricks, honestly. And two years later, it still retains a berth in my car (case and all, not just the disc) to listen to on the road as it moves me like few others. That being said, I've been not so patiently waiting for this album to hit American shelves. It doesn't disappoint, and it certainly isn't a carbon copy of the first either. While it retains that sense of everlasting energy which Patience exudes so well, it doesn't completely rely on those bombastic vocal and instrumental hooks which were in virtually every song on the first album. Instead, I daresay they've developed some depth melodically. I know, that M word makes you cringe when it comes to a band like the Grates, but in this case, it shows some welcome development and stagnation avoidation. Don't get me wrong; that's not to say that they haven't stamped their distinctive mark all over the album. Just check out the album opened below and you'll know with certainty that they're back. Then compare it to the much older Message and you'll see what I'm talking about

and an old favorite:

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

Upcoming Tour Dates

9/18 Phoenix , AZ - The Rhythm Room with Most Serene Republic
9/19 Los Angeles , CA - Silverlake Lounge with Most Serene Republic
10/8 Little Rock , AR - White Water Tavern with Those Darlins
10/9 Norman , OK - The Opolis with Those Darlins
10/10 Lawrence , KS - Jackpot Music Hall with Those Darlins
10/14 Salt Lake City , UT - Kilby Court with Those Darlins
10/16 Seattle , WA - Sunset Tavern with Those Darlins
10/18 Eugene , OR – Sam Bonds Garage with Those Darlins
10/20 San Francisco , CA – The Rickshaw Stop with Those Darlins
10/27 Albuquerque , NM – Launch Pad with Those Darlins
10/29 Dallas , TX – The Cavern with Those Darlins
10/30 Austin , TX – The Continental Club with Those Darlins

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Richard Hawley goes low

Next Tuesday marks the release of Richard Hawley's new album Truelove's Gutter. It's been roughly two years since his last release, Lady's Bridge (written about back here), so the new one is well due. It's a marked departure from the last in several ways. First off, on the surface level, it only contains eight tracks, although it's still roughly the same length overall (the final track Don't You Cry clocks in at 10:43). In terms of substance, the tone of this album is several shades darker than his older stuff. It still displays his signature baritone vocals, but it's almost downright depressing from beginning to end. This is most certainly not a pick-you-up album in any way, shape or form, so consider yourself warned.

If you've got the fortitude to keep your chin up, check out the first single from the album below: For Your Lover Give Some Time. It's out with two B-sides: Sorry I Lost My Way ( a non-album track) and an instrumental version of the Albert King his song Born Under A Bad Sign. The rest of the album will be released on the 22nd, but you can pre-order it now as well.

an older favorite:

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

Monday, September 14, 2009

David Gray Fugitive contest

You might have noticed about a month ago I announced the upcoming release of David Gray's newest album Fugitive coming up on September 22nd. Well, I haven't had a chance to check it out yet myself (other than the title track which I share with you then), but I'm lucky enough to be able to offer the chance to win limited edition artwork of the cover art to one lucky reader. In addition to winning the artwork, you'll be entered into a bigger drawing (not one run by MISB) for a signed copy of the CD (by David, not by me!).

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment (or e-mail me) with your name and email address and you'll be in the running. I'll choose a winner next Mondayish and notify them post haste.

Visit his website, his label Downtown / Mercer Street Records, and become his friend on MySpace.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday Soul - Royal Family Re-cap

Last Sunday I previewed the Royal Family Get Down that took place yesterday. Despite the ominous clouds that threatened all day long, and a few sprinkles periodically falling, the show went off as planned, and what a show it was!

Unfortunately, I arrived last and missed the Charlie Hunter Trio's set, but I arrived just in time (about 5 minutes before) to catch Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. Grace is someone who I picked up on the first year of this blog, and I've been a fan of hers ever since, seeing her several times live over the years. The Nocturnals' line-up was a partially new one though, with a few new faces. Their set featured a lot of their new material as well as some as of yet unreleased songs.

Next up was the group that I was most eager to see, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings. Sharon has come close to me in the past, but not close enough to be convenient. Originally I wasn't even aware that she was on the bill, so when I found out, it was like a double jackpot. The Dap-Kings started the set up without her, getting the funk going, but when she hit the stage, that's when it really started to groove! When I say she was incredible, that's an understatement. Think of a female James Brown, and you'll get a sense of her energy level from beginning to end. I was simply floored by her showmanship and cannot wait to see them again.

To close out the evening came the band responsible for the whole shin-dig: Soulive. From the get go, they grooved hard. Early in their set they had Nigel Hall come onstage to do some vocals for them, performing Too Much from their latest release Up Here. Then, Sharon returned to the stage for a revelatory version of Stevie Wonder's Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours. If only I had that recorded; you had to be there to believe it. Sharon and Nigel left the stage, Soulive performed a few more instrumentals of their own, and then the incredible jazz guitarist John Scofield joined the group (whose album A Go Go drummer Alan Evans credits for being the inspiration for the group forming in the first place), taking the music even deeper into the jam pocket. Scofield left a few cuts later (long, long cuts), with Soulive taking the stage back over. A few songs later, a few new guests from the brother/parallel Boston funk band Lettuce joined the stage to perform with Nigel Hall once again taking the mic to add vocals. Scofield returned AGAIN, and the band finished off their set with a smokin' cover of Curtis Mayfield's Move On Up. At that point, I headed home after a long day of some great music. The band returned to the stage for an encore, but at that point, I was on my way home

Several times during the Alan Evans made clear that they hope to make the event an annual one, so if you missed the inaugural event, keep your eyes open for next year. I'm not sure how they'll be able to top this one, but I'm willing to find out.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Soulful Blues or Bluesy Soul?

I haven't said this many times this year, but I'm going to predict that Ernie Halter Live is going to show up on my best of list at the end of the year. It's been on heavy rotation ever since I started spinning it a couple of weeks ago, and it isn't losing any steam. It's the first time I've listened to Ernie Halter, so it's surprising to me that it's a live album, especially after doing some digging, when I found out that he's only been around for a few years now and only has three albums under his belt (and one of them a low budget self released affair). Listening to it though, I think the live atmosphere plays right into his style, and really is what drew my ear into it.

His music, both in form and feel, is either a soulful blues or bluesy soul, depending on the track and your mood at the time. It's got that very genuine approach which plays well in the live setting that the album was recorded. There's nothing exotic, it's simply well played music that shows you what it is and draws you in as such. You'll find hints of John Mayer here with some of Ernie's guitar work and vocals, as well as some Stevie Wonder with some superb piano playing (listen to Yes I Am, a new song, to see what I'm talking about with this). Of the album's eleven tracks, ten of them come from his previous albums (Yes I Am being the one that hasn't been recorded on tape before), but having picked up his last one this week (Starting Over), you can definitely hear and feel a difference between the studio versions and the live versions, with the latter being more enjoyable for me.

The album was released exclusively on iTunes earlier this week, but will also be available starting on the 20th at his live shows in physical format. It was recorded over the course of a month on the road, and you can hear the opening track Something's Come Over Me below, which just may be my favorite track on the album. You can also listen to one from his last album, Played, which does not appear on this new, live album.

and one from his last studio album:

Visit his website, his label Rock Ridge Music, and become his friend on MySpace.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

That Summertime Sound

"I'd always believed a great rock song consolidated an entire lifetime's worth of feeling into seconds or less, just like an orgasm or a sneeze. Unlike those things it went on a while - long enough to attain consciousness within its frame - and it never continued quite as far as you hoped, but that's what a great song did. It held you."

-from That Summertime Sound

As the summer came to a close, I was finishing reading That Summertime Sound, the debut novel from Matthew Specktor. At its heart is a nineteen year old protagonist, on break after his freshman year at college, who heads towards the heartland to immerse himself in his favorite band Lords of Oblivion and the underground music scene of Columbus, Ohio in the mid 80's. Needless to say, along the way he learns a bit about himself and the world around him. While the plot revolves around a fictional band, Specktor drops in constant references to the seminal bands of the period such as The Feelies, Hüsker Du, Pere Ubu, and Uriah Heap, making it easy to forget that this is a fictional world he's exploring.

I don't really know much about the author other than the few short sentences about him on the book jacket and the accompanying picture. Completely guestimating his age, I'm theorizing that he's drawing upon his own personal musical experiences growing up in the 80's, and I'm convinced that for him these bands did in fact hold a lot of currency in his life. I've also never spent any time in the heartland, but I'm sufficiently convinced that his sketch of life there seems equally authentic, even though he grew up in Los Angeles. The intense connections that he draws between these two pillars that the book is built upon, music and location, feel genuinely crafted and for music lovers, will speak volumes.

If you visit the book's official website, you can hear excerpts read by Jeremy Irons, Gwyneth Paltrow, Morgan Freeman, J Mascis, and others, and in the future, possibly musical pieces pulled from the book (while you're waiting, listen to James Brown's I'll Go Crazy below, the first of many musical references in the book). If it sounds interesting to you, even though summer is over, you can order the book from Amazon.com.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009


Imagine Moby working with the great Fela Kuti and Sly Stone stopping in for a quick minute and the resulting sound would probably be something like The Motet's sixth album Dig Deep. Yea, it's kind of like that. I had never checked out the band before giving this album a spin, but this mostly instrumental album really grooves. And it's free. You read that right, absolutely free.

The band has formed around drummer and producer Dave Watts, and jams crazy like in all sorts of directions. They feature a horn section which knocks out Kuti inspired blasts, but there's also an electronic element that most clearly brings these songs into the 21st century. To top it off, there's an edge of 70's funk, which is balanced out with techno-rave elements. Needless to say, a lot going on here for and instrumental album and the influences shift from one song to the next.

Below you'll find two of the album's eleven tracks to give you a sample of what I'm talking about. One, Kalakuta Show, is a Fela Kuti cover and opens the album. Push comes deeper in the album and features the main portion of vocals you'll find. The entire album really is free, so you've got no reason not to check it out. Start with these while you're waiting for it to download, which you can do by heading to their MySpace page.

Visit their website and become their friend on MySpace.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Tangerine Trees and Marmalade Skies...

Today marks the third and final EP from Cotton Jones and Quite Scientific Records. It's titled the Rio Ranger EP, and as with the previous two, it's packaged in a limited edition hardcover book, resplendent with original illustrations by the band. The music is everything you'd expect from former Page France'ers Michael Nau and Whitney McGraw: hazy and lazy, insubstantial and drifting, psychedelic folk melodies that make you feel like you're in an alternative universe with lollipop trees and marshmallow rivers. It's a wonderful place to vacation to and leave your worries behind! In addition, the pair will be touring for the rest of the month to take you to that place in person. Check out the lead off track from the EP and tour dats below.

Visit their label Quite Scientific Records and become their friend on MySpace.

Upcoming Tour Dates

9/9/2009 Rock Island, IL Huckleberry' w/ Frontier Ruckus
9/10/2009 Omaha, NE The Waiting Room w/ Frontier Ruckus
9/12/2009 Morrison, CO Monolith Festival
9/15/2009 Salt Lake City, UT Kilby Court w/ Oh My God
9/17/2009 Olympia, WA Happy Beast House
9/18/2009 Tacoma, WA Urban Grace
9/19/2009 Portland, OR Music Fest NW
9/20/2009 Seattle, WA Sunset Tavern
9/22/2009 San Luis Obispo, CA SLO Art Center w/ Titus Adronicus
9/23/2009 Santa Cruz, CA The Crepe Place w/ Frontier Ruckus
9/24/2009 San Francisco, CA Bottom of the Hill w/ Frontier Ruckus
9/26/2009 Los Angeles, CA Spaceland
9/27/2009 Phoenix, AZ Modified
9/30/2009 Oklahoma City, OK The Conservatory w/ Darker My Love
10/1/2009 Lubbock, TX Bash Riprock's
10/2/2009 Dallas, TX Cavern Ale House w/ Wye Oak
10/3/2009 Austin, TX Austin City Limits Festival
10/5/2009 Memphis, TN Hi-Tone Cafe

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Jazz Brunch Jam - John Patitucci Trio

“We’re paying tribute, but we’re also shaping the music to reflect who we are. We’re not just copying or resting on the musicians who came before us, we’re playing this music as our way of contributing to the evolution of jazz.”

-John Patitucci

Today I've got something contemporary for you from bassist John Patitucci and his trio. The album's titled Remembrance though, and on it Patitucci pays homage to some of his heroes and giants of jazz with original material: Thelonius Monk and John Coltrane (Monk/Trane), Sonny Rollins (Sonny Side), Freddie Hubbard (Blues for Freddie), Joe Henderson (Joe Hen), and Ray Brown (Play Ball).

The whole album is light, as can be expected from a trio. Everything's also tight, precise, exact - leaving you plenty of ear room to pick out and appreciate all those sweet notes and textures that are being laid down here. I'm gonna give you the lead off track, Monk / Trane, partly because it's one of my favorites from the album, and partly 'cuz I dig Monk a lot. Here it is, spin it.

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

Sunday Soul - The Royal Family Get Down!

So last weekend I took my pilgrimage down to Brooklyn to check out some classic soul acts. Coming up next weekend I'm sticking closer to home to check out The Royal Family Get Down, a one day soul fest featuring some more contemporary soul acts including Soulive (who are hosting the whole shin-dig), Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings (who weren't on the original bill and for whom I'm extra excited to check out), John Scofield, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals (who I've seen many times and enjoyed every one), the Charlie Hunter Trio, and Nigel Hall. Nearly all of these are acts I'd head out to catch alone, but put'em together and you're talking a killer day of music. It's all going down at The Pines Theater in Northampton, MA on the 12th, with doors opening (metaphorically speaking since it's an outdoor venue) at 2 PM. Planning on attending? Drop me a line and maybe we can meet up.

Soulive - Too Much (feat. Nigel Hall) : Up Here

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings - Let Them Knock (live) : Live From Bonnaroo 2008 (DVD)

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals - I Chose You : Original Soul

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Ledisi turned loose

This isn't the first time you've seen Ledisi's name on MISB, and I'm sure it won't be the last. I wrote about her third album Lost & Found back here, her Christmas album back here, and today it's all about her latest album, Turn Me Loose. And all it takes is to look at the cover and you can tell that she has truly turned it loose on her latest batch of songs.

What initially drew me to Ledisi on her third album was the well measured mix of soul, hip hop and R&B, all behind a beautiful voice that beguiled my ears. The Christmas album changed gears and snagged me with its jazzy undertones. On this latest album Ledisi once again turns my expectations on edge and comes back with something fresh and wild. Just look at her on the cover, getting her Tina Turner / Chaka Khan thing going on, and you know that she's gonna come at you with something you best be ready for. And she does. Heck, look at the track listing and you'll find four cuts with the word "change" in them. If that doesn't tell you something, well hit yourself in the head with a hammer a few more times. The impetus for this revelation of an album: Buddy Miles' 1970 soul-rock classic, Them Changes. When faced with writer's block, Ledisi was given the album and it inspired her to crank out what would become Turn Me Loose. In fact, she covers the title track of Miles' album on her album.

The result of her Buddy Miles muse is an album that really snaps fulls of vibrancy. Where as her previous one drifted down a more soulful tributary, this new one rides the rapids head on. Even the slower ones here just feel bigger, fuller, more contemporary perhaps. It's a fiery album that absolutely shows a different side of her that wasn't revealed previously.

and the inspiration:

Visit her website, her label Verve Forecast, and become her friend on MySpace.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Buried Afrobeat

Over the course of the last year, Daptone Records have really been spreading their wings and setting off into some new territory. Late last year, they released Como Now, an album of pure, unadultered, a cappella gospel (read what I wrote about it here). Then, earlier this summer they released another gospel album, this one from Naomi Shelton and the Gospel Queens (who, by the way, I was able to see a couple of weeks ago - incredible! - read that post here). Well now, on September 1st, they've joined the crate digging business with their resurrection and re-release of an unknown classic Afro-beat album from 1973 entitled Na Teef Know De Road of Teef. It was one of two albums that Pax Nicholas, Fela Kuti conga player and background singer who appeared on all of Fela’s Africa 70 albums between 1971 and 1978.

This wouldn't have happened had Frank Gossner (aka DJ Soulpusher of voodoofunk.com) not discovered a copy of the album while digging for vinyl in a record store in Philly. A copy so clean, that Daptone actually re-mastered this album directly from his original vinyl.

The album's put together right in line with Kuti style: only four tracks, two per side (on the original vinyl), the longest (the title number of course) weighing in at just shy of twelve minutes. Also in Kuti style, the way the cuts unfurl themselves, building, morphing, altering, returning, changing again, keeping a line alive that threads over and under the surface, pulling your ears along with it that's funky as all get out. Supposedly, Fela heard this album and thought it was so good, that he asked for it to be buried. Listen to the track below, then get it for yourself and see what you think.