Friday, October 31, 2008

Jazzanova does Soul

Yea, I know what you're thinking...Jazzanova, sounds like a retro cover band that you can catch playing in a shag carpeted room at a Howard Johnson's someplace in New Jersey on a Tuesday night. The truth of the matter though is the group is a sextet of DJs hailing from Berlin. They joined together way back in 1995, and now, thirteen years later, they've released their second full length album of new original material. Yea, you did the math right...two LPs in thirteen years. (OK, I'll admit they've released a few remix albums as well, but it's still rather jaw dropping)

It's titled Of All the Things, it came out earlier this month, and its twelve tracks offer a wide range of notes and styles. The group has brought in eleven vocalists and paired them with cuts that exhibit their vocal chops. The texture of the tracks varies, although there's a strong soul presence here that draws upon the smooth Philly sound (Let Me Show Ya - the album's stand-out track featuring Paul Randolph), Motown (Rockin' You Eternally), a seemingly long lost Bill Withers' cut (Joe Dukie on What Do You Want?) and later 70's progressive jazz as the album comes to a close (Lucky Girl) along with some Latin lightness (Gafiera). Then there's the stark beauty of Little Bird, a track that reminds of me of Antony and the Johnsons, and the hip-hop word play of So Far From Home, which kicks out a soul line in the background to keep in the spirit of the album going.

Once you hear the album you'll realize that the group's sound has evolved (as you might expect) since their first. If you listen to the first couple tracks and skip to the last few, you'll be scratching your head wondering who switched the disc on you. But listen to it from beginning to end and you'll be amazed how it transforms itself with the help of eleven different vocalists.

And an older one:

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

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Johanna And The Dusty Floor

Johanna and the Dusty Floor. No, it's not an ad for the latest "As Seen on TV" cleaning product, it's the latest band from Australia that's found their way into my ears. I really can't tell you much more about them than that, so I'll skip right to the part where I talk about their music instead.

The album opens with Wicked, a jazzy number that feels like it belongs in a speak easy with bootleged alcohol getting passed out and you need to know the password when they slide that little window open in the door to get in. After the illicit opening, the music feels like it goes above-ground, with a folksy-jazz feel. For the most part, very minimalistic and impressionistic, with Johanna's voice at points carrying the weight of the world (or at least that's how her voice feels) and at other times soaring above everything. Some tracks lean towards the folks end, others towards the jazz, with enough of a blend to keep the album going without becoming repetitive.

Become their friend on MySpace.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Dark Dark Dark

While it's easy to find enough Christmas albums that you could listen to nothing else the year round, finding Halloween music is a little more challenging. Sure you've got Bobby "Borris" Pickett's Monster Mash and Michael Jackson's Thriller but that's about where the short list ends. That being said, I've found an album that is appropriately dark and magical to help fill the void for you this year: The Snow Magic, the debut album from the aptly named Dark Dark Dark.

The band's sound pulls heavily from Eastern European music, giving you the feeling you're sitting in a gypsy camp late at night around a fire in the middle of a ring of wagons with musicians careening around while the fortune telling woman stares at your palm. While sharing that Balkan feeling that has appeared in various other bands, this dose feels a little more dusty, as if rescued from the past. Looking at some of the song titles will clue you into the haunting elements which lace themselves throughout: Ashes, Dig a Grave, Ferment in Dm, Junk Bones, A Spell for Letting Go.

While not scary in a Friday the 13th sort of way, the album's eeriness carries you into another world. Enjoy the following (in a dark sort of way) and pick up the rest for the holiday.

Visit their label Blood Onion Records and become their friend on MySpace.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Monsters Are Waiting

After touring the US for the last two years with Pretty Girls Make Graves, She Wants Revenge, Editors, and stellastarr*, Monsters Are Waiting is back with a new EP's worth of material, including five original tracks and one cover (the Stone Roses' I Wanna Be Adored). It's titled Ones and Zeros and it came out last week. Here's the opening cut to check out.

Visit their label Kanine Records and become their friend on MySpace.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Diggin' Fool's Gold

The latest installment from the Scion Sampler Series is now out, packed with tracks from the new label Fool's Gold. Founded by DJs A-Trak and Nick Catchdubs, it focuses on house music of all persuasions. You can pick up the seven track collection for a measly $3.99 on iTunes, or you can pick it up for free at Scion events, so what are you waiting for? As always, our friends at Scion are covering the costs and all profits go straight into the pockets of the musicians.

Check out the fourth track from the collection, the sinisterly groovin' Kid Sister cut Pro Nails (Rusko Remix), the labels first hit that propelled them into the spotlight done over with synth lines and dubstep drumbeats.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunday Soul - Menahan Street Band

I was really excited when I caught wind of Make the Road By Walking, the debut album from the Menahan Street Band. It's a super-group collaboration of musicians from Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, El Michels Affair, Antibalas and the Budos Band, brought together by the leadership of musician/producer Thomas Brenneck (whose work includes Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, the Budos Band, and Amy Winehouse). Their name comes from the fact that it was recorded in Brenneck's bedroom of his Menahan St. apartment in Bushwick, Brooklyn (home of Daptone Records).

The album is an instrumental affair along similar lines to the groups these musicians come from, but the ultimate product is a breed of its own. There's no afro-beat from the Antibalas connection and no hip-hop from the El Michels Affair, resulting in a feel that's closest to the Daptone contributors. While there are healthy heaps of horns here, unlike the Budos Band they work more with the other instruments instead of trying to steal the show. Also, the flow of the album is a little mroe soulfully smooth, with less of the funk influences evident on some of the other Daptone products, and even some island feel here and there with some vibes added.

While there's a heavy connection here to Daptone Records, the album is actually the fledgling offering from Dunham Records, a new division of the Brooklyn based soul giant. Below you'll find the title track from the album which was sampled by Jay-Z in his hit Roc Boys (and the Winner is…) last year. The second track is the album closer, the band's take on a classic track from the original Rocky movie. The third cut from the band is The Telephone Song, the vocal version of Tired of Fighting, the second song from the record. Enjoy, and then check out the rest of the album.

Menahan Street Band - Make The Road By Walking : Make the Road By Walking

Menahan Street Band - Going The Distance (original from Rocky) : Make the Road By Walking

and a bonus cut from a collaboration the band did with Charles Bradley:

Charles Bradley and the Menahan Street Band - The Telephone Song : The Telephone Song 7"

Visit their label Dunham Records and become their friend on MySpace.


El Michels Affair - El Pueblo Unido : Sounding Out The City

Antibalas - Colonial Mentality (live Fela Kuti cover) : Live at Club Soda - Montreal, QUE - 3.29.03

The Budos Band - Chicago Falcon (The Washington Sq. Lads Remix) : Scion CD Sampler Vol.19 - Daptone Records Remixed

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Nikka the Wildcat

Last week, when I shared my thoughts on her newest album Pebble to a Pearl, I mentioned I was excited to be seeing Nikka Costa live. Well, the show was Thursday night and the anticipation was well founded. In fact, it was one of the best shows I've been to in a while.

The opening act for the evening was Pictures and Sound. I hadn't been familiar with them before discovering they were the party starters, but I was able to get a few listens of their self titled debut album under my belt before the show. With just one album of material out so far, their set was fairly short, but never-the-less enjoyable, and did a pretty good job sharing their sound with the crowd. It was pretty spot on for the most part with the album versions but they did a good job of not trying to overpower with their sound as so many bands do. It was loud and solid but still clear and decipherable. The lead singer Luke's voice reminds me a little of Adam Duritz over a brit-pop backdrop.

Visit their label Vanguard Records and become their friend on MySpace.

On to the main event of the evening... Nikka was a sexy wildcat up on stage. She was ALL over the place and at one point cracked a joke about someone asking if her child was half-mic stand because she likes to hump it while singing. The band too was awesome. It's not often that I'll give props to the entire band, but in this case they deserved it. (all 7 members) She had a guy and gal on horns that were tight and a guy on keyboard that was doing some seriously mean funk organ work (and at one point busted into Ray Charles' Georgia On My Mind). I apologize for not taking names down because those folks deserve their due.

The group opened with Keep Wanting More, from the new album, and then worked through a solid set alternating between new songs and songs from her last two albums (including Like A Feather and Push & Pull from Everybody Got Their Something and can'tneverdidnothin' and Happy in the Morning from can'tneverdidnothin') which tended to shift more towards the new as the night rolled on. The only thing that semi-disappointed me in the smallest teeny tiny bit was I expected a cover or two of some old classic Stax soul tracks being that it's her new label. The Ray Charles snippet (only about 30 seconds) was a tease in that respect, but believe me, I'm not going to complain in the least! They did do a groovin' cover of the White Stripes' Denial Twist though.

There are only a few dates left of her current tour but I'm guessing that she'll do a longer headline now that the album is out. If you haven't gotten the latest, there's no time like today.

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


Ray Charles - Georgia On My Mind
- Anthology

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I'm From Barcelona Contest

Last week, Who Killed Harry Houdini?, the second album from the Spanish impersonators I'm From Barcelona hit shelves and computers everywhere. To help celebrate, the band is hosting a contest on their MySpace page. The challenge: to remix the fifth track from the album, Music Killed Me, and hope that your version kicks everyone else's version's butt. Finish it by November 3rd, post in on your MySpace page, let them know about it, and if you end up on top your remix will be posted on the band's site and you'll get tickets for an upcoming show. Head to their MySpace page for more details.

While the album does include a song named after the famous escape artist, it's hard to find the thematic connection woven through the rest of the album. As a whole, the album certainly does an about-face from the band's debut. This time around, the 20+ member group tones things down with a melancholy air that will strike previous fans as quite different than what they're familiar with. Here are a few tracks to see what I'm talking about, including Mingus, one that tries to remain upbeat. And don't forget to enter the remix contest if that's your thing.

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

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Minus the Bear, acoustic style

Just a quick word here about the new EP from Minus the Bear. It's seven tracks, one brand new one and six revisiting previous albums. All of them served up acoustic style, which throws a boomerang in how you experience songs that you think you already know. You can buy it digitally now through the usual suspects, or you can check them out on tour (dates below) to pick up the real deal to slip into your pocket. Here's the EP's line-up (appropriately titled Acoustics):
1. Guns & Ammo (new track)
2. We Are Not a Football Team (from Highly Refined Pirates)
3. Burying Luck (from Planet of Ice)
4. Knights (from Planet of Ice)
5. Pachuca Sunrise (from Menos El Oso)
6. Throwin' Shapes (from Planet of Ice)
7. Ice Monster (from Planet of Ice)

Visit their website, their label Suicide Squeeze, and become their friend on MySpace.

Upcoming Tour Dates

October 22nd 9:30 Club Washington, DC
October 23rd TLA Philadelphia, PA
October 24th Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel Providence, RI
October 25th Webster Hall New York, NY
October 26th Starland Ballroom Sayreville, NJ
October 28th The National Richmond, VA
October 29th Lincoln Theatre Raleigh, NC
October 30th Orange Peel Asheville, NC
October 31st Bijou Theatre Knoxville, TN
November 1st Variety Playhouse Atlanta, GA
November 2nd Rion Ballroom Gainesville, FL
November 3rd Revolution Fort Lauderdale, FL
November 4th House of Blues Lake Buena Vista, FL
November 5th Freebird Live Jacksonville, FL
November 7th House of Blues New Orleans, LA
November 8th House of Blues Houston, TX
November 9th Waterloo Park Austin, TX **
November 10th House of Blues Dallas, TX
November 12th Warehouse 21 Santa Fe, NM
November 13th The Marquee Tempe, AZ
November 14th SOMA San Diego San Diego, CA
November 15th Glass House Pomona, CA
November 16th Music Box @ Fonda Los Angeles, CA
November 18th Empire Events Center Sacramento, CA
November 19th Bimbo's 365 Club San Francisco, CA
November 20th Standford University Palo Alto, CA
November 21st Lewis & Clark College Portland, OR
November 22nd Showbox at the Market Seattle, WA

Traveling with Watcha Clan

Tuning your ears to world music outside of the U.S. (and England for that matter) will reveal some amazing sounds. Where as most American music tries to present itself as something new, wholly created by itself, and a sound of its own, there are lots of groups outside our borders who revel in bringing together diverse sounds from many sources. One such example of this is the France based band Watcha Clan.

Although not a household name in the States, the Watcha Clan have been producing their diversely blended amalgamation of European sounds for close to a half dozen albums. Their latest, Diaspora Hi-Fi: A Mediterranean Caravan is, just as the title suggests, a travel around the Mediterranean that touches on Algerian blues, the cherifian grooves of Morocco, Balkan gypsyness, the dance clubs of Europe, and the word play of hip-hop. While all of these various musical backgrounds are taking shape, on top are laid vocals sung in French, Arabic, Hebrew, in English. I suppose as a point of reference the closest I could touch on would be Zap Mama, but there's less of an Afro-beat here and more of a house-beat.

While the album is still only available as an import here in the States, it's available in digital format through If you're hunting for the exotic, look no farther.

Visit their website, their label Piranha Germany, and become their friend on MySpace.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Led Zeppelin MEGA-gift

I know it's still a little ways to Christmas, but it's never too early to start dropping hints as to what you're hankering to open come Christmas morning. Just today I found out about this...the ultimate mega-gift...a box set to top all box sets...the Led Zeppelin Definitive Collection Mini LP Replica Box Set! Here are the details, just as they were sent to me:
The mini-LP replicas CD boxed set includes Led Zeppelin (1969), Led Zeppelin II (1969), Led Zeppelin III (1970), Led Zeppelin IV (1971), Houses of the Holy (1973), Physical Graffiti (1975), Presence (1976), The Song Remains the Same (1976), In Through the Out Door (1979), and Coda (1982). The sleeves included in the boxed set feature the original LP album artwork released in the U.K. , including the original printing of the group’s debut, which used turquoise ink on the cover for the band’s name and the Atlantic Records logo. Additionally, the set includes all six covers released for In Through the Out Door, Led Zeppelin’s final studio album.
It comes out November 11th, and you can salivate over the entire spread below.

Visit the band's website, the box set's label Rhino Entertainment, and become their friend on MySpace.

Richie Havens folks on

Richie Havens' career has come full circle. Back in 1967 he was one of first artists signed to the fledgling label Verve Forecast. Over the years he wandered from label to label, always on the move, much like his constant touring schedule over the years. He's now returned for his umpteenth album, Nobody Left To Crown, which was released earlier this year.

If you're not familiar with Havens, he's had a illustrious and lengthy career. His first break into stardom came in 1969, when he opened Woodstock, the very first act on the very first day. Since then he's propagated folk music over the decades to several generations. His latest carries on that tradition with both original songs, and as has always been the case with Havens, covers of well known songs written by others (including The Who's Won't Get Fooled Again, Peter, Paul & Mary's The Great Mandala (The Wheel Of Life), and Jackson Browne's Lives In The Balance). In all cases, whether original or not, Havens' voice carries a rich gentleness and an ability to make any song his own. Even with a career that has spanned over five decades, he still retains that 60's folk signature sound of his own. Enjoy the following and then check out his extensive tour dates below.

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

Tour Dates

October 21 Brussells BE
October 23 The Forum London UK
October 24 The M Club Crewe UK
October 25 The Ferry Glasgow UK
October 26 Cheese & Grain Frome UK
October 31 Massey Hall Toronto ON
November 02 Centre In The Square Kitchener ON
November 03 Hamilton Place Hamilton ON
November 06 Pantages Playhouse Winnipeg MB
November 08 Winspear Centre for Music Edmonton AB
November 10 TCU Place Saskatoon SK
November 12 Jack Singer Concert Hall Calgary SE
November 13 Queen Elizabeth Theatre Vancouver BC
November 14 Alix Gooldin Hall Victoria BC
November 15 Admiral Theatre Bremerton WA
November 21 The Sellersville Theater Sellersville PA
November 22 Patchogue Theater Patchogue NY
November 28-29 Stone Mountain Arts Center Brownfield ME
December 04 Sun Music Hall Floyd VA
December 05 McGlohon Theater At Spirit Square Charlotte NC
December 06 The Orange Peel Asheville NC
December 07 The Community Church Concert Series Chapel Hill NC
December 11 Rhythm & Brews Chattanooga TN
December 12 Variety Palyhouse Atlanta GA
December 13 WorkPlay Theatre Birmingham AL
December 14 Crossroads Music Hall Huntsville AL
December 19 Infinity Hall Norfolk VA
December 20 Remis Auditorium, Museum of Fine Arts Boston MA

January 16 One World Theater Austin TX
January 17 Historic Central School Lake Charles LA
January 18 Manship Theatre at Shaw Center for the Arts Baton Rouge LA
January 23 Anthology San Diego CA
January 24 The Palmdale Playhouse Palmdale CA
February 06 The Firehouse Coffeehouse Littleton MA
February 07 Veritas Auditorium Chicopee MA
February 08 Carol Autorino Center / Hoffman Auditorium West Hartford CT
February 20 Kirkland Performance Center Kirkland WA
February 25 Kayhi Auditorium Ketchikan AK
February 28 Mariner Theatre Homer AK
March 1 Alaska Center for the Performing Anchorage AK
April 17 Macomb Center for the Performing Arts Clinton Township MI
April 18 Jasper Community Arts Jasper IN
April 23 Thrasher Opera House Green Lake WI
April 24 Stoughton Opera House Stoughton WI
April 25 ECC Blizzard Theatre Elgin IL
May 15 Metropolitan Museum of Art New York NY
May 16 Algonquin Arts Manasquan NJ

Monday, October 20, 2008

Oh My Gosh!

You might remember me sharing a track off of the Don Rimini Kick N' Run EP a few months ago (back here). Well, I didn't realize it at the time, but it was the virgin voyage for new label Delicious Gutter, a joint venture of vaunted L.A. record label Delicious Vinyl and Baltimore's Gutter music gadfly Aaron LaCrate. The two have teamed up to pump out some releases that pump up the sound. Their latest is the Oh My Gosh EP, which includes cuts from Clifford Smith, A.K.A. Mr. Vegas, the Jamaican dancehall star.

Visit his website, his label Delicious Gutter, and become his friend on MySpace.

The Break and Repair Method on Tour

If you catch one concert this coming month, I would suggest considering the following bill: The Break and Repair Method, Jessie Baylin, and Matt Nathanson, all for one price of admission. I've written about Matt Nathanson last year, Jessie Baylin this year earlier in the summer, and now it's about time I give some print time to The Break and Repair Method.

The band is the side project of Matchbox Twenty's Paul Doucette and creates music that Paul dubs "pop depression." The album revolves around piano melodies whose upbeat sounds mask gritty vocals. Pair up Paul's piano with Jessie's guitar and Matt's insanely funny banter and you've got a killer evening of entertainment.

Visit their website, their label Bluhammock Music, and become their friend on MySpace.


Matt Nathanson - Princess > Jessie's Girl (Rick Springfield cover) > Princess : Live at Irving Plaza 10-27-06

Jessie Baylin - Want : Firesight

Upcoming Tour Dates

November 1 – San Francisco CA (Warfield)
November 4 – Spokane WA (Knitting Factory)
November 7 – Boise ID (Knitting Factory)
November 8 – Salt Lake City UT (Avalon)
November 10 – Denver CO (Bluebird Theater)
November 11 – Boulder CO (Fox Theater)
November 13 – St. Louis MO (Pop’s)
November 14 – Lawrence KS (Bottleneck)
November 15 – Omaha NE (Slowdown)
November 16 – Des Moines IA (People’s Court)
November 18 – Minneapolis MN (Pantages Theater)
November 19 – Madison WI (The Majestic)
November 20 – Chicago IL (House Of Blues)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunday Soul - Respect

What you want
honey you got it
and what you need
baby you got it
All I'm askin' is for
a little respect
When I come home
hey now
hey hey hey
yea now

do me wrong
honey if you want to
you can do me wrong
honey while I'm gone
but all I'm asking
for is respect when I come home

Otis Redding - Respect : Respect 7"

Otis Redding - Ole Man Trouble
: Respect 7"

Saturday, October 18, 2008


As a graduate student pursuing my Masters in Literature, I read quite a bit, but I don't have much time to read a lot of books by choice. That being said, when I do pick up something by choice to read in addition to my constant required reading, the book's really got to grab me. DEFinition: The Art and Design of Hip-Hop does all that and a bag of chips. When I first read about it, I was excited. When I got a copy and actually thumbed through it, I flipped my lid! Seriously, if you're into hip-hop, be it old skool, new skool, or whatever, this book is going to seriously engage you.

The book is compiled by legendary hip-hop designer Cey Adams with help from Bill Adler (formerly of Def Jam Records and Rush Artist Management), and documents the cultural legacy of hip-hop music. Perhaps more than any other musical genre, hip-hop's effects have transcended musical boundaries, racial boundaries, and even international boundaries. Once thought of as an illegitimate audio-rip-off of other "real" music, hip-hop has proven its creativity, power, and staying power.

The book is divided up into chapters, each dealing with a different aspect of how hip-hop has altered the world we live in. Some subjects include grafitti (which some would consider a complementary visual art form to hip-hop's audio), cars (Pimp My Ride anyone?), sneakers (tell me you don't remember Run-DMCs' Adidas!), and fashion. Russell Simmons kicks it off with a foreword and then each of the chapters opens with an introductory essay written by a range of contributors, followed by pages and pages of images connecting to the subject. And although the word count is much lower than the overall count of 192 pages that the book includes, the images are just as attention grabbing and thought provoking as the accompanying essays.

I haven't made it through the book yet, as I'm savoring all of the images one by one. I'm hoping to return to it and write future posts as I work my way though it, sharing the quotes and images that seem most powerful for you to read, view, and ponder. That being said, I want to start with a quote from the foreword in which Russell Simmons starts out by saying the following:
"When I was a young man, The Cosby Show was one of the few depictions of African-American life on television. I always thought it was a great show, but there was so much about my life and the lives of my family and friends that it left out. In contrast, working with rappers was very satisfying to me because I knew that the average African-American was more like LL Cool J that Dr. Huxtable" (8).
I'll leave you with that quote and a few tracks to listen to. The first is an old skool jam that I can remember first hearing on a mix-tape that a friend cooked up for me: Joeski Love's Pee Wee's Dance. If you listen to it, you're of course required to do the accompanying dance! Forget how it goes? Check it out:

The Champs - Tequila : 50’s Rock ’n’ Roll • Whole Lot of Shakin’

And now for a brand spankin' new track from People Under The Stairs' new album Fun DMC. It's a block party, BBQ, beer drinking inspired collection of twenty tracks and the following cut, Party Enemy No 1, samples the above mentioned Joeski Love track.

People Under The Stairs - Party Enemy No 1 : Fun DMC

Getting back to my original topic, absolutely positively check out DEFinition. I'll drop some more quotes, along with images, in the future. In the meantime, pick up a copy for yourself and hit me back with your thoughts:

Friday, October 17, 2008

El Rey Returns

Last month I wrote about the latest release from the reborn Fania label: Tito Puente's The Complete 78s Volume 1. Well, today's all about Volume 2, another two disc affair that brings to life forty more classic Puente tracks lost to all of us lacking the technology to play 78 RPM records. This volume opens up with four vocal tacks sung in English, an enjoyable surprise for non-Spanish speakers (although you don't need to speak Spanish to enjoy the rest). Also present are a few of Puente's interpretations of jazz standards such as Autumn Leaves, I Get A Kick Out Of You, and What Is This Thing Called Love. As with the first volume, this one includes liner notes by Joe Conzo that illuminate the story behind some of the tracks here.

Here are a couple tracks to get you started into this next set. The first, Cuban Nightingale, is the first track from the first CD and features the DeCastro sisters on vocals (singing in English). The second, Mambo Birdland, pays tribute to the famous New York City jazz club which in turn payed homage to the great Charlie "Bird" Parker (who ironically was banned from the club at one point). The release dates for Volumes three and four of this series haven't been announced yet, but I'll keep my eyes and ears open for them.

Visit the Fania website.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Rae Spoon-ful of sorrow

Listening to the opening tracks of superioryouareinferior, it comes as no surprise that Rae Spoon hails from the Canadian prairies. They carry the weight of melancholy vastness that's hard to fake. Even when the fire gets stoked up with some electric grumblings towards the end of the second track My Heart Is A Piece Of Garbage. Fight Seagulls! Fight! (looking at the track listing makes one prepare to listen to a Sufjan Stevens album), it's a hollow anger that seems insufficient to stand beneath its own weight.

The third track, Come On Forest Fire Burn The Disco Down, maintains a heavy guitar line that almost taunts the very target it seeks to ignite (listen below). The volume fades away though over the next few tracks, revisiting the aura of the openers, but an electronic element creeps in, much more subtle in its presence than the loud guitar lines. Wrapping up the album is a solo by Rae, Strength From Within, a mournfully beautiful number that leaves ones emotions searching for answers. Much like, in fact, the rest of the album.

Visit his website and become his friend on MySpace.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Stuck on Nikka Costa

"Stax is the epitome of what I'm about - that was the original, integrated soul music. That's the vibe that moved me about soul music when I was twelve, and it moves me still."

-Nikka Costa on signing with the newly relaunched Stax Records

Can I share with you how excited I am about getting to see Nikka Costa in concert on the 23rd? Try to infinity and beyond. Yea, her new album Pebble to a Pearl is that off the hook! Let's rewind for a second before we get to the here and now though. If you're not familiar with Nikka, her last name might ring a bell, especially for older music listeners (both in terms of their age or the music they listen to's age). Her father was legenday arranger and producer Don Costa, who worked with Frank Sinatra starting in the early 60's. With music being in her family, she released her first single at nine years old, a 45 containing her cover of (Out Here) On My Own from the musical Fame.

She released a handful of albums in Europe and South America but it wasn't until 2001 that she hit the States with Everybody Got Their Something, followed by Can'tneverdidnothin' in 2005, and now her third album Pebble to a Pearl. Listening to her latest and comparing it to previous albums, its evident that she's only getting better. Not to say that her first was no good, it's just that she's developing a voice and style distinctively her own. Befitting her new label, Pebble to a Pearl really brings the funk, and the streaks of soul that were tantalizingly present before are now fully shining through.

Her new album came out yesterday, and if you enjoyed any of her previous work in the slightest, you're going to love it. Here are a handful of track to get you excited for it, as well as for the tour. The first, Stuck To You, is the album opener and is just rambunctious funky fun. The second, Someone For Everyone, slows down into a more soulful groove. And the other pair are older favorites. Enjoy 'em all!

one from her last album:

Nikka Costa - Swing It Around : Can'tneverdidnothin'

and one from her American debut album:

Nikka Costa - Like A Feather : Everybody Got Their Something

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

Tour Dates

15-Oct Orlando, FL The Social
17-Oct Atlanta, GA The Loft
19-Oct Baltimore, MD Recher Theatre
20-Oct New York, NY Webster Hall
21-Oct Philadelphia, PA World Café Live
23-Oct Boston, MA Showcase Live
24-Oct Burlington, VT Higher Ground
25-Oct Montreal, QC Saints
26-Oct Toronto, ON El Mocambo
28-Oct Chicago, IL Park West
29-Oct Milwaukee The Rave
30-Oct Minneapolis, MN Varsity

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ed Laurie, classic guitarist

Looking for some delicately precise guitar work with a melancholy air? Look no further that Meanwhile In the Park, the debut EP from British singer/songwriter Ed Laurie. It's a short but artfully crafted seven song CD that has a classical European guitar / Spanish flamenco feel to it that positions Laurie in the form of a troubadour, sharing his thoughts over a singular but complex guitar line.

Initially the album was available only through iTunes, but since its release Laurie has been picked up by Dangerbird Records. It's available digitally now through both iTunes and other digital sources, and his full length debut is anticipated to hit shelves early next year. In the meantime, enjoy the EP's title track below before searching the rest out.

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

Be OK - Out NOW

Be OK is out today! In case you haven't heard about it, it's a benefit for Stand Up To Cancer, and will include previously unreleased songs, covers, and live recordings from Ingrid’s set list over the past year. Here's the track listing:
1.) Be OK (radio mix)
2.) Lady In Spain (previously unreleased)
3.) You And I (previously unreleased)
4.) Giving Up (acoustic)
5.) Keep Breathing
6.) The Chain (live)
7.) The Way I Am (live)
8.) Somewhere Over The Rainbow (Judy Garland cover)
9.) Can’t Help Falling In Love (Elvis Presley cover)
10.) Oh What A Day (previously unreleased)
11.) Be OK (acoustic)
Accompanying the benefit's release will be a headlining tour starting at the end of the month and continuing through the end of November. Opening for all dates will be David Ford.

David Ford - Go To Hell : Songs for the Road

Visit her website and become her friend on MySpace.

Be OK Tour Dates


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunday Soul - Born Under a Bad Sign

Wine and women
is all I crave
A big legged woman is gonna carry me
to my grave
Born under a bad sign
I been down since I begin to crawl
If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all

Get them both on The Best of William Bell.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Bob Dylan's Boot

Most bands are happy if they make it eight albums into the game. Eight albums is almost an eternity in this day and age, with bands constantly stumbling into obscurity or members splitting into new projects (and then stumble into obscurity). To have eight "bootleg" albums of demos, unreleased songs, and rarities is pretty rare. Rare that is, unless you're Bob Dylan. In that case, it's par for the course. The formula for rock bootlegs was practically written for Dylan.

That being said, Tell Tale Signs: the Bootleg Series Vol. 8 came out last week, and is chock full of enough goodies to make Dylan fans to drool. It's available in two versions: a two CD release containing twenty-seven songs and a sixty page booklet, and a deluxe three CD release with twelve additional songs and a 150-page, 8" x 8" hardcover book of Dylan's singles' artwork. Either way, you're getting cast-offs that are more solid than many performers' 1st rate material.

Do I need to say anything else? It's Dylan.

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

Friday, October 10, 2008

Antony and the Johnsons' World

After winning the Mercury Award in 2005 for his last album, Antony (of Antony and the Johnsons) is back with a five track EP (titled Another World) in preparation for his new full length The Crying Light, which should be coming in January 2009. Armed with what might be the most beautiful male voice I know, he works through the five tracks here, presenting very different textures in less than twenty minutes.

My favorite is the one smack dab in the middle, Shake That Devil. It started almost as a spoken word, impromptu poetry reading, but then notes slowly build and intrude in the backdrop, and eventually develop into a New Orleans blues jam that you can stomp a foot to. A horn pops in, accentuating the line, and then playfully retreats and repeats.

Visit their website, their label Secretly Canadian, and become their friend on MySpace.

Upcoming Tour Dates

10/14 Los Angeles, CA @ Walt Disney Concert Hall
10/16 New York, NY @ Apollo Theatre
10/30 London, ENG @ The Barbican
10/31 London, ENG @ The Barbican

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Herbaliser - new single, new video, new tour

Earlier in the summer I wrote about The Herbaliser's latest release, Same As It Never Was, and how much I was diggin' it. Well I received some new news on the band that I couldn't wait to share. Here goes...

1.) The band is releasing a digital only single (available October 14th) for Can't Help This Feeling, the fifth track from the album, one that features Jessica Darling on vocals. The single contains the original version plus two remixes, from Beardyman and Malcolm Catto's Heliocentrics. Stream the Beardyman's Glitchbox Hackjob remix below.

2.) The band has put together a video for the original track in which you'll learn some hep new dance moves and get to see the sizzlin' hot Jessica Darling. Watch it here.

3.) The band has announced a limited run of tour dates as follows:

Nov 11- New York, NY- Knitting Factory
Nov 12- Montreal, QC- Le National
Nov 13- Toronto, ON- Revival
Nov 14- Ottawa, ON- Babylon
Nov 15- Hamilton, ON- Pepper Jack's
Nov 18- Chicago, IL- Darkroom
Nov 19- Minneapolis, MN- The Varsity Theater
Nov 20- Winnipeg, MN- The Academy
Nov 21- Regina, SK- The Distrikt
Nov 22- Saskatoon, SK- Louis'
Nov 23- Edmonton, AV- The Starlite
Nov 25- Calgary, AB- The Warehouse- Calgary
Nov 26- Whistler, BC- Garfinkel's
Nov 27- Vancouver, BC- Commodore Ballroom
Nov 28- Seattle, WA- Nectar Lounge
Nov 29- Portland, OR- Doug Fir Lounge
Nov 30- San Francisco, CA- The Independent
Dec 1- West Hollywood, CA- The Roxy Theatre

I'm bent about the fact that there's no Boston stop, but I ended up deciding to share these dates and the rest of the good news with you anyway.

Get the digital version of the Can't Help This Feeling Single.