Wednesday, April 30, 2014

ad no se cuanto. Gracias a Gabriel

Neil Young publicó por sorpresa su nuevo disco titulado ‘Letter Home’ con motivo del Record Store Day, que ha sido producido por Jack White para su sello Third Man Records. La grabación ha sido realizada en la cabina restaurada de grabar vinilos Voice-o-Graph que Jack White tiene en la sede de su discográfica, en Nashville.
En este disco Young versiona a Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen y los Everly Brothers. El disco, de momento, solo está disponible en vinilo en la web de Third Man Records.

A Letter Home:
1.- “Changes” (Phil Ochs)
2.- “Girl From The North Country” (Bob Dylan)
3.- “Needle of Death” (Bert Jansch)
4.- “Early Morning Rain” (Gordon Lightfoot)
5.- “Crazy” (Willie Nelson)
6.- “Reason To Believe” (Tim Hardin)
7.- “On The Road Again” (Willie Nelson)
8.- “If You Could Read My Mind” (Gordon Lightfoot)
9.- “Since I Met You Baby” (Ivory Joe Hunter)
10.- “My Hometown” (Bruce Springsteen)
11.- “I Wonder If I Care As Much” (Everly Brothers)
Respecto al disco Neil Young pronunció:
“Cuando lo escuchas, suena como si estuviese hecho hace mucho, mucho tiempo. Nos lo pasamos muy bien y fue divertido trabajar con Jack como coproductor. Jack es un hombre con mucho talento”
“Elvis Presley hizo uno así”. Añade Young. “Grabar ‘A Letter Home’ en una cabina de grabación de los cuarenta es un proyecto de arte histórico. Realmente, en todos lo sentidos, es superior al CD o a al MP3. Porque es analógico, producción con fidelidad total”.


add 0987 Two cow garage

Cleverly described as Uncle Tupelo's nephews, Two Cow Garage takes strong cues from Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy's punkier sides. Not easily pigeonholed, the band also digs deep into the honest country-rock of Slobberboneand Drive-By Truckers, but somehow still manage to maintain their own soulful sound. Young vocalist Micah Schnabel gives the impression that he's smoked a pack a day since elementary school with his gritty rasp, aptly fitting their songs of heartache and leavin'. Bassist Shane Sweeny's gently shouted backup vocals add depth to the tearful "Girl of My Dreams," while Dustin Harigle's drumming is the only thing that holds the manic "River" together. Every song on Please Turn the Gas Back On burns with the amber light of the heartland -- hungover and heart-wrenching, sweetly fumbling and furiously pounding, gritty as barn doors and sweaty as a backseat in August.


add 0986 two cow garage

It's really a shame that the Bob Stinson edition of the Replacements never did much more than flirt with country music. If they had, the results would have sounded an awful lot like Two Cow Garage's The Wall Against Our Back, and that's intended as a compliment to both bands. Recorded in appropriately garage-like conditions by Slobberbone's Brent Best (who infuses the proceedings with the same ragged-but-right feel as his own band), the Columbus-based trio blasts out 13 songs that toy with grunge-era soft/LOUD dynamics at a thrashing pace. The relentless forward motion is broken once -- again, just like on a Replacements album -- by "Saturday Night," a solo acoustic ballad by singer Micah Schnabel that gives the otherwise Westerberg-hoarse singer a chance to be a bit more gentle to his vocal cords and the listener a chance to rest up a bit for the seething revved-up country two-step of "If This Is Home" and the flat-out punk fury of "Smell of Blood," which wouldn't sound out of place on a Hüsker Dü album. Cowpunk (as opposed to the more polite and rootsy alternative country) lives on in these grooves.


Monday, April 28, 2014

add 0984 Sonja Kristina

This 1991 recording marked a return of sorts for Sonja Kristina but not as the prog diva that she was known as during her tenure with Curved Air. Rather, Songs From the Acid Folk was a trail-blazing new acoustic project comprised mostly of Kristina's original songs, which are invariably profoundly personal and touching in nature. A sampling ofCurved Air's early favorites like "Melinda More or Less" and "Back Street Luv" is included but with Kristina's new stripped down arrangement. The chilling "Colder Than a Rose" recorded on her self-entitled debut is also revisited here. An excellent cast of supporting musicians contributes to this album: Tim Whitaker on acoustic guitar and backing vocals, his percussionist brother Simon Whitaker, cellist Ali McKenzie, and violinist Paul Silas. In addition to Kristina's rich, deep voice she also plays acoustic guitar and accordion.


add 0983 Jack Bruce

Silver Rails is Jack Bruce's first solo studio album since 2003's fine More Jack Than GodBruce recorded the set at Abbey Road with producer Rob Cass and collaborated with a dazzling array of musicians. Notably, he brought backJohn Medeski and Cindy Blackman Santana from the Spectrum Road project -- a tribute band to the Tony Williams Lifetime -- which released its own album in 2012. He also enlisted son Malcolm Bruce and guest guitarists includingPhil ManzaneraRobin TrowerBernie Marsden, and Uli Jon RothBruce wrote songs with longtime collaboratorsPete Brown and Kip Hanrahan, as well as his wife, Margrit Seyffer. The music is quite diverse, making this album a distant spiritual cousin to 1969's Songs for a Tailor. There are some scathing rockers, most notably the rumbling, politically intense "Drone," illustrated only by distorted bass and drums and samples of a WWII Stuka. "Reach for the Night" is a sophisticated, multivalent pop song with R&B and even jazz overtones. The piano-driven rock of "Fields of Forever" actually recalls the spirit of "Doin' That Scrapyard Thing" from Cream's Goodbye album. "Rusty Lady" (about the death of Margaret Thatcher -- Bruce wasn't a fan) is a funky blues with Trower's silvery guitar punctuating the mix. The Caribbean rhythms and horns in "Candlelight" make it a sophisticated outlier here, Medeski's organ careening around a bubbling bassline, stuttering drum kit, brass, and Manzanera's dancing single lines and vamps. The complex melody in "Hidden Cities" walks a line between metal and prog, while the next cut, "Don't Look Now," commences as a lithe, weary ballad before gradually cracking itself open and transforming into a midtempo rocker.Marsden's stinging fills punch through Bruce's bassline in the strutting modern blues that is "Keep It Down." The set closes with the thundering rock and roll of "No Surrender," the most raucous tune on the set. Bruce's voice is a tad grainy, but his pitch and phrasing remain intact. Silver Rails is chancy and engaging, despite some inconsistent moments, and stands as a bright testament to an exceptional musician who, for over 50 years, has pushed at the margins of every genre he's taken on.


Sunday, April 27, 2014

add 0982 The bottle rockets

The Bottle Rockets' first two albums were two of the most influential and popular records of the alternative country movement, setting the stage for their third album, 24 Hours a Day, to be a popular breakthrough upon its 1997 release. After all, alt-country was beginning to emerge from the mainstream and establish itself as one of the cornerstones of adult alternative radio. It's too bad they dropped the ball with 24 Hours a Day, then, since it could have been the one that made their career. It's not that the album is bad -- it's just not great. There are a couple of good moments, such as the propulsive "Perfect Far Away," but much of it is simply solid, craftsmanlike country-rock that sounds like it could have been done by any alt-country band. While that means the album is listenable, it also means that it's a disappointment, since The Bottle Rockets have the potential to be much more than just another alt-country band.


add 0981 the bottle rockets

The '90s turned out to be a little tough for the Bottle Rockets. Upon the release of its eponymous debut in 1993, the Missouri quartet was almost universally hailed as one of the leaders of the post-Uncle Tupelo Americana movement, but the band lost momentum when trying to make it in the big leagues. It wasn't for lack of trying. They labored over their official Atlantic debut, 24 Hours a Day, but when they were touring the album, the label pulled their support, leaving them to flounder. The Rockets regrouped and released a collection of outtakes, Leftovers, the following year, as they decided what to do next. Wisely, they seized an opportunity for a fresh start, which is what Brand New Year, their first studio album for Doolittle Records, is. They've decided to emphasize their roots as a bar band, cutting away their country tendencies and playing up their fondness for '70s hard rock. The twist is, Rockets leader Brian Hennemantries to inject some intelligence and self-aware humor into the lyrics. At times, it works, but it's just as frequently awkward or self-conscious, especially since it seems that the words have taken precedence over hooks or melodies. Even so, there's a sense of songwriterly craft, if not actual songs, that is welcome, and it's made all the more engaging by the earthy performances by what is, after all, a really good bar band. There's no question that Brand New Year is a proudly Luddite record, celebrating the virtues of loud guitars and living without computers (see "Helpless," as in "how come I don't feel helpless"), which naturally makes it feel like an album out of time, but that is its redeeming virtue -- it might not have the hooks of a classic rock album, but it's a good, solid slice of organic hard rock.


add 0980 the bottle rockets

While the Bottle Rockets' brand of Skynyrd-esque raunch & roll is considerably more good-timey than most of the band's roots rock brethren, their incisive, provocative songwriting skills set them squarely among the genre's elite. The Brooklyn Side, produced by Eric "Roscoe" Ambel, is fairly bursting with dead-on character studies exploring the realities and quiet desperation of rural Southern life, from the darkly humorous ("Sunday Sports," about a family man who finds that watching TV in his underwear is "the only way to get away from everything else" in his life) to the poignant ("Welfare Music," a depiction of the struggles facing a young single mother). The band also possesses a wickedly comic edge, as evidenced by "Idiot's Revenge" (a diatribe against alt rock rhetoric), "1000 Dollar Car" (a eulogy for a used automobile), and the flamethrowing single "Radar Gun" (the tale of a sadistic, ticket-happy traffic cop).


Saturday, April 26, 2014

0979 sigmatropic


0978 Sigmatropic

On Sixteen Haiku and Other Stories, a slate of international guests help Akis Boyatzis and Sigmatropic recast their original, Greek-language interpretations of George Seferis' poetry into English, in the process bringing the Nobel laureate's evocative work to their own varied audiences. The recording's guest list is rather impressive, from an indie standpoint at least. Shoving off with no less an eccentric talent than the inimitable Robert WyattSixteen Haiku drifts soundtrack-like through 22 unnamed pieces ("Haiku Five," "Haiku Six," etc.) According to Boyatzis' liner notes, the guests involved recorded their respective vocal interpretations over Sigmatropic's existing tracks; the resulting musical threads tie together what might otherwise be a mess of tangled voices. The album percolates with electronic programming, and the grooves of what might be labeled indie electronica. Processed bits of guitar build subtle melodies over thick bass, wildly varied drum loops, faraway snatches, traditional instrumentation, and assorted blips of human laughter and muttering. Ultimately, however, Sixteen Haiku and Other Stories is about words and voices.WyattLaetitia SadierAlejandro Escovedo, and Edith Frost dress their performances in personal nuance, but never outpace the poetry itself. (The artfully simplistic couplets are included in the accompanying booklet, along with a briefSeferis bio.) "I am raising now/A dead butterfly/With no make-up," Cat Power sings in "Haiku 10." It's brief at just over a minute. But the track's atmospheric buzz is sold by Chan Marshall's particular phrasing. This holds true throughout the album. Despite all the distinct personalities and their clever interpretations, no one piece ever really stands out. Instead, they each pour a spoonful of sparkling crystals into Sixteen Haiku and Other Stories' rejuvenating mineral spring.


Friday, April 25, 2014

add 0977 To be good Tanyas

Since the advent of CDs, reviewers ceased using phrases like, "From the moment the needle hit the vinyl, it was clear that Blue Horse had a beautiful, layered sound." Whatever the medium, the Be Good Tanyas have a knack for recharging traditional pieces with a sonic twist. Who would even think to take on a warhorse like "The Coo Coo Bird" or add electric guitar and drums to "Rain and Snow?" Frazey FordSamantha Parton, and Trish Klein sing, play multiple instruments (acoustic and electric), and, now and then, write their own material. They fill out their sound with a number of guests who add bass, drums, and a few other embellishments. Guest Jolie Holland adds her vocals to the breezy opener, "The Littlest Birds," a song that borrows, and puts to good use, a few lyrics from Syd Barrett's "Jug Band Blues." A pure country sound washes over "Broken Telephone," at least until an electric guitar takes a break about mid-way, while a jaunty banjo and mandolin energize "Lakes of Pontchartrain." Ford and Parton capably handle most of the vocals but what makes these singers special is how their voices mix and mingle in songs like "Up Against the Wall" and on the latter part of "Only in the Past." The same is true of their instrumental approach. Their motto might be "If it's kind of different and sounds cool, let's see if it will work." The production isn't neutral. Everything has been brightened a bit, and while this might have been distracting on a traditional album with a traditional approach, it perfectly balances the more experimental approach here. Blue Horse is a lovely debut, full of promise and great tunes.


add 0976 To be good Tanyas

The homespun, slightly quirky approach that guided the Be Good Tanyas on Blue Horse permeates their enigmatically titled sophomore release too. If anything, these performances beckon the listener even more into the material, as a fiery hearth might draw strangers together on a cold night. The singing is raggedy and breathy, the instruments gently strummed or stroked; like whispered intimacies, these elements cast a conversational spell. When something extra is added, it comes in minimal doses -- a sprinkle of barely audible electric guitar and unobtrusive strings enhance, rather than delete, the acoustic ambience on "Dogsong 2," while two cameos by Olu Dara stir memories of Joni Mitchell's early tapestries of folk and jazz. No single tracks stand out, but that may be intentional; by sustaining its blurry, wistful mood with neither gimmick nor interruption, Chinatown feels like an evening well spent with old friends.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

add 0975 Giant Sand

On 1988's The Love SongsHowe Gelb and his ever evolving Giant Sand had all but perfected his trademark brand of exciting, unpredictable, shambolic, fractured roots rock. The band was comprised of Gelb on guitars, piano, organ, and vocals; then-wife Paula Jean Brown on bass; Chris Cacavas (fresh out of Green on Red) on organ, piano, acoustic guitar, and backing vocals; and John Convertino on drums. The strident rigidity of Valley of Rain and the uneven if compelling and ambitious qualities of subsequent albums Ballad of a Thin Line Man and Ramp were fully realized here. "Wearing the Robes of Bible Black" extrapolates on the earlier country-rock GS sound, but is more skeletal and apocalyptic; it's hyperkinetic and zig-zags through its careening, off-rail honky tonk/rockabilly rhythm that's underscored by Gelb's spitting vocal. "One Man's Woman/No Man's Land" is the first time Gelb completely indulged his love of Northern soul on record -- albeit in a rock & roll context. The bassline is straight out of "Heatwave"; the backing vocals in the verses are pure Motown as well. Convertino's drums double time and Cacavas' organ colors the backdrop. It's in Gelb's shaky voice and his screaming guitar playing that he lets his freak flag fly, before bringing it all down to testify in spoken word gospel fashion. "Mountain of Love" marries Elmore James' infamous slide blues riff to country boogie and staccato rock pyrotechnics before a lilting country melody is introduced. The skittering garage band approach toBob Dylan's mid-'60s recordings and '70s funk are wed jaggedly but but inextricably together on "Love Like a Train." The cover of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller's "Is That All There Is?" is an even more jaded-sounding take on Brechtiancabaret than Peggy Lee's version (though admittedly nowhere near as well sung). The jittery improv jazz interlude on accordion, organ, and snare adds a surreal touch. The fuzz-drenched reverb on the cover of "Get Ready" turns the song's intentional camp factor into a nasty-ass rock & roll performance. Cut for cut, The Love Songs is among the most consistent and best recordings in GS' formidable catalog. Its relatively stripped-down sound allows for the quirky gift in Gelb's songwriting to shine through the primordial rock & roll instinct in the music.


add 0974 To be good Tanyas

British Columbia's Be Good Tanyas took their bluesy, north country folk to some fairly dark places on 2003'sChinatown, and while some of those shadows may have wandered into the studio during the recording of their third full-length collection Hello Love, the homespun Canadian trio seem bent on pulling the blinds up this time around and letting the world sneak back in. Frazey FordSamantha Parton and Trish Klein harmonize like opposing weather systems, they've all got the same goods but there's a little bit of pushback going on that helps keep things dangerous. For the most part, the ladies have chosen not to stray too far from their plainclothes rootsy sound, and while that may disappoint some fans, there's enough quality stuff here to light a fire in every train yard oil drum from Vancouver to Halifax. Hello Love works best when the whole gang pipes in, and a choice cover of Neil Young's "For the Turnstiles" delivers that effect in earnest. Tight, bluesy harmonies that are as spooky as they are lovely paint a picture of utter desolation that sounds as good turned up real damn loud as it does crackling through an old Victrola. Other covers, like fellow Canadian folkie Sean Hayes' "A Thousand Tiny Pieces," Mississippi John Hurt's "Nobody Cares for Me," and a rendition of the old gospel number "What Are They Doing in Heaven Today" resonate as well, but a misplaced version of Prince's "When Doves Cry" sticks out like a purple barn.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

add 0973 lambchop

Lambchop have made a number of outstanding albums as they've evolved from "Nashville's most f--ked-up country band" to a singular chamber pop ensemble during a career that lasted nearly two decades, but one of their finest works is not really a Lambchop album at all. Vic Chesnutt recruited Lambchop to serve as his backing band on the 1998 album The Salesman and Bernadette, and the results were a marvelous fusion of the group's broad but emotionally intimate approach and Chesnutt's witty, skewed, and perceptive gifts as a songwriter. Chesnutt and Lambchop's Kurt Wagner seemed like kindred spirits, fellow Southerners who married oblique yet telling poetry to melodies that were strong yet fluidly graceful, and it should surprise no one that Wagner was hit hard by Chesnutt's death in late 2009. Lambchop's first studio project since Chesnutt's passing, 2012's Mr. M, is dedicated to Wagner's friend and collaborator, and though the songs don't deal explicitly with Chesnutt, there's a sense of sorrow in these songs that's deeper than what we've come to expect from Lambchop, infused with an air of reflection and regret that's impossible to miss. As usual, Wagner's lyrics are blankly poetic and don't much concern themselves with linear storytelling, but his gently abstract sketches of people coming to terms with loss and unkind fate make themselves felt even when they're not literally understood, and the lines "Friends make you sensitive/Loss makes us idiots/Fear makes us critical/Knowledge is difficult" from the song "Mr. Met" sums up the tone and the themes of this album remarkably well. But if Mr. M is music informed by tragedy, the sense of gravity makes this some of the most beautiful and powerful music Lambchop have created to date. Wagner's gorgeous, artful melodies give the musicians plenty of opportunity to demonstrate their remarkable command of dynamics and interpersonal interaction, and most of the songs have been gussied up with fine, tasteful string arrangements that weave their way in and out of the band's performances rather than simply being draped over the top. Mr. M is an album that concerns itself with loss, but the beauty and gentle force of these songs speak to the joys and responsibilities of being alive, and the album is more than simply a fitting tribute to a fallen comrade, it's one of the most affecting works to date from a brilliant, one-of-a-kind band.


add 0918 Tony rice

Skaggs & Rice is a lovely duet album between Ricky Skaggs and Tony Rice. The two musicians run through a number of bluegrass classics, performing them in a spare, simple old-timey style, backed only by their guitar and mandolin. Not only are the performances breathtaking, but so are the song selections -- including Bill Monroe classics like "Mansions for Me" and "Tennessee Blues" as well as other standards like "Talk About Suffering" and "Have You Someone (In Heaven Awaiting)."


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

add 0917 slim cessna

Country-bluegrass-gospel testifiers Slim Cessna's Auto Club have developed a rabid more-than-cult following in their hometown of Denver, CO. Over the course of a half-decade-plus together (in some form or another due to frequent lineup changes), Slim and his band of merry pickers have managed to revivify Appalachian-style gospel-country for an audience of roots-loving twenty- and thirty-somethings tired of the slick Nashville sound. American Country Music Changed Her Life -- a live album recorded at Cessna's home stomping ground, Denver's Bluebird Theater -- is testimony to the band's hard-picking spirit, virtuosity, love of roots country, and appreciation for the diamonds in the rough on the strange side of the tracks. The Auto Club stakes a claim on several covers -- particularly strong here are the Auto Club's haunting take on the traditional "Wade in the Water" and Kris Kristofferson's "Help Me Make It Through the Night," performed true to the original, but with the throaty, nasal vocal hiccups of Mr. Cessna. These songs are transformed by the band's so-tight-it's-loose chemistry and acoustic-based instrumentation (banjos, accordions, pedal steel guitars). But it's on the up-tempo cuts that you really hear the tent-revival fervor shine through as Cessna commences to yodeling, shouting, whooping, and singing just as purty as a lark as the song, audience, and subject matter see fit -- whether giving voice to a man praying for redemption on the eve of his execution (the rambunctious opener "Lethal Injection") or humbly singing the praises of his lovely betrothed (as on the genuinely touching waltz-ballad "You're Smiling at Me"). And, lo, though some of the songs are specifically Christian standards, the speaking-in-tongues fever pitch into which Cessna and company whip the crowd is a universal ritual of musical connection. The set list is testimony to the power of even the most neglected (in pop music terms, anyway) music when played with passion. The closest thing to being there, American Country Music Changed Her Life will make you wish you had.