Friday, November 24, 2006

New Music for November

Dave Stephens – Stories for Copper (2006)
This CD takes me back to the early 70’s when there was a lot of pop in rock. It is a well produced (self-produced in fact) CD with all the hooks in all the right places. http://davestephens.ca

Willy Porter – Available Light (2006)
It has been a few years since Willy has crossed my path (almost 10 years maybe). He still plays a mean guitar and is still a passionate songwriter. Half a dozen CDs or so have slipped by me and after listening to “Available Light”, I feel the need to go back and check them out. He is heads above most singer/songwriters and this is an excellent example. I can’t wait to play some of his music for you all. Willy can be found at http://www.willyporter.com .

Patti Witten – Tell The Wind (2006)
It is all about the songwriting. Patti is one of the finest independent songwriters writing today and “Tell The Wind” is a natural follow up to her previous efforts. While many songwriters sing about losing a love, Patti sings about the emotions and feelings that run through you. This is one of those CDs where you are glad there are written lyrics to enjoy as you listen. Go buy all of Patti’s CDs at http://www.pattiwitten.com .

Martha Colby – Across Two Rivers (2005)
The last time I saw Martha, she was playing these amazing cello solos for October Project. When you attack rock from the point of view of a cello, you always seem to get very interesting music. Like Jorane from Canada, Martha’s classical training and beautiful cello playing leads to a very unique CD. Taking chances that most musicians wouldn’t dare take, “Across Two Rivers” pulls you in with her spirited risks and exciting arrangements. Sometimes jazzy, sometimes pure singer/songwriter, this CD is a risk worth taking. http://www.marthacolby.com

Holly Palmer – Tender Hooks (2004)
I first fell in love with Holly Palmer and her music when she performed with Kenny White in L.A. Her current CD at the time, “I Confess”, was a mix of pop and rock filtered through a jazz vocalist’s sense of being. It is a fantastic CD. “Tender Hooks” predates “I Confess” and you can see where Holly was headed. This CD is less pop and more experimental in its sound. Check out both of Holly’s CDs at http://www.hollypalmer.com.

The Decemberists – The Crane Wife (2006)
This is their first major label release and although it doesn’t hold up as well as their previous effort, it is The Decemberists, which means they’re unique view on music and the world is a joy to behold.

Ollabelle – Riverside Battle Songs (2006)
The first thing I thought of as I listened to this excellent CD is Eastmountainsouth. With its traditional sound yet polished delivery, this is a CD that takes you back as well as brings you forward. Like the Eastmountainsouth CD it is a pure joy to listen to.

Chris Thile – How to Grow A Woman from the Ground (2006)
When I first saw Chris live (just before his last CD was released), I expected a very bluegrass performance from him and instead got a very singer/songwriter performance and later CD. This time around, I got what I expected the first time. Another good solo effort for Chris.

The Long Winters – Putting The Days To Bed (2006)
I really enjoyed this CD. They remind me a bit of a modern rock version of the Counting Crows without copying from them. This is a solid rockin’ CD. http://www.thelongwinters.com

Damien Rice – 9 (2006)
A couple of years ago, I took my daughter to see Damien in concert. I told her this was very mellow, but really interesting music and that she would love it. Little did I know that there was a loud side to Mr. Rice. Sitting up in the balcony of the Wiltern in L.A., it was an amazing experience. My friend in the pit, had to leave because of the volume though. And so that makes this new CD a perfect realization of the Damien Rice “sound”: Beautiful, powerful and capable of going from a whisper to a scream in an instant. "9" is getting mixed reviews, but I think it is one of this years’ best. Songs like “9 Crimes” and “Elephant” remind you of his previous masterpiece and songs like “Restless Tree” truly show off his anger and pain.

Joanna Newsom – The Milk Eyed Mender (2004)
Not long ago, when there was talk about Kate Bush having a new CD and maybe a tour, I added her name to my Google Alerts. Although Kate never toured, the move has paid off. You see, reviewers love to use artists like Kate as a comparison to their offbeat female artist reviews. First it led me to Jorane, a cellist from Canada. This time it brought me to Joanna Newsom, a singer with a unique sound. She plays the harp and has a voice that is sometimes childlike and innocent. Her harp playing is beautiful. When it is just her and the harp, this CD soars. Joanna’s unique style is worth checking out… right here: http://www.dragcity.com/bands/newsom.html


Andy Logan and Paul Needza Friend each sent me mp3’s and I’ve added them to the play list. Andy who’s straight ahead sound was very enjoyable can be found at www.andylogan.com . Paul who has a potent maybe even combustible sound can be found at www.paulneedzafriend.com . I look forward to hearing more from these guys.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

OK Go At the Glass House in Pomona

So, it was Jess’ turn to pick the concert and she was so excited about going to see OK Go. Thank God my daughter doesn’t have the rap gene, or for that matter the boy band gene (although we got a little of that by nights end). It’s a pain in the butt getting out to Pomona on a week night, but… it was worth it. Really.

Knowing the venue a bit better after seeing Jenny Lewis, we moved quickly to the risers on the far left wall so that even though we stood all night, we got to lean on something and see above most of the crowd. My friend Susan and her son Jon showed up too, so we had a nice little parent kid group going. I also ended up meeting a guy who started the conversation with me with, “So, is this your favorite band too?” It turns out he was even older musically then we were, “My daughter likes my music too; Frank Sinatra, jazz”. Anyway, we made up the majority of the old folk there (maybe they planned it that way).

Up first: Quit Your Day Job. I kid you not, that is their name. And you know, with a name like that, there has to be some humor going on. Sure enough, this is maybe one of the funniest bands since the Dickies (although they really do not compare… sorry guys). It is a three piece band, with guitar, keyboard and drums. The keyboard player does the bass lines and really gives the band an 80’s sound. But truly they are a not quite hardcore punk band. The song titles are the highlights to the songs and in fact generally they are pretty much all of the lyrics too. With songs like, “Pigs from Hell”, “Pissing on a Panda”, “Sperms are Germs” (their only love song) and “Look, there’s a Dollar”, we were laughing or at least smiling throughout the show. Actually, the smiling by the guitar player (this big, show your teeth smile) was almost as bizarre as the keyboard player slowly stripping throughout the show (we found his sock on the floor after the show but decided not to touch it). Don’t get me wrong, I don’t see myself buying any of their CDs anytime soon. But it was fun to watch.

Okay, how do I describe OK Go? I guess you could say that they are a rock band that wants to be a boy band; but not really. They are charismatic, fun, their music is filled with hooks, the melodies aren’t bad and the lead singer has a lot of Mick Jagger in him. They also use a healthy dose of gimmicks to keep the show exciting. And like their music, which is a mix of old (80’s) and new, the gimmicks represented the good old days (floating in the audience) and the new electronic days (having everyone hold up their cell phones instead of lighters… and what an amazing blue tinted scene that was!). They also did an acoustic song out in the middle of the audience. Now those of you who saw Melissa Etheridge know that she has done this. But, they brought small flood lights with them and had the audience be the lighting crew while they played in the middle of them all. They also had small web cams attached all over the stage. The coolest one was right on the microphone of the lead singer. You got this distorted black and white picture of his face that was displayed on the back screen. It was pretty cool.

They did two covers during the show, a song by the Damned and a Violent Femmes song. But I will always remember what they didn’t do. They were about to sing an ELO song (probably “Don’t Bring Me Down”), but an audience member said she had heard it last night, so he said, “Okay we won’t play it. Hey guys, how about some Violent Femmes”. And off they went.

So you may say, I know OK Go from somewhere. Well, they are the band that does that amazing treadmill video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pv5zWaTEVkI . There is no way they are going to do a club tour and bring a half dozen treadmills with them, but you know, seeing the video that dancing is their life. And so, at the end, their boy band inside them comes out and they do an amazingly complicated choreographed dance that had everyone yelling and laughing, all at the same time. It is nice to see that someone still knows how to put on a show.

Music Hall Link - Cowboy Junkies 4-1-1996 listen