Wow. So much music, so little attention span. :-) Okay, seriously, there is a lot to cover here. I spent most of September in the South and Southwest and am so glad to be home. But there is so much catching up to do now. These CDs that have been added to the play list are in no particular order. There are some indie bands and some new bands. A couple are on their sophomore release and several are long time favorites that you all know about. Please take a few minutes and flip through the whole list. I'm sure there is something here you'll like.
Richard Thompson - Sweet Warrior (2007)
This new CD from long time guitar hero and all round great artist is a rocker. Most of the songs are classic Thompson, with wonderful insights, cool melodies and sweet guitar licks.
Marshall Dabney - Crown Jewel (2006)
The great thing about today's music industry is that an artist who is willing to go it alone can create music the way he sees fit. And that brings us to Marshall Dabney, a superb guitarist who has built a wonderful CD that is part prog rock, maybe a touch jazz, part guitar fun and all very 70's; but in a good way. I really enjoyed the fun instrumentals; a reminder that you don't have to add cheesy lyrics to a song when a good guitar is all you may need.
Sun Volt - The Search (2007)
Is that horns I hear? Hmmm. Here is a fun description: Son Volt is a cross between REM and Bob Mould. That is the way the new CD strikes me. Its the same great voice with melodies to fit.
Josh Ritter - The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter (2007)
From the opening chords of "to the dogs or whatever" I was hooked. I liked his last CD, but I LOVE this one. The recording feels sort of low tech, and maybe that adds to the fun. Yep, this is fun CD. Now that's not to say that the songs are lightweight, they just all feel so good. The best will have you not only tapping your feet, but will have you singing along almost instantly. Go buy this... Now.
White Stripes - Icky Thump (2007)
Back to a more straight forward sound, Jack and Meg have created another potent CD. I'm reminded of the power duos from the early 70's (what am I saying? Power duos?) except without the excess. And Jack Black is still one of the most creative guitarists alive.
Steve Earle - Washington Square Serenade (2007)
It's a more modern sound with some drum tracks and maybe even some scratching, but there is no doubt it is still Steve Earle. This is a strong CD with only a minimum of outright political attacks but a maximum of strong social discovery as he talks about his move to New York City and the love of his life, Allison Moorer. She sings backup on this CD and their voices sound wonderful together. I highly recommend this CD for both old and new fans.
Eliza Gilkyson - Your Town Tonight (2007)
I just discovered Eliza earlier this year and have only seen her as an opening act. So this live CD is such a pleasure to listen to. But nothing prepared me for her rendition of her father's "Green Fields". Wow! If you are a fan of Eliza's or have wondered about her, this is a great way to get introduced.
Jesse Malin - Glitter in the Gutter (2007)
The lineage of New Jersey rockers continues and with this CD Jesse is just about ready to join the big boys. A duet with The Boss helps, but Jesse can stand on his own, thank you. Great rockin' CD.
Bill Harvey - bear sick (2007)
As Bob Schneider's guitar player, Billy played a mean guitar. But on his own, his sound is more soft, acoustic and quirky. And with each CD the songwriting continues to get better and better. At times his songwriting reminds me of Steve Poltz, without the outrageous humor.
The Section Quartet - Fuzzbox (2007)
No one rocks harder with strings and bows than The Section Quartet. Their first major label release continues where their indie CD left off: creating great quartet arrangements to rock songs. Obviously the arrangements are what makes their sound so good. But it is the song selection that makes their CDs worth buying. Rarely going with the obvious choice, they cover Bowie, but it is "The Man Who Sold The World"; not one that most people can remember the tune to. But you say to yourself, "I know that song". It really is fun listening to their CDs (or live for that mater) the first time. It is not all rarities though. Following Bowie is the 90's classic "Black Hole Sun" and then Led Zep's Heartbreaker. Too old school for you? How about "No One Knows" from Queens of the Stone Age? Eric, Daphne, Leah and Richard understand music. They can see the beauty and complexity in what most of us see as just rock and roll. And most important... My daughter, the budding artist, says it is great to paint to. So there you have it.
Luke Powers - Picture Book (2007)
When I was young I believed that the words were the song. As I got older I fell in love with great playing. But the words kept creeping in. Some of those progressive bands in the 70's sounded so good, but the lyrics? So, if you listen to words, you end up listening to singer/songwriters. And ultimately, you're going to find yourself on the fringes of country music because good country and folk music loves a good story (something beyond losing the wife, the dog and the house as the train goes by). And Luke Powers writes a good story. You're going to laugh. You're going to cry. Well, okay, maybe not cry. But whoever "Mr. Yeah Yeah Yeah" is must be a pretty pitiful person. And did Luke really see JFK driving a pickup truck? Have I peaked your interest? I hope so, because I loved listening to these folk/country/whatever stories. http://www.phoebeclaire.com/BIO/lukepowersbio.htm
Julia Albert - ...More Real Than This (2007)
This little 5 song EP grabbed my interest because... well... I know, you've heard this a bunch of times, but... there is some Kate Bush in her. And I'm a sucker for anyone who reminds me of her. This is much more pop than Kate though. Still this EP makes me want to hear more. http://www.myspace.com/juliaalbertmusic
Patti Scialfa - Play it as it Lays (2007)
I was on an exercise bike in Memphis a few weeks ago and put on this CD. Searching for inspiration, Patti sings, "I'm Looking for Elvis down a Memphis road". And I was hooked. I loved both of Patti's previous CDs, but they pale in comparison to this beautiful CD from a very mature woman dealing with life and her art. I went several workout sessions in a row with this CD on because I just couldn't get enough of it. I hear she sings one of her songs during Bruce's tour. I, for one, will be looking forward to that part of the show.
Graham Parker & the Figgs - 103 in June - Live in Chicago (2006)
You can feel the sweat dripping off the guitars on this CD. On a very warm night in Chicago a few years back, Graham and the Figgs rocked hard for a club full of frenzied fans. I saw them around this time and remember being totally exhausted at the end (and I was sitting). This is what rock and roll is all about. So, support your local independent record dealer, 'cause that is the only place this is available.
Once - Music from the Motion Picture (2007)
I had never followed the Frames and so therefore had no idea what I was in for when I sat down to watch this movie a couple months ago. What a brilliant movie and CD. When it is available for sale, buy it. And then pick up this CD or Glenn Hansard and Marketa Irglova's "The Swell Season". And I'm guessing you may want to pick up all of the Frames' CDs. That was the way I came out of the movie. It is passionate acoustic music that will just knock you over.
Bruce Robison - It Came From San Antonio (2007)
The title track to this short CD is an homage to The Sir Douglas Quintet, who were actually from San Antonio not Liverpool as many people believed back in the 60's. It is a great little rocker that totally captures the style and sound of the day. The rest of the CD is just really good songwriting from a man who is best known as the husband of Kelly Willis. But he has written songs for people like George Straight and, of course, Kelly. It is a short CD and can be picked up real cheap on his web site. Pick it up while you can. You won't be disappointed. http://www.brucerobison.com/
Lori Mckenna - Unglamorous (2007)
If radio were playing "music" these days, Unglamorous would be a guaranteed crossover hit for Lori. Her folk/country style is never overshadowed by over production which would allow mellower rock stations to play her music. Country stations would pick up on the great stories and overall fun spirit that is all over this CD. Lori is a really good songwriter and deserves to be listened to. I will be playing a lot of this CD on the stream.
Joni Mitchell - Shine (2007)
Joni is no longer the pop artist. She hasn't been for decades. During her big "comeback" in the 90's, she stripped her music back down to an acoustic level, but it still wasn't "pop". What it was though was strikingly social-political. Songs like "Sex Kills" still ring true 10 years later. "Shine" brings back the jazzy band sound and keeps the strong attack on the problems in this world. If you truly loved Joni for her lyrics, you will love this CD. But if you are looking for pretty melodies about lost love, you might want to pick up one of her older albums. This would be a better world if more grandmothers were as outspoken as Joni.
Rilo Kiley - Under the Blacklight (2007)
Jenny Lewis and friends take a shot at the more straightforward and direct sound. It's easier to swallow. But don't worry. They are too quirky to be totally commercial. It will be interesting to see where they go from here.
Ann Wilson - Hope & Glory (2007)
For her first solo CD, Ann has decided to pick songs that she loves and that she feels are important in this day and age to sing for us. She has also gather some of her friends (you know most of them) to sing and play with her. The result is a strong cover CD from one of the finest voices in rock.
Bruce Springsteen - Magic (2007)
The Boss is rocking this time out. Obviously, The Promise is a big fan, so any review would be just a bit partisan. What I will say is that the CD grows on me with each listen. And as I listen to the bootlegs of his current tour, the magic of this CD really starts to show through.
Jose Gonzalez - In Our Nature (2007)
His unique, flamenco inspired guitar playing drives his sound. With his soft voice on top of the guitar, you are pulled into his world. He is like no one I have ever heard, and yet his sound is so familiar. I once compared him to Nick Drake. That may be closest you are going to get.
John Fogerty - Revival (2007)
A perfect title for a near perfect return to form. John has resurrected the sound and feel of Creedence Clearwater Revival. The melodies, the syncopation, the voice... It is all here. But the CD doesn't dwell on the past. John just uses it as a launching pad for some of the best music he has written since the CCR days.
Peter Bradley Adams - Gather Up (2006)
Like floating down a calm river, Peter Bradley Adams' new CD is a continuation of his eastmountainsouth CD, providing a soft, beautiful landscape of music to rest our weary bones on. At times he reminds me of the soft side of Jackson Brown. This is a less traditional CD then the last, but it is just so darn beautiful, it really doesn't matter what's going on here.
Emiko - Here Lies Tinkerbell (2003)
Sexy, brash, straight talking, funky... All this and a beat you can dance to. Her attitude reminds me of early Alanis, but she is much more upfront with her sexuality. Enjoy this CD now, before the pop mainstream destroys her. http://www.emikomusic.com