Monday, August 27, 2007

New Music in July

Yes, I know it is well into August, but, well, weddings some how seem to get in the way. All of this music has been playing on The Promise since late July and it has taken me all of this time just to get back to this blog. But here we go, short but sweet. As always, a big thank you to all of the artists who send me their wonderfulCDs for airplay. My short descriptions can't do you justice.

Crowded House - Time On Earth (2007)
Right now this is in the running for my favorite CD of the year. It has been about 10 years since last we saw a Crowded House CD. Neil Finn hasn't been sitting around collecting royalties though. He has continued to grow and develop as a songwriter. His solo CDs along with his CDs with his brother Tim have been excellent. So that this Crowded House CD is great is no surprise. What does it sound like? Well, it sounds like... Crowded House. Classic Crowded House at that.
Loudon Wainwright III - Strange Weirdos (Music From and Inspired by the File Knocked Up) (2007)
It's Loudon. Although I have been a fan since "Dead Skunk", I hadn't really checked out the albums until the last couple of years. He is truly an American treasure. A wonderful CD to check out.
Blood Red Sun - A Nation of Saviors (2007)
An Excellent rock outfit, this is definitely not for someone looking for a mellow evening out. But if you're looking for plenty of hooks and some good hard rockin', you've come to the right place. http://www.blood-red-sun.com
Ellsworth - American Compost (2006)
I've been having trouble pinpointing what Ellsworth is. There is no doubt we are listening to Americana, but with a bit of a twist. I think what I like about the music, is the the early 60's feel it seems to exude as go through the tracks. A great combination and one that makes this indie CD worth checking out. You can check out his Myspace site at: http://www.myspace.com/ellsworthsongs .
High Cotton - High Cotton (2004)
This is another Americana artist but with a fun sound and a powerful female singer. I enjoyed this 5 song EP. Think early Michele Shocked. They have newer music available at: http://www.highcottonati.com , or check out their Myspace site: http://www.myspace.com/highcottonati .
Ryan Adams - Easy Tiger (2007)
Everyone has been talking about this CD, some calling it his best work since Whiskeytown. I don't see it. The short answer here is that I really enjoyed this CD; probably more than the last few. But not so much more that I'm jumping up and down with excitement. Ryan is a gifted writer and he always shows signs of it in almost every CD he puts out. This one is no exception.
Raul Malo - After Hours (2007)
So... if you're a big fan of 50's classics song with a country attitude and one of the great voices in rock, then this CD is for you. And that pretty much describes it. Raul can sing the phone book and his band on this CD can pretty much play it all, but this music is really limited in scope. You'll either love it or pass it over and wait for the next one.
Spoon - Ga Ga GA Ga Ga (2007)
Spoon is slowly working its way into the American consciousness. I don't think this CD is as obviously pop as their last couple, but in their unique way Spoon is creating a new pop; something we can all be proud of.
Kim Richey - Chinese Boxes (2007)
There is an upbeat sound to almost everything Kim sings. You just can't help but feel good while listening to her CDs. This may not have the solid singles that her last couple of CDs had, but it is a solid CD; one I'll be enjoying for awhile.
Minnie Driver - Seastories (2007)
When last we talked about Minnie Driver (yes, that Minnie Driver), I was telling you to buy the CD just for the great Springsteen cover. Well, this new CD shows us that indeed Minnie Driver has arrived. Put her next to the other solid singer/songwriters out there and she will fit right in. I love her voice. I love her song selections. It's a beautiful collection and worth every penny.
Nick Drake - Family Tree (2007)
It is hard to recommend this CD and it is hard not to. If you have eaten up all of the legal Nick Drake material and haven't gotten enough, you will eat this one up too. These are so-so recordings made not as part of a record, but as inspirations that maybe someday would be shaped into something great. It is raw and interesting and there are a few standout cuts. And it is Nick Drake; one of the great unknowns who died way too soon.
2 Nice Girls - Two Nice Girls (2007 - Reissue)
This is a CD I had to have for one song: Sweet Jane (with Affection). I already owned "I spent my last $10 on birth control and beer"; the second best song on the CD (and one of the funniest lesbian songs I've ever heard). After these two songs, you have a very nice folk-like CD (some call it lesbian folk). ButSJWA is a great. They have combined Lou Reed's "Sweet Jane" with Joan Armatrading's "Love and Affection". It is an absolute classic.
Duncan Sheik - White Limousine (2006)
When Duncan Sheik walked away with a Tony this year, some people in the music industry may have been surprised. But listen to this CD from 2006 and you will hear how Duncan has grown over the years, creating a full sound that is worthy of the stage. A beautiful CD to listen to.
Todd Helvig - Distill (2007)
I've saved Todd for last because... well this type of artist can be really hard to describe. He has a classic rock voice. But his songs are far from that. They are passionate acoustic pieces that don't draw us in with hooks, but with the... passion (there's that word again). It almost feels like these are classic rock and roll songs turned acoustic. Bring on the band and you blow out the doors. But I like it better this way. Todd bares his soul for us, and you don't get that with leather and two drum kits. I'm willing to bet that he is one to see in concert. If you're in the Colorado area, you can check him out live, otherwise, you can pick up his CDs at http://www.toddhelvig.com .

Coming attractions:
Lots more music on the way, including new music from: Once - The Soundtrack, Graham Parker Live in Chicago, Emiko, Lori Mckenna, Bruce Robinson (just go out and buy this one now... great, althought short, CD), Julia Albert, Luke Powers, and Marshall Dabney.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Alejandro Escovedo Live at The Mint in L.A.


It was a perfect evening for some great rock and roll and Alejandro Escovedo did not disappoint. We arrived at The Mint in the middle of the opening act's set. The Estate played an interesting set of... well I'm not quite sure how to describe it. The lead singer had a voice that kept reminding me of Janis Joplin. It is a bit high for a man and just gravelly enough to make you clear your throat every so often. There was a lot of passion in it and the songs sounded real good. I'm going to have to pick up the CD and give him/them more of a listen.

Alejandro came out with a standard rock and roll lineup: guitar, bass, drums, violin and cello. It really is a great grouping and all of the musicians happen to be pretty good on top of that. The Wild Colonials, during their Christmas shows, used to at times have a lineup that was a bit like this. And with both bands, when they are all up there, you get a really full sound. And so, at the end of the show for example, when the band just kicks some ass during Castanets , it sounds GREAT. And I love a band that is having a good time on stage. You can see it in their eyes; especially while trading off solos with each other.

Alejandro introduced two new songs: Sister Lost Soul and Sensitive Boys. Both are going to be recorded in L.A. next month (hopefully!). The new album is supposed to be a sort of travelogue of the places and times where Alejandro Escovedo has lived. Sister Lost Soul is about the rockers whom he admired that are no longer with us. Sensitive Boys was dedicated to his brother. Both songs sounded great.

There were no real surprises in the set, with the band playing lots of favorites throughout the hour and a quarter. What may have been the highlight for some (it was for me) was saved for last with a beautiful version of Ian Hunter's "I Wish I Was Your Mother". There was a beautiful a cappella section near the end that just made the evening. With that he left the stage with promises to try and come back next month. Watch The Mint's web site for more info. Also, you can check out Sin City, the promoter of the show. And, of course, Alejandro Escovedo can be found here: http://www.alejandroescovedo.com/ .

Oh... Sorry for the crappy picture. It's a new camera and I really didn't have time to play with it before the show. And then suddenly we were surrounded by amazingly tall people.

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