Sunday, April 13, 2008

New Music for April 2008

We've got lots of new music here and lots more coming in the near future including Sam Phillips latest release (more on that very soon). Meanwhile check out The Promise and enjoy music from the Juno Soundtrack, Nick Lowe, Sia, Paul Thorn, Steve Poltz, Herbie Handcock, Glann HAnsard and Marketa Irglova, The Missiles of October, Josh Ritter, Cat Power, Shelby Lynne, Allison Moorer, Bob Schneider, Carolyn Wonderland, Sean Costello and Shauna Burns.

Shauna Burns - The Moon and The Fire Circle (2008)
Somewhere between Sarah and Kate rides Shauna Burns. With her ethereal voice, spacious arrangements and lots of piano, you can't help but become enchanted with "The Moon and The Fire Circle". Throw in some cello and other interesting strings and you have an album that will let you float away. If you love Sarah or Tori or even Kate, you should really check out this beautiful CD. http://www.shaunaburns.com or http://myspace.com/shaunaburns .
Sean Costello - We Can Get Together (2008)
This is classic blues rock with mighty strong guitar hooks complimented by at times raspy and always engaging vocals. You would think that after all these years blues rock would get predictable and boring, but Sean gives so much of himself to this CD that the music almost transcends the genre making it fresh and exciting. But forget all of that. Try and listen without tapping your foot or playing air guitar. I dare you. http://www.seancostello.com or http://myspace.com/seancostello
Carolyn Wonderland - Miss Understood (2008)
I first saw Carolyn in a small BBQ restaurant in Austin. There was barely a stage there and it was just her and another woman. When she opened her mouth you could feel the passion in this woman. Then when she started playing some slide guitar leads you knew it was only a matter of time for this very talented artist. And this is the CD we have been waiting for. Every song is fit for radio airplay. It opens with what should be a radio classic, the title track "Miss Understood"; a bluesy slide crazy rock nugget. She proceeds to cover lots of ground over the next dozen songs, adding horns, doubling the beat, slowing down for an aching moment of country blues, even throwing in some choice covers. This will be high on my list at the end of the year. http://www.carolynwonderland.com or http://myspace.com/carolynwonderland .
Bob Schneider - When the Sun Breaks Down on the Moon (2008)
One man albums are always tough to review. Just how good would this CD be if he had a full band playing with him. It's not like he can't afford to bring in the hired guns to flesh out the songs. There are lots of interesting songs here, but only a few that really grab you like Bob is capable of. Hearing much of this in concert a few weeks ago, it seems to make more sense now. And I guess, when everyone wants you to spend your time living up to previous classics likeLonelyland , you need to do things without outside influences every so often. Listening to this CD, there is still plenty of good music left in Bob. We'll just have to wait a little longer for his next classic.
Allison Moorer - Mockingbird (2008)
With a voice like Allison's, she could sing the greatest hits of the Archie's and I'd be happy. So, that she has put together an excellent collection of songs written by women, isn't at all a bad thing. She shines on her own song, "Mockingbird" as well as classics "Dancin' Barefoot", "Ring of Fire" and "Orphan Train" by Julie Miller. This is a very enjoyable album. Now get back to writing Allison. We love what you have to say.
Shelby Lynne - Just A Little Lovin' (2008)
Allison's sister Shelby Lynne, has taken a similar yet slightly different route for her latest CD. She has decided to focus on songs made famous by Dusty Springfield. There aren't many that can cover Dusty's songs, but Shelby does a great job. If you like that era of music, then do check out this CD.
Cat Power - Jukebox (2008)
And yet another cover CD... This I believe is Cat Power's second such CD and it starts out with the only version of "New York, New York" that I can stand to listen to these days: That's how unique and powerful a version it is. Cat Power has a style that just overshadows whatever she performs, making any song instantly her own. If you like Cat Power, you'll love this. If you don't, you'll hate this. What else can I say here.
Josh Ritter - In the Dark - Live at Vicar Street (2008)
His last CD really brought him home to me. And so I thought I'd check out this live CD to get a better feel for the older stuff. Great idea on my part. This is one fantastic CD with a DVD to boot. The passion from the audience seems to really bring out the best from Josh and his band. I can't wait to see him live some day.
The Missiles of October - Hope
Saw these guys as an opening act at The Coach House a few months ago and was really impressed. This is a solid CD with interesting songs and solid production and guitar work.
Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova - The Swell Season (2007)
So, this is really what started the whole thing. If you haven't seen "Once" yet, just go buy it. I guarantee you will enjoy the movie and the music. Glen and Marketa started with this CD, then Glen took some of the songs for a Frames CD and more of them for the movie. So, there's lots that is familiar here. But if you need to have everything related to "Once", you need this in your collection. I still can't get enough.
Herbie Hancock - River, The Joni Letters (2007)
To have a jazz great cover Joni Mitchell seems obvious. Why it has taken this long is beyond me. Yes, it won a Grammy but that is rarely a reason to listen to anything. Great songs performed by excellent vocalists and one of the great keyboard men is the reason to buy this.
Steve Poltz - Traveling (2008)
Steve is one funny guy. And when he writes about his life and the things in it, you can't help but laugh. I don't think a studio album will ever do him justice, but this gets pretty close. He's a fun guy with lots of fun songs, and some deeper meaning if you look close enough.
Paul Thorn - A Long Way From Tupelo (2008)
Speaking of funny, Paul Thorn takes that poor southerner role and spins it around on us until we we see ourselves in a whole different light. This is his best CD since the classic "Ain't Love Strange". And the extra disk with a bunch of live songs is probably worth the price of admission. Buy this CD. Paul deserves so much more recognition. http://www.paulthorn.com
Sia - Some People Have Real Problems (2008)
There is no "Breath Me" (the final song from "Six Feet Under") here and that is too bad. There is nothing bad here, but nothing really stands out. Maybe I need to listen to it some more.
Nick Lowe - Jesus of Cool (2008)
You may remember "Pure Pop for Now People", Nick's first album. And if you didn't know, this was the real title of that album (the record company in the U.S. wouldn't release it that way). With lots of extra songs, this is a must have for anyone who wants to hear the best of what the "New Wave" brought us. "Jesus of Cool" is a great title, but "Pure Pop for Now People" best describes this album.
Juno - Music from the Motion Picture
Obviously a special movie and soundtrack. Indie music from multiple generations make this a unique collection. From Barry Louise Polisar's classic "All I want is You" to the Velvet Underground's "I'm Sticking with You" there is something for every age. And just in case you need some classic rock, "All the Young Dudes" will make you smile.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Bruce Springsteen - Anaheim Honda Center - April 8 2008

It's day two of Springsteen at the Pond... ahh, I mean Honda Center... and I'm doubly excited for I am taking Jessie to her first Springsteen show. We got there around 3:30 and decided to get our wrist bands right away; 269/270 a nice medium number. Anything below it and we're in the pit. Almost anything above it and we're screwed. After a quick dinner across the street we met up with old friends in the parking lot. I was quick to point out that this was my daughter's first show. Everyone was excited for her. At 5pm they herded us into stalls based on our numbers and waited. Finally, the time came. I've never heard a 1000 concert goers get so quiet as he called out the numbers: "1... 1... 4". And then a third of the crowd started cheering wildly! Jessie's first Springsteen show and she's in the pit! I am not only a happy guy, I'm a happy dad. :-)

Inside the arena we decided to shoot over to the far left so that we could lean on the side rail. There was only one row in front of us and they were hanging on the front rail. It was an excellent location with only one annoying person near us (and for only a few songs... he was ayell-er who loved to yell it up at the wrong times). Jessie stood in front of me the whole show, which meant that she probably heard me singing as much as she heard the other Bruce.

The lights went out and Bruce whipped out his harmonica. Thunder Road! What a great opener. This was not going to be a rocker like the night before, but there were going to be plenty of treats. Overall Bruce changed out 7 songs (I believe) from the night before. Highlights included "Candy's Room" and "Atlantic City". But there were tears in the eyes of a few friends of mine when, to open the encore, he played "Meeting Across the River". The song ended and there was no piano as we clapped. I guess no "Jungleland" then. Wrong! For some reason they just didn't start it right away, but we got "Jungleland". For "Dancing in the Dark" he brought up a 6 year old girl who was front and center. What a treat. Jessie ask me how come I didn't take her to these shows when she was younger.Uhmmm, 'cause the E Street band had stopped touring.

Tom Morello, from Rage Against the Machine, came out again. I suppose it was to prove that his amazing guitar solo during "Ghost of Tom Jode" wasn't a fluke. It wasn't. We watched as Clarence walked very very slowly across stage all night. It is tough watching your heroes get old. I believe he has had a couple of hip surgeries. They set up a throne like chair for him when he wasn't playing the sax.

A couple of star sitings to report. We saw, and had it confirmed by security, Kristen Dunst. Jessie thinks she was with Ryan Gosling. Apparently on evening number one, Bruce Willis was there and someone got thrown out of the arena for bugging him too much. Can you believe that? You're there for a great show and you let the an infatuation with the wrong Bruce get you kicked out.

Weirdness: We saw a woman who looks just like Deb. Jessie, who has seen her picture a lot couldn't believe it. And then we saw a double of my friend Kim, who probably wouldn't be caught dead at a Bruce show. I saw TomMorello going in and out of the pit several times. He is really a big fan I guess.

While standing in line I heard someone yelling, "Bruce! Bruce!" I never turn around at Bruce shows. Then she yells, "The Other Bruce!". That got my attention. It was Judy. She ended up right next to us in the pit. Didn't get a chance to see Annie, but heard she was there. Overall it was a great night. Jessie had a lot of fun. She was bragging to her friends, who actually were jealous and it kept up until she got home and found out thatPixar had announced its releases for the next, I don't know, 20 years. She suddenly forgot about the show. Oh well. Still, she was spoiled by what one friend called "The best show on the coast this tour" (he saw both shows up north too), and in the pit too! As I write this, Thursday during my lunch hour, I am still waiting for the effects and the hoarseness to wear off. Below is the set list from backstreets.com .

Setlist:
Thunder Road
Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Murder Incorporated
Magic
Atlantic City
Candy's Room
Reason to Believe
Prove It All Night
Because the Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Brilliant Disguise
The Ghost of Tom Joad (w/ Tom Morello)
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
Out in the Street
* * *
Meeting Across the River
Jungleland
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark

American Land

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Bruce Springsteen in The OC April 7 2008

Living in So. Cal. it seems that every review has to start with a traffic report. Getting to L.A. can be such a bear these days. So, living 10 minutes from the Honda Center in Anaheim (I'm finally getting used to not calling it The Pond) is so nice. I spent more time on theofframp and getting into the parking lot then I spent on the freeway. So when I got there I called up my friend Rocky. We've known each other for half our lives but probably haven't sat near each other for a Bruce Springsteen show since the 80's; maybe never. "Where are you sitting?" I asked. "Section 223", she said. "What row?". "D". "What seat?". "2". "I'm in 5!". Before I could hang up, this guy is bugging me to sell my tickets. I finally look to see who it is and it's Randy. By the way,Meems, Randy says hi. He misses hearing you on the air and he wanted me to tell you about Kulakswoodshed .com ; a cool place in the valley where people go to hear music. He was thinking that if you ever got your band back together, it would be a great place to perform. Sorry, got off track...

Our seats were at about center court and only 4 rows from the floor, making us at stage level. Very good seats. Bruce started an hour late, which is normal for him and came out firing with a rockin' version of "Light of Day" and then continued to just rip through a high energy set list (see below, courtesy of Backstreets.com). Then came the surprises. First we got "Murder Inc.", always a killer. He slowed down a touch for "Magic" and then... "Trapped"! We were screaming at the tops of our lungs. What a great surprise. But the surprises didn't end there...

A couple of songs later we got "Because the Night" with Nils just killing the guitar solo. Maybe not a big surprise, but what followed shortly after was...

We had been hearing that "The Ghost of Tom Joad" was being rehearsed and Rocky wasn't too excited about that. But when Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine came out, it was obvious this wasn't going to be a potty break version of the song (sorry, when the E Street Band plays, and Bruce decides to slow down, people usually head for the bathroom... we are getting older). Tom did for "Ghost" what Nils normally does for Youngstown; turn it into a guitar solo piece for the ages. The whole place went nuts.

What could top that? Maybe hearing "Rosalita" for the first time in years. That put a huge grin on our faces. There were lots of people showing up on stage including B
obby Bandiera (a Jersey boy), Marty Rifkin and Marc Anthony Thompson. With the wife at home (actually both our wives were at home) Bruce (that would be him not me) was a flirting machine, letting women grab his legs (I even saw one woman grabbing his butt) during several songs. Of course, he didn't leave the guys out, letting then grab and strum his guitar (I think it was during Born to Run).

Generally, when Bruce plays two nights in one town, the second show is the best. He plays the basic show the first night and a more open show the second. The same things goes for multi-leg tours. This is the second time around and he has put aside some of the newer music to play some oldies. He really mixed it up last night and I can't wait for tonight!


Setlist:
Light of Day
Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Murder Incorporated
Magic
Trapped
Reason to Believe
Because the Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Working on the Highway
The Ghost of Tom Joad (w/ Tom Morello)
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands
Out in the Street
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Rosalita
Born to Run
Ramrod (w/ Bobby Bandiera)
American Land (w/ Marty Rifkin and Marc Anthony Thompson)

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