Sunday, January 29, 2006

This Weeks Play List

Lots of new music for you this week, including our first batch of hot 2006 CDs. If the rest of the year is like last week, this is going to be an amazing year. And don't forget to pick up Tina Dico's first solo CD, In the Red, now available most everywhere.

Cat Power – The Greatest (2006) Okay, yes there is an R&B band behind her, but this isn’t R&B; no matter what the critics say. But having this excellent combo behind her may be just what she needs to move up to the next level.

Rosanne Cash – Black Cadillac (2006) Her best CD yet. That isn’t just from me, but from virtually every critic that has reviewed the album. Squarely focused on the death of her parents and step mother (all within 2 years), this as emotional an outpouring as you are going to see all year. A very sweet touch at the end is track 13 with is 71 seconds of silence. Both of her parents were 71 when they died.

Danielia Cotton – Small White Town (2005) A wonderful new artist with lots of wide variety of styles all mixed together.

KCR Radio Presents Aztec Beach (2005) Okay, this is a personal thing. My college radio station, KCR at San Diego State University, is having a fund raiser and this CD was put together for that very purpose. It is getting good reviews among the surf music community. If you wish to support college radio and hear some good surf music (11 bands, 21 songs) check it out here:

Various Artists – Big Sweet Life, The Songs of Jon Dee Graham (2005) If you’re not going to donate to my old college radio station, then go to and buy this CD to help support Jon’s son who has a very expensive disease. It isn’t that he couldn’t afford insurance that this happened, but that his insurance company went under and no one will insure his son. It is so sad, and yet so exciting to see all of Austin come out to support him.

Various Artists – Austin City Limits Music Festival 2004 (2005) More a memento than anything else, there are still plenty of good songs on this CD. Available at

Firefly (2006) This Canadian band is working the alt-country scene and is doing a good job from what I’ve heard so far. They sent me a couple of mp3s and I liked them enough to play them for you.

Girlyman – Little Star (2005) My friend saw them open for the Indigo Girls and bought 2 of their CDs. They describe themselves as a coed Indigo Girls, and that really seems to fit.

David Lindley & El Rayo-X – Very Greasy (1988) An old classic. Call it Reggae. Call it Ska. It doesn’t matter. The beat will make your feet tape and your body will shiver from the great guitar solos.

Monday, January 16, 2006

This Weeks Play List

Beth Hart – Live at Paradiso (2005) This is Beth at her best; full of energy and power with the voice that… Well, let’s put it this way; It should have been Melissa Etheridge and Beth Hart instead of Joss Stone singing the tribute to Janis Joplin at the Grammy’s last year. She is that good. The in between chatter is pretty funny when held up against the singing on this CD. But she is so sincere and truly so excited to be performing for the crowd. After you’ve finished devouring this CD, pick up the DVD which will blow you away even more. Like so many good artists these days, she is taking the small/indie label route. You can purchase her CDs at .

Jill Sobule – The Folk Years (2004) The title is a bit of a joke. But I’m not joking when I say that Jill is one of America’s unknown treasures and one of our finest songwriters. Some of this CD ended up on her fabulous “Underdog Victorious” CD from 2004 and others we thought we would only hear in concert (Que Sara Sara and Sunrise/Sunset are such unusual covers in this rock in roll age). It is just more essential music that you should have in your CD collection. For more info, you can go to Jill’s website at .

John Mayer Trio – Try! (2005) and Ryan Adams – 29 (2005) In some ways it is fitting that I add the John Mayer Trio CD and Ryan Adam’s last CD of 2005, “29” on the same play list. Ryan Adams has been accused of sounding like whoever he happens to be listening to at the time. If that is true, he has been listening to the Grateful Dead lately. John Mayer’s guitar playing not only sounds like Stevie Ray on Try!, even his voice when he is talking to the audience seems to have changed to fit the music. What is important here though, is that these two men do not care about labels. Playing the music they want to play is more important to them than pop stardom. And you have to give them both a lot of credit for that. This is Ryan’s second best CD of 2005, again with some of the songs having a very strong Dead sound to them. John’s CD is heavy on guitar and blues rock. He’s got the chops to play it and it is so funny to hear the girls screaming after songs they might not have been caught dead listening to a year ago. Neither album blazes any trails, but they are nice divergences (although in Ryan’s case every CD seems to be a divergence these days) from their more popular sounds.

KPRI – Live Tracks Volume 3 (2005) and KFOG – Live From the Archives 12 (2005) California is doing its best to keep up with the live CD compilations. San Diego’s KPRI and San Francisco’s KFOG have done an excellent job of putting together good live cuts.

Sylvia Tosun – Jump In (2005) Powered partially by Emil and Julie, two of the key songwriters for October Project, Sylvia has created a beautiful CD. If you like October Project, Sylvia’s beautiful voice and the lush production will win you over.

The Secret Policeman’s Third Ball (1987) A rare Kate Bush performance. Joan Armatrading, Peter Gabriel, Jackson Brown and World Party perform. Need I say more?

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Jill Sobule and John Doe Live at Largo

It’s a new year. And what better way to kick it off then with some of the brilliant songwriting of Jill Sobule and solid musicianship of John Doe. John is “Presenting” acts every Thursday this month at Largo in L.A. Jill was the first in the series and what a great start. The evening actually opened with Tom Brousseau playing a few songs. Tom seemed a bit off this night. His guitar playing was a little sloppy. It was almost like he wasn’t prepared for the show. Still, he keeps growing on me. I may have to break down and buy his CD when it comes out (if it hasn’t come out already).

John Doe then came out with his 2 piece band consisting of a drummer and Dave Carpenter on stand up and electric bass. They played about an hour, singing old and new songs. John also did a couple of songs on his own. He finished up the set with Jill joining the band. After a nice duet, she got down on her knees ripping out a feedback drenched solo on her classic Gretsch guitar. At the end she stormed off stage, leaving her guitar lying on the floor. But, she came back a few seconds later because she just couldn’t leave such a beautiful guitar lying on the floor. It was all in fun, and we all enjoyed it enormously.

After a short break, Jill came out and did another hour. Most of it was solo, but about 5 or 6 songs were with the band (including John on guitar). I love when Jill plays solo. She is apt to do just about anything and that is just so much fun. But, you sometimes forget how good her songs can be. The full band brought that all back to me. When they rocked, they really rocked. Jill is working on new material, but it appears to be coming slowly right now. She ended up writing a song about writing a song. It was very cute and a nice start for the next CD. Meanwhile, she played lots of great stuff as she always does. The highlight may have been the closer; a blues number. It is, according to Jill, the first blues number she has ever written, and it really cooked. Jill was recently on tour with Cyndi Lauper. One of the highlights for her was when Cyndi asked her if she could sing with her on “Mexican Wrestler”. What I wouldn’t give to have a bootleg of that.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Last Weeks Play List

Okay, so I'm still behind with almost everything in my life. Here are last weeks additions to the play list along with my comments.

Beck Goldsmith – Purely Second Guesses (2005) I still can’t believe all the excellent female singer/songwriters that came my way this year. Beck, based in the UK (and if you listen very carefully, you can sometimes hear the accent) is another one to add to that list. This is a beautiful CD, not overly produced, but not stripped down either. She has a beautiful voice and has put together a very nice collection of songs. I look forward to hearing more from her in the future. You can find out more by going to her web site:

Kristy Kruger – An Unauthorized Guide To The Human Anatomy (2003) She got up on a little stage at a taco stand in Austin and I fell in love immediately. But it wasn’t until I realized that she had put a kazoo in her harmonica holder that I knew she was special. I finally got around to listening to the CD I purchased that day (I came home with over 20 CDs from the trip) and I can’t believe I wasted so much time on other artists’ CDs. I did not expect this CD to be this good: Sexy, strong, mysterious, a sound all its own. I just love this CD. Had I found it in 2003 it would have made my best of list. There are mp3s on her site. Please check them out and help support her “starving ass” (a little inside joke).

Mary Gauthier – Mercy Now (2005) What an amazing artist Mary is. Sometimes it feels like I’m listening to Lucinda. Sometimes it feels more like Hank. The music is gritty and real and hard to ignore.

Kate Earl – Fate is the Hunter (2005) We enjoyed seeing Kate at ACL in 2005 and this debut CD is even better than her live performance. Like Fiona Apple 8 or so years ago, she is young and very talented and probably on her way to being someone very special.

Jud Newcomb – Byzantine (2005) Another artist we enjoyed on the ACL weekend in 2005, Scrappy Jud is part of that great Austin tradition of singer/songwriters; a little folk, a little rock, a bit of country, and a lot of heart. If you like artists like Jon Dee Graham and Alejandro Escovedo, you should check out Scrappy Jud Newcomb.

John Doe – Forever Hasn’t Happened Yet (2005) John Doe has been making good music since the 70’s when he was one of the leaders of one of L.A.’s greatest bands, X. I’m not real crazy about the production on this CD, but John is a good songwriter, and I love listening to what he has to say.

Bruce Cockburn – Speechless (2005) We’ve been raving about his guitar playing for years. And now, we have a full CD of it. There are some absolutely beautiful pieces on this CD and, of course, some great guitar playing. This is really for BC fans and fans of acoustic guitar playing only.

KGSR Broadcasts Vol. 13 (2005) I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: This is the best series of live broadcasts on the planet. Buddy Miller opens with a rockin’ “Worry Too Much”, Sam Phillips makes her second appearance in the series and all of the usual suspects are here. Actually there are two regulars missing: Bob Schneider and Shawn Colvin. And it is still an excellent CD. You normally can buy this at . But if it is sold out, there will be plenty of copies showing up on .

Sia – Colour The Small One (2004) “Breathe Me” is probably the best song from the Six Feet Under Soundtrack. Her CD is very good and well worth a listen if you love that song (which is on this CD also). This is an import right now, but expect to see it show up in the U.S. in 2006

Collin Herring – Avoiding the Circus (????) I am Not sure of the date, but I am sure that this is one of those CDs that got lost in the crowd and shouldn’t have. Easily up there in quality of songwriting with most of what Ryan Adams has done, this CD is just excellent; and unavailable as far as I can tell. A friend sent me a copy (thanks Jessica) and it didn’t leave my CD player for quite awhile. Scourer the Internet for this one, it is worth it.

Jesse Malin – The Heat (2004) Jess has a great sound; sincere and emotional. I really enjoyed it.

Best CDs in 2005

2005 was a good year for music. During the year The Promise brought you 70 of this year's releases. Below are the best and the rest from this year. All of these CDs were played on The Promise, and I enjoyed them all, but some are better than others. Below are what I believe are the best of the year (at least the best that I had time to listen to... I've still got a list of CDs to listen to from 2005). Enjoy the lists. Your mileage may vary. And Happy New Year everyone. Thanks so much for listening to The Promise this year.

The Top 19 (in Alphabetical Order)

Ryan Adams and the Cardinals – Cold Roses

Kate Bush – Aerial

Death Cab for Cutie – Plans

The Decemberists – Picaresque

Kathleen Edwards - Back To Me

Eliza Gilkyson – Paradise Hotel

Jose Gonzalez – Veneer

Collin Herring – The Other Side of Kindness

Jorane – the You and the Now

Nickel Creek – Why Should the Fire Die?

Graham Parker – Songs of No Consequence

Porcupine Tree – Deadwing

Amy Rigby – Little Fugitive

Tina Schlieske – Slow Burn

Son Volt – Okemah and the Melody of Riot

The Soundtrack of our Lives – Origin Vol. 1

Bruce Springsteen - Devils and Dust

Loudon Wainwright III – Here Come The Choppers!

Without Gravity – Tenderfoot

The Rest of the 2005 Releases

Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – Jacksonville City Nights

Amelia’s Dream – Unravel

Tori Amos - The Beekeeper

Jamie Anderson - A Promise of Light

And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead – Worlds Apart

Keren Ann – Nolita

Aqualung – Strange and Beautiful

Bill Bryant – drawn from memory

Brandi Carlilie – Brandi Carlile

Caitlin Cary & Thad Cockrell – Begonias

Caesars – Paper Tigers

The Clarks – Between Now and Then

Bruce Cockburn – Speechless (2005)

Cowboy Junkies –Early 21st Century Blues

The Devlins – Waves

John Doe – Forever Hasn’t Happened Yet (2005)

Doves – Some Cities

Kate Earl – Fate is the Hunter (2005)

Ben Folds – Songs for Silverman

Gabrielle – Wide

Mary Gauthier – Mercy Now (2005)

Mark Geary – Ghosts

Beck Goldsmith – Purely Second Guesses (2005)

Jon Dee Graham – First Bear On The Moon

Gomez – Out West

John Hiatt – Master of Disaster

Missy Higgins – The Sound of White

Josh Joplin – Jaywalker

KGSR Broadcasts Vol. 13 (2005)

The Knitters – The Modern Sounds of the Knitters

Shelby Lynne – Suit Yourself

Aimee Mann – The Forgotten Arm

Fergus McCormick – Jumping The Gun

Maria McKee – Peddlin’ Dreams

James McMurtry – Childish Things

Blue Merle – Burning in the Sun

Jud Newcomb – Byzantine (2005)

John Prine – Fair & Square

Bonnie Raitt – Souls Alike

Anny Rusk – Naked

Maia Sharp – Fine Upstanding Citizen

Shivaree – Who’s Got Trouble?

Patti Smith – Horses / Horses (Legacy Edition)

Spamalot – Original Broadway Cast Recording

Spottiswoode And His Enemies – Building a Road

Richard Thompson – Live From Austin TX

Richard Thompson - Front Parlour Ballads

The Tom Collins – daylight tonight

The Wallflowers – Rebel, Sweetheart

Waterline – Long Goners

The White Stripes – Get Behind Me Satan

Lucinda Williams – Live at the Fillmore

Neil Young – Prairie Wind

Young Dubliners – Real World

Music Hall Link - Alejandro Escovedo listen