Sunday, October 29, 2006

End of October Play List

Peter Kerns
What is it about growing up down under? I don’t think it’s the water (although it may be). So, my best guess is that they just got way too much of the Finn brothers (That would be Tim and Neil) in their musical diet. And that is a very very good thing, for Neil and Tim Finn are in a class by themselves. But, this is about Peter. Sorry. Peter has that great Finn-like voice with a bit of McCartney thrown in. The one song that I have heard is just beautiful and worth the 99 cents at ITunes. Peter has a Myspace site. So, for more info, you can check him out at .

Shawn Colvin – These Four Walls (2006)
It has been way too long since the last Shawn Colvin CD. But it may have been worth the wait. In “These Four Walls”, Shawn takes on her past demons and looks at life today as a single mother and a songwriter. As with previous CDs, a large chunk of the sound you hear is the very talented songwriter/producer John Leventhal. Together they make one of the finest songwriting teams working today.

Greg Smith – Above the Clouds (2006)
I suppose you could put Greg Smith’s CD, Above The Clouds in the New Age section of your CD store, and The Promise isn’t a New Age station. But, we like a change of pace every so often, and the guitar work on this CD is elegant, beautiful and sometimes powerful. To listen to more of Greg’s guitar work, go to .

Sue Merchant – Fool (2006)
This is classic singer/songwriter/folk. With her soothing voice and soft guitar, you find yourself floating through this CD. Sue’s down to earth lyrics round it into a wonderful listening experience. .

Stephen Dijoseph – Hypnotized (2006)
Hypnotized really describes the opening couple of songs on this CD. There is a lot of great stuff here that is really worth checking out. I’m not really sure how to describe this CD. It is stripped down, but seems to still be full bodied. At times it comes off as straight forward rock and then there are songs like “No Chance” that are a bit out there. Another strong indie release to check out. .

Gary Jules – Gary Jules (2006)
Around two years ago, I saw Gary perform much of his new stuff in concert. It was amazing. Somehow, it never made it onto tape, and so here we are two years later with another batch of new songs. Listening to Gary Jules is like reading poetry with beautiful music behind it. The lyrics are right out front in the production; as they should be. The standout song is an oldie that never got the studio treatment, “Wichita”. Gary is an independent once again, so please support him at .

Dave Potts - $12.99 (2006)
$12.99 was the price paid for a sweatshirt in a town where the character in the song of the same name ended up living. Was it the same town where he met Amanda Bramlett who stole his heart? I don’t know, but these are all wonderful stories told by Dave Potts, who has created another classic piece of Americana. With such a sincere voice, you just have to believe he is telling you all about his life.

Bob Dylan – Modern Times (2006)
Anyone remember Leon Redbone? He played on SNL a few times, I believe, during the 70’s. He is still around, with about a dozen CDs to his name. Again, I’m getting off track… All I could think about while listening to Bob Dylan’s “Modern Times” was Leon Redbone. I think it is the style and delivery. This is an interesting CD, with Bob getting sexy on us. It is either really cool, or really creepy. I’ll leave that for you to decide.

Pete Yorn – Nightcrawler (2006)
I’ve always loved Pete Yorn’s style. He’s got such a strong sense of what sounds good, without sounding like anyone else. And even though this is very much a Pete Yorn CD, it has its own sound. No obvious hits on this one, but lots of good rock and roll.

Five for Fighting – Two Lights (2006)
When I first met John Ondrasik some years ago, I told him something that I thought was obvious, yet no one had told him it before. “Your music reminds me of Elton John”, I said. He loved the comparison, which was so much better than what the record industry people were saying at the time (Counting Crows? I don’t think so.). He was just releasing his second CD on his second label. 9/11 was still a year away. The heavy piano makes it an obvious comparison, but I saw the way he phrased things to be very similar to Elton too. Over the years, I think he has gotten even closer to Elton’s sound which is a double edged sword. Maybe the last CD was just too pop for me. But I love “Two Lights”. It is his best work since “America Town“. There is a nice mix of ballads and rockers with plenty of energy. If you’ve never wandered past the hits, FFF is a group worth getting to know better.

Jimmy Lafave – Blue Nightfall (2005)
As I continue my journey through the alt-country world, I keep hearing the most amazing sounds. Jimmy Lafave was someone I had only known as one of the few outsiders to get called up on stage with Bruce Springsteen during his Devils and Dust tour. Mike Marrone was kind enough to give me a copy of “Blue Nightfall” and I fell in love immediately. From the straining voice in “Revival” that opens the CD to the rockin’ “Gotta Ramble” that closes it, I was totally consumed by this album. Just go buy it. It’s that good. Really. I mean it. Here, here’s a link to Buy it. :-)

Grandaddy – Just Like The Fambly Cat (2006)
You know those movies where some suburban kid makes some music in his own home-made studio and by the end of the movie he is either famous or no longer cares and just loves making music for himself and his girlfriend? And it is so unrealistic. The production that comes from that home system is just too good. And then you listen to anything from Grandaddy and realize that he has lived that dream; with all the talent and everything. I just love listening to his CDs and marveling at the talent that the big time record companies just can't comprehend. "Just Like The Fambly Cat" continues the Granddady tradition of offbeat lyrics and brilliant melodies and production.

Phil Manzanera – 6PM (2004)
This CD fits the 801 legacy very nicely. If that means nothing to you, then go check out 801 Live on ITunes and as you listen remember this happened in the mid 70's; before punk, before New Wave. None of the studio releases from the 801 band ever matched the intensity of the under rehearsed live band that only played a couple of shows one summer 30 years ago.

Sir Douglas Quintet – Live From Austin (ACL) (2006)
This new CD is from a 1981 performance filmed for the Austin City Limits TV show. If you are a fan of that show, you should check out all the live music that they have been releasing on CD and DVD over the last couple of years. Doug Sahm (Sir Doug) and his band brought Tex-Mex to the masses in the middle 60’s; slipping in as an American answer to the British Invasion. This music and this reunion concert is just foot tapping fun and for those of us who are old enough, will bring back memories of a simpler time.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

October 1 Play List - Part 1

Life sure has a way of getting in the way. Between a big birthday party, 2 weddings, getting engaged and a half dozen or so other birthdays, September disappeared faster than a Democrat on the immigration fence in an election year. Meanwhile, I keep listening to music and preparing to add to my play list. There is so much music though, I didn't want any of it to get lost. So, I am going post a few mini reviews at a time. For those of you who I've promised air time, it is coming. Meanwhile, here are the first 5 of about 20 or so CDs that I will be adding to the play list.

Phil Roy – The Great Longing (2006)
”Not a note out of place”. That may be the best description of this CD that I’ve heard. Phil Roy’s third CD is literally perfect. The songs about personal strength and love are in some ways a continuation of the optimism of the 60’s, that got lost in the hedonism and self loathing of the 70’s and beyond. Although I must admit that I enjoy songs about hedonism and self loathing (Scott Weiland’s “Desperation #5” comes to mind), maybe it is time, in this era of fear and loathing to bring it back. As you listen to Phil’s soulful voice and perfect arrangements, you can’t help but hear the joyfulness of Stevie Wonder at times and social conscience of Marvin Gay. Have I pushed too hard here? This is a great CD that everyone should own. Buy the pre-release now. Go to .

Alexi Murdoch – Time Without Consequence (2006)
Nick Drake was playing as I started writing… And how fitting. Take the floating atmosphere of Nick, add the great acoustic guitar sound of Bruce Cockburn, and you’ve got the first full release by Alexi Murdoch. This CD is a couple of years in the making, and it was well worth they wait.

Amos Lee – Supply and Demand (2006)
I’ve been listening to this CD for some time now and with its release this week, you all can now hear what everyone has been raving about. There is no sophomore jinx as Amos easily keeps pace with last year’s “Amos Lee” CD. What Amos Lee has created are beautiful, powerful and well crafted songs. This should make my 10 ten list for 2006.

October Project – Covered – The Songs of Emil Adler & Julie Flanders (2006)
OP is one of my all time favorite bands, and Emil, Marina & Julie are some of my all time favorite people in the music biz. This is a CD of love; the love that so many east coast artists feel for both the music and spirits of the band called October Project. This tribute includes artists such as Julian Coryell, Joy Askew, Sylvia Tosun, Richard Barone (from the Bongos) and even a song performed by OP themselves. If you are a fan of the band, this is a fun ride through many of their finer songs. .

Kenny White – Never Like This (2006)
I’ve spoken with Kenny White several times over the last few years. He is not only a talented musician and songwriter, he is also not afraid to speak his mind. And that is what this CD, available at his website , is all about. Like so many other people who live on a coast in this fine country, Kenny is pissed at our president and the religious right. And these 5 songs are his personal attack on what he sees as wrong. Maybe his most scathing attack is reserved for Pat Robertson, who, he writes in his final lines of the song named after Pat, “a direct line to who?? Oh pat, c’mon spare me, in god’s corporation you’re a stock boy at best”. Ouch. This is another excellent political piece that will sit very nicely in your collection next to Neil Young’s “Living with War”. And my hat’s off to Wildflower for backing Kenny on this CD.

Music Hall Link - Alejandro Escovedo listen