Sunday, March 18, 2007

New Music for March

Patty Griffin - Children Running Through (2007)
I talked about this CD in a previous post; Just go buy it.

Lucinda Williams - West (2007)

I'm not sure if there is anyone in music right now that conveys pain like Lucinda does. There is not as much anger on this CD and the music is less raw, but this is still a very good CD.

Rickie Lee Jones - The Sermon on Exposition Boulevard (2007)

Have you ever wondered how Rickie could disrupt Christian music? Well, now you get the chance to find out, as Rickie creates a unique sound to convey her feelings about Christianity. I love the music. The message you will have to decide for yourself.

Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris - Real Live Roadrunning (2006)

The live version of their excellent CD includes nice covers from their solo catalogs. If you skipped the studio version and you like either of these wonderful artists, this may be the CD for you.

Kemp Harris - Edenton (2006)

I seem to be getting a bunch of religious based music lately. And in case you hadn't already figured it out, The Promise is NOT a Christian music station. Nevertheless, a soulful voice singing in the blues/Gospel style is sometimes hard to ignore. And Kemp Harris is one of those people. You can almost hear him crying as he prays with his music.

Various Artists - Live from the Mountain Music Lounge Volume 12 (2006)

This is one of the better live radio compilations every year. The 2006 version includes live performances from David Gray, Gomez, KT Tunstall, Nickel Creek, Death Cab for Cutie, Brandie Carlile, Guster, Train, Barenaked Ladies, Goo Goo Dolls, and a few others.

Willy Mason - Where the Humans Eat (2006)

This is a very interesting and unique CD. It is very alt-country. The first listen didn't grab me, but part way through the second sitting, I was tapping my foot and really digging the lyrics. Could he be a young T Bone Burnett? Time will tell.

Paolo Nutini - These Streets (2007)

Everyone is talking about Paolo. At such a young age, he has such an ancient voice. Not unlike Van Morrison, he is another Irishman with lots of soul. The CD is very well produced; maybe too much so. If his people push him as hard as they seem to be so far, we may all get very tired of him very quickly. Hopefully he will reject it all and use his voice for good instead of evil.

Various Artists - Endless Highway The Music of The Band (2007)

One of the great bands of our time, The Band's music is so good and the musicians were so good, you have to be a bit nervous about a tribute CD. But the songs work. Some are very faithful, others add a healthy dose of outside styles like country or jam band. But it is all good. At its worst, it makes you want to pull out your old Band CDs and give them a listen. And that may be reason enough to buy it. You may want to pick this up at Best Buy, which is selling it with a bonus disk that includes 4 more songs.

Tom Brosseau - Tom Brosseau (2006)

Let's call this "cowboy stream of consciousness". This folk/country/??? is beautiful and hypnotic. You just have to sit and listen for a half hour to really get it. I do recommend seeing him live, just to "get it". I understand this CD is older material brought together. He has a new CD out now that I haven't listened to yet.

Peter Moon Band - Postcards From Earth (2002)

Peter Moon is a very talented artist who's CD from a few years back, can easily compete with much of the music you hear on the radio today. Somewhere between Modern Rock and Pop, the music doesn't linger on any one style long enough to bore. I'm betting these guys put on a great live show.

Joe Goldmark - Seducing the '60s (2007)

This CD is a bit unusual. Joe Goldmark is a steel guitar player. He has brought his friends together to sing a bunch of covers that allow him to lay down some very tasteful slide guitar. He doesn't try and overpower the songs, which include a strong version of Neil Young's Helpless, instead creating a mood. He does a nice job of this.

Like a Version / Like a Version 2 - (2005 & 2006)

I stumbled on these CDs late last year. They are from an Australian radio station that has their guests sing cover songs. They then compile the best of them into these CDs. Damien Rice singing Prince's "When Doves Cry" is worth buying both CDs, paying the shipping and even sending a nice thank you card to whoever it was that sold it to you. But there are plenty of interesting performances from people who haven't made it here in the states... And they are all solid performances.

Carolyn Wonderland - Bloodless Revolution

Only in Austin can you go into a hole in the wall restaurant, eat some BBQ and listen to someone as talented as Carolyn Wonderland. She sings like she's seen more than her share of pain. And her guitar playing conveys the same emotion. I'd gain so much weight if I lived in Austin. And you will gain so much pleasure listening to this CD.

Frank Black - Fast Man Raider Man (2006)

It's Frank. 2 CDs. Lots of great songs. Enough said.

Crowded House - Farewell to the World (2006/2007)

Their back! Crowded House will be touring the U.S. this year and releasing a CD of new material. While we wait, they have given us their farewell performance on disc. How ironic is that? I'm sure they can tell you since Neil Finn is the master of irony. If nothing else, this CD reminds us that Crowded House could rock when they wanted to. Can't wait for the new stuff!

Josh Rouse - Sutitulo (2006)

If I'm going to kick back and listen to mellow... ahhhh, kick back music, I'll take a Josh Rouse over a Jack Johnson any day. Not that they have a lot in common, but Josh can just make you feel good without sounding the same from song to song. This is very good pop rock.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Lots of Live Music

This has been a busy live music week for us. It started last Tuesday with Sam Phillips at Spaceland (doing a benefit for a private school in L.A.). Sunday night was Richard Thompson and Eliza Gilikyson (along with Kerry Getz) at The Coach House. And the following Tuesday was Patty Griffin at the Wiltern.

Sam Phillips

Okay, I've written these Sam Phillips reviews a dozen times before, so I'll keep it short. Sam was is great form, singing 10 songs accompanied by Eric from The Section Quartet on violins. David Palmer (who also performed that night) played piano on a couple of the tunes. The most amazing thing about the evening was how attentive the crowd was. You could hear a pin drop in when Sam wasn't singing. In fact, looking over at the bar half way through the show, I was surprised to see it completely empty. She had the crowd wrapped completely around her finger and seemed to enjoy it; joking with the audience several times during the short performance. So... here is the set list (new songs may not have accurate titles):

Sister Rossetta (new)
I Dreamed I Stopped Dreaming
Taking Pictures
The Fan Dance
When You're Down
Gilmore Girls instrumental
Looking for a Signal (new)
Reflecting Light
One Day Late

Long Ago and Far Away (a cappella)

In Sam news (I'm sure that is what you're waiting for)... The music was in the can and now it is out again. Sam is working on more new songs and a new direction. By the time Nonesuch gets their act together she may have enough material for 2 CDs. Meanwhile, a 2007 release date is up in the air.

Richard Thompson, Eliza Gilkyson and Kerry Getz

Sunday night was spent at our favorite O.C. concert spot, The Coach House. I love it because a) You can sit, b) if you buy the so-so dinner you can sit close, c) The staff is generally friendly, d) It is small enough to enjoy a great atmosphere, e) The bar is just far enough in the back to not be too loud during the show f) Did I mention you get to sit?

I've seen Kerry Getz's name in local mailings and ads for years but have never seen her perform before. She was very entertaining, wrote some good tunes and was very funny. I don't think she did this on purpose, but during her show she was joking around and said the old line about when she was young she walked to school every day in the snow... uphill both ways. It was a line that Richard Jeni turned into a very funny routine many years ago ("we were so poor we couldn't afford feet"). During one of her songs, someone in the bar was so loud we could all hear the name Nicole. In mid song she immediately changed the name of the girl in the song to Nicole. Great entertainment chops. I look forward to listening to her CD.

I was really excited about seeing Eliza Gilkyson for the the first time. I almost went down to San Diego to see her as the main attraction. I wish I did because the 30 - 40 minute show was just not enough of this little known (at least outside of Texas) talent. With her dry whit, political strength and beautiful voice she performed a handful of great songs that led us to the CD stand once again to make sure we had everything she had to sell. So... I have to relate this story she told... Introducing a song about lost love, she told us how she always fell in love with really good guitar players (to the point of actually marrying them!). Finally a shrink said to her, "You know, we often are attracted to people who have qualities we lack. Maybe you should get better at playing your guitar". What a great line.

And of course, great guitar playing is what came next. Richard Thompson is one of the best guitar players in music. Watching him in a full band is pretty awesome. But seeing him with just his acoustic guitar goes beyond words. Add to that a song book that most artists would be jealous of and you have a truly inspirational evening. Richard stuck mostly to the last few CDs, but he did pull out some oldies, including a Sandy Denny song from his Fairport Convention Days. FC, by the way, is celebrating their 40th year together. Damn we're getting old. Asking us to join in on a couple of songs, he did not hold back his disappointment in our abilities. But that is part of his great dry sense of humor. This led to one of the funniest moments in the show; his ode to smart women. The song was made up of all these great couplets of lines describing how/why he likes smart women. And it kept going on and on. It would get to the apparent end and he'd say, "But wait, there's more". It was just a fun fun song. I've always seen this strong sense of insecurity in his music. Songs like "Crawl Back" seem to hint at a passive aggressive nature. The nervous way he chats with the audience seems to add to that. It is such a wonderful honest trait and makes for great songwriting. A well rounded, human artist. A great show.

Patty Griffin

Family night at the Wiltern. With my daughter and fiance in tow, we met up with Larry and his daughter and later met a mother who had brought her grown daughter. I love this multi-generation thing. :-)

It has been way too long since Patty did a show in L.A. (not counting the Hotel Cafe show last month). And the fans made sure she understood; giving huge and extended ovations several times. Over the last 10 years Patty has truly grown up on stage. 10 years ago, Patty was the shy singer standing on one leg most of the night with the great voice and perfect songwriting. Her last tour showed us that she knew how to shake her booty a bit (a good thing she doesn't do that 1 leg thing much anymore, otherwise she might fall over). Tuesday night she sang with the confidence of a... professional singer. Leaning against the stage, just a few feet from her 3-4 inch heals (okay, for those who need to know: simple black dress with a modest plunging neckline, black belt with a bow on the back and green patterned stalkings with what appeared to be pink shoes, with a lot of gray stripes or something like that) you could see the singer in her coming out. There was so much confidence. It was... it was... heaven. Like the rest of the tour so far, Patty pretty much stuck to the last 2 CDs with just a couple of songs from her past and a Sam and Dave cover (actually I don't think they wrote it). Patty sings for herself. It is great when an artist wants to make a statement and doesn't worry about what the fans want. But I can only imagine how intense a show it would be if she where to go back and play a bunch of songs from Living with Ghosts and Flaming Red. She would blow the doors off of any room. The fans went nuts when she went back to the first CD to perform Sweet Lorraine. Her hour and a half (if that) show was way too short. But I'll take an hour and half of Patty over most others (and you probably know who the exceptions are).

Music Hall Link - Alejandro Escovedo listen