Sunday, April 29, 2007

New Music for April 2007

Travis Kline - Travis Kline (2007 EP)
This is a strong alt-country release. And he is only 18? Really? The future of alt-country is in good hands. I like all 6 songs on this EP.
Edgehill Ave - Edgehill Ave (2007)
Edgehill Ave. is a band with plenty of potential. Their Americana sound is full of classic melodies and fine acoustic guitar leads filling all the empty spaces. "With These Hands" is the standout cut.
The Red Button - She's About To Cross My Mind (2007)
Combining the classic 60's sound with sparkling production and straightforward songwriting, this is the perfect CD for those who want new music, but want to relive the 60's. "Cruel Girl" is as good as single I've heard in years.
Charlotte Kendrick - North of New York (2007)
Simple sweet stories about folks. Is that what folk music is all about? :-) Well that is what this folk CD is about. Charlotte has a beautiful and strong voice that carries these tunes along. And well written tunes they are. Treat yourself to the simpler pleasures.
Zera Vaughan - Back to the Roots (2007)
A little change of pace for The Promise. This techno/pop/multi-language release is intoxicating and I though you would enjoy to hear a bit of it. The Middle Eastern influence runs throughout and when combined with the full production sound, makes for a very powerful CD.
Carla Hassett - Quero Saber (2007)
Continuing along with the change of pace theme, Carla Hassett has created a beautiful CD. Partly sung in Portuguese, the South American rhythms along with Carla's expressive voice make this a CD that transcends language. Her cover of the Beatles "Julia" is just gorgeous.
Aqualung - Memory Man (2007)
Stylish without being contrived. That would be my description of Agualung. The writing is beautiful, the moody textures envelop you. This is what radio should be playing. Actually I think they may be. :-)
Air - Pocket Symphony (2007)
Beautiful and frustrating at the same time. This is such a beautiful CD and part of that beauty comes from the several instrumentals. But on a pop/rock album, instrumentals often make me think that the song would be so much better if it were completed. I know, I know, it was done this way for a reason. Still, there is so much more potential with these guys. Loved the CD. On the first set of songs for my stream, I kept wanting to put them next to either Aqualung or Arcade Fire. The three were meant for each other I suppose.
Arcade Fire - Neon Bible (2007)
While waiting in line for Crowded House, the subject of Arcade Fire came up. We both agreed that their live shows last year were at or near the top of our lists for live performances. This unlikely hero of the alternative scene has put out another CD in a similar vein, although they are stretching the sound (some are calling a couple of the songs 80'sSpringsteenish ... I'm not sure I'd go that far). The music continues to be dense and powerful. The lyrics seem to be moving out beyond their local lives into a more political statement. It works for me.
Graham Parker - Don't Tell Columbus (2007)
Graham Parker continues to put out good music. He is still an angry man, but what is important is that he continues to be relevant. He sticks it to the enemy while making you tap your feet and hum his tunes. Do not let this old guy slip by. This is a must buy.
Ron Sexsmith - Time Being (2006)
A near perfect singer/songwriter CD. Great songwriting, interesting ideas flying around in the songs, solid production, plenty of energy, melodies to hum to... I could go on and on. But you are better served just going over to Amazon and picking up your own copy.
Kerry Getz - Little Victory (2002)
There are a limited number of reasons that I love living in The O.C. One of the biggest reasons is the quiet, but talented, live music scene. What may make it unique are all the talented women playing around here. Kerry Getz fits in very nicely on The Promise along with Yvonne Perra and Jennifer Corday. Solid songwriting with a tremendous amount of personality is what distinguishes these women.
Warren Zevon - The Envoy (2007) & Warren Zevon - Stand In The Fire (2007)
It was a crime that these two CDs were unavailable until now. Both of these were recorded in the early 80's, and you have to put up with a bit of 80's synth.. but it is worth it. Stand In The Fire, a live album, rocks like no other Warren Zevon CD. The Envoy shows both Warren's sweet side and his political side.

Crowded House at the Glass House

It was a strange and wonderful night on Friday, as we headed out to Pomona to see Crowded House for the first time. Yes, I know what you're saying: You've never seen them before Bruce?!?! Well, I was busy seeing girl groups in the 80's and 90's and well... I have no good excuse. Probably the most amazing part of the evening for me was the group of people I found myself with in line. I stood and listened around me as everyone recounted their Crowded House experiences. I was tempted to jump in when they switched to Neil solo and Finn Brother's shows, but I was way over my head here. Finally the conversation turned to locations and comparisons and I jumped in. There were 4 groups of us talking and the musical styles started bouncing all over the place. It was way beyond anything I would have expected from a Crowded House crowd. "Did you see Peter Gabriel at the Roxy? So did I! I saw Gentle Giant tape a show for In Concert. Have you heard of The Section Quartet? I love Largo. It went on and on. Concerts that we all had been to at the same time. Very weird... and wonderful.

So after a couple of hours in the sun talking music and watching Neil and band walk by a few times, they let us in to wait another hour. But right at 8 the show got started with Neil's son, Liam performing a solo show. With just an electric guitar and drum kit, Liam put on an interesting show. Most of the songs required him to use tape loops (I call them that, 'cause I go back to the days of RobertFripp really using tape to make the loops). Like Howie Day and Julian Coryell and countless others these days, Liam layered guitar rhythms on top of each other then either sang over it or hammered out some energetic drumming. The problem with loops is that you have to be very very good to pull this off. In the second song, he made a slight mistake in one of the chords and that mistake kept coming back around throughout the rest of the song. Turning the loops on and off can be problematic too. Although it was fun watching him turn them on and off while drumming, sometimes the drop off of the loops was so sudden it took away from the songs. One of my favorite parts though was when he added to the loops a portabletheremin (think "Good Vibrations") and played with it like Hendrix used to play with feedback. It was very cool. As you listen to Liam's songs, you know that you are listening to a Finn. He should develop into a fine songwriter. It was a very enjoyable opening act.

We were in good position in line, but not good enough to hang on the stage, so we ended up leaning on the gate that surrounded the sound board; which was right next to the stage. It turned out to be a great spot, because they had put a speaker on the floor right next to us with the full mix so we had no problem hearing the vocals or banter between members of the band. And banter they did. Neil and Nick seemed the most talkative, with Nick always seeming to want to turn a comment into a song. But when they started talking about secrets and Neil decided to sing a line from the Beatles, "Do You Want to Know a Secret", well, I'm sure I wasn't the only one in the audience to yell, "Keep Going". And he did, with lots of help from the audience. It was a magical moment. The crowd seemed to besoooo on key. It was beautiful.

The first half of the show was made up of new songs and songs I'd call tier 2 songs; not their big potent songs, but songs that most songwriters wish they had written. That seemed to dull the crowd spirit a bit and made for a slow beginning. But after about 45 minutes they kicked into gear, singing "Private Universe", "World Where you Live" and "Don't Dream It's Over". After that, there was no letting up. They finished off with "When you Come" and off the stage they went.

There were two encores with the highlight being the creation of a new song based on the first song Mark ever played on the piano (it was a joke question from Neil that turned into an extended jam with Neil even creating lyrics on the spot). They finished up with "Something So Strong" and "Better Be Home", and then it was over; two and a quarter hours after it started. It truly was a magical evening, filled with laughter and beautiful melodies and lots of crowd sing-a-longs.

Now you know I'm getting old and don't have the best memory. As soon as the last song played I leaned into the sound area and begged the Aussie, who I earlier had chatted up a bit, to give me his set list... and he did. So here it is, straight from the horses mouth. I've decided to just write what was written. You'll have to figure out the actual song titles:

Locked Out
Don't Stop Now
Walked Her Way Down
Fingers of Love
Black and White Boy
Nobody Wants To
People Are Like Suns
Don't Dream
Silent House
English Trees
4 Seasons
She Called Out
Distant Sun
When You Come

Transit Lounge
Fall At Your Feet

Something So Strong
Better Be Home

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Hardware Upgrade

Those of you who listen to The Promise a lot (and thank you, by the way), may have noticed that you haven't been kicked off this week. The Promise is actually pushed to the Live365 servers instead of residing on the servers like most of the Live365 broadcasts. Any hardware issues on my end interrupt the stream. I have been having intermittent hardware problems for some time now and finally sucked it up and replaced all of the networking hardware. As of today, we have gone 3 days without a blip (compared to several times a day sometimes). Please let me know if you experience any problems.

Meanwhile, more music is coming soon. There is the new CD, Memory Man which is the latest from Aqualung. And we have several Indie artists including The Red Button, Edgehill Ave., Travis Kline and Kerry Getz.

Thank you for supporting The Promise. But more important, Thank you for supporting independent musicians.


Music Hall Link - Alejandro Escovedo listen