Saturday, December 22, 2007

Favorites for 2007

Let's get this straight... These aren't "The Best" of 2007, just my favorites. These are the songs and CDs that kept showing up on my CD player. There were lots of great ones this year and these are the best of the best; IMHO. :-)

Favorite Singles
Damien Rice - When Doves Fly
Okay, this isn't really from 2007, but it is the year that I came across it. From an Australian compilation called "Like a Version", Damien creates the type of magic that you rarely get from a cover. From the opening chords, there is something familiar about it. Deep down you know where this song is headed. And when it gets there it will put a big smile on your face.
Rufus Wainwright - Going To A Town
One of the great voices in music today has created his best song to date. With lines like "Tell me do you really think you go to hell for having loved?", Rufus lashes out at the intolerance that still exists today. Combine that with a killer melody and Rufus' natural passion and you have THE BEST song of the year.
Bruce Robison - It Came From San Antonio
Bruce creates a spot-on tribute to The Sir Douglas Quintet with this fun rocker. All of the energy and excitement comes flowing out, just like in the 60's when DougSahm and his band had big hits with songs like "She's About a Mover".
The Red Button - Cruel Girl
A perfect song. Right out of the 60's, this is just pure pop.

Favorite Major Label CDs
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss - Raising Sand
Who knew that Bobbie could sing so soft? What a great pair of voices. Then throw in one of the best producers, T-Bone Burnett, and finish it off with lots of good songs, including a new one from Sam Phillips.
Steve Earle - Washington Square Serenade
Changing your style is always a big risk. Steve gets lots of extra points for fiddling with a winning sound. And apparently, being in love has been good for his songwriting too.
Patti Scialfa - Play it as it Lays
This is her best CD yet. Patti's songwriting is so good that her husband could probably take a few lessons from her.
Once - Music from the Motion Picture
The songs tell the story in this movie. It's a wonderful story and that makes this the best soundtrack of the year.
Lori Mckenna - Unglamorous
Wake up America, there's another great songwriter here. Lori's country/folk/rock is contagious.
Joni Mitchell - Shine
If there was to be a degree in singer/songwriting, Joni's music would have to be the bulk of the coursework. "Shine" is a wonderfully social and political work. This is the best grandmother writing today and the younger generations still have plenty to learn.
Bruce Springsteen - Magic
This is the best E Street CD in many years. It may not be as emotionally satisfying as his 70's classics, but these are good songs that really pick up steam with multiplelistenings and in concert.
John Fogerty - Revival
CCR is back as John makes peace with the past and returns to the sound that made him famous.
Crowded House - Time On Earth
It's as if they never left.
Shane Nicholson - Faith & Science
He was the guy who could replace Crowded House. Now we've got two of them.
Joan Armatrading - Into The Blues
Joan takes her own path to the blues.
Rufus Wainwright - Release The Stars
Just the song "Going To A Town" makes this one of the best CD's of the year. And there is so much more...
Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
Just my favorite of the modern bands (The Decemberists are a close second). They are unique, special and a killer band in concert.
Patty Griffin - Children Running Through
She's in her early 40's and is already an American treasure. This CD is all about her singing and Patty shows us just how good she is.
Lucinda Williams - West
I don't think she is capable of putting out a bad CD.

Favorite Indie CDs
Emily Maguire - Keep Walking
This Australian has it all: Great songs. Great Melodies. Great Production. This CD is worth searching for.
Future Clouds & Radar - Future Clouds & Radar
Look out Spoon, these guys are going to be storming the Indie world. They may already be the hottest band in Austin. The best debut from a Texas band since Los Lonely Boys CD of a few years back.
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals - This is Somewhere
Women can still rock. Move over Melissa, here comes Grace.
The Latebirds - Last of the Good Ol' Days
Sweden isn't the only Scandinavian country to bring us great songwriters. This Finnish band is worth watching. (This is from a pre-release, so expect to hear more about it next year).
Spoon - Ga Ga GA Ga Ga
Between Spoon and Future Clouds the Austin music scene may finally get the respect it deserves.
Josh Ritter - The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter
This is a pop rock classic. One great song after another. If you don't enjoy this CD you probably shouldn't be reading anything I have to say.
Jimmy LaFave - Cimarron Manifesto
Another great songwriter waiting for the world to catch up with him.
Cowboy Junkies - At The End of Paths Taken
Their best CD since "Trinity Sessions".
Sarah Borges - Diamonds in the Dark
Tapping every vein that is Americana Music, there isn't a bit of filler on this CD.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

New Music for December 2007

New music from: Lazy Preacher, Lisle Engle, Future Clouds & Radar, Jim Armstrong, Deana Carter, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Ben Harper, The Latebirds, Patti Smith, Gram Parsons and the Flying Burrito Bros., Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, The Cake Sale, Raul Malo, Heart, Iron and Wine, A Fine Frenzy, Patty Griffin and The Frames.

Well, we're at the end of the year... again! I can't believe that The Promise has been around for over 5 years now. As always a big thank you goes out to not only the artists that have been so kind as to share their music, but also to you, the listeners (and readers). If you're not listening, I have no reason to be doing this. So thank you for giving me an excuse to buy way too manyCDs. :-)

We are up to around 5000 songs in the complete play list and to prove it, we're going to play the entire library starting in the wee hours of New Years Day (some time after 1:00am Pacific Time) and running for about 2 weeks. I won't say no repeats, but nearly no repeats for 2 full weeks. Enjoy.

Now, on to the new stuff... Once again, I just couldn't get to all the new music for 2007. I've got another 10 or 12 CDs that I ran out of time for. I guess that is what January is for. But there is so much great music here, you'll hardly notice the time fly by. So, check out the new songs here and then listen to The Promise. HappyHolidays!

Lazy Preacher - Fall Asleep When Awaking (2007)
If there is a problem with this CD, it is... well... just too big. With 20 songs to listen to, it can be a bit tough to assimilate it all in one or two sittings. This is not to say it is too long or that there is any waste here. It's just a lot of work for me. Especially when the music is good enough to warrant many listens. Most of the music on "Fall Asleep" is driven by a strummed acoustic guitar that (if you are old enough) takes you back to the late 60's when psychedelic could just as easily be acoustic as electronic. There are bits of country and alternative (what ever that is today) and reggae all wrapped up with some fascinating lyrics and catchy melodies. Well worth the effort. Take it.
Lisle Engle - California Miles (2007)
I've said this before, I'm a sucker for rock violin. Lisle Engle uses the violin a lot like Dave Matthews; augmenting his vocals and as an important soloing instrument. It gives this excellent sounding CD a late 60's early 70's feel and takes me back to bands like Curved Air and It's A Beautiful Day. There are some exciting pop melodies among the dozen or so songs and good production throughout.
Future Clouds & Radar - Future Clouds & Radar (2007)
It takes a lot of guts to put out a double CD as your first release. It takes even more guts to save nuggets like "Build Havana" for the second disc. Not only does Robert Harrison, leader of this band, have the guts, but he can back it up with this swirling psychedelic pop... dare I say, masterpiece.
Jim Armstrong - Mudtown (2007)
Straight from the heartland... You know... Toronto, Canada. With his slightly gravely voice and straight ahead attack, this is rock and roll that makes you think ofMellancamp or even Melissa. If you close your eyes you can see these guys playing live in a small club opening for someone, when they really should be the main attraction. Good songwriting. Good sense of rock and roll. Find out more at Sonic Deli Records (love that name).
Deana Carter - The Chain (2007)
This is a daughter's tribute to her father (Fred Carter Jr.) and the music she was brought up with. Deanna, who has had fame in the country music charts, brings top notch session musicians together (including her father) for a bunch of classic songs. These aren't country classics, but pop/rock classics from the 60's and 70's. Deana Carter's silky country voice goes very nicely with music from The Band, Dylan, Paul Simon and Neil Young.
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals - This is Somewhere (2007)
I saw Grace and the Nocturnals heat up the tent at ACL this year. Not since Melissa showed us how a woman can rock as hard and powerfully as a man have we had a show stopper like Grace Potter. She's got the pipes, she has the writing talent, she has... the spirit of rock and roll. Enough said.
Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals - Lifeline (2007)
Maybe as close to a soul classic as you are going to see this year or maybe for many years to come.
KGSR Broadcasts Vol 15 (2007)
Every year this is the best of all of the live radio compilations. Get your copy while supplies last:
The Latebirds - Last of the Good Ol' Days (2007 or 2008)
I thought it was just Sweden, but apparently all of Scandinavia has musicians that have a strong sense of melody. This soon to be released CD from the Finnish bandThe Latebirds is fantastic with great melodies and wonderful songs about the human condition. At times Markus appears to be channeling Al Stewart in his vocals which just adds to the pop feel of this CD. But, instead of telling stories about the past, Markus wants to talk about the here and now; whether it is political or social. One of my top picks of the year.
Patti Smith - Four from Twelve (2007)
This is a sample CD from Patti's CD, "Twelve". It is yet another cover CD from a well respected artist. I love Patti's energy and it is all here; at least with these four songs. So, if you're a big Patti Smith fan, you'll enjoy this and probably the full CD.
Gram Parsons with The Flying Burrito Bros. - Archives Vol 1 (2007)
Gram Parsons is the man given credit as one of the major influences on the country rock genre. These are live recordings from 1969. The sound has been cleaned up nicely. The passion is as dirty raw as it was 38 years ago. A must buy for anyone who loves this genre. It is also one of the first Cd's from Amoeba Records, one of the last of the independent record stores.
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss - Raising Sand (2007)
Who knew Bobbie could sound so sweet and soft. Join his perfect rock and roll voice with one of the best of the best, Alison Krauss, and you have one of the best sounding Cd's of the year. Check this out if you like either of them.
The Cake Sale - The Cake Sale (2007)
Saving the earth, one CD at a time, The Cake Sale is more than just a bunch of artists who gave a song to the album. The artists work with a core band featuring among others Crowded House's Nick Seymour. Vocals and songwriting were contributed by GlenHansard, Josh Ritter, Gary Lightbody, Nina Persson and Gemma Hayes, Lisa Hannigan and Damien Rice (to name but a few). The best thing for you to do is read about it here though:
Raul Malo - Austin City Limits Music Festival (2007)
He could sing the phone book. What else needs to be said. You can get this on Itunes.
Heart - Dreamboat Annie Live (2007)
The latest thing these days is to perform a classic album live. This CD and a separate DVD bring this classic rock album back for a spin; and a fun spin it is. Ann can still sing. Nancy can still play guitar. What else do you need to know. Oh, well, maybe... It is worth it just for the Led Zeppelin covers.
Iron and Wine - The Shepherd's Dog (2007)
They float along a pretty path; a bit psychedelic and they remind you of the more pop moments of the Grateful Dead. You expect them to explode and they never really do. And yet, you don't mind floating along the ebb and flow of the acoustic and electric layers.
A Fine Frenzy - One Cell in the Sea (2007)
A Fine Frenzy is actually Alison Sudol; a singer/songwriter from Seattle. "One Cell..." is a collection of gorgeous mini epics. But don't let that scare you off. It is quite accessible. Her piano driven music sounds like that moment in the movies when everything becomes clear to the main actor. Passionate writing and beautiful vocals make this a excellent addition to any collection.
Patty Griffin - Live from the Artists Den DVD/CD (2007)
Barnes & Noble have a special version of this DVD that includes a CD of the concert (so you can travel with the music). It's Patty Griffin. It's live. It's wonderful.
The Frames - The Cost (2007)
Some movies stay inside you forever. And all it takes is a simple reminder, a moment, to bring it all back. Such is the case with the Movie "Once", which comes out on DVD this month. And what brings it back? Anything with GlenHansard in it. So, putting the latest Frame's CD, "The Cost" into the CD player sent chills down my spine as my mind revisited one of my favorite films of the year. It helps that a couple of songs on this CD are also part of the soundtrack. Where have I been? How could I miss this great band for so long. Like Damien Rice, The Frames have a fairly acoustic sound, that can explode at any moment. I have read that they are one amazing band to see live. I can't wait to experience that someday.

Music Hall Link - Alejandro Escovedo listen