30 August 2007

minimix: Americana Is Beautiful.2 Relatively New

Here's some crunchy stuff for a long weekend. New music in the rootsy realm, more or less -- perfect for the hard working All-Americans amongst us looking for something up-to-date... old masters, up-and-comers and some in between.

Enjoy!

Download the mix


01 Sunken Treasure -- Wilco: 26 June 2007
02 Pretty Girl From San Diego -- The Avett Brothers: Emotinalism
03 Oh My God, Whatever, Etc. -- Ryan Adams: Easy Tiger
04 Living In The Moment -- Jorma Kaukonen: Stars in My Crown
05 Planes And A Girl -- Frank Smith: Heavy Handed Peave & Love
06 Farewell Blues -- Tony Trischka: Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular

Previously in minimix:
Schoolin' Banjos
Feellin' Steely

Shows of the Week & A Half

Sorry for dropping the lame on you this week. Here's a little catch-up, taking us through next week... I'll probably repost again on Monday. Lots of new dates, but I'm sure I'm still missing plenty, so feel free to shoot me a heads up to fill in the blanks.

Enjoy!

Click here for upcoming shows

Thursday:
Kid Koala @ Rocks Off Concert Cruise Aboard the Temptress
**Bustle In Your Hedgerow @ Rocks Off Concert Cruise Aboard the Temptress (late)
Mark Olson @ Bowery Ballroom
Don Byron et al @ Blue Note (early/late)
Charlie Burnham Trio @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (early)
Jaik Miller Band et al @ Rocks Off Concert Cruise Aboard the Half Moon
Jack & Jim Show @ The Stone (early/late)

Friday:
Dumpstaphunk @ BB King's (late)
Clutch @ Bowery Ballroom
Don Byron et al @ Blue Note (early/late)
*The Budos Band (CD release) @ Lucky Cat (Brooklyn)
Peter Bernstein Quartet (w/ B. Mehldau) @ Jazz Standard (early/late)
Ryan Montbleau Band @ Rocks Off Concert Cruise Aboard the Half Moon
Stephen Marley @ Hammerstein Ballroom
Jack & Jim Show @ The Stone (early/late)
Dayna Kurtz @ Barbes (brooklyn)
FREE Battles, Deerhunter @ South St. Seaport
Jessica Lurie @ Riverside Park
Brooklyn Qawwali Party @ Mo Pitkin's

Saturday:
*Peter Bernstein Quartet (w/ B. Mehldau) @ Jazz Standard (early/late)
Don Byron et al @ Blue Note (early/late)
FREE Jessica Lurie @ Washington Sq. Park
Van Davis @ Mo Pitkin's

Sunday:
*Don Byron et al @ Blue Note (early/late)
Stephane Wrembel @ Barbes (Brooklyn)
Jack & Jim Show @ The Stone (early/late)
Peter Bernstein Trio plays Monk @ Jazz Standard (early/late)

Labor Day:
*Dinosaur Jr. (Dr Dog opens) @ Webster Hall

Tuesday (9/4):
*Fred Hersch/Ethan Iverson duo @ Jazz Standard (early/late)
Patti Smith @ Music Hall of Williamsburg (Brooklyn)
Motian/Lovano/Frisell @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Donny Osmond @ BB King's
A Big Yes... and a small no @ The Annex
Gina Leishman w/ G. Cohen, M. Munisteri, C. Burnham @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (early)
Francisco Mela w/ J. Moran et al @ Blue Note (early/late)
Mark Feldman/Matt Maneri @ The Stone (late)
Daniel Johnston @ Spiegeltent
Jaik Miller Band @ LUV 24/7

Wednesday (9/5):
Arctic Monkeys @ Summerstage
Against Me! @ Music Hall (Brooklyn)
Peter Bjorn & John @ Maxwell's (Hoboken)
*Motian/Lovano/Frisell @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
The Other Planets @ Tap Bar
Plasticines @ Mercury Lounge
Perry Farrell's Satellite Party w/ MINK @ Fillmore
Fred Hersch/Brad Mehldau duo @ Jazz Standard (early/late)
Jim Black @ The Stone (early)
Francisco Mela w/ J. Moran et al @ Blue Note (early/late)
Adam Deitch Project @ Club Midway (midnight)
SeePeopleS @ Kenny's Castaways

Thursday (9/6):
Gov't Mule, Grace Potter, Earl Greyhound @ Summerstage
Peter Bjorn & John (The Clientele opens) @ Roseland Ballroom
Motian/Lovano/Frisell @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
The Bridge @ Tap Bar
Fred Hersch/Kenny Barron duo @ Jazz Standard (early/late)
Dave Binney & Friends @ 55 Bar (late)
Larry Coryell @ Iridium (early/late)
Matt Moran @ The Stone (late)
Joey Baron/Robyn Schulkowsky @ Roulette
Fashion Rocks @ Radio City Music Hall
Al DiMeola @ Blue Note (early/late)
*Tea Leaf Green, Amfibian @ Blender Theater
Tesla @ Starland Ballroom (Sayreville, NJ)

Friday (9/7):
Dr John @ BB King's (early/late)
*Damien Rice @ WaMu Theater
Al DiMeola @ Blue Note (early/late)
Motian/Lovano/Frisell @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Afroskull @ Parkside Lounge
Dave Binney & Friends @ 55 Bar (late)
Petra Haden & The Sell Outs @ Joe's Pub (early)
Fred Hersch/Jason Moran duo @ Jazz Standard (early/late)
Brooklyn Country Music Festival @ Southpaw (brooklyn)
Larry Coryell @ Iridium (early/late)
Joey Baron/Robyn Schulkowsky @ Roulette
The Radiators @ The Cutting Room (late)
Karsh Kale @ Joe's Pub (midnight)
FREE Jessica Lurie @ Columbus Park

Saturday (9/8):
*Midlake @ Webster Hall
Motian/Lovano/Frisell @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Modest Mouse @ McCarren Park Pool (Brooklyn)
Oliver Future @ Piano's
Heaven & Hell @ Jones Beach (Wantagh, LI)
Brooklyn Country Music Festival @ Southpaw (brooklyn)
Au Revoir Simone, Oh No! Oh My! @ Mercury Lounge
Tea Leaf Green @ Blender Theater
Joey Baron/Robyn Schulkowsky @ Roulette
Vampire Weekend @ Music Hall (Brooklyn)
Larry Coryell @ Iridium (early/late)
Stephane Wrembel @ Joe's Pub (early)
Tony Bennett @ Radio City Music Hall
Al DiMeola @ Blue Note (early/late)
Dave Binney & Friends @ 55 Bar (late)
Dr John @ BB King's (early/late)
The Radiators @ The Cutting Room (late)
Meowskers @ Joe's Pub (midnight)

Sunday (9/9):
Motian/Lovano/Frisell @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
*Farm Aid @ Randall's Island
Larry Coryell @ Iridium (early/late)
FREE New Orleans Klezmer All Stars et al @ Riverside Park
Al DiMeola @ Blue Note (early/late)
Tony Bennett @ Radio City Music Hall
Earth, Wind & Fire (Taylor Hicks opens) @ Jones Beach (Wantagh, LI)
Stephane Wrembel @ Barbes (Brooklyn)
Dave Binney & Friends @ 55 Bar (late)

Click here for upcoming shows

23 August 2007

minimix: Of the Week

By my count we're down to the last week of summer, so here's a little one-a-day to take you through Labor Day.

Download the mix

01 Sunday Noises -- Califone: [Roots & Crowns]
02 Monday -- Wilco: Irving Plaza 11 April 1999
03 Tuesday, Oct. 24th -- Clem Snide: Soft Spot
04 Wednesday Night -- Dubtribe Sound System: Bryant Street
05 Thursday -- Morphine: Lehigh 26 April 1998
06 Friday Night -- Girl Talk: Night Ripper
07 One More Saturday Night -- Grateful Dead: Steppin' Out With The Grateful Dead
08 Out On the Weekend -- Neil Young: London 27 February 1971

20 August 2007

OTW...

Is off this week

Posting will be sporadic/nonexistent.
Mix on Friday.

16 August 2007

minimix: DoubleCovered.1

Six tracks: 3 songs, two versions each... a little gospeditional for ya... enjoy.

Download the mix

01 See Line Woman -- Ollabelle: Riverside Battle Songs
02 I'll Fly Away -- The Word: 8 August 2001
03 House Of The Rising Sun -- Tony Rice Unit: Unit Of Measure
04 House Of The Rising Sun -- Cat Power: 20 November 2006
05 I'll Fly Away -- Dirty Dozen Brass Band: Funeral For Friend
06 Sea Lion Woman -- Feist: 13 June 2007

15 August 2007

Links of the Week

A link a dink a bottle of ink, the cork fell off and these stink... just a small handful for ya...

  • Pic above kindly swiped from Dino Perrucci, who is now photoblogging here. Dino is one of the good guys and he gives great f'in photo, so be sure to bookmark that site and send him some love... but be careful, he'll make your pictures feel like a pile of poop.
  • Brother Liffy's got some nice videos from the Newport Folk Fest as a companion to the pix and reviews posted here last week. Well worth your time. In addition, we both somehow missed Grace Potter getting intimate offstage, but this nice YouTube helps us pretend we were there.
  • If this comes true... SICK! Can't believe, I haven't made it to Shea this season -- je suis lame.
  • There are tribute bands and then there's this... fuck yeah!
  • Dee reminds me it's been 3 years since last Phish (yesterday). Crazy. Love the internet's ability to freeze things in time, here's the Coventry website still ticking like it was born yesterday. Here was my post-weekend rundown.
  • S'all I got.

14 August 2007

Quickie Reviews: What Could Be Worse?

Here are some unrelated short form music and movie reviews, etc. for your reading pleasure...
  • Caught Galactic et al. at Central Park's Summerstage for free this past Saturday (50th show of the year). The line-up was a NOL-A-rama with Jon Cleary opening up solo piano, the Soul Rebels Brass Band hitting second and Galactic rounding out the bunch. There's really little to complain about when it's mid 80's, perfectly sunny and you're smack dab in the middle of Manhattan, outdoors and enjoying the heck out of the day, the music and the company. Cleary is like a poor man's Dr. John, just seeping with Nawlins spirit. The Soul Rebels were fun for the most part, but a little too much of that annoying hip hop "I say x, you say y" bullshit. They were basically a poor man's Rebirth Brass band, but they got the job done. Galactic started off with a big dose of oomph. The second tune was "Sunday Arak" I believe, possibly a Balkan Beat Box tune... man that shit was wicked funky to the nth degree. The bass line was impossibly groovy and Rich Vogel's clavinet part just oozed the good stuff. Ben Ellman's sax went tangential to this dirty filth, loopy, happy frenetic, juiced-up Saturday afternoon stuff. Fantastic. After a while, Galactic settled into house band mode, first inviting Donald Harrison Jr. on sax and Will Bernard up on stage. Harrison was insanely tasty on the horn, the best blower I've seen in a while -- he showed no shyness up there, his first note was the loudest of the day. Bernard played a quick solo and seemed to evaporate into the ever-warming air. Harrison stuck around here and there and later on the Soul Rebels came out and then Cleary and then both for a stretch. The Galactic boys kind of willingly faded into the background, ably holding it down while we got a whole platterful of that Mardi Gras spirit. I could have done without a repeat performance from the Rebels who basically did the same thing they did during their own set, and Cleary seemed to suck out a little bit of the funk in favor of a smoother, cheesier vibe... but overall, it was hard to complain. The coup de grace was the appearance of Big Chief Monk Boudreaux and company in full feathered regalia doing a run of classic New Orleans numbers... a stretch that couldn't have been and wasn't complete without an Iko Iko and Big Chief. What could be worse?
  • Nothing. What could be better? Post-show dining at Hill Country BBQ. Dayum! That's some tasty meat.... I got involved with the beef shoulder (kind of like butter if butter was made from meat), jalapeno cheese sausage (holy shit, that's some good sausage), some sort of corn casserole which was one of the better BBQ sides I've had in the city (might just beat out the crazy creamed corn from Daisy Mae's), some of the tastiest corn bread I've ever had (accompanied by a wild ancho butter with a bit of a butter bite), plus whatever I could salvage from my neighbor's plate. Someone had room for dessert and those were just as good as the food: the pecan pie was darn near perfect, a little single-serving with the thinnest, most delectable crust you could imagine. The peanut butter and jelly cupcake sounded pretty good, but tasted even better. Still full from that meal... and some mighty tasty (if not incredibly expensive) bourbon on tap taboot.
  • I've been fortunate to have seen 2 movies this summer, which is about 1 more than I'm used to getting to. A couple weeks back was the Simpsons Movie. It's been a long time coming, for sure, but the was-it-worth-waiting-for? judgment is in, and I wholeheartedly give this two yellow thumbs up. I haven't seen any bad reviews for this one, but the one I can relate to the most is this one from A. O. Scott of the NYTimes. It's basically a long-form Simpsons episode that's funny the first time through and probably more and more brilliant with the repeated viewings it will demand down the road. The best episodes kind of started out one way setting up something completely orthogonal and seemingly unrelated -- like the set-up was just an excuse for the punchline. The movie is just like that, no better or worse than your favorite episode, just bigger and longer. I feel like the Simpsons was the formative cultural cornerstone of my life: I watched episodes w/ my dad and brother in the beginning, and then obsessed over each episode in college, each Sunday night a beginning and ending to the week... with VHS tapes run ragged by viewing each over and over like the Zapruder film. I'm sure I'm not alone feeling that way and all I can say is that this movie does that all justice. But most importantly, it's flipping hilarious -- I laughed from beginning to end even though I had lost my glasses earlier in the day and likely missed 64% of the visual jokes crammed in there.
  • Last night I caught The Bourne Ultimatum tout seul. The last major action-ish movie I caught previously was the new James Bond, and let me tell you, I'll take Jason Bourne over 007 any day of the week... Americans kick ass, plain and simple. This movie is quintessential summertime theater bliss, the kind of flick that butter flavoring was invented for. The entire movie you feel like you're sitting too close to the screen, but you could watch it from a mile away and still feel that way -- it's just right there, moving faster than you can follow with insanely edited handheld cameras. It made me dizzy and nauseated and I loved it from the opening credits. Good story, kick ass chase scenes and next-level fight scenes. Yes, there is some major disbelief suspension, but don't let the lack of broken bones post-driving-car-off-upper-level-of-parking-garage bother you too much. What a rush! Also worthwhile to help chart the demise of Julia Stiles' acting career... her speaking line-to-sitting there with a dumb look on her face ratio is incredibly low.
  • In my last crop of capsule CD reviews, I totally forgot to include one of my favorites of the year thus far: The Uri Caine Ensemble plays Mozart. The title is pretty self-explanatory, but the surprises inside are well worth a look. Basically, Uri -- piano master and Fender Rhodes genius -- has taken a bunch of Mozart tunes and put them through the ringer so to speak. It's not a total reinvention, but rather an appreciation... a Wolfgang Amadeus tribute album, so to speak. Some numbers are played straight, but with a band -- excuse me, ensemble -- consisting of both strings and electric guitars, not to mention drums and DJ Olive, things tend to get a bit weird, wild and fun. Jazz, klezmer, etc. all get thrown in the mix almost all to perfect effect. Totally listenable, somewhere between Jason Bourne and Clancy Wiggum on the "kick ass" scale... I can't recommend this one highly enough. Ned-O-Matic: 8.0.
  • Finally a brief Nedstalgia dose... dug up a ticket stub of the Allman Brothers Band show I caught at the Cayuga County Fairgrounds in Weedsport, NY 15 years ago today (8/15/1992). This was one of the first steps of a stretch of seeing the Allmans at least once a year for a decade or so. The venue was one of those perfect summer spots, basically a small dirt track with a stage situated at one end. When I was growing up, the classic rock FM station would always percolate come June with "You know it's summer when they're rocking at Weedsport" which was enough to get and rockaholic teenagers panties in a knot. The Allmans were made for spots like this and, fresh off their HORDE appearance, the Spin Doctors opened the show. I'll never forget Chris Barron singing Pocketful of Kryptonite and pulling a wadded up ball of masking tape out of his pocked which had been magic-marked in green... I guess to look like kryptonite? I should have known that band was not long for this world at that point. The Allmans were bitchin' as they usually were, the quintessential summertime band, and I was getting my Southern Rock on with some of the best people I knew and know. The setlist is here. My best memory of that night was when they came out for the encore. My buddy was rather enamored with Gregg Allman's baddassness and so when they came out he was yelling (and I was helping) "Gregg" and then he looked over at us (we were close enough to the front) and kind of gave a nod of acknowledgment which we thought was pretty cool at the time. Anyhoo, they busted into Dreams and got into that deep, hypnotic jam that was just supersweet all around. Just as the jam was hitting it's peak, a beach ball flew out of the crowd toward Gregg's organ and knocked over a cup of beer from the top all over his organ. Having recently befriended the man, we were rather ticked off about that, but Allman calmly wiped it off just in time to sing the verse "got to pull myself together..." which absolutely killed us -- just the kind of coincidence that made the show for both of us dorked-out 18 year olds. That and the fact that they followed it up with one of those monster 25 minute Whipping Posts. If I had a recording, I'd share, but they're all the same ain't that... except for the memories.

13 August 2007

Nedstalgia: 10 Years Ago

[Previously in Nedstalgia: Phish shows 1 & 2, #3 #77 & 78); Mule; Widespread Panic; The Duo; Robert Randolph HORDE 92 (i.e. Phish #4, WSP #1)]

Get torrents of Gorge shows here and here (the 8/14 show will probably be available very soon if it isn't already)
Or get MP3's (of the entire Summer 97 tour) here.

(Gorge 97 pic stoled from Phish.com)


Welcome back to another Phistalgia act... when we last left off, we were in the depths of one hot-ass Texas summer. We flipped the calendar page to August in the Vancouver area and then headed down to the Gorge for the two gigs there. Frankly, while I remember both shows (nos. 78 & 79) being worth the schlep, I don't have too many distinct memories of the time spent out there in George. That's a rarity for me -- I really have a story for every show -- which must mean it was lackluster in some way. I do have some good memories of distinct moments-- I remember my first Vultures and being pretty overwhelmed with a tune I'm not sure I ever heard again; I remember the Harry Hood encore, when Trey asked for the lights to be turned out, and the band just got blissfully gooey in the darkness; I remember a Down With Disease>Tweezer set opener that was so good, the band couldn't get it up again the rest of the set, unfortunately blueballing us all theway to the Reprise; being front row with the somewhat-annoying LeftCoasters for the first time... I don't think the band played poorly during that Clifford Ball>Island Tour stretch, so it was all degrees of sweetness. It was just something about the Gorge -- both times I've been there -- like it seems like the whole experience should be more special than it ends up being. Like this was the corporate version of "kick ass venue" drawn up in a sanded-down vision of how to turn an amazing spot into a concert venue. The venue is a sight to see, for sure, but it's no Red Rocks -- beautiful, yes, but frankly, without the magic....

No, I deliberately waited until today to recount my August 1997 reminiscing, to the 10th anniversary of #80. By the time you've seen eighty Phish shows, you've fallen into an expect-the-unexpected game plan with each new trip. Yes, it's a voyage to the unknown, anything truly is possible, but eventually, these guys have zigged and zagged in every direction and dimension they can possibly access, right? And just when you let your guard down, in a run-of-the-mill shed outside a pretty darn good amusement park, the rules change once again and the going gets weird.

It was 8/14/1997 at Darien Lake a little slide-step outside Buffalo. I'd been there in 1993 for what stands still as one of my all-time favorites. The band came a long way in those 4 years and as I've said, they were hitting their peak. The venue had changed a bit in those years as well, coming a ways from a small kind of afterthought tacked onto a amusement park I'd been going to since I could string together the words "merry," "go" and "round." In 1997, it was a major piece of the Darien Lake puzzle, with some obvious money and effort being put into it being an honest-to-goodness concert venue to compete with the SPACs and FLACs of the world. But the parking lot was still pretty much a big patch of grass and when we arrived on that typical Western New York summer's day, the epicenter of that lot was occupied by the Furthur bus. And with that bus came a little buzz -- easy to ignore for someone who was just dropping in on a show mid-tour, like a guy auditing a class with the tourheads in full get-up-to-the-Great-Went mode.

For me, it was just good times to be back at a Phish show, less than two weeks removed from my summer "vacation." I picked up my brother on the way and there were a few familiar faces scattered through the audience as the band took the stage. When they opened with "Yamar" you could just feel it -- it percolated from front-to-back. When they followed that up with "Funky Bitch" I felt my muscles twinge: they knew it was going to be a long night of dancing my ass off. "Fluffhead" third song into the night was a "holy shit" moment. The playing was free spirited and maybe not the tightest through that opening trio, but man, that's a statement opening for a show. The Fluffhead really closed out incredibly strong though, Trey just going free form nuts in the way that gets out your mental pencil and paper to make a "best ever" note for future reference... the paper's a bit faded, but I can't still make it out. Of course, it's hard to sustain that kind of setlist for too long -- they had to save some artillery shells for the Maine hit -- so the set cooled off a bit. The latter part being highlighted by a welcome appearance from Dame Tela and one of those typically frenzied Antelopes.

The setbreak definitely had a good energy to it. "What about that opening, eh?" The Phish crowd is easy to please as a whole, but for once I agreed, that was some bombastic shit. Little did we know...

The second set started kind of oddly, Chalkdust, Love Me (for Elvis), Sparkle. Like they were filling time a bit before some rendezvous later in the day. Trey was chatty from the get-go, calling out Elvis and then, going into Sparkle, claiming that Elvis loved that song. Then all of the sudden, Harry Hood is being shoved down your throat. This is about the part of your Thursday night when odd turns to outright weird, which will soon make way for batshit craziness dripping from the ceiling. First of all, the sky opened up -- not with rain, but with a fireworks/laser light show display elsewhere in the park. It was one of those quintessential Phish moments, the kind of synchronicity that makes even the stone cold soberest audience member question whether the guys were plucking the strings of the universe themselves. Of course, how could the band resist taking advantage of the light show at hand. Fireworks in the sky, fireworks on stage -- this was the band on their way to the Everest of the jam empire and all four guys were just clicking in next-level fashion.

As the Hood jam elevated with each exploding rocket, a short and sweet climax, something in the night shifted. The band regrouped a bit awkwardly, falling back to earth like the ashen bits of a firework floating haphazardly but softly back to the ground. Trey and Mike locked into a neat little melodic bit that just went and went and went, building to something, but what? Where does a show like this go? Over, around, under and upside down, the roller coaster went faster and then slower and then somehow, utterly unexpectedly, bang bang bang it segued into Col. Forbin's Ascent. If there's a twilight zone, we had entered it.... if you were to sum up this Phish show with three letters, might I suggest WTF... but wait, it gets better.

The Forbin's narrative is always kind of a trip out there, but nothing prepared anyone in the audience for what came next. Trey's building up the story as usual, I mean nothing out of the ordinary yet, right? And then Col. Forbin can't find Icculus, but instead he introduces Ken "Uncle Sam, Bozo Easy" Kesey -- he of the bus in the parking lot, Acid Test, Cuckoo's Nest fame -- who hijacks the show as only a grade-A prankster can. Kesey, in full regalia, takes over and starts his own narration, a free-form bizarre-a-thon about Bozos and somesuch with characters from the Wizard of Oz somehow appearing during the story. To call it "trippy" would be missing the point. I wish I had visuals of my reactions during the course of this, this, this... I don't what you call it. The range of feelings, from laughing and entertained to "what the FUCK is going on?" to finally just wanting it all to just end already... they were all there in spades. Yes, it was a lot of things, spurring a lot of looking at the dude next to you with a shrug of amazement, but the thing it was the most was long. The gist of the story is that they're looking for the "BOZOS" (What the fuckity fuck?) and by the end of the story, we learn that bozos are some even weirder motherfuckers with big heads floating around the audience. The fact that there is no footage of this on YouTube should shame that enterprise back to the days of the Commodore 64. Come on people!!

Thankfully, the band did not cede total control to Kesey (just about 97% of it), they filled in the undercurrent of the story with a pretty good soundtrack, superheady "Somewhere over the Rainbow" teases when appropriate, etc. All the characters from the Wizard of Oz (or Biz Boz as The Boy calls it) made an appearance, but for some reason instead of the Lion, Cowardly it was flipping Frankenstein that came out. 10 years later and I can't figure this one out, like the shit wasn't bizarro world enough for us. Of course, this got the band licking on Frankenstein (the song) as well. Finally, shortly after we finally found those confounded bozos, they kind of sunk into a groove -- it was almost impossible for Phish, circa 8/97 to go more than 15 minutes without getting thoroughly funky for a healthy stretch -- and Kesey finally re-entered the atmosphere of planet Earth. It was funny, after what seemed like forever (it's a full 15 minutes, if you're wondering) in Oz or wherever he was, he still made his way to mentioning the "mockingbird" as I'm sure Trey instructed him to at some point previous to the set.

Of course, we were through the looking glass at this point. They were really locked in to something ultrafunky, a subconscious groove that they couldn't avoid... they had the funk jones at this point and there was nothing they could do to shake it off. So Trey announced "We're supposed to start Mockingbird now, but the funk is too deep... we can't stop!!!" (but not before getting in a "see what happens when you take too much acid, 30 years later?" as Kesey and his cohorts quasi-boogied off stage) Holy shit, did that set the crowd on fire. Classic Anastasio. Instead they just let themselves get sucked in by the quicksand and slowly grooved their way into Camel Walk (my first). Don't let the Kesey go to the brain now.

It seems almost anticlimactic that they would encore such a brainbender of an evening with a truly 92-esque Bouncing/Rocky Top, but honestly it's so pedestrian that even that is weird. IN those days it was always hard to leave a Phish show without a wide grin of satisfaction on your face, but this is one that you really had to see to believe. Twas a good time to be on the bus, even if we couldn't go the big weekend looming northward.

Until next time...

12 August 2007

Shows of the Week

The dog days... let me know what I'm missing.

Enjoy!

Click here for upcoming shows

Monday:
Justin Timberlake @ Giants Stadium (E. Rutherford, NJ)
*Badly Drawn Boy @ Spiegeltent
Tokyo Police Club @ Bowery Ballroom
Nublu Orchestra @ Nublu

Tuesday:
Badly Drawn Boy @ Spiegeltent
Nickel Creek w/ Fiona Apple @ Summerstage
Kenny Loggins @ Bergen PAC (Englewood, NJ)
*Jenny Scheinman @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (early)
Def Leppard et al @ Jones Beach (Wantagh, LI)
Jaik Miller Band @ LUV 24/7

Wednesday:
Disco Biscuits/Umphrey's McGee @ McCarren Pool (Brooklyn)
*Sonny Landreth @ Rockin' the River Cruise
Justin Timberlake @ Madison Square Garden
Mary Holvorson Trio @ Barbes (Brooklyn)
Def Leppard @ PNC Bank Arts Center (Holmdel, NJ)
Kelly Jo & The Preverts @ Fat Baby
Afroskull @ Ace of Clubs
The Wailers @ Highline Ballroom
Kaki King @ Spiegeltent
Forro In The Dark @ Nublu

Thursday:
Son Volt @ Rockin' the River Cruise
Lismore et al @ Maxwell's (Hoboken)
Jason Crosby Band @ Ace of Clubs
The Head Set et al @ Mercury Lounge
*Al & The Transamericans @ Lion's Den
Fencing: Chadbourne/Ribot/Baker @ The Stone (early/late)
Blue Oyster Cult, Foghat @ Bergen PAC (Englewood, NJ)
Jessica Lurie Trio @ Rockwood Music Hall (6pm)
Justin Timberlake @ Madison Square Garden
101crustaceans @ Issue Project Room (Brooklyn)
Dickey Betts & Great Southern @ North Fork Theater (Westbury, LI)
David Gans @ Mexicali Blues (Teaneck, NJ)

Friday:
*FREE The National @ South St. Seaport
Dirty Dozen Brass Band @ Maxwell's (Hoboken) (late/midnight)
Medeski, Martin & Wood @ Ridgefield Playhouse (Ridgefield, CT)
John Vanderslice et al @ Living Room
Alice In Chains, Velvet Revolver @ PNCBank Arts Center (Holmdel, NJ)
John Hiatt, Shawn Colvin @ Count Basie Theater (Red Bank, NJ)
Spiraling et al @ Mercury Lounge
Eugene Chabourne @ The Stone (early/late)
FREE John Vanderslice @ Sound Fix Records (Brooklyn)
Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Made out of Babies @ Highline Ballroom

Saturday:
The New Mellow Edward @ Barbes (Brooklyn)
*FREE Toubab Krewe, Si*Se @ Governor's Island
Thought, Mocean Worker @ Rose (brooklyn)
Office, The Capitol Years et al @ Mercury Lounge
Alice In Chains, Velvet Revolver @ Jones Beach (Wantagh, LI)
Taylor Hicks @ St. George Theater (Staten Island)
Bishop Allen, Page France, Mobius Band @ Bowery Ballroom
Improv night: Zorn, Chadbourne et al @ The Stone (early/late) (benefit)
FREE Okkervil River @ Sound Fix Records (Brooklyn)

Sunday:
*Wolf Parade @ Warsaw (Brooklyn)
Nickel Creek w/ Fiona Apple @ North Fork Theater (Westbury, LI)
FREE Page France @ Sound Fix Records (Brooklyn)
Rufus Wainwright, The Magic Numbers, A Fine Frenzy @ Summerstage
Stephane Wrembel @ Barbes (Brooklyn)

Click here for upcoming shows

09 August 2007

minimix: Comes Alive Vol. 4

This week Comes Alive is coming at you dead and deader as we pay tribute to a couple of our dearly departed. And as we all know the best kind of live album is the double live, we go double strong with both Jerry & Mikey getting their own mix (links below).... with a couple studio tracks for good measure. I don't pretend that either of these are authoritative by any measure, just a feeler trip to the buffet. It'd be nice to think of these guys jamming together in heaven, but something tells me that Jerry will have nothing to do with anyone that came after him and has been dogging Bill Monroe with a banjo in his hands since his arrival. Of course, Monroe wants nothing to do with Jerry...

Mix 1 is for Mr. Garcia, 12 years gone... here's an utterly random cropping of some Jerry in various stages of his playing days. I've included a track from my last Dead show -- the Row Jimmy was probably the last thing I saw Jerry do that impressed the hell out of me. Not sure it stands up, but you're getting it nonetheless. The rest is a damn good sampler, if I must say so.

I've included a track from the last Mike Houser I saw as well, but this one, I can guarantee you, is as good as you're gonna get. Yeah, it's a Jojo Ride Me High, but feel free to ignore the power of Mikey on that one. Hard to believe it's been 5 years, but thankfully we've got plenty of Mikey to listen to when we need it. The rest is rounded out with some examples of such, with a brilliant little back-and-forth with JB in the studio tucked in there. I've thrown in a bonus track, because we can't forget Allen Woody when we're remembering face-melting musicians in August. Crank up the bass for that one, heavy, heavy shit.

Enjoy!

Click here to download disc 1

01 Rubin And Cherise -- Jerry Garcia: The Very Best Of Jerry Garcia
02 Terrapin Station -- The Grateful Dead: 18 September 1987
03 I Was Made To Love Her -- Jerry Garcia/Merl Saunders: 6 February 1972
04 She Belongs To Me -- Jerry Garcia/David Grisman Quintet: 5/1992
05 Tangled Up In Blue -- Jerry Garcia Band: 29 July 1977
06 Row Jimmy -- The Grateful Dead: 2 October 1984

Click here to download disc 2

01 Quietude -- Michael Houser: Door Harp
02 Maggot Brain -- Widespread Panic: 3 April 1996
03 Pickin' Up The Pieces > banter -- JB & Mike: 1992
04 Sandbox -- Michael Houser: Sandbox
05 Ride Me High -- Widespread Panic: 6 November 2001
06 No Need To Suffer -- Gov't Mule: Live... With A Little Help From Our Friends

Previously in minimix:
Comes Alive Vol 3
Comes Alive Vol. 2

08 August 2007

P+R: Newport Folk Fest Day 2


Click here for the Day 1 recap

Sunday, the heat and humidity broke a bit and it was pretty much darn near perfect weather for some outdoor music. It was one of those days that serves as the picture-in-the-dictionary example of high pressure system. I got "miracled" while waiting to buy tickets (sick!), which was a nice surprise... not sure that's ever happened to me, before. Put a nice face on the festival overall, not that it needed much of a spitshine. Newport Folk is like the consummate professional of music festivals, not too big, they act lik ethey've been there before... cause goshdarnit, they have.

Day 2 was much more prototypical Americana-based with a heavy dose of that O Brother soundtrack vibe throughout.

Some pix and thoughts:

  • We made it in early for the Carolina Chocolate Drops. These guys were steeped in history, so much so that they literally sounded like a scratch old recording. Old timey music at its best, with jugs and washboards joining fiddles and guitar and harmonica for a really nice mix. I was pretty impressed with these guys, whatever the color of their skin. The "Another Man Done Gone" sung a capella by the woman in the quartet was a keeper moment of the day.
  • Concurrently running in the 1st slot over at the waterside tent was Sierra Hull and her band. I've seen a few YouTubes of Hull absolutely killing the mandolin and/or guitar like no teenager should be allowed to do, so it was nice to see her live. Knowing that she could run laps around the early crowd's consciousness, it was actually pretty refreshing to see her leave her chops somewhat at the door and concentrate on the songs, her band and the live show aspect. She is able beyond her (14) years in all respects, even showing the tell-tale bluegrass country sense of humor (read: corny beyond belief) in between numbers. Great playing, great voice, great songs -- you will hear more from her whether with this band (who's just as young as her pretty much -- the guitar player's voice is a youthful octave higher than Sierra's) or someone else.
  • Alejandro Escavedo wasa nice rollicking big band rock-and-pop way to get into it in the afternoon. Semi-Latin tinged, but not as much as you'd expect given that name... actually a lot closer to Elvis Costello than anything. Nothing stands out too much here except for the addition of a string section with the violinist taking the loudest solos of the day, by far. That's some ripping violin!
  • The biggest surprise and biggest treat of the day, nay the entire festival was easily Elvis Perkins in Dearland. These guys channeled folk and old-school Americana through a Beatlesy sweet-pop that just plain worked. The perfect combination of all the elements that you look for in good music, these guys had it. Just enough multi-instrumentation to keep things intersting, but this was the kind of music that begins and ends with the songs. Their tune "While You Were Sleeping" was a total chills moment for me and everyone else in the tent. There were also some old-timey covers in there that mixed in like something new and exhilirating. Heck, some folks have it, some don't. Do yourself a favor and check out Elvis Perkins, you won't regret it. Write it down and put it in your special place... trust me. Elvis Perkins -- you are on my list... welcome!
  • Amos Lee struck me as rather blah. His line at the Borders tent to sign CD's seemed disproportionately long to me.
  • At around 3pm, Newport fell under the spell of some serious roots music gravitas as both Ralph Stanley and Emmylou Harris played opposite ends of the cozy festival grounds. Stanley has a perfectly balanced live act, deferring to the best talent his name can buy, twisting in jokes, anecdotes, matching duds and a wee bit of nepotism to round out a well-polished and crowd-pleasing act. The band cooks, the music is tried-and-true and when he wants to, Ralph has still got enough bluegrass soul to run circles around everyone else playing the festival. The third big damn-that-was-good moment of the day went to Ralph Stanley crooning "Oh Death" a capella like a man who's gonna escape the Reaper for another 20+ years of constant touring.
  • Emmylou was none too shabby herself. Having stolen a good chunk of the bluegrass band Seldom Scene, not to mention longtime Tony Rice Unit stalwart Rickie Simpkins, they put on a clinic. Just the kind of tight-knit songsmithing you'd expect at the Newport Folk Festival. I was darned impressed with these guys, and by the time we were ready to go, I was surprised to say that the 2nd day was more enjoyable than the first.
  • Allison Krauss & Union Station closed the festival Sunday evening -- we were not there to see it.

06 August 2007

P+R: Newport Folk Fest (Day 1)

Spent some quality time in Newport last week/weekend, including Saturday & Sunday at my first Newport Folk Festival. Will share some words and pix, day 1 today and day 2 tomorrow...

The festival is sponsored mainly by Dunkin Donuts which is absolutely perfect in the metaphorical sense. See, there was plenty of iced coffee and Coolattas and the like to be had, but not a donut in sight... but that's OK because DD ain't about the Bavarian Creams any more. Similarly, there was a whole slew of wonderful music to be had over the course of the weekend, but very little honest-to-goodness folk music. Instead, they've brought the water to the horse, stretching the definition of folk music to meet the needs of the festival and, more importantly, the festivalgoers.

Here, the notion of folk encompasses the opinion that music was better at some indeterminate time in the past. Of course, exactly when in the past depends deeply on who's playing and who's listening. So, for example, Duane Andrews has settled on Django Reinhardt circa 1933, the Allman Brothers on Robert Johnson 1937, the North Mississippi All Stars on the Allman Brothers in 1970 and Ralph Stanley on Ralph Stanley at any point over the past 40 years. As long as you're looking backwards, you seem to fit in just fine at the Newport Folk Fest. Innovation is discouraged and everyone is fine with that.

I'm plenty fine with that, mainly because the music was top-to-bottom superb, but there is an irony in the subtext, ain't there? Wasn't folk music supposed to be the agent of change? You know, like the times they are-a? Not only is the music not changing, but there's little call for change. If ever we needed someone to stand up and sing "enough already!" at the world, it's now, today, August 2007. But that doesn't seem to be music's place any more, music is the safe place, we go to the internet to rage against the man. So be it. It was too damn hot to protest, anyway.

Without too much in-depth, some brief notes by way of review:

  • Dirty Dozen are the professionals professionals and a great way to get the big ball 'o wax rolling, no matter what kind of festival, party or hullabaloo you're trying to throw. In a weekend filled with pitch-perfect covers, these guys are the masters, tying classics like "Saints Come Marching In" together with "What's Going On" like peanut butter meeting jelly and/or chocolate and everything in between.
Even if John Butler hopped on stage, they wouldn't be a dozen
  • Phonograph is a name that's always popping up on my SOTW radar so I was glad to finally catch them. Of course, the 2.5 songs weren't nearly enough. Much more energy and groove than I was expecting for a band that seems to play monthly @ the Living Room. Songs verging on masterpieces, one of the few alt-pop-ish acts of the festival. Will definitely be checking 'em out again.
There's even room for an NYC pop band like Phonograph at Newport
  • The Waterside tent/stage was overrun by our Canadian neighbors on Saturday and was pretty much one revelation after another. Vishten was next-level Celtic swingin' and the aforementioned Duane Andrews deservedly drew some of the loudest and most enthusiastic applause of the day.
Vishten: Canadian, Celtic, maybe even folk


Duane Andrews channels Django
  • My first Grace Potter encounter was a good one. She owned the main stage -- it wasn't just the knee-high brighter-than-white boots, but they didn't hurt. You don't need to innovate when you've got that much soul. Badass band as well. The festival was lacking that heavy rocking bass playing, but there was plenty of it in appropriate doses supplied by the Nocturnals. Definitely picking up her album out this week.
Grace Potter: larger than life
  • John Butler is a perfect fit for this festival. He encapsulates the really-good-not-mind-blowing level that almost everyone played at, from my point of view, at least. I've always enjoyed who I call the Australian Dave Matthews, but just can't get too excited about it. I will give him props for fighting the power!
Really, what's not to like about the John Butler Trio?
  • NMAS did the thing that they do at about the level they usually do it. Best cover selections of the day with bang-up crowd pleasing versions of Hendrix-esque "Hear My Train A Coming," nod-to-Dylan-(electric) "Slow Train Coming," and a nifty "Some Kind of Wonderful."
Chris Chew even looks large from this distance.
  • Been digging the Assembly of Dust on CD for a while, so was psyched to check 'em out live. Apparently, the kids dig 'em as well judging by the size of the crowd in the Harbor Tent. Happy-go-lucky jammy vibes whirl around some real winning songs. They opened it up quite a bit considering the environs. One of those bands that seems to make better music than the sum of their talents would allow. They made me happy, they made the Boy dance, but I couldn't help but find them somewhat lightweight when it's all said and done. Missing a certain edge... probably what makes 'em so popular.
The banner says "Newport Grooves on Dunkin." AoD made it so.


The boy grooves on Assembly of Dust


Reid Genauer & the dude who plays guitar for Assembly of Dust

  • Allman Brothers Band closed the long, hot and hazy day with an Allman Brothers show. Opened in a steamer with Hot 'Lanta, perfect way to draw it in. I remember the exact moment 12+ years ago when I realized that it was Warren carrying the band and the short leap it was to feeling near-embarassment for Dickey. It's getting toward that moment with Derek these days. By the time Trucks finished his you-will-hear-nothing-better-today solo in Liz Reed, it was time to pack up camp and head home.
The Allman Brothers on the main stage


Gregg Allman, consummate badass


Day 2 photos and reports tomorrow...

Shows of the Week

SOTW demands cloning technology NOW.

Enjoy!

Click here for upcoming shows

Monday:
Zappa Plays Zappa @ North Fork Theater (Westbury, LI)
Squeeze @ Starland Ballroom (Sayreville, NJ)
I'm From Barcelona @ Southpaw (Brooklyn)
Scott Holcomb solo @ Fat Baby
Muse (Cold War Kids open) @ Madison Square Garden
Nublu Orchestra @ Nublu
**Jenny Scheinman, Nels Cline et al @ Joe's Pub (early, late)
American Babies @ Mercury Lounge (late)
Adam Rogers Group @ 55 Bar (late)
FREE Marissa Nadler (CD release) @ Sound Fix
Joe Walsh @ Beacon Theater

Tuesday:
BB King, Etta James, Al Gren @ Theater at MSG
Charlie Haden/Kenny Barron @ Blue Note (early/late)
Groove Collective, Julian Velard @ Highline Ballroom
Yeah Yeah Yeahs @ Webster Hall
*Benzos (CD release) @ 205
Mocean Worker @ Nublu
FREE Grace Potter & The Nocturnals @ Bryant Park (7am)
Deep Purple @ Radio City Music Hall
Blumenkranz/Burnham/Eisenstadt @ The Stone (early)
Joan As Police Woman @ Bowery Ballroom
Squeeze @ North Fork Theater (Westbury, LI)
Jaik Miller Band @ LUV 24/7

Wednesday:
They Might Be Giants @ Bowery Ballroom
*Charlie Haden/Ethan Iverson @ Blue Note (early/late)
The Beastie Boys @ Summerstage
FREE Wood Brothers @ Shake Shack
Nellie McKay @ Joe's Pub
Shanir Blumenkranz/Tim Sparks Duo @ Zebulon (Brooklyn)
Iswhat @ Solomon's Porch Cafe (Brooklyn)
Ben Allsion Quartet @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (late)
Duck Baker @ The Stone (early/late)
Crowded House @ Beacon Theater
Chuck MacKinnon MACTET @ Lucille's
Forro In the Dark @ Nublu
Rick Springfield/Eddie Money @ North Fork Theater (Westbury, LI)

Thursday:
FREE Hold Steady et al @ Prospect Park Bandshell (Brooklyn)
Daft Punk, The Rapture et al @ Keyspan Park (Brooklyn)
Tea Leaf Green @ Mulcahy's (Wantagh, LI)
The Moody Blues @ Radio City Music Hall
The Black Crowes, NMAS @ Summerstage
Charlie Haden/Ethan Iverson @ Blue Note (early/late)
FREE Los Amigos Invisibles et al @ Pier 54
The Beastie Boys @ McCarren Park Pool (Brooklyn)
Yossi Piamenta @ Mexicali Blues (Teaneck, NJ)
FREE Slick Rick @ Marcus Garvey Park
Tim Sparks @ The Stone (early)
Anders Osborne, The Iguanas @ Rockin the River Cruise
BuzzUniverse @ Ace of Clubs
Nashville Pussy @ Rocks Off Concert Cruise aboard the Temptress
FREE B-52's @ Asser Levy Park (Brooklyn)
Beat Circus @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (early)
The Wood Brothers @ Maxwell's (Hoboken)
Crowded House @ Beacon Theater
Beat the Devil et al @ Union Hall (Brooklyn)
Benzos, Say Hi To Your Mom @ Knitting Factory
Budos Band @ Joe's Pub
*Tim Sparks, Jon Madof, Shanir Blumenkranz @ The Stone (late)
Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad @ Black Betty (Brooklyn)
Toots & The Maytals @ BB King's
Moody Blues @ Radio City Music Hall
FREE The Itals @ BAM Metrotech (noon)

Friday:
Charlie Haden/Brad Mehldau @ Blue Note (early/late)
*Stanton Moore Trio (Bobby Previte opens) @ HighLine Ballroom
Beastie Boys @ Hammerstein Ballroom
John Ginty Band @ Ace of Clubs
Iron & The Albatross @ Barbes (Brooklyn (early)
Tokyo Police Club, Ra Ra Riot @ Bowery Ballroom
Duck Baker @ The Stone (early)
FREE Au Revoir Simone, Metronomy @ South St. Seaport
Karsh Kale @ Joe's Pub (midnight)
Antonion Sanchez Quartet @ 55 Bar (late)
Deantoni/Juini Booth @ Nublu
Lotus @ Rocks Off Concert Cruise aboard the Temptress

Saturday:
FREE African Festival @ Prospect Park Bandshell (Brooklyn)
*FREE Galactic et al @ Summerstage
Sounds of Greg D et al @ Ace of Clubs
Charlie Haden/Brad Mehldau @ Blue Note (early/late)
Tokyo Police Club, Ra Ra Riot, Vampire Weekend @ Maxwell's (Hoboken)
Robert Randolph, North Miss. All Stars @ The Stone Pony (Asbury Park, NJ)
Vampire Weekend @ E. River Music Project
Ellery Eskelin w. A. Parkins, J. Black @ The Stone (early/late)
Stephane Wrembel @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (late)

Sunday:
*FREE Ted Leo et al @ McCarren Park Pool (Brooklyn)
Charlie Haden/Brad Mehldau @ Blue Note (early/late)
Oh No! Oh My! @ Studio B (Brooklyn)
Sylvie Courvoisier @ The Stone (early)
FREE Zap Mama, Angelique Kidjo @ Summerstage

Click here for upcoming shows

01 August 2007

minimix: F.Art.S Vol. 5

Couldn't leave you hanging, so here's a mix a couple days early as I head out for some much-needed R&R. I promised some Bela Fleck to round out the banjo hit a few weeks back. STILL had trouble cutting it down, so take 100MB and be done with you. Damn, this guys is prolific on all fronts, tried to get a good taste with a host of different playing partners, sit-ins, etc. but could never get it all

Don't get much better than this. Enjoy!

Download the mix

01 The Yee-Haw Factor -- Béla Fleck & The Flecktones: UFO Tofu
02 Fixin' To Die -- Col. Bruce Hampton & Aquarium Rescue Unit: Syracuse, NY 6 May 1993
03 Emperor's Mare -- Bela Fleck/ Jie Bing Chen/ V.M. Bhatt: Tabula Rasā
04 Unfolding -- Strength In Numbers: Strawberry Music Festival, CA 2 Sept 1990
05 David Bowie -- Phish: Salt Lake City, UT 21 August 1993
06 "Sitar Banjo tune" -- Bela Fleck And Sandip Burman: Schenectady, NY 12 May 2000
07 Solar -- Béla Fleck & Edgar Meyer: Music For Two

Previously in minimix:
F.Art.S:
Scott Metzger
Jimmy Herring
Mike Gordon
Marc Ribot

Schoolin' Banjos

Links of the Week

Time to take a (link) dump... nerd-out style!

  • You know those words you hae to type in over at Ticketmaster to prove you're human... cool story behind those and more.
  • Am I psyched for a new Indiana Jones movie? Not sure. But Marion returns, pretty cool.
  • New York Magazine hits on some Cheap Eats in NYC. BBQ, burgers, et al. What's your favorite burger joint? I'll put the Nedstrami up against any of 'em!
  • This is cool science... and maybe the future of live music venues? Here's the money quote: "And while the farm is an urban vision, the dynamo-floor principle can also be applied to capturing energy at places like rock concerts, too. "Greater movement of people could make the music louder," suggests Jurcyzk." Imagine the possibilities -- I dub the sick!
  • Speaking of live music (and money quotes), would a post @ OTW be complete without obligatory St. Vincent content? Here's a good short interview/preview. Quoting Ms. Clark: "I feel like it was a sad day when guitar solos went out of style and I think they're on the resurge. If I'm not carrying the flag, I'd at least like to carry a banner or maybe tack something on the message board."
  • In this week in video, start off with some shit that's so scary you've got to laugh at it: Crazy about JC.
  • LOST fans should dig this pre-Lost Hurley footage.
  • Everyone else is psyched to have a trailer to go along with the new Wes Anderson movie, so am I. Check it out: Darjeeling Limited. Can't wait for that one to come out... on DVD. I ain't seen a fleckin' movie in the theater in ages -- what's good out there?
  • Finally, some video from Friday's Panic show at Radio City, courtesy of Jon Allen:
  • PS Shit's been flying fast around here, catch up on a week or two of OTW:

Review: Capsule 2007 CD's Vol. 5

Good week to clear up some more CD reviews. As always, these are initial impressions and opinions are subject to change without notice. What should I be listening to? What's on your radar?

Previously:
Volume 1
Volume 2
Volume 3
Volume 4

The National -- The Boxer
I dunno. After really deeply digging Alligator and especially the Cherry Tree EP, the National's newest isn't doing it for me. Can't put my finger on it, but it's not that the songs aren't catching me or anything... it's that the music is downright irritating at times. Not without it's charms, "The Apartment" is a good one, for starters. Not ready to give up on it yet, but the vocals are in that chalkboard territory right now. I'd skip it... Ned-O-Matic: 3.0




Ryan Adams -- Easy Tiger
Ryan Adams just belches good songs, doesn't he? Ups and downs, but mostly ups, I'd say. A certain comfort level has enveloped Adams with a settling down on a band -- The Cardinals -- that suits his present moods perfectly. This album screams "comfort zone" but there's nothing wrong with that. The wheel doesn't need to be reinvented every time around. I'd put this as a direct successor to (and, in my opinion, best since) "Cold Roses" with Ryan finally settling in on a sound equilibrated between the alt-country sound and the Garcia/Hunter songwriting urges. Under Adam's guidance, it's a sound that's as cozy as a well-worn couch. Easy tiger, indeed. Ned-O-Matic: 7.0

The Polyphonic Spree -- The Fragile Army
The problem with the Polyphonic Spree is that there's nowhere else to go. I mean you either continue making the same music you've been making or you change course and effectively cease being the Polyphonic Spree, right? Well, sort of. Here DeLaughter Inc. attempt to carve out some new ground, a little less "Hair" and a little more rock-and-sway. When I first listened to this disc, I couldn't quite get into it, but the joys seem to be layered in there... a few listens later and I'm coming around. Still, their best work may be behind them. Ned-O-Matic: 5.0


Marc Ribot -- Asmodeus: The Book of Angels, Vol. 7
This is the recording that makes you go "whoa!" Not always in a good way, but if you're looking for something completely in your face for the entirety, this is it. There is nothing subtle about Ribot's playing here, nor his triomates Calvin Weston & Trevor Dunn. It's loud, frenetic, free-form and occasionally breathtaking. It's a little too roughshod at times, even for me, but when these 3 are clicking, it's an upside-down roller coaster. There are stretches where it becomes more relevant to listen to Weston and Dunn bounce back and forth than worry too much about Ribot's wayward shredding. Not exactly what I was hoping for, but, hell, it's Marc Ribot! Ned-O-Matic: 5.5


Tony Trischka & Friends -- Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular
With friends like these things really are spectacular. They include every relevant banjo picker alive (e.g. Earl Scruggs, Bela Fleck, and Steve freakin' Martin) as well as bluegrass heavyweights like Tony Rice, Jerry Douglas, Sam Bush & Chris Thile. Trischka is the best banjo player you've never heard of, unless you've heard of him, in which case you should already own this. Great mix of styles, songs; instrumentals and traditionals... you won't hear a better bluegrass album this year. Of course, with Tony, the notion of "bluegrass" gets stretched a bit, and we're all the better for it. Ned-O-Matic: 7.0


The White Stripes -- Icky Thump
Rock and roll continues to live on in the form of the unlikely duo of
Jack & Meg White. Things are getting a little more subtle this time around, they're not just relying on Jack's wailing guitars and vocal chords this time around. There's still plenty of that brute force meta-shredding going on, but some other stuff too. Can't say I love all of it, but really who doesn't like the White Stripes? Ned-O-Matic: 6




St. Vincent -- Marry Me
Would it be possible for me to be any more in love with (the music of) St. Vincent? Keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, but this album ain't it. In fact, this may be the best damn thing since, well, seeing Annie Clark live. With a full band in tow and some brilliant production, the sound translates perfectly in the studio. Clark does it all here. The first half of the album is a masterpiece of songwriting and arrangement. It's not perfect, there's a lull in the middle -- it's all relative -- but the best track ain't even til near the end (Human Racing) and after listening to it about 20 times in a row, it's only getting better. Ned-O-Matic: 8.5


The Clientele -- God Save the Clientele
Another take on the sweet harmonic pop of the Beatles and the Beach Boys... kind of like Dr. Dog, except this doesn't sound anything like Dr. Dog. Which I guess is a testament to the grand masters. Not a sound is wasted here, and the result is pretty damn good. Occasionally ripping and rocking and more often a little sweeter... and every so often bordering on a modern-day Monkees sound, for better or worse. Some timeless songs scattered in between some other average fare. (I'm partial to "From Brighton Beach to Santa Monica" amongst others) The predominance of background pedal steel and the surprising instrumental foray midway through seals the deal. Ned-O-Matic: 6