Archive for the ‘Walkin’ Talkin’ Dancin’ Singin’’ Tag
Let’s let the music do the talking this week- here is what I was listening to while driving, thinking, reading, and yes, listening.
The album I most enjoyed this week.
Marty Stuart- Ghost Train Marty seldom disappoints me. Another masterful set. Words aren’t necessary; just listen.
Joe Whyte- When the Day Breaks Enjoyed working to this one this past week.
Kim Beggs Streetcar Heart and Blue Bones I just love her voice, her phrasing.
Will White- Rise Above I’ve been returning to this one regularly, partly because we’re (Waskasoo Bluegrass) presenting Will and his trio October 2 at the Matchbox in Red Deer but mostly because it is such a good, solid listen. The writing works as Will doesn’t force anything. Similarly, his voice seems born to sing songs of the past- even when the song is only reflecting on a person’s past.
Dave Carter with Tracy Grammer- When I Go
Eric Bogle- The Dreamer If only for “Bringing Buddy Home,” this is a must have disc. I discovered Bogle late, about 10 years ago at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival. I haven’t stopped listening- or been disappointed- since.
Danny Barnes- Daytrotter Session I hear some “Walk this Way” in there.
John Anderson- Nobody’s Got It All Heard “Atlantic City” on Sirius this past week, and dug this one out when I got home. The album is full of good songs, like most Anderson albums.
The Acorn- No Ghost There is a lot of modern music that I can’t be bothered to think too much about- mostly because I don’t understand the music in the way I understand most roots music- but always enjoy. This is one of those bands.
Blackie and the Rodeo Kings- Let’s Frolic Again Dang, I like this album. “Something on my Mind,” indeed. Gifted this album to a friend this week.
Kevin Welch- A Patch of Blue Sky
Jason & the Scorchers- Halcyon Times
Eilen Jewell- Butcher Holler and Heartache Boulevard Butcher Holler makes Loretta Lynn songs sound like I wished they did when I play my L.L. compilations.
John Stewart- Blondes and The Piano Album These ones just popped up on eMusic. Blondes is stronger than I remember it being on vinyl- the cover always turned me away from the album, I think.
Mary Kastle- Beneath the Folds
Uncut August 2010 We Shall Shine On I seldom listen to the CDs that arrive with the British mags, at least all the way through and simply because I never make them a priority. This one was the exception that kept my attention all the way through. A guy from Edmonton Eamon McGrath is featured, but the music of Pete Molinari, Ganglians, Los Lobos, and Thee Oh Sees- three of whom I had never heard of before- really grabbed me.
Almost through the Bs on the floor:
Big Star- Columbia, Live at Missouri University 4/25/93
Broken Social Scene- Forgiveness Rock Record
The Besnard Lakes- Are the Dark Horse and Are the Roaring Night While listening to these while sitting in the sun room reading and watching the trees sway in the breeze, I heard things I hadn’t noticed before. Unfortunately, I can’t remember what I wanted to share. I’ll need to listen again, but I sure enjoy these albums.
Dierks Bentley- Up on the Ridge Until Marty Stuart’s Ghost Train, possibly my favourite country album of the year.
For a variety of reasons, including back-to-school- start up, time escaped me a little this past week and I didn’t get around to posting the previous week’s listening. I had a friend gift me a box of 80s vinyl a couple weeks back and I’ve been working my way through that. Also, Megatunes has closed/is closing shop and I managed to get up to Edmonton for a mad, ten minute, 75% off buying spree last weekend as they were locking the doors a week ago Saturday; while I know there was undiscovered gold left on the shelves, I’ve accepted that I got off pretty good for $50. I just wish stores could stay in business! (I understand the employees of the Edmonton store have plans for a new enterprise which is promising.) As well, I’m trying to continue through the piles on the floor and have made some headway through the miscellaneous Bs scattered about.
As always, lots of listening- most of it roots but some of it just odd.
The album- or in this case e.p.- I most enjoyed this week
Joe Whyte- When the Day Breaks and Devil in the Details Another one of those singers that has to eventually find you because you don’t even know he exists. Joe is giving away his When the Day Breaks e.p. as a download http://www.joewhyte.com/?section=home and it is pretty amazing. His song “4th of July” is one for the ages, I think- a slo-fi piece of hometown blues. As I often do when I get something free, I end up spending more money and immediately downloaded the just as impressive Devil in the Details. A little Gaslight Anthem in there somewhere, a whole lot of downtown country soul. As they say, support the artists.
Jay Bennett- Whatever Happened I Apologize I only discovered Bennett and this album after he died. Exactly the kind of music I love exploring. The world is most obviously full of these types of guys- immensely talented and under recognized (yes, I get the Wilco thing). One week I might ‘discover’ Stephen Simmons, the next Matt Urmy, Jerry Castle, Joe Whyte, or someone else- Keeps one listening, I find.
Moving onto the Megatunes treasure trove…I haven’t listened to everything yet, but just for fun I’ll list everything:
Various Artists- The Imus Ranch Record Surprisingly disappointing collection of mostly pedestrian covers; only the John Hiatt reworking of The Bottle Rockets’ “Welfare Music” made me sit up at attention.
Mike Stack- 98 Years One of my favourite Alberta singers and writers; I had never seen this one anywhere, and feel bad that Mike probably won’t see money for this copy. An engaging set of original material with Prine and Temptations covers as bonuses. Another create piece of cover art from Steve Coffey.
Emmitt-Nershi Band- New Country Blues This one will get more playing. Positive grooves.
The Stanley Brothers- The Complete Rich-R-Tone Sessions Earliest Recordings Vinyl edition. It just seems right to listen to the Stanleys on vinyl even if it isn’t on 78. Clear vinyl as a treat. I love this set and have played the CD regularly for years.
I also picked up copies of Rosie Flores’ Girl of the Century, Sparks’ Exotic Creatures of the Deep, Gord Matthews’ The 3rd Best Thing, Tift Merritt’s Buckingham Solo, Bryan Sutton’s Not Too Far from the Tree, and Kim Beggs’ Streetcar Heart, several of which I had already paid to download, but…
While in Edmonton, I also popped into the West Edmonton Hardly Much Value store and dug through their delete/overstock bin and found a couple things that caught my eye: Seun Tuti + Fela’s Egypt 80 self titled effort, a tribute to Steve Goodman My Old Man that looks like it may be interesting, and Allison Moorer’s Mockingbird.
From the box of vinyl, I’ve raced through a number of titles while accomplishing various tasks around the house:
The Rolling Stones- Singles Collection The London Years I’ve got through 3 of the 8 sides- Hot Rocks on steroids. Very nice.
U2- Rattle and Hum I’m pretty sure I’ve never listened to it before. I doubt I will ever again, but from listening to it this weekend, I would judge it to be a fine set. Lots of variety. I used to love U2. Not sure what happened. A friend would suggest they became popular; I think there was more to it than that.
Jean-Michel Jarre- Les Concerts en Chine Well, I listened to one side of four at least. I guess I don’t really get it.
Mike Oldfield- Crises and Five Miles Out These I get. I played the two albums every chance I had at the record stores I worked at. I have Crises downstairs so if anyone needs a copy. What ever happened to Maggie Reilly?
Cowboy Junkies- The Caution Horses I love this album and haven’t listened to it in probably close to fifteen years. What was I thinking?! A beautiful recording that, for me, is even more appealing than The Trinity Sessions. “Your memory leaves my stomach churning feeling like a lie about to be revealed…”
Big Country- Peace in Our Time Just lovely. If only I could find the Wonderland e.p.
New Order- Substance 1987 My annual dose of New Order. Check.
The The- Mind Bomb Another new one to me, although I’ve listened to other The The albums going back, again, to my record store days.
Continuing through the great mass of unshelved discs, part way across the ocean of Bs:
Belle and Sebastian- The BBC Sessions Bought simply for the live cover of “Whiskey in the Jar” but fully appreciated from start to finish.
Bearfoot- Doors & Windows No longer bluegrass, not quite Crooked Still. A more than enjoyable album from a year or so back.
Barney Bentall- The Inside Passage I bought this one last Christmas and didn’t really enjoy it. Second time around, I found more. Kind of like Stan Rogers for the left coast set. Some of the lyrical details grabbed me.
Be Bop Delux- Live! In the Air Age
Billie Joe Becoat- Reflections from a Cracked Mirror Amazing. Seek out this one if you’re open to challenge.
Darin and Brooke Aldridge- Self-titled If you listen to Bluegrass Junction you can’t hardly escape these folks. Darin’s been around for quite awhile but Brooke is a new, fresh voice. When she sings, I want to explore a whole different life, one that involves porches, hollers, and coon dogs. I appreciate bluegrass performed to this level, but since I bought it as a download I don’t know who is playing what. As talented as Darin is, I wouldn’t be surprised if he handles most everything. Yes it is pretty slick and smooth, but it is entirely honest, ringing true on every level. A keeper.
Various Artists- Dear New Orleans A collection of songs- some previously released- with New Orleans and her ongoing tribulations at heart. I think it is a very impressive package, but the second disc drags as it deteriorates with second-rate rock. The first disc maintains its pace much better, drifting from a broody Paul Sanchez tune featuring Shamarr Allen and a multi-artist take of “Dr. So and So” toward the Indigo Girls and a live take of “Kid Fears.” The highlight may be Jill Sobule’s “Where is Bobbie Gentry”; however, like much of the material, the connection to the Crescent City is lost on me.
D. B. Rielly- Love Potions and Snake Oil Finally reviewing this coming Friday in the paper. All-around Americana. Lovely stuff.
Sara Hickman- Absence of Blame A gorgeous album, also reviewed this week.
Les Copeland- Don’t Let the Devil In Guitar and vocal-based blues. Couldn’t ask for more. Some blues players try too hard, embellishing their music not only with the roots of the music but with every extension of it- put in some rock n roll lick, a bit of soul shuffle, a bunch of voices. Not Copeland…unaccompanied for the most part, played cleanly with an emphasis on mood that highlights his laid back, almost laconic style. Late in the disc “Don’t Let the Devil In” and “Crying for an Angel” he does some jazz explorations, maintaining his blues focus. Also in the column this Friday.
Various Artists- Putumayo Presents Tribute to a Reggae Legend When I first listened to this Marley set, it sounded too smooth and easy listening. Second and third time through I found things to be more attractive with a greater variety of sounds and approaches.
Junior Sisk and Ramblers Choice- Heartaches and Dreams Maybe my favourite male vocalist in bluegrass…today anyway.
The Special Consensus- 35 Can’t get enough of these guys. I review this one in the upcoming Waskasoo Bluegrass newsletter- half fresh material, half archival.
Kathy Kallick Band- Between the Hollow and the High-Rise Also in the newsletter. Kallick doesn’t get enough credit as a bluegrass force- writing, singing, leading a band, and promoting the music. Great stuff. Buy it.
Cheryl Wheeler- Pointing at the Sun Gosh, she’s good. I need to listen to Wheeler more often.
Kim Wilde- The Remix Collection My quest to ruin any credibility I have continues.
Katrina Leskanich- The Live Album A very high energy set with a good mix of new and old.
Kim Beggs- The Wander’s Paean My new word of the week: paean. I think Beggs is the singer I’ve most enjoyed exploring this summer who isn’t John Boutté.
Jerry Butler & John Wade- Haulin’ Grass 30-plus minutes of bluegrass truckin’ songs. After hearing Butler do a spot on rendition of “Backin’ to Birmingham” in Lester Flatt voice, I was sold.
The Runaways- The Runaways and Queens of Noise History has been kind to these albums.
David Broza- Painted Postcard I haven’t listened to this one in eight years. Great sounds. Pulled off the shelf because I left a couple of his albums unpurchased at Megatunes. Dang.
Eleni Mandell- Country for True Lovers
Hey Mavis- Red Wine Reminds me a little of the Lonesome Sisters. Viola distinguishes Hey Mavis from similarly aligned acoustic roots outfits.
Clint Eastwood- Sings Cowboy Favorites Recorded in 1962, the material is quite lame but Eastwood pulls it off and maintained this listener’s interest all most the whole way through.
Carrie Newcomer- Betty’s Diner: The Best of Carrie Newcomer A neat summary that I listened to during a couple drives this month; Newcomer’s voice is so strong and deep. I love it, but some may find the album a little dreary and samey. She seems like such a darn nice person, too. I’m glad I bought this one a few weeks ago.
The album I most enjoyed this week.
Danielle Doyle- The Cartographer’s Wife I’m getting closer to finding the words for this album. It is one of those discs that I discover something new to appreciate with every listen. Her voice is especially appealing, reminding me a little of one of the Be Good Tanyas. Seek out this one.
Red Horse- Red Horse Reviewed in the column this coming Friday, I’ve listened to this one several times and keep coming back to it. Listening just today with fresh ears, the depth of the voices and the mastery of the art are so appreciated. A stellar album.
Alejandro Escovedo- Street Songs of Love and The Alejandro Escovedo String Quartet Room of Songs Two very different recordings that engage dissimilar elements of Escovedo’s talents. While I always enjoy hearing Escovedo kick it out, I most appreciate the gentler side that he occasionally reveals. I only just learned of and found the Quartet album and appreciate it a little more with every song and listen.
The Mountains & The Trees- I Made This For You
Kathy Kallick Band- Between the Hollow and the High-Rise A great bluegrass album.
Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice- Heartaches and Dreams
Will White- Rise Above
D.B. Rielly- Love Potions and Snake Oil Working on a review of this one; a wide range of sounds and approaches. Quite nice.
Black 47- Fire of Freedom Enjoyed this one’s spirit.
Jay Clark- Live at Jammin’ at Hippie Jack’s A two-disc collection from East Tennessee’s favourite modern songwriter- and if he isn’t, he should be- I am never disappointed by Jay Clark. Yes, I’ve heard these songs before and no, he doesn’t significantly alter them. But when I picture Jay sitting on a stool singing these songs to a collection of people who not only get him and appreciate his perspective, but who have lived his words, I feel that much more of a connection to his songs. If you haven’t heard Jay Clark, this is a great place to start.
Dave Carter with Tracy Grammer When I Go This album has been in my eMusic Saved for Later file simply because I was certain I already had it but couldn’t find it. Three years later, I accept that maybe I didn’t already have it. Makes me miss even more what I only caught live once. They had a special connection, but this album is- as the title implies- largely Carter and that is what I needed this week.
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band- London Calling: Live in Hyde Park Watched the DVD this past week. Let no one accuse Springsteen of not working for a living. By the time this three-hour journey is finished, Springsteen is drenched to the knees in sweat. Yes, the voice gets hoarse in places, maybe even flat, but the songs and energy carry the day.
Steve Forbert- Bang Contest EP Send in a cover of the oft repackaged Van Morrison Bang sessions, get a digital EP of recent live cuts. My offering is to be added as #21, but hasn’t made it yet.
Cowboy Junkies- The Radio One Sessions Has anyone ever heard an ‘off’ recording of the Cowboy Junkies? I haven’t.
Hugh Dillon- Works Well With Others Formerly the chief Headstone and now an actor, Dillon returned to the studio for this offering. It’s pretty good, but not essential.
The Cat Empire- Cinema
Badfinger- The Best of Badfinger Three great songs and some others that I can’t remember.
The Payola$- Hammer on a Drum Sounds as good if not as vital as when first heard. Need to pull out No Stranger to Danger.
Great American Taxi- Streets of Gold Gladly overpaid for this one at the Central Music Festival this weekend. As I had heard many of these songs live on various live recordings, nothing surprised me too much but I’m glad to have the set. “Lumpy Beanpole and Dirt” is a terrific number.
Tim O’Brien- Chicken & Egg Like just about every other Tim O’Brien album. Expertly played, fresh songs. More mainstream Americana rather than bluegrass .
Rolling Stones- Exile on Main Street Reissue, disc 2 I bought the single disc version when it was re-released but haven’t listened to it yet. I borrowed the 2-disc set from the library and gave the second disc a listen today. Sounds fine, but I’m not interested enough to listen to the bonus material again.
Continuing my way through the pile and onto the ‘B’ titles:
Dan Baird & Homemade Sin- self-titled An okay rock and roots album with a couple catchy songs, but doesn’t come close to having the staying power of his earlier album Love Songs for the Hearing Impaired.
David Ball- Heartaches By the Number I understand why Ball would want to make this album and the performances are more than solid. A fine listen with some great songs included, but I doubt I’ll listen to it again very soon.
The Banana Splits- We’re the Banana Splits A nice slice of history. I attempted to watch an episode the other day and realized that some fond memories of childhood should never be revisited. Having said that, it is hard to beat “The Tra La La Song!”
Bobby Bare & Skeeter Davis- Your Husband, My Wife I love the Internet for lots of reasons. This is one of them. Solid, mainstream 60s country.
Bobby Bare- I’m A Long Way From Home
Willie P. Bennett- Blackie and the Rodeo King and Hobo’s Lament Whenever I dig out a Willie P. album, I feel some kind of good. I saw something about Willie being honoured at the upcoming Canadian Country Music Awards, which is a good thing.
It has been an exceptional week for disc listening this week; late nights of reading and thinking along with a few days of work-motivation challenges has allowed me to have the music machines spinning more than usual. What has marked the week has been I haven’t listened to anything that I didn’t end up enjoying, and a few- like Angel Band- really surprised me. Almost got to Carstairs for the Mountain View fest on Saturday afternoon, but didn’t make it; Fred was in province for the best part of a month and I didn’t catch him. Shame on me! Here’s what I listened to this past week- some real gems; I hope you’re inspired to seek out some of these sounds. Best, Donald
The album I most enjoyed this past week
The Mountains & The Trees- I Made This For You An incredible new release out of Newfoundland. I’m not familiar with Jon Janes but I keep listening to this album. Pop and folk working together, lyrics that dig in under the skin to explore the usual subject matter but in ways that maintain interest. A powerful voice that isn’t over-extended. Lovely fiddle touches. Quite moody, but warm. A wonderful find.
The Grateful Dead- In the Dark I saw a used copy of this album for $14 the other day; not sure why it was so expensive. My iTunes version sufficed, giving me the fix I was craving.
Dala- Angels & Thieves Pulled out as a result of hearing them in Canmore last weekend. I enjoyed the live presentation a bit more than this collection of original and cover material, but this album is still impressive. The original material isn’t as strong as they would deliver on later albums, but their covers of songs from Donovan, Blur, Neil Young and The Cure are spot on in their creativity. Lovely blending of voices.
Jesse Malin- Glitter in the Gutter Picked up for the Springsteen track. A fine semi-modern rock album but I don’t think I’ll listen to it again any time soon.
Evie Ladin- Float Downstream Produced by Mike Marshall, from the Stairwell Sisters. An album that has been sitting, ignored, in the pile for awhile. Lots of harmony and banjo, neo-old tyme. I need to listen more, but it is quite appealing.
Brian Dunn- Examining the Fallout Created with Nathan Lawr, whom I’ve been hearing a lot about recently. Interesting noises. Again, a pleasant surprise but not sure if it is really my kind of thing.
Amos Garrett, Doug Sahm, and Gene Taylor Band- The Return of the Formerly Brothers A nice set of tunes, some of which are pretty familiar. More roots than blues, which is the way I most enjoy Amos Garrett. Doug Sahm does much of the singing and is in good voice. It is folk festival season and that is why this one came up for a listen.
The Duhks- Fast Paced World I stopped listening to The Duhks when Jessica Havey left, and for no good reason, apparently. I guess I figured the ‘new’ singer wouldn’t be as impressive. I started exploring them again this week and am finding much that is appealing. A fine album.
Darrell Scott- A Crooked Road Bought this from Amazon when it was released a few months ago but was saving it for a night when it seemed right. That finally came up on Friday. I’ll need to listen more; first impressions are positive.
Various Artists- Private Radio Soundtrack Borrowed from the library.
Woodbend- Hank’s Old Mandolin My father-in-law saw them at Blueberry and spoke quite positively about them so I thought I’d give it another listen. I’ll need to give it another go. They make some interesting cover choices- Corb Lund, for one.
Will White- Rise Above An excellent acoustiblue album from a Calgary songwriter. Great original material with southern roots.
Zachary Richard- Last Kiss Outstanding in every way although I could do without the contributions from She Whose Name Will Not Be Typed Within Fervor Coulee on “Acadian Driftwood;” that being said, the voice on the album doesn’t sound anything like her to my ears- without the liner notes, I would never have known who was singing with Richard and it sounds very good. Still, his version sans accompaniment at Canmore was even more intense. One can feel his pain when he sings, “Somebody call out a warning, Somebody come to my rescue” in “The Levee Broke.” This is more than just another Cajun album- this is folk songwriting at its highest level. A deep fellow- read his postings at www.zacharyrichard.com
Zachary Richard- Snake Bite Love I could listen to him all day, I do believe. More directly ‘Cajun’ in sound than Last Kiss, the songs still draw you in.
John Boutté- Jambalaya A nice album, not essential like Good Neighbor but covers much of the Boutté repertoire. Live at Jazz Fest 2007 A brilliant set featuring a version of “Louisiana 1927.”
The Drive-By Truckers- The Big To-Do Another one that has sat in the pile for too long; I bought this one back in May. The only two DBT albums (not including The Fine Print) that hit me hard on first listen were Southern Rock Opera and Brighter Than Creation’s Dark so I’ll need to spend more time with this one. If nothing else, they have great song titles.
Shearwater- Shearwater Acoustiblue from the left coast. Gentle. Nice background music, but still holds the attention.
Jerry Castle- Don’t Even Ask Country rock from Nashville. Review is up at Lonesome Standard Time.
Delhi 2 Dublin- Planet Electric Not my normal thing as it is both quite noisy and very young. But appealing, meant to be played loud. I love the blending of East Indian music with elements of electronica and Celtic sounds.
James Alan Shelton- Where I’m Bound One of my favourite bluegrass guitarists. I’m reviewing it for the Lonesome Road Review.
Tom Russell- Cowboy’d All to Hell The more time I spend with this one, the more I appreciate it. There is only one new song on the collection, but several new recordings of classic songs. He has such a command of language and can generate vivid portraits in just a line or two of astutely chosen words.
My home office is a mess, with piles of magazines going back a few years and discs that haven’t made it to the alphabetical stacks. This week I decided to start working my way through the piles that have been alphabetized but aren’t yet ready to be permanently filed- these are things I’ve acquired over the last year and a half but haven’t had a chance to give them my full attention, so they’ve been sitting in the Shelves of Purgatory. I started with the ‘A’ discs, and actually worked my way through them in three extended sessions.
The Action- Action Packed Mid-60s mod rock. Nothing essential and nothing The Small Faces didn’t do better, despite the Paul Weller endorsement. Still, “Something Has Hit Me” and “Shadows and Reflections” are cracking songs.
Africa- Music from ’Lil Brown Since I found this recording, I’ve listened to it four or five times. You can find more expansive discussions of this band and album on the ‘net- look around a bit. Quite magical, if only for the medley of “Louie, Louie” and “Ode to Billy Joe.” One of those albums I wish I had found years ago.
Akido- Akido A beautiful album with engaging percussion.
Dave Alvin- Blue Blvd. I found this CD for $3 so decided to replace my cassette copy. One of my favourite Alvin releases.
Kasey Anderson- Nowhere Nights and Dead Roses Reminds me of James McMurtry. I think one has to take the time to listen to his words in order to really appreciate what Anderson has to offer. “Out on this road all the miles feel the same,” he sings in “The Borderline.” There is desperation here, shades of talent all over the place, Crowell, Russell, etc but also lesser known folks like LeeRoy Stagger, Steve Pineo, and Dave McCann- sill original, still dynamic and personal. Good stuff.
Doug Andrews & The Circus in Flames- A Little Bit of Gasoline I downloaded this from eMusic a couple years back but found a used copy for a couple bucks several months ago. If you like The Sadies, this one might appeal, capped by the epic “When Christ was a Cowboy.”
Angel Band- With Roots & Wings I apologize to the three ladies that make up this vocal combo. I apologize to Appleseed Records. I apologize to Lloyd Maines who produced the album. They sent it, I think I listened to it. I did nothing with it because, quite obviously, I’m an idiot. The entire time it was playing this past week I kept shaking my head and exclaiming, “Dang, that’s good.” Sometimes it was after a particularly beautiful lead vocal segment, more often when an instrument came in with a fill to support the harmonies. Like a Tex-Mex Wailin’ Jennys, these gals have it- terrific songs, a killer studio outfit, wonderful harmonies and arrangements- and I’m a sucker for Emmylou references. Some of it is lonesome- “The saddest bird I ever saw lives on a branch in Arkansas, Perched alone with nothing to do waits all his life for a rendezvous”- from “Cold Lonesome Down in Blackbird Creek”- but more often the pain and reflection is disguised in breathless liveliness. A beautiful recording project. I am so glad I rediscovered it with fresh ears.
Any Trouble- Where Are All the Nice Girls? and Wheels in Motion Elvis Costello meets The Jags. Folk meets power-pop. The first album has some of the finest songs to come out of new wave- “Second Choice,” “Playing Bogart,” and “Girls Are Always Right.” Thirty years ago, covers of Springsteen songs were not a penny a pair as they are today, so when I heard their version of “Growing Up” on late night radio, I bought Where Are All the Nice Girls? and an official live bootleg containing a version of “Growing Up” at the next opportunity.
Joseph Arthur- Daytrotter Session Okay, so this was the only thing I listened to in the last week that didn’t work for me. On one track, “Dead Savior” he sounds engaged and vital- sort of sounding like Jim Carroll. The rest though appear to be outtakes from a Foreigner reunion album.
Audrey Auld- Losing Faith, Texas, and The Billabong Song e.p. with “Poverty Line” and “Bread & Roses” singles “I got California debt on a Tennessee income…” “He’s more generous than handsome…” “Once I thought I would be a big star…looking at myself on T.V.” More than great lines, Audrey Auld- not sure what happened to the Mezera- has great songs, a great sense of the world and how she can reflect it in songs, and not just her own. Slim Dusty songs, an Eric Bogle classic, and lots of Tazmania’s great vocal export. I spent an afternoon with Audrey this week- well, with her music- and remembered again why I went on a bit of a download jag last winter. She is something special. Comes with the Fred Eaglesmith endorsement. Listening to Audrey sing “Harmony” with Kieran Kane is just magic. Classic country sounds with a contemporary bent.
Hoyt Axton- And His Guitar Recordings from the 60s that have been packaged and repacked any number of ways. “Greenback Dollar.” “500 Miles.” “John Henry.” He had such a terrific voice and easy-going approach to songs. While listening to this, I made a little list of singers I never got to see live but wished I had. John Stewart. Johnny Cash. Bill Monroe. Kirsty MacColl. Hoyt Axton is another one.
Okay, now I can move all those ‘A’ listers to the archive shelf and move a wee pile onto the bottom shelves until I get through the ‘B’s this week. Or not…
I also listened to James McMurtry’s first Sugar Hill album It Had to Happen. Another one of those performers I love whenever I listen, but I don’t listen to enough to call them a favourite.
Broken Social Scene- Forgiveness Rock Record and Broken Social Scene How have a missed falling for his band? Reenergized me with an unavoidably catchy blend of sounds- a real mess that works.
The album I'm most glad I listened to last week
Two weeks in one this time out, with lots of time for listening and reflecting. Our plans changed and instead of heading up to Stony for a day of Blueberry, we headed to the mountains and the Canmore Folk Music Festival. I’ll write about that later; a great time was had.
Rachel Sweet- Fool Around A few years ago, Maria McKee wrote about this album in Mojo and made the comment that Lone Justice would not have existed without it. Having finally read her comments, they closed a circle for me as I have long believed that the influence of this album- marginalized as it was upon release to new wave soft, adolescent porn amid many a twitter and scoff- has been underappreciated. As McKee wrote, “She’s got that baby voice, but there is real muscle there too, a bit like Brenda Lee.” An album that I can sing and play air drums to all the way through.
George Jones- Anniversary: Ten Years of Hits Lots of schlock, but several great songs.
Jerry Castle- Don’t Even Ask
The Wailin’ Jennys- Firecracker and Live at the Mauch Chunk Opera House– Listening to the Jennys in anticipation of writing a Ruth Moody review. I got a chuckle while in one of the mall stores late last week when I spotted the Wailin’ Jennys filed in the country section under Waylon Jennings.
Megan Jerome- Bloomers
Mary Kastle- Beneath the Folds Still trying to find the right words. Very impressive is a start.
Baskery- Fall Among Thieves A better album than the band was in the little set I heard last weekend in Calgary.
Tom Russell- Cowboy’d All to Hell Did I really need yet another set of Russell remixes and re-recordings. Turns out, I did. Another excellent set from T.R.
Bob Walkenhorst- 2010.04.14 Kansas City, MO
Matt Urmy- Shadow of a Lovely Place and Sweet Lonesome See review at Lonesome Standard Time
Tony Owen- I Got Soul New Orleans soul, that is.
The Acorn- No Ghost
Katrina Leskanich- The Live Album No big surprises. I’ll spend more time with this one.
Lonesome Traveler- Looking for a Way See review at Lonesome Standard Time
Ruth Moody- The Garden Review to follow soon.
Steven L. Smith- Outside of Tupelo See review at Lonesome Standard Time
Greg Kihn- Mutiny Greg Kihn from before I had ever heard the term No Depression. I picked up this album for $2 the other day, having never seen or heard of it before. It is a bit alt.country, a lot roots, and very, very good.
Chris Rea- The Road to Hell & Back Live jazz pop from a few years ago. A spontaneous pick-up at the used store. Quite nice, but I doubt I’ll listen to it again.
Mike Plume Band- 8:30 Newfoundland Released at the absolute wrong time last year, just two weeks before the cut-off date for the 2009 Polaris Music Award. As such, it had no chance and as it was, I didn’t even know it existed until about a month later. A brilliant album, definitely one of Plume’s finest collections and one of my favourites of 2009. Every song is memorable.
Mike West- Interstate 10 Reminds me that I need to get to the disc shelves way more often. With fine excuses, sometimes it seems I spend too much time with new releases and too little listening to old favourites. I’m not sure why I went looking for it, but I’m glad I did. A super set with great insights including, “All my love songs have got too many words, Buddy Holly wrote about the best loves songs I think I ever heard.”
Crooked Still- Some Strange Country
Willie Nelson- Country Music
David Ball- Sparkle City
Another week passes. Looking forward to catching at least one day of the Calgary Folk Festival this coming week- plans are to be in attendance on Saturday. The week following I’ll be heading up to Stony Plain for the Friday of Blueberry Bluegrass- I’m wanting to catch Fred Eaglesmith there as I’m interested in the reception he’ll receive. I was exchanging email with a New York friend a couple weeks back and she caught Fred while he was in NYC to film Letterman. She expressed that she and hers quite enjoyed the show, although this was tempered with the comment that “the Willie P. Bennett days are long gone.” I understand what she means- it seems like Fred is one of those folks who just can’t stand still with his music- things are always changing. What I find consistent is the quality of his live performances, so I’m looking forward to that evening in Stony Plain.
This week’s listening was typically broad.
The album I most enjoyed this week.
Greg Brown- Dream Café I heard the title cut on the radio about three weeks ago, and fell for it in a big way, especially the line where he sings- words to the effect of- “I still smell the lilacs in the corner of the dream café.” Inspired to hear more, I looked on the shelf but couldn’t find the song on the Brown set I thought it was on (Dream City got confused with “Dream Café” in my wee, over-taxed brain.) This week, in anticipation for seeing Brown at the Calgary Folk Festival, I took another look and was surprised to find this album on the shelf. Things surface when they need to. A beautiful album with “I Don’t Know that Guy” standing out. Listening to Greg Brown can change the course of your life because he makes you attentive to details you may otherwise overlook. Like the smell of lilacs in a café.
Kim Beggs- Blue Bones I reviewed the album in last week’s column. An unassuming album that reveals its treasures with every listen. Perhaps my favourite album of the past few months, and an early favourite for my 2011 Polaris ballot.
Lonesome Traveler- Looking for a Way An acoustiblue band out of- I think- Colorado. Just received as it was assigned to me by Aaron at the Lonesome Road Review.
Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby- Two-Way Family Favourites I didn’t care for their album of last year, which was a surprise because individually they are faves. “Whole Wide World” is in my top 50 songs of all-time. This short little collection of covers is more enjoyable, some of it a bit predictable but in other places quite shocking- “Endless Wire,” anyone? The song I was most looking forward to- “Living Next Door to Alice”- has some strange vocal effects in it and these distracted me a bit. I’ll listen to it more, and will give the previous collection a do-over as well.
Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane At Carnegie Hall I’ve been reading the Harry Bosch novels of Michael Connelly of late and the main character listens to instrumental jazz while contemplating his cases. This album was mentioned in one of the most recent novels read and the story behind the release- the tapes were found in an uncataloged box at the Library of Congress- appealed to me. On my next visit to the local library I decided to flip through the jazz stacks (not really expecting to see anything of interest, but thinking that maybe it was time to follow Bosch’s lead, much as I have previously followed Rebus’ listening) and as I turned to leave the cover of this one caught my eye for some reason- the simple blind-contour drawings jumped out at me- and I recognized the title. The album itself doesn’t do much for me, but it was an enjoyable listen. I suppose I look at jazz the same way some others look at bluegrass- I don’t understand where it is coming from, I don’t really understand it, so it doesn’t really appeal. Still, it was nice to listen to the music behind the story.
Jimmy Webb- Just Across the River A real surprise. Terrific and reviewed below.
Red Horse- Red Horse Red House artists Eliza Gilkyson, John Gorka, and Lucy Kaplansky get together to swap songs- via long distance- in an eminently listenable manner. Oliver di Place writes about it much more eloquently than I could- http://oliverdiplace.blogspot.com/2010/07/red-horse-self-titled.html “I’ve got a foolish heart, but I’m not an idiot,” sings Eliza. Yup. And I recognized Tom Russell’s painting style on the cover as the disc slipped out of the mailing envelop.
Miles Davis- The Birth of Cool Picked up at the library.
Kiss- Gold I’ve been watching too much of Gene Simmons Family Jewels of late. For my dollars, the best of the ‘unscripted’ celebrity promotional series if only because the massively ego-ed Simmons is consistently undermined- in the gentlest manner possible- by his sharp-witted children. Unlike other celebrity reality t.v. kids, Sophie and Nick seem like entirely non-bratty, non-self-indulged, well-adjusted people. I have likely bought a dozen different Kiss packages over the years, going back to grade seven and my purchase of The Originals. I usually listen to the sets once or twice and then trade them in. The last time I wanted a Kiss fix, I bought this double set and determined that I would hold onto it simply because I knew the day would come when I really wanted to hear “Firehouse” one more time. A solid set with a fair amount of filler- never has a band ridden a dozen superior songs- all recorded in their first decade- further.
The Chieftains featuring Ry Cooder- San Patricio I read a review of this somewhere and it was quite unfavourable but the story of the disc- Irish immigrants to the US (among others) who went to fight alongside the Mexican forces in the mid-1800s- captured my imagination. The Chieftains so are so versatile, and I thought the album made for very interesting listening.
Great American Taxi- Reckless Habits I’ll be reviewing this one in my next column as the band is appearing as part of the Central Music Festival in Red Deer in mid-August. A solid set of country-rock tunes, highlighted by the title track about Gram Parsons.
D.B. Rielly- Love Potions and Snake Oil Some album are ‘all over the place’ and as a result, don’t work as a whole. Rarely do albums as fractured as this one keep it together and provide an enjoyable and refreshing listening experience. I’ll listen to this one more, and will review it…eventually.
Mickey Jupp- Long Distance Romancer and Shampoo, Haircut, and Shave Sophisticated pub-rock at its finest. As I do with Wreckless Eric, I go back to the Stiff days with Jupp although I didn’t listen to his music with the same ferocity I did Eric’s, Rachel Sweet’s or Lene Lovich’s. During the summer, I have nights when I can’t sleep, and had a couple of those this past week- whatever novel I was reading was more appealing than sleep. While reading, these two discs came off the shelf. Nothing fancy, but solid and enjoyable- which seems to be my word of the week.
Kim Beggs- Wanderer’s Paean Purchased via download because of my interest in Blue Bones. I have her second album around here somewhere, but can’t find it. I can’t imagine that I would have traded it in at the used store, but perhaps I lent it to someone and never got it back. I love her voice and approach to folk music.
The Pogues- Rare and B-sides I don’t do this very often, but a couple weeks back I found a four-disc bootleg collection on the ‘net and downloaded it. I already have likely half of these recordings on the album reissues and various singles and collections, but I was interested in having the full slate of odds and sods from The Pogues. Again, insomnia listening. A cracking set- their b-sides are as interesting as everything else they recorded.
Andre Williams & The Sadies- Red Dirt
Johnny Darrell- Singing it Lonesome As I think I’ve written before, I always discover new music within the Oxford American music issues- artists that I’ve always needed to hear. Johnny Darrell was written about in an issue from several years ago but was only read last February. Since then, I’ve found his music in a few different places. When I’m listening to Darrell, I don’t have a more favourite country singer.
John Hiatt- Warming Up to the Ice Age, Riding with the King and Bring the Family Got on a bit of a roll one afternoon last week. While the first two were recorded during a commercial low, they were the first albums of his I heard and I thought they were brilliant. I actually caught him live in Edmonton at the nearly empty Howlin’ Wolf (at least I think that is what it was called) in mid-May 1987 just before he released Bring the Family. One of those shows that go down in the ‘I’m glad I went’ category; it was magic and has only gotten better in my memory. I only stayed for the early show because, when I phoned home to tell my wife-to-be that I was staying for the late show as well, she informed me that I had missed a call from a school in Saskatchewan who wanted to talk to me about a job. As this was the first positive call I had had since finishing university the previous month, I skipped out on the late show, went home to return the call, and ended up starting my teaching career in La Loche. So I traded a second Hiatt set for the start of my career. It was a fair trade, I think.
Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band Hyde Park, 2009 June 28 A typically fine set- uptempo and inspired with an almost flawless setlist- I just don’t get “Outlaw Pete!”
Jackson Browne & David Lindley- Love is Strange En Vivo Con Tino Disc 2
Townes Van Zandt- For the Sake of the Song, Our Mother the Mountain, and Townes Van Zandt The first three albums within the Texas Troubadour set, which has just been reissued by Charley- four discs, seven plus albums- for $22 on Amazon.ca. These ones came up in the 300-disc jukebox this week as something else finished up. What can you say about Townes? He knew how to write a song. Too bad he didn’t know how to live.
I was on a brief vacation for most of this past week and my listening reflects what is on my mp3 player. It was lovely to be sitting in the Vancouver Island sun watching the waves lap the shoreline with bald eagles flying overhead while listening to Doc Watson and such. A nice, relaxing break. As always, only whole album listening gets listed; this is what passed my ears this week:
Tom Russell- The Tom Russell Anthology: Veteran’s Day
Doc Watson- Trouble in Mind: The Doc Watson Country Blues Collection and Hayes Carll- Trouble in Mind Through a glitch in how my machine sorts files, these two ended up in the same folder. Listening to them trading songs in this manner was perfect. This is the first time I have been able to listen to the Carll album in its entirety- for no reason than lack of attention span- and I found myself quite enjoying it. The Doc set is faultless.
Guy Clark- Sometimes the Song Writes You Truly a master. His strongest set in quite awhile, and he has never recorded a less than satisfying album.
Various Artists- Real: The Tom T. Hall Project One of the best tribute albums, and possibly my favourite. Without fault.
Steve Earle- Train A Comin’ Still my favourite Steve Earle recording.
The Gaslight Anthem- The ’59 Sound I love everything about this album, including all the Springsteen references, deliberate and obvious as they are.
Slowdrag- Slow-Fidelity One of the finest acoustiblue albums of the past ten years.
John Wort Hannam- Queen’s Hotel As a member of the Polaris Music Prize jury, I wasn’t surprised that this album didn’t get through to the long list. I was disappointed, though. Folk music doesn’t get much better than this.
Charlie Sizemore- The Story Is…The Songs of Tom T. Hall The second best Tom T. Hall tribute. And it is pretty darn good.
Paul Burch- Pan-American Flash
The Wooden Sky- If I Don’t Come Home You’ll Know I’m Gone Another album that was considered for the Polaris Music Prize this year; it didn’t make the short list.
Kate Campbell- Blues and Lamentations
The Drive-By Truckers- The Fine Print A collection of odds & sods that rivals several of their albums.
John Stewart- Bombs Away Dream Babies
James Reams & the Barnstormers- Troubled Times and Barnstormin’ Listening to these two last week made me realize, again, how strong his original material is, and how different it is from typical bluegrass fare.
That’s the mp3 album list from last week; I never thought I’d become a portable device person, but I’m glad I did; the convenience is great, the battery life is unreal, and the capacity- even on my wee 4 gig machine, is incredible.
My wife is convinced I have a record store GPS inserted somewhere in my body. This was proven, again, when I pulled into a random parking spot in Parksville and looked up to see the community’s new and used record store in front of me. The Cranky Dog was visited three times over five days and offered up some discs I couldn’t leave without, including:
Thin Lizzy- The Universal masters Collection A set of pre-Vertigo Thin Lizzy. A nice collection I hadn’t previously seen.
The album I am most glad I listened to last week.
Dwight Yoakam- South of Heaven, West of Hell I’ve been looking for this one for three or four years, after passing up on it the only other time I saw it in a store. I love searches like this; it makes the locating of the album that much more meaningful. Good for driving, as are most Yoakam albums.
James Gordon- Mining for Gold (Disc 2) A retrospective of the Ontario songwriter’s material up to 2000; 8 bucks for the 2-disc set. The deal of the trip.
Ray Wylie Hubbard- Live at Cibolo Creek Country Club
Marshall Crenshw- The Definitive Pop Collection I already have most of the songs. Who cares? A non-stop power pop , two-disc set.
Graham Parker and the Rumour- The Up Escalator Not among the critic’s favourites, The Up Escalator is one of my essential GP albums. It may have been the first album of his I bought and the album holds up. “Endless Night” remains a stone classic.
Bookending our Vancouver Island getaway was more listening:
Various Artists- Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows: Songs of John Prine I missed this one last week. Review is up at the Lonesome Road Review.
Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez- The Trouble with Humans
Lainie Marsh- The Hills Will Cradle Thee Liking it more with every listen.
Various Artists- Putumayo Presents Tribute to a Reggae Legend A nice set for casual reggae fans. I prefer my reggae with a bit more anger.
Mississippi Live- Mississippi Live
Kim Beggs- Blue Bones To be reviewed in the paper this Friday. A great album.
The Sadies- Darker Circles With a well-deserved place on the Polaris Prize short-list.
Andre Williams- That’s All I Need