Sunday, July 10, 2011

Good God! I'm Feeling So Alive!!!

Life is good!  Life is so damn good I'm practically dancing and if any of you know any of my old girlfriends, you know that doesn't happen very often.  Oh, I do the occasional jig if I am drinking (it happens all too seldom these days--- the hazards of getting old and having too much to do) and I have been known to traipse around the dance floor when I find a lady too drunk to say no, but the exhilaration dance?  Doesn't happen much anymore.

I'm dancing now, though!  See the middle finger?  I'm flipping off every person who says that music is dying.  Yeah, that's you, Horkey, and you, Ferd!  I've had it up to my ears with your negativity about music today, how there hasn't been any good music for years and how you could live with nothing but The Beatles the rest of your lives.  I feel sorry for your sorry asses because the music flowing across my desk this year is among the best I've heard and you're missing it.  Hell, I'm thinking of putting 2011 up for a Grammy, that's how good it is.  But let us not get bogged down in my rants and raves.  There is music to hear and talk about, so let's get this discussion started.  In fact, let us start with with a very recent discovery and one which has fired more than one jig since that discovery, just a few days ago.


Publicity maven Kimberely Grant popped River Rouge's Not All There Anymore in the mail last week and I received it on Friday, just in time for a much needed drive to the Oregon Coast (I live about 60 miles inland, but that's too far to smell the ocean breeze, so I hop in the car now and then for what I call the Scenic Drive).  I tossed about four or five CDs on the passenger seat and headed out, reached over when I hit the main road and blindly grabbed the River Rouge CD.  It was the luckiest grab of the day.  Somewhat akin to winning a minor jackpot at a casino, but I didn't know it at the time.  Didn't take me long, though.  Half a minute in, I cut the air conditioner, rolled down the windows and cranked up the sound.  You know how you hear a song and you're not quite sure what you're hearing yet?  It is kind of like waking up and initially being unsure of your whereabouts.  All I knew was there was something going on, something digging into my skin.  When the track finished, I replayed it.  And replayed it again.  And again.  The more I heard it the more I got it.  I pulled off the road and grabbed the CD jacket.  Black Licorice, the track was titled, and there was something in it that made me happy.  I mean really happy!  There was something in the rhythm and the up attitude and the sound that struck a note.  At first, I thought Sir Douglas Quintet.  Then I thought Thee Midniters.  Then I stopped thinking.  When I pulled back onto the road, I let the album play past the first track and realized that the song was an anomaly, that the rest of the album didn't fall in line with Track One.  Thing is, it didn't bother me.  I don't think I want an album of Black Licorice's.  I don't think I could take an album of Black Licorice's.  I would rather listen to the song over and over again than have slightly lesser knockoffs for comparison.  What there is is plenty good anyway--- an Americana-ish blend of pop, rock and country.  Plenty good.  After numerous listens, while I like all the songs, I have adopted Murder of the Crows and Arc Welded Love and Not All There Anymore and Yes as favorites after the thousands of hearings of Black Licorice grow thin.  This is good stuff.  And almost as if the musical gods willed it, those bonny L.A. boys just this  morning put up the official music video of the song that kicked my ass.  My song of the summer.  Here it is:


It is not often I can find an album which will soothe the critical edge of all but the hard core rockers, but Brian Cullman sent me a pre-release of Disappearing Man, an album I surely would have missed if not for Cullman's graciousness. Byron Isaacs, bass player for the outstanding Ollabelle, sidestepped that band to produce songs outside the realm, songs which did not quite fit with the other projects he was working on.  He headed into the studio with Cullman and came out with something I don't think either expected.  The music varies in style but has Isaacs all over it, from the orchestral dreaminess of Seeing Is Believing to the Minnows-like easy rocking Disappearing Man to the New York-ish underground sleaziness of Crazy Love  to the floating fifties-infused ballad Gypsy Wind.  Like Cullman's 2007 album All Fires the Fire, Disappearing Man belongs in the classroom as an example of the importance of arrangement and production.  Watch for this one.  It's a beaut.


Sure, I've mentioned Hannah Gillespie a few thousand times before, and I will mention her a few thousand more.  Until people attach themselves to her like they do Adele and Grace Potter and others of their stature, I will continue to promote her as a prime example of music-beyond-genre.  See, there is a bit of Marianne Faithfull in Gillespie's voice which catches the ear and gives wings to her songs.  I know she's worthy of attention because every one I've turned on to her music--- every single one--- has given an enthusiastic thumbs up.  They aren't clowns off the street.  These are people I trust most (at least, when it comes to music).  Don't believe me?  Listen to her music here and if you still don't get it, meet me at The Buckaroo Tavern.  Bring your gloves.


When I was young, I got into the blues through the back door.  It took Cream and Fleetwood Mac and Canned Heat to get me to listen to the likes of Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker and Skip JamesJohn-Alex Mason could well fill that space for the young today.  While his base is the blues, he tosses in a potpourri of influences such as funk, rock and trip hop, among others.  Just electric enough to catch the rocker's ear and just acoustic enough to fit in with roots music, Mason could be today's Cream or Fleetwood Mac.  Youth's gateway to the blues.  This video shows Mason raw and live with a band.  He is more known for his one man show lineup--- himself and a handful of instruments. 


The Green Pajamas are a band I'd turned my back on for years thanks to personal circumstances, but when I rediscovered them through Poison In the Russian Room it felt like meeting an old friend after a long hiatus.  I have whiplash because I am forever shaking my head wondering why people haven't made them superstars, but when I look at the quality of superstars these days I don't think I want them in that company anyway.  They have recently reacquainted themselves with their original record label, Green Monkey, and released The Complete Book of Hours, an outstanding look at the early Green Monkey period, before going Country.  An album of country music by the Green Pajamas?  I never would have thunk it, but it sounds great!  Here's a taste.


 I keep wondering if Arborea might be hurting their chances for exposure by living in Maine.  It is a ways off the beaten path and something is keeping them from their share of success.  I can't quite put my finger on it.  They are ethereal, melodic, practically medieval in places and science fiction in others.  Their music smells of honesty and truth.  I once talked with Shanti for awhile outside a tavern in Portland, Oregon, and I don't think I've ever talked with a lady more genuine.  Buck and I share emails on a fairly regular basis.  He loves Robbie Basho and John Renbourn and John Fahey as much as anyone I know and uses every opportunity to spread their music.  A class act and a hell of a musician.  The way I see it, all of my years with Steeleye Span and Fotheringay and Clannad were preparing me for Arborea and their ilk.  While this video does not use a song from their new album, Red Planet, it is so haunting I had to post it instead of a song from that fine, fine album.  Watch and listen.  It is outstanding.


Yeah, I know.  Caught again.  As I am with Hannah Gillespie, I cannot let any instance pass when it comes to Zoe Muth & The Lost High Rollers.  I've seen them twice, posted videos a handful of times and talk about them like they are hometown heroes.  I can't help it.  Just like I can't help using the full band name.  Muth is the center, but for me they are a band.  They aren't country, either.  They are Zoe Muth & The Lost High Rollers.  God love 'em.  'Nuff said (until I deem otherwise).


These guys have come a long way from the old days of country rock and smoky bars.  They have now graduated to bigger smoky bars.  I am kidding, of course. Old Californio has worked their collective asses off to get to this point and it shows.  Their latest album, Sundrunk Angels, is set for official release this next week and I can think of no better way to celebrate it than to post this live video shot last month at The Mint in L.A.  The title track of the new album in all its glory.  I've seen Zoe Muth & The Lost High Rollers, I've seen Mist & Mast.  Next on my list are Research Turtles and Old Californio.  I'm sure I won't be disappointed.  Not even if Old Californio are half as good as they are in this video.

NOTES (& more notes).....

David Jacques of The Dementians just graced my inbox with a new album.  For those who don't know of him, he knocked me out with his humorous take on pop music.  Not only did it make me chuckle, the music was downright good!  Maybe even better than that.  I haven't cracked the file yet, but when I do I'll run it down for you.  If you aren't interested, you obviously don't get good pop music.  My condolences.

Did I mention that Kirsti Gholson contacted me with the news that her album is nearing completion?  I will take back every bad thing I've said to her once I get it in my hands.  Over ten years between albums seems a but absurd to me, but someone once told me that to forgive is to be divine.  Or Andy Devine.  Either one works.  More when the album finds its way here.

I reviewed an album by Fiery Blue not long ago (and I will review the second when time permits) and was surprised that vocalist for that band, Simone Elyse Stevens, has just released a solo album.  I'm surprised because She is well aware of my fan status with Fiery Blue.  She should have known that giving me a heads up would, if it is any good (kidding, Simone), produce a review.  She contacted me this morning.  The CD is in transit.  It had better be, or I'm deleting all my positive raves about Fiery Blue.  Stay tuned.

Bright Giant say they're getting closer.  I heard some rough tracks and am getting a bit anxious.  I don't know if it will be as good as their freakishly good self-titled EP, but I have heard enough to know it will be good.  More on them when they get the harvest in.

I have mentioned Nick Holmes and Brian Cullman in various posts and if you were paying attention you know how much reverence I hold for both as musicians and producers.  I will be writing an in-depth review of Cullman's All Fires the Fire, released in 2007.  The more I hear it, the more I like it.  In fact, I think it has gone beyond like.  Like I mentioned earlier, this album belongs in the classroom.  It is so good on so many levels, it's scary.  If you don't check it out yourself, I will be posting links to the review when it is posted.  I am also in the process of delving deep into Nick Holmes' music and happenings.  They deserve the attention and have gotten way less than is fair.  In the near future.

Did I happen to mention that Charlottesville's Sarah White has made a couple of her releases available for download?  For free!  Crapola!  That's Christmas in July, folks!  You can check them out at this link:  Both are solid good.  White Light is Sarah and her early lineup with The PearlsSweetheart is an EP and my introduction to another excellent Charlottesvillain, Ted Pitney, who released an EP a few months ago which knocked my socks off.  It's called The Genesee EP and it is a killer!

Mothership is a hard rockin' band out of Buenos Aires which I stumbled upon a good year or so ago.  They have just completed an album and sent me a link to listen.  I will write a review soon, but let me say that if you like the old hard rockers, they might be right up your alley.  Solid vocals and amped up crunchy guitars.  Sometimes you just have to let loose.

Once again, I know I'm forgetting someone.  I take notes, but I lose my notes.  I'll find them, though.  Give me time.  Until then, keep the faith, my friends.  As long as there is good music, life is not half as bad as it could be.

1 comment:

  1. Love you! It's so true, that as you get older, you have too much to do and it cuts into the partying! Thank Goodness, part of my job is listening to great music. Thanks for being a supporter of the highest order!