Friday, July 22, 2011

Little Green Blackbird, Spotify, Green Pajamas and More.....

Hot damn!  Finally!  I have in my hands a pretty little green and yellow package that I was beginning to doubt would ever see the light of day and it's like Christmas all over again.  I've been saying that a lot this year because the music is coming hot and heavy and it really is like Christmas when albums you've been waiting for what seems like forever show up in the mailbox (or Inbox, if it is a download).  Kirsti Gholson, who records under the name Little Green Blackbird, has been working on The Summer I Stopped Whining for three years, she wrote in an enclosed note, but not three years straight, "just lots of stops and starts."  Well, she's stopped now and has thrown herself into pure work mode (and not music mode).  Time to get the music to the people, methinks.

This is not the first time I have heard some of these songs.  Kirsti had posted three of them on her sadly departed MySpace page awhile ago, rough demos, and a year and a half ago she included me on her list of the "Sneak Peek" people to whom she sent a handful of songs in rough mix form.  For the past year and a half I have been thinking of writing a review of that, calling it a preview of a review, but Kirsti always led me to believe that release was just around the corner, so I waited, and waited, and waited again.  No more waiting.  It is here.

When I played the album last night, I was taken aback a bit.  I expected a couple of remixes from the "Sneak Peek" CD.  What I heard was mostly remixes.  Remixes and re-recordings and a handful of new songs, one of which put me back on my heels.  This isn't rock, folks.  This is pure Kirsti, or should I say Little Green Blackbird.  She has a sound, a sound which caught my ear when I heard her first album (which she calls a demo but which was released ready for the charts back around 2000).  She continues that sound, though it is more refined and more mature (as I'm sure is Kirsti her own self).

Kirsti, I said that I would take back all of the bad things I've said about you when the album was in-hand.  I take them back, as promised.  Now all we have to do is figure out how the album will be made available to the public.  I'll let you know when she tells me.  Review pending, by the way.

SPOTIFY (What's all the hubbub?).....

You might be asking yourself that at this very moment.  Seems like big news, though most big news these days used to be advertising just a few years ago.  The reaction to Spotify reminds me of the "news" surrounding Microsoft's Windows 2007, the most secure PC system ever and full of things to make life worth living again.  What a bunch of crap that was, and I'm not saying anything negative about Windows 2007, just that it was not news--- at least, news that belonged on the front page.

Well, here comes Spotify, another of the sites promising to get you your music faster and better than ever.  Will it live up to its hype?  Probably not, but there may be some positives.  One is that accessibility to the music is easy and smooth.  Type in a name and it lists songs by that artist.  Can't get any simpler.  Thing is, though, if you type in something somewhat generic, you might get more than you bargained for.  I typed in "Steve Young" to see what was available and I got Steve Young, all right.  Two Steve Youngs, in fact.  And a ton of Steve Forbert and a bunch of tracks I have no idea about.  Maybe somewhere in the listing of session men there was "Steve" and "Young".  I don't know.  Still, it did give me Steve Young.

Don't think this is going to be the end-all of music sites.  Steve Young, according to my calculations, has a lo-o-o-ng arm of albums they could have included.  I got a finger.  Not the finger, but a finger nonetheless.  Primal Young, in fact.  Now, with all of this yelling and screaming going on about how the major labels and music publishing companies have signed off on this site, I expected more than that.  Young put out albums on three major labels--- Rock Salt & Nails on A&M, Seven Bridges Road on Reprise and Renegade Picker and No Place To Fall on RCA.  He had three on Rounder Records and a number on small independent labels as well.  One might think that one of those might be available, but they might think again.  I also checked out Green Pajamas, a band who has yet to put out a clunker, and I got three--- Essence of Carol, This Is Where We Disappear and Seven Fathoms Down & Falling.  No Poison In  the Russian Room, no All Clues Lead To Megan's Bed, nothing else.  Seriously?  Spotify people, there are 20+ Pajamas and Pajama-related albums out there.  And the Pajamas are hardly unknown!

To be fair, it is early in Spotify's US existence.  They are still signing deals with corporations for the rights to distribute product.  But one wonders.  Could this be another big hooplah?  The big buildup to something that is less than advertised?  They claim to have 15 million tunes on board, but 15 million means nothing if there is not 15 million there.  So why state it that way?  How about "when we reach our goal we will have over 15 million" or "Coming soon!  15 million!"?

On the plus side, I did find a song I have been looking for for decades:  The Blue Sky Boys' Tears On Her Bridal Bouquet.  When I was a kid, my father had a few 45s, blue-green translucent I believe, of The Blue Sky Boys.  I grew up on their music.  Tears On Her Bridal Bouquet was every bit as much to me as the Sgt. Pepper album was to so many others at a later date.  Spotify had it.  If they can do that--- if they can provide a handful of songs you can't find on any other sites, they will be worth it.  To me, at least.

In the meantime, Spotify, I'm watching you.  And I'll be trying to decipher your files to see just how these agreements with labels and artists function and how much money the artist is paid (and how that money is distributed, because if RCA hands two albums' worth of Steve Young tracks to Spotify and keeps the royalties for itself, they're doing nothing more than screwing the pooch as far as I'm concerned).  We'll see.  More later.


I know.  I've mentioned them recently.  A lot.  But hear me out.  I lived off of two albums by these two musicians for a couple of weeks and am overwhelmed not just by their music, but how they could go in to the same recording studio with the same musicians at the same time and come out with two magical and yet different albums.  It fascinated me so much that I had to write about them. I posted this review, but am finding that it is not enough.  The music is so impressive that I feel the urge to spread the word, but what can I do other than write and carry placards at the mall?  I scoured Youtube and came up with these two videos which will give you an inkling of the talent these two have.  The first video is the first of a five part "documentary" put together by an outfit calling themselves BreakThruRadioTV (at least that's their handle on Youtube).  They give the members of Ollabelle, Patscha's band, and one Ben Arthur one day to write and record an original song and recorded the process.  It is this kind of behind-the-scenes stuff that keeps me intrigued by a mostly unfocused and rambling music industry.  For the people who really love music and the way it is made.  Oh, and Ollabelle is at present releasing a new album, which from what little I've heard is outstanding (they play two tracks on their website--- read the review).

Brian Cullman and I started out sharing Nick Holmes' music.  The more we communicated, the more I got what he was doing, musically.  He has recorded and worked on numerous albums (one of which was Glenn Patscha's excellent Songs From the Jefferson Highway) and is one of those producers you follow.  I could name a few I've followed over the years--- John Anthony (Van der Graaf Generator, Genesis, Queen, A Foot In Coldwater), Roy Thomas Baker (Lone Star, Queen, The Cars, Free), Johnny Sandlin (Captain Beyond, Cowboy, Eddie Hinton, Allmans).  Let us just say that I place Cullman in like company.  Here is a video of one of Cullman's more adventurous songs--- at least, more adventurous than on his last album (read the review, damn it!).


Have I posted this before?  It is a video that Devon Sproule put together for Shaun of a song on which she sang, from an outstanding folk-oriented album titled Folk-Worn Prose.  The album is as solid as any I've heard over the past couple of years and this track is my favorite.  I give you Shaun Cromwell and Devon Sproule singing I Am Undone.  It's just beautiful.

Speaking of Devon, she has just released a new album in Europe (no mention of a US release yet) titled I Love You, Go Easy and I'm sure it is another superb effort.  I've been a fan since Keep Your Silver Shined and a fanatic after seeing her play arch top guitar on the UK's Jools Holland Show.  Man, she can play!  Here is a teaser, just for fun.

Speaking of fun, Paul Curreri's The Big Shitty is just about up and running.  I've only heard one track, but goddamn!  It looks like Curreri has done it again.  The guy has talent!  Still waiting on Sydney Wayser to market her new one (she says it's really good, but we'll be the judge of that, won't we?).  All I know is that if it is half as good as The Colorful, it'll kick ass!  John Orsi finally put the finishing touches on Knitting By Twilight's Weathering album.  It is more great stuff (review coming soon) and comes in a limited edition package, numbered, with a three-fold jacket graced with a beautiful painting of a nude by William Bougereau titled Biblis.  Class music deserves class artwork, eh?  The Wackers played a reunion gig recently which they hopefully recorded.  First time together in decades.  Mickey Thomas has an album which just today floated through the front door.  I have been busy with this so I haven't had a chance to listen yet, but if it is anything like Bluesmasters... whew!  The Research Turtles are in Alaska playing a few weeks of gigs.  They timed it just about right, what with everything melting down South.  Bright Giant is evidently lost in the cornfields.  They haven't returned any of my thousand or so calls about their impending release.  Dem bums!  Crap!  I know there is more to talk about, but my notes are scattered.  Coming soon, a rundown of radio, the 45 and its importance to rock music--- oh, and the transistor radio.  I may just drink while I write that one (it helps me think until the third beer kicks in).  Stay tuned.  I may be typing swear words en masse.

1 comment:

  1. As of yesterday I am working on getting all the Green Pajamas stuff on Green Monkey Records up on Spotify. I will also be working on getting some of the Camera Obscura stuff up as Tony Dale has left this sphere.