Friday, November 30, 2007

Donovan - Love Floats

And so do I. With just a slight taste of Barabajagal. Floating is my way of surviving, and I manage to do that every day. This guy doesn’t put out many albums anymore, but when he does they are worth savoring. Shoutouts for Poor Man’s Sunshine, The Way, Beat Café, and a re-visit of Season of the Witch. Donovan

John Fogerty – In The Garden b/w She’s Got Baggage

Yesterday’s album left me thirsty for more John, and I played this album several hundred times today, so that’s all I really have to talk about, and I don’t care. I’m real keen on talking about new music, but this one is good enough for you to drag out of the closet, so I’m simply in the position to remind you to do just that! Shoutouts for every song on this sexy album. John Fogerty – Deja Vu

Thursday, November 29, 2007

John Fogerty - Summer Of Love

I talked up many of the cuts of this album when it first came out, might as well fill you in on the rest because this album can’t stay off my turntable. Summer Of Love is a fun visit of many songs from that era, while still managing to sound distinctly Fogerty. I hear Hendrix, Airplane, Fish, and so much more in a brief three minutes. It helps to remember that the four guys were playing local clubs in and around SF & Oakland in the “Summer of Love”, and it’s obvious the influences were deeply soaked in. Shoutouts for Somebody Help Me and Don't You Wish It Was True. John Fogerty - Revival

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Eartaste: The 23 Top Albums of 2007

I will stand by every single I've reviewed this past year. I still love listening to every song. Albums, though, are another whole animal. To be able to listen to a full set by one artist, well, they just have to be extremely special for me to enjoy them. I have many albums in my collection, of course, but end up bookmarking favorite cuts off albums and listening to them over and over. It's a rare pleasure to find an album that holds together listen after listen, and provides a full enjoyment for these ears. My plan was to select the best 23 albums of the year. I know, a bit corny, one indie release per month, and one major release per month. Also, I figured 24 albums would give approx 24 hours of pure pleasure. In the final run-through, I couldn't find more than 23. I had no desire to list an almost-ran, as that wouldn't be fair to the absolute best. 15 are indie (I couldn't decide if Tiny Masters was on a major label, so I decided to include them as major label), and 8 major label releases. I list them now because if you are looking for Christmas gifts for a friend or relative that loves music, I will stand by all of these.

These are listed in the order they appeared on eartaste. All are equal favorites, so give them all a #1, or 5 stars, or however you rate your albums.

The Histrioniks - About This Girl
Alex Arrowsmith - Applewine
Roy Davis - Grey Town
Talia Segal - Nonprophet
Ben Godwin - Skin And Bone
Koopa - Blag Steal and Borrow
Mooney Suzuki -Have Mercy
Rickie Lee Jones - The Sermon On Exposition Blvd
The Red Button - She's About To Cross My Mind
The Aggrolites - The Aggrolites
Threshold - Sum Blues
Swampdawamp - Swampdawamp
Kemp Harris - Edenton
Bowling For Soup - The Great Burrito Extortion Case
Noise626 - An Infinite Shade of Gray
Landonband - Defying The Stereotype
Smug - Freshly Stained
Evan Page (Screaming Mee-Mees) - No Ordinary Girl
Tiny Masters Of Today - Bang Bang Boom Cake
Olivea Watson - Way Down Deep
Patti Scialfa - Play It As It Lays
John Fogerty - Revival
Ray Davies - Working Mans Café

If your music-loving friend stays current with every new release they can get their hands on, chances are they'll have many of the above. If you want to buy a gift that'll last a lifetime of appreciation, you'll never stop hearing thanks if you gift wrap any one of these expensive box sets:

Motown Complete Singles Vol 1
Motown Complete Singles Vol 2
Motown Complete Singles Vol 3
Motown Complete Singles Vol 4
Motown Complete Singles Vol 5
Motown Complete Singles Vol 6
Motown Complete Singles Vol 7

Northern Soul Story Vol 1-4

Vol 1 Twisted Wheel
Vol 2 Golden Torch
Vol 3 Blackpool Mecca
Vol 4 Wigan Casino

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

46Bliss - This Light

A tinkle sound, not quite a child’s piano, but something like jars filled with water to different depths introduce us to a dirge “inside my mind” Very effective. Dirge perhaps is a wrong term, perhaps more of a hymn of meditation. There is only one line, repeated twice, where we find the author’s mind is “washed in this light.” Shoutouts for Joan of Arc, 2B1, and All Over Now. Thanks! 46Bliss

Johnny Bennett - Chance Meeting

The background organ from 46Bliss keeps droning for awhile and a lightly handled bass bass enters the proceedings, then Wham! The narrator says “Thanks for keeping me in the mix.” You’re very welcome. “Then she’s gone.” That’s it. The guitar enters and we’re having a rock and roll party! “It’s like broken dreams.” The drums play just enough to make my feet move, and the occasional stop is great for a giggle as my feet tangle. “I said now come on over here, make up your mind.” I have my mind made up – this is fun, and worth savoring. Shoutouts for This Year’s Lie & Exit Sign (with his best Jagger impression, the narrator says “I’m crashing everything, I can’t believe I’m still alive”). Johnny Bennett

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Donnas - Save Me

“I want it louder/I want it wreckless/you know I want it all!” Ain’t no better way to wake up than pure rock and roll reminding me “I’m going to party till the day I die!” Up-beat, loud and angry, even with the up-beat lyrics. “Take me away tonight!” We’re even graced with a good, old fashioned lead-guitar solo. Shoutouts for the mostly instrumental Bitchin', Don't Wait For Me, & Here For The Party. The Donnas

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

David Jordan - Sun Goes Down

Hump day high-stepping. "Open your eyes 'cause another day is dawning." Mix a bit of soul with some fun dance music and you are going to join me on the dance floor – “Dance like you are the only one around . . . dance as you want till the sun goes down!” Shoutout for Move On. David Jordan

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Neil Young – Believer

“Like that songbird singing, whether it’s red or blue.” I always love this guy, sneaking in a slight little political statement into a cute little song about trusting those around him. After all, that is truly what life is about, isn’t it? Trusting those who are holding you up. “Just like those church bells ringing, I’m keeping my faith in you.” The entire album is a retro ride back about 30 years ago, maybe more. The production values are wonderfully retro. The question I’ve wondered before, and wonder again is – can a guy who has been churning these out for 40 years be retro, or could we simply call him naturally & honest old? Whatever your decision, the album has a classic feel of integrity. Neil Young

Eagles - No More Walks In The Wood

“This is the aftermath of afternoons in the clover fields where we once made love then wandered home together.” Gotta admit I thought this was a Crosby, Stills & Nash outtake of a Graham Nash song. Doesn’t matter – it sounds great & makes my ears thirsty for more. We’ve discussed retro/old guys very recently, so we’ll leave this short. “Lasted as long as we could.” The album will not disappoint any Eagles fans. The Eagles

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Angie Stone - My People

“How can we stay strong?” While it sounds simple – hold up your head and stay strong, it’s very obvious that we are living in a country that does not want the people holding their head up or staying strong. Keep citizens in deep debt so they need to work 2 or 3 jobs to survive, using their strength to survive day to day, not to hold our heads up and see the truth of poverty and oppression around us. Songs like this tell us it’s possible to rise up out of the poverty and oppression on an individual basis. But not as a group. The group “rise” won’t happen until the people band together in strength and purpose against the oppressors. Important song because it makes me think about the individuals that have broken the mold and the need to focus on the group being able to "rise up". Besides, there is pure fun is at the very end of this song, and I’ll leave that for you to discover. Shoutout for Go Back To Your Life and Happy Being Me. Angie Stone

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Retro Saturday

In honor of Newsweek quoting so liberally from the philosophy of eartaste in their cover story this week, 60’s R&R flavors are featured tonight with blues –rock circa 1966 (The Shake), psychedelic flavors circa 1967 (Last American Buffalo), Americana rock circa 1968 (1st CCR album appeared and celebrated in 2007 by John Fogerty), and huge stadium aor rock circa 1969 (Ian Gillan).

The Shake – Outcast

Recalling the era of 1966 when many US bands were imitating the British bands who were imitating the R&B stars of the 50’s, this fun music starts the party with excitement and the irresistible “yeah”. Tough-guy stance, with a snarl that is indecipherable but fun to listen to. The story seems to be making fun of a guy whose girl the narrator is going to steal. “You can’t sleep without your lights, and you know it’s not alright.” And this cute remark: “all the pictures that I’ve seen of you look out of place”, along with “at a party the the one who doesn’t get the gag.” Yep, people are mean to each other, but it’s fun. In real life, I probably woulda been the butt of this song, but that’s okay, it’s great fun, but better yet – the music is real & exciting. Shoutouts to the equally retro songs Devil’s Side & Manic Boogie. Definite party enhancers. The Shakes

Last American Buffalo - She's Alright

“Stoned in paisley, summer stolen February, Portugese suntanner lips and sympathy. . .” Psychedelic lyrics and psychedelic music recalling the flavors of the summer of love with honest retro instrumentation and fuzz vocals. “Catchy catchy catholic cigarillo, shaken hands to stunt the afterglow.” Got it? Neither do I, but the fuzz guitar solo and wonderful organ playing take me back forty years with much pleasure. Last American Buffalo is not all retro, tho. They shine at some 2007 country with Pistol, and the end-of-a-2007-credits-music-for-an-unknown-film-where-the-credits-music-is-better-than-the-2-hours-that-preceded-it-song called Sunshine. “In the bright-lit expanse of you, the space in this room is too small.” Last American Buffalo

John Fogerty - Creedence Song

Okay, I admit it’s cheating a bit to include John Fogerty in a 60’s retro night. Can it be called retro when he’s sounding as great as he did in 1968? Probably not. Doesn’t matter. Creedence song is great fun ‘cause it’s about a band on the road that “can’t go wrong if you play a little bit of that Creedence song.” LOL!!! And, to make it a true R&R song, the last verse promises that you can make some time with the girl you plan to marry “if you play a little bit of that Creedence song.” Great fun all around, especially with the guitar and bass steadily groovin’ the rockin’ night away. From a wonderful album, filled with many musical and good old-fashioned philosophical flavors. Shoutouts for the hot Natural Thing & slow dance ready Broken Down Cowboy. John Fogerty

Ian Gillan - When a Blind Man Cries

“If you’re leavin’, close the door. I’m not expecting people anymore. Hear me grievin’, lyin’ on the floor. Whether I’m druink or dead I’m really not too sure.” You really shouldn’t give people ideas about getting this wasted at a party, I know, but this is such a beautiful tune I have to play it for my own sanity. The guitar and organ solos are wonderfully moving and emotionally perfect. “When a blind man cries you feel it from his soul.” Shoutout for Sugar Plum. Ian Gillian

Free Albums from our Saturday Night Gift Exchange

EDIT: Both CDs were claimed SUNDAY morning, when I woke up and had barely poured my first cup of coffee. Burgandy's album will be heading toward C.B. in Wisconsin, and the Tango album will be heading toward L.C. in Florida. Great job, quick response!
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
We have two gifts this week, in exchange for whoever answers the questions first by sending an email to [removed after winners announced to discourage spam].

Luck Media has sent us a copy of Burgandy Brown's "My Lucky 13" to send out to the 1st person who can tell me what song of hers was reviewed at Eartaste.

Putumayo World Music has sent us a copy of Tango Around The World to give away to the 1st person who can name every Putumayo recording we featured this year.

Good luck! -Rich

Friday, November 16, 2007

Putumayo Presents: Tango Around the World

I recently had the privilege of watching a DVD set of all ten hours of a TV broadcast from Buenos Aires, Días Y Noches De Tango. I know that watching a TV show is a far cry from making one an expert on anything, but I do feel much more informed. I learned, not because they said it, but because I experienced it, that Tango goes far beyond music and dance. Music and dance is integral, of course, but the deepest magic of Tango is it’s poetry. As I watched the words in English flash along the bottom of the screen I grew to realize just how shallow most of the music I listen to is. Even in translation the words were bleeding emotions we seldom explore.

In one of the interview segments I learned from the Tango philosopher Mayoral that "A tango is a tuxedo that's been taken off and laid in the mud outside a brothel and maintains it's dignity when worn."

Jorge, a friend in Argentina who shared the DVD series with me also shared a place to read Tango lyrics translated by a poet instead of the very rough translations offered on the DVD set: Planet Tango. Well, life doesn’t live itself in a void, so the day after I finished watching the set, in popped this marvelous new Tango compilation from Putumayo. The flavors are modern versions of Tango from some of the best Tango conclaves around the world. Argentina may be the birthplace, but the Tango has continued to grow and survive in Africa, Greece, Norway, Finland, Brazil, and others all featured in this set.

The entire album made for a pleasant Tango evening here at the eartaste residence, with some drinking a sangria style wine and others drinking Heineken. The food was what we call Mexican pizza – tortillas with beans, cheese and salsa baked open-faced in the oven. Scrumptious flavors, tasty beverages and world dance music, a very pleasant evening indeed. Shoutouts go to M.A. Numminen & Sanna Pietiäinen from Finland for Kangastus, Florencia Bonadeo & Melingo of Argentina for Lionel the Ugly, and Ariel Prat & Juan Cáceres also from Argentina for the wonderful African flavored tune José Mármol y Tarija.

The point of all this is that Tango, a huge early 20th century art has gracefully entered the 21st century with flavors that transcend time and continue the growth of an art that is committed to sharing the spiritual depths of philosophy in a way that entertains and pleases. Tango Around The World

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Anna Stafford – Bread

An interesting year for this reviewer. Not one original string quartet composer, but two. The composers travel on two different planes. Where Nataliya Medvedovskaya was traditional, and told a full story with her pieces, Anna is reaching for an audience with pop sensibilities, like myself. I appreciate both approaches to composition. I found that Bread introduced me to the value in a light-hearted piece of serious composition, nothing to challenge my expectations, but lovely enough for me to think how this would sound great live at a dinner party, whereas Nataliya’s work would sound perfect in a concert hall. Besides that, what eartaster would ever leave bread on the table? This one is worth savoring.

The shoutout tune, Green Walls, is also intriguing – it starts off very light, almost Beatlesque in tone, and half way through develops a voice of its own, exploiting the strengths of the voices working together to create storm-like tonalities for a climax, with a repeat to reassure us that composition still includes anti-climax to bring the listener down. Feels like a love song, with an argument in the middle. Of course, they kiss and make up by the end. Traditional pop with strings, complete with a totally expected ending. Fun stuff. Anna Stafford

Monday, November 12, 2007

Alex Arrowsmith – Nuke (from Missing Briefcase)

“I feel good every time you test a weapon.” Yep, good old fashioned patriotism. Kill ‘em even before they think about killing you – just in case. “I’m so glad that I grew a third eye.” Gotta make sure you can see the truth, right? Nuke ‘em. What good is the world anyway? “If you wanna claim Palestine, you’re gonna need an expert web design.” Lots of people making bucks off this, so why not some poor old web designer? Nuke ‘em. Nuke ‘em good. Does Alex have his tongue deep in his cheek? Dunno. Not sure I do either. Some days I think a strategically placed nuke atop the white house would do this entire globe some good. Course I could probably be tossed in jail for saying such a thing in public. Oh well, maybe my tongue is deep in my cheek. Let’s hope so anyway.

Back to reality – Alex Arrowsmith has rocked my world and helped me view the globe from many perspectives, and I am very happy that his music has become an integral part of my listening pleasure. I won’t repeat all the cool characters he’s written about that have enriched my life. Click here for tastes of that.

I will say that this new album rates up there with the rest of his classic output. He is into indie rock for the long term, and that is indeed a pleasure to know. This new album is called Missing Briefcase, which sounds like the scenario of what it’ll be like when the President loses his. Or simply the one that got lost when the rabbit was running into the hole too fast and forgot which hole he left it at. Life happens. Click here to see his other thrilling albums.

Some of the shoutouts on Missing Briefcase are Eternal Return (“Messing with time and space is as easy as it sounds because I’ve been in love with you before”) and The Zaps (“My mind is out of phase, it stays in a daze”). I’ll write more about the rest of the fun tunes on this album in January, 2008 or before I can’t help myself (like tonight). “My mind is incomplete.” In the meantime, stayed tuned at Alex’s World.

PS: Do not listen to High Speed Chase while driving. I got my purple 3 cylinder Geo Metro all the way up to 76 MPH without thinking while listening to this tune. Just imagine if I had 4, 5 or 6 cylinders!

PPS: If it's not obvious about my tiny comments about talking about the rest of this album at a later date: what that means is that this entire album is worth your ears taking the time to taste over and over. Some very cool stereo effects, as well as tasty guitars when needed, and "Elvis Presley coming back for more." Goodnight. All is well.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Jill Scott - Celibacy Blues

A jazzy Sunday afternoon is always a pleasure. The song title gives away the emotion and tension involved with the passion in Jill’s voice. Lite bass, guitars and drums meander around the voice in total concentration. “This here celibacy is workin’ for me.” Jill Scott

Saturday, November 10, 2007

We Start Fires - Wicked Spell

“Your face in a mirror, you haven’t changed. I thought I knew you, now it goes to show they could have saved you if you’d just gone home.” So starts this tale, with the narrator asking many hard questions of herself. Most of the album rocks derivatively, so this cut sticks out – a thoughtful meditation with music that keeps the narration moving in a rock steady manner. “Nothing ever turns out…” brings out some personal thoughts, but then I’m hit with the whammy – “time moves faster when you’re broken.” Something for me to meditate on because I’ve often felt the opposite. Do we each experience time in a different way? Has anyone investigated this possibility. What does it mean? Nice tune, great words, fine single with honestly tough production values. I love the way the opening flavors come back to enhance the ending. We Start Fires

Friday, November 09, 2007

SixNationState - Caught The Sun

“Tonight I caught the sun and took it out for everyone. Last night I stole the moon in front of me for everyone to see.” Well, one never knows what a guy whose “love has gone away” is gonna do, but the one narrating this tale is having a good time doing it. Music is upbeat rock with lotsa little wonderful flavors for this eartaster to enjoy. Shoutout for Taken Me Over. SixNationState

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Milburn – Lo And Behold

“Time has taken its toll. You say that you’re in control, so now’s the time to be bold.” Fun lyric, sung acapella, then ska, then full-bore rock. Sounds profound, but relax – it’s pure entertainment with an everlasting upbeat. Milburn

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Burgandy Brown – Basics

Ouch, I am experiencing this exciting hump day with some hot guitar pickin! We are flying all around the floor. “Let’s get back to the basics!” What basics you ask? Easy! “Live more, laugh more, love more, and hug more! That’s what we need.” Amen to that. The band on this entire album is outstanding. Shoutouts for Sounds Like Cryin’, Porcelain Doll & Lady Like. Many flavors worth tastin’ over and over. Burgandy Brown

Steve Richard – Stomp

Burgandy started this hump party evening off hot, so let’s keep it going with some southern flavored Stomp! A banjo starts off this tune, but don’t sweat, the Skynyrd flavored guitars enter quick enough to bring this dance to a full rockin’ pitch fever: “Like a rock and roll rodeo, you make me want to stomp.” Shoutouts for the tasty dramas We Ain’t Saints, and Faster, Faster. Steve Richard

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Elastic No-No Band - The Guy Who Dies

You know, there are things that happen that make me want to throw up my hands and simply give up. Diane Feinstein, for example, today said she voted for this dude to be attorney general even though he was openly willing to commit illegal acts in the name of our country. Why? This is paraphrased, but basically she said he was honest about his willingness to do illegal things. Implication is - everyone else lies. So, let’s go ahead and take the guy who is open about his filthy inner desires. Stuff like this makes me want to cry. What’s left to do??? Hide my head in a shell and puke for hours? Doesn’t hurt Feinstein or Mukasey if their fellow citizens cry about the state of our country. Especially since neiother gives a twat and they are leading us. So, puke away, Eartaste, puke away.

But there is a solution! A wonderful solution! The Elastic No-No Band to the rescue!!!

“I am running from disaster! I am running from aliens!
I can’t outrun them, I can’t outsmart them!
I’m not gonna make it, I’m not Tom Cruise!
He might get cut up – a little bloody,
But I’ll explode leaving just my shoes. Because
I’m the guy who dies in the first reel of the film
In some disgusting way.”

Lest you decide that this song was written just for me to make me feel better this day, forget that noise. The next verse makes that very clear. “This is NOT a metaphor.” Forgive me for using it as one, I needed a laugh really bad today. Shoutouts for Cheese Fries, Nobody’s Wife, and the re-run (Everywhere I Look) I See Your Face.

Elastic No-No Band

Monday, November 05, 2007

Ray Davies - Vietnam Cowboys

Last year, when Other’s People’s Lives was released I knew music had regained an important place in my life. “The world will never change, so we must dig inside and crawl outside ourselves,” he wrote. I knew as I listened I had to climb outta my self-imposed retirement from writing about music to joining the ranks of the living again. I haven’t looked back.

And, a new album comes out! Is he going to push me back into my shell? Turns out, and this is hard for me to believe, that this album, Working Man’s Café is even better! Starts off with Vietnam Cowboys, which explains quickly how all the old protestors have joined the capitalist system to make lotsa $$$ over the trauma our country inflicted. Of course, the song is really about our current situation, ‘cause in the end all war has the same end “take our culture right to the third world.” More markets to exploit. Besides, what were our current leaders doing while the rest of their generation was being killed in Vietnam & attempting to take over their business interests? Yep y'all, they were playing cowboys and getting drunk in Texas. All fine and good, but does this translate into great rock and roll? Absolutely – guitars shine and sparkled. Shoutouts for No One Listen (“Why is it difficult to get things done in the age of computers and communication?”) and Hymn for a New Age.

Hymn for a New Age is especially hitting for me because I am a believer in the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ; yet I am painfully and sorrowfully aware of how the American church & political system has completely distorted His message. I try my best to think through issues, but I have no idea how in the world one can bring the words of Jesus back into a discussion without bringing up the pain the world is currently feeling caused by people who claim to be his followers. Well, I can’t imagine anyone being swayed by the words of a music reviewer about spiritual matters, but I will say that Ray Davies continues to renew my faith in Rock and Roll!

Ray Davies

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Vashti Bunyan - Some Things Stick In Your Mind

“Why must their be so much hate in our lives?” Is it worth digging out old scratchy records? What can they possibly ad to our current culture? In this particular case we hear songs that were flops in the sixties but had a profound influence on the progress of music – folk with a rock flavor. What is now called “indie” has that feel – folk music (music that talks about our everyday lives) with a beat. Since Vashti has rejoined the ranks of working musicians, I am fascinated listening to her work from 40 years ago. Excellent Sunday afternoon flavors. Vashti Bunyan

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss - Rich Woman

Ready to dance? Can’t help but move to this party record. Excellent melding of voices on this cut. See ya on the other side of the dance floor! “She give me a Cadillac and diamond ring, she told me Daddy, don’t you worry ‘bout a thing.” What, me worry? Shoutouts for Fortune Teller, which has my favorite combination lyric of all time, “I’m as happy as we can be!” ; and Gone Gone Gone. Special shoutouts for the Zeppelin flavor of Towne’s song ‘Nothin’ & the Union Station flavor of Your Long Journey. Robert Plant and Alison Krauss