Thursday, July 31, 2008

Maria Muldaur - Inner City Blues (Makes Me Wanna Holler)

"Money, we make it. Before we see it, they take it.” Some things never change, and Maria has her soul feeling the needs of mankind. She has collected songs here that focus on the everyday needs of humanity. “Natural fact is that I can’t pay these taxes.” Truth. I got my tax papers this week and noticed that although house prices are going down around here and everywhere else in this great country, the tax people decided my home was worth 10% more than last year. 10% a year! Can you imagine? I never look at these things because I was taught that death and taxes were inevitable. I’ve always paid, but I’m noticing I have to work 6 1/2 weeks every year just to pay the tax bill. Scary times. I know there’s no chance of wage increases, that hasn’t happened for at least 10 years. Yet every year we pay more for basic needs and taxes. The government always wins. “The poor you will have with you always.” So said the savior, and such is the creed the government lives by. Keep ‘em poor so they don’t have time and energy to complain.

And Marvin’s song keeps rolling on just as it did 30+ years ago. Fine guitar solo, by the way. “Rockets red glare. Bombs bursting in air. Bills pile up sky high. Send that boy off to die.” Shoutouts for a very slow, soul-filled version of War (What is it good for?), a gospel-tinged version of We Shall Be Free, a beautiful full choir version of Down By The Riverside, and a tender, thought-provoking dream and prayer, Everyone In The World (Love Is The Answer, Love Is The Way).

Maria Muldaur – Yes We Can!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Putumayo Presents Acoustic France

It’s hot again today, and the margaritas are flowing sweetly on this marvelous hump-day. Sandrine Kiberlain is introduced by a song where she is bored by everyday events, but there’s a person in her life that makes it all worthwhile. Simple concept with a marvelous pop beat. Of course, as with this entire album, I am deaing with a language I am only familiar with from one college course (which means I understand very little). No bother to me, because as with all great music, the emotions come through the voice and the back-up. The same holds true of all the following songs – all enjoyable new pop.

Thomas Dutronc is a crack-up because in the song he’s a traveling musician calling out to women passing in the street, makes one wonder if it’s autobiographical. The guitar playing is superb, and he’s convincing me he’s got the personality to actually call over to women passing down the street.

Constance Amiot is a perfect example of what makes the Putumayo releases so much fun. Constance is not from France, but born to French-speaking parents in the Ivory Coast, and later moved to the US. She does perform in France, but also performs in the US, and plays a funky acoustic. The song is about Tempo, and she manages to add a bit of hip-sop sensibility to a funky folk song. Very cool.

Carla Bruni turns in a fun song, which also features some exciting guitar work. She’s followed on the next song by Rose, who has an exciting voice and an upbeat song about a “pathetic jerk”. Poppy entertainment, great for this Wednesday hump-day. Pass another margarita, please.

Romane is a guitar player dreaming of the early 1900’s between two huge wars and bringing the smoky bars to life with great pleasure and passion. I am in a club listening to the song that is timeless and full of gypsy longing. Rupa & the April Fishes explore the same era with sultry vocals and jazzy accordions. Les Escrocs brings us deeper into the century to the bars of the beat era with jazz poetry. Well performed, the lyrics about friends are a blast: “Welfare, I’ll write to you from time to time. Send wire transfers direct to my island, with your friend, minimum wages. You will be my two best friends. It’ll be great!”

Another fine compilation from Putumayo, set to be played over and over when stars, margaritas and laughter come together for a friendly evening.

Putumayo Presents Acoustic France

More Putumayo on Eartaste

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Rogue Motel - It's Not Too Late

“Ain’t no way of stopping time, it’s best to just enjoy the ride.” These fellas are full of exciting surprises. This happy tune has the uncanny ability to make me feel like whistling. Whistling? Well, you’ll be glad to know these guys aren’t whistling on the record, they’re telling a story of a relationship. “I often think of summer Sundays when all we had to be was lazy and lay upon the roof and watch the sun become the moon.” There’s tension, as in all great stories. Here the happy singer offers “a smile before you go, or maybe a song for the road.” Relationships. Never easy, but the narrator is keeping his hopes up in this fun tune. Well-presented, and maintains my interest over many listens.

The first shoutout is for Smoke and Vines, another fine original with a totally different mood, showing off the versatility of Rogue Motel.

The second shoutout is for Marie, the Townes tune we’ve all sung for many years. The reason for the shoutout is that Rogue Motel doesn’t work on doing a fine rendition of the tune that makes me cry as I sing it. They completely take it on as their own. The lyric and tune are there, but done with the flavors of Rogue Motel – a wonderful showcase of their abilities as performers. We stand with them in the unemployment line, and cry with them as we attempt to waken our pregnant girlfriend to give her the message that work is impossible to find, so we’re going to head down south and try our luck elsewhere. “I guess I'll just tell Marie the truth hope she don't break down and cry.” The story continues, but Rogue Motel chooses to let the music express the events and the emotions. The words Townes wrote are hard for any of us to sing, and the narrator in this version doesn’t even try. The story is told by the instruments fading. I love the way the drummer plays a heartbeat and stops. But I’m giving too much away. This is a performance you need to hear. Thanks, guys. You give this old tune a new power and purpose. It does bug me that it can still ring true after all this time – we still deal with unemployment and underemployment way too much here. Rogue Motel

Monday, July 28, 2008

RadioRadio - I, Computer

The music is built to wake me from deep slumber slowly – through the mists and clouds of memories dreamt as truth. I wake up, I think, when I hear the singer ask if “you have finally feel the face of God? Do you dream?” The guitars attack and create an energy to make this week have a purpose beyond sleep. It’s easier, methinks, to stay inside as the heat simmers over 100 degrees with 80% humidity. Are we really made to live in this state? RadioRadio lets me know it doesn’t matter – these thoughts are useless. I am dancing through the air-conditioning way over the clouds set in motion at the beginning and end of this song. As I listen the next few times I begin to understand the computer is singing, and calling me son. And that’s cool because I'm not ready to deal with that depth of understanding and the computer/narrator lets me know not to sweat the details. Great wake-me up song, it’s also perfect for a hump-day dance party as well as a Friday shout-em-up dance party. Well done! RadioRadio

Friday, July 25, 2008

Los Lonely Boys - Loving You Always

The acoustic guitars introduce the story. “I think it’s time we both sat down to talk. No, don’t walk away. Let me say just how I feel for you, you just want to stay. Cause I want to be with you, only you, always. I’ll make your dreams come true, loving you always.” And it gets better. The singers are so convincing that I want to fall in love just to sing this to someone special. I don't imagine there's anyone left who would let these verses impact their psyche, but it sure would be groovy of it were so. The style is a timeless rocking country beat with beautiful Norté acoustic guitar accents. Shoutout for a groovy cover of the classic bar standard I’m A Man (“I stand outside creatin’ all the groovy kinds of love”). Not only is the guitar solo superb, but I’m also excited because I can say groovy again, and mean it. "Imagine I’m not human and my heart is made of stone." Los Lonely Boys

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Los Lonely Boys - Heart Won't Tell a Lie

Slow sweet sweet guitar leads to a rock and roll lead riff that soothes the savage beast of blues love. Timeless rhythms fill the bar with tear-stained cheeks flowing around the dance floor. “I can’t lie even if I want to.” My emotions are being led by the fantastic guitar work, but I am also sincerely in tune with the rest of the band who know how to pull the strings perfectly. Shoutouts for the down home blues bar dance flavorings of Forgiven & Staying With Me (“Take a chance on love, I’m gonna do the same”). Los Lonely Boys

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

McFly - Smile

“You don’t have to have money to make it in this world!” Apparently this isn’t a mere platitude. These guys have had hits, have even been written up here on eartaste before. They are good. If their recent discussions are true, they have decided to simply by-pass the major labels from now on. That raises my eyebrows, to be sure. Very cool. I’m sure they have made the contacts necessary to allow this to happen so their income won’t really be affected, but at least they’re willing to put their feet to the fire and gamble. But this isn’t a song about politics, it’s a good-old-fashioned love song with a finger-snapping sing-along beat.

“You don’t have to be skinny, baby, if you wanna be my girl.” There is a condition to this love, tho. “You just gotta be happy, and sometimes that’s hard. You just gotta smile smile smile, and that’s a good enough start.” Well, it’s hard not to smile with this music, so hey hey hey, let’s dance dance dance. “If you ain’t good looking, don’t let it get you down.” The story keeps flowing, with horns and some sweet drum beats, with a bit of a smooth bridge. Nice work – perfect for beachboy style summer loving rock and roll. Shoutout for Going Through The Motions. McFly

Saturday, July 19, 2008

elodieO - La Mer

The dance floor beats of La Mer, along with the whispered French vocals help this party get on a jazzy flight toward the netherworlds of rum-filled oblivions. There are times we need these distractions, and for me this is one of those times. 103 degrees. Stare at the stars, hope for rain, melt in the humidity.elodieO

Natassja - XTC

The voice whispers through the speakers right off, enticing us on with guitar toward “words of passion” filled with ecstasy. Smooth, sensual, and peaceful, allowing me to “drift away toward a thousand suns.” Keeps the humidity at bay for a few minutes, and give the mind aces to wander along with the tasty guitar riffs that wander in from time to time. A full-flavored liquid meal that creates the feeling of cool. Thanks! Natassja
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Friday, July 18, 2008

Midori & Audioclique - Bring It

This Friday night party starts with a power guitar riff. And what could be a party-stopper lyric, “Can’t you hear your mama call? She wants you at home right now!” Of course, if you are a normal person your ears did not hear ‘the request’ and thus the party gets wild! The bass and guitar keep steady as the guitarist and vocalist keep the story moving forward with pure rock passion. Thanks! Midori & Audioclique
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The Class War - Here And Now

A clean guitar/bass/drum combo with two voices continue this wild r&r party. “Everything I want to – what I can’t do!” Angst to the max, with enthusiastic energy. Perfect summer single for our Friday night bash. Shoutout for Love Is (Love is a funny thing, makes your heart have to bleed, and I don’t think I need it anymore”). The Class War
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Heart - Make Me

The guitar starts slowly, with lots of octaves slowly bringing in a melody, but after that intro the guitar blows us away with acoustic virtuosity until an electric guitarist brings in the drummer and bass player. Tasty dance w/ bbq sauce! “Tell me why after all this time is the light hiding in your eyes. Do I see promises never made, or is it just a sweet surprise?” The voices bring the past into summer 2008 with ease. The story is an old one – let’s figure out where we are right now and decide whether or not to keep the relationship going. If it’s going to remain, “I need your heart to hear my song.” Fine work. Heart

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Richie Havens - Lives In The Balance

“They sell us the President the same way they sell us our clothes and our cars. They sell us every thing from youth to religion the same time they sell us our wars.” This song, written by Jackson Browne, first came out during Ronald Reagan’s 2nd term of secret wars in South America and open wars in Libya and Lebanon (Operation El Dorado Canyon, etc). Personal friends were killed. Administration officials were found guilty, but pardoned. El Salvador, Columbia, Panama, Nicaragua and Grenada were devastated by US troops, as were the young men who came back having perpetrated the horrors they were ordered to perform. “And there's a shadow on the faces of the men who send the guns to the wars that are fought in places where their business interest runs.” The biggest difference is that these men are no longer in the shadows, but are smiling for the whole world. Big, profit filled smiling faces, the Bushes and Cheneys. At least some folks, like Johnson, had the dignity to look bad for the young lives they were throwing away for oil. Ah, but that’s the old paradigm. Now we can smile because no one sees the caskets coming home. Anyway, I’m ignoring the immediate, sorry.

This new performance by Richie Havens is perfect, beautiful, and lovingly brings forth my anger and tears. Of course, hearing his voice and guitar playing brings backs many other images, but I love the images and cling to them. Images of when we were able to speak out our pain in the streets with hundreds, even thousands of others without fear. Until Kent State happened. Freedom forever ruined for that generation and all future generations. “You hear one thing again and again, how the U.S.A. stands for freedom”. Shoutouts for the deep, severe, ugly truthful irony of Won’t Get Fooled Again ("and history ain't changed 'cause the banners, they were all flown in the last war") and the tenderness of One More Day. Richie Havens

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Lipbone Redding - Party On The Fire Escape

“In the heat of the summertime.” This hump day party album is full of specific imagery that fulfills the summer heat escape dreams of festivity lovers of all ages. “Fire hydrant down on the corner, you know the one right in front of Rosario’s store. The kids laughing, running through the water, and it’s a rainbow against the parked cars.” The tune is tasty, pulled through the stars y the percussionists. As the tune continues, the organ enhances the flavors with a splendid subtlety. Lipbone welcomes one and all to the party, hope to see ya there “drinkin’ rum and dancin’ till the mornin’” And the party continues with the shoutouts for the soul dance flavors of Party Down, and the triple mounded banana split ice cream flavors of Single Again. Lipbone Redding

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Greta Gaines - L Is for Loser

“The one thing I just can’t understand is the last thing you said when you left me. You said, ‘Girl, I gotta go, but I want you to know that I love you, I still really love you.’ And I said ‘What?!?! You love me? Huh? You love me!’” The energy here is infectious & as sad as this story seems on page, the performance is slyly humorous and jammed packed with wonderful irony. “I get it now! L is for loser, down and leftover. O is for ‘Oh, I didn’t meant to run you over’. V is for very vapid and sleazy. And E is for hey, it ain’t easy being easy.” The story is put together very well, the music fits the words with ease, but the very best part is the vocal presentation – I am convinced this sassy singer is about to slap someone across the head with a frying pan. A big thick cast iron frying pan. And she’s holding it like a baseball bat with two hands. Shoutouts for Armageddon Love Song (“he drinks he says for the forgettin’”) and I’m High (“watching bees collect pollen from flowers, has it been seconds or hours? I left my restless self and it feels good.”) A fun tasting, well done album. Greta Gaines