Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Willie Nile – House Of A Thousand Guitars (CD)

From the very first note I knew I was in for a rousing good time as Willie slowly brings the band into a full-blown anthem “‘neath a delta moon”. This dream is extremely beautiful. “They say there are no broken strings in the house of a thousand guitars.” It’s the house I want to spend eternity in. I really love the way Willie sneaks in lines that take you to other places. A small example is where he shouts out George Harrison, but not by name: “you can play with blood on your fingertips in the house of a thousand guitars.” The party continues with the same energy Willie let out 30 years ago with Run (“I don’t even know if I’m dead or alive”). Doomsday Dance starts off in a blues vein, but quickly brings the dance floor to apocalyptic life (“you dance with Mr Death, he’s gonna cut right in”).

Now That The War is Over slows us down to think a little bit about what live has done for all the people who have been forced to be involved in things they weren’t prepared for. I believe, in fact, that there’s no way to ever prepare for reality. Willie doesn’t play cutesy with the lyrics, he just tells it like it is, and shares the stories of people we all are or know. This gets my vote for song of the decade.

Give Me Tomorrow reviews the past images that Willie has experienced. It helps that they are images we have all seen. He inflects this dance with hope, asking prayerfully, “Give me tomorrow, right now!”. This prayer is followed by Magdalena, a rock and roll love song with lots of great guitar playing: “We danced on the roof, we ate on the floor, and when it was over I begged her for more!”
Willie Nile

An Oldie but Goodie:

There'll be a body count
we're gonna watch it rise.
The folks at CNN
they won't believe their eyes.
We'll do the dead man's twist
this is our last chance
down at the Doomsday Dance

-Willie Nile

Monday, May 25, 2009

Buckwheat Zydeco - Throw Me Something, Mister

I’ve been listening to this group for over 30 years now, so when the CD arrived I looked at the cover and set it aside for my next BBQ. That was today. I took out some old CDs by these guys when I prepared the fruit this morning, started marinating the chicken, threw some potatoes on to bake, and heard a lot of good old Buckwheat Zydeco music. Then I put the chicken on to start baking, and put this new CD on at the same time. The first song out blew me away. I looked at the cover again, took out the CD and checked I had the right one. This was NOT the BBQ music I had expected! It’s great music, folks, but not the same old Buckwheat Zydeco we’ve gotten used to partying with. This is full-blown grown up music. Throw Me Something, Mister is the flavor I had been expecting, and I am certainly glad it’s here to whet my appetite for the past. But it’s only a tasty appetizer. These guys have grown as musicians and performers to include rock and roll blues, boogie woogie, jazz and blues with their Zydeco. I love their rockin’ blues version of When The Levee Breaks - especially the guitar work while the whole band cooks, the Gary US Bonds flavors of Back In Your Arms, the raw blues of Lay Your Burden Down, and the New Orleans love song they call Finding My Way Back Home. This CD was played again after the chicken finished cooking and was slowly being eaten with this mature offering actually causing a few shivers by the end on this 97 degrees in the shade day. The perfect honesty and loving pain evident in Finding My Way Back Home is going to be put on shuffle a lot this summer. Thanks for sharing! Buckwheat Zydeco

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sony Jazz Legacy Editions – 50th Anniversary

My father was into jazz. These albums have an integral part of my memories and are welcome back into my life in one way, the fact that the recording are 50 years old are not making me feel younger, but such is life.

1959 was a banner year. Kind Of Blue brought jazz to the masses, Time Out took a year to warm up the ears of listeners, but laid out a pattern for jazz to reach top 40 radio as well as open up time signature changes that would make its way into pop, rock and folk with some great results. Mingus was one whose music stayed solidly in the jazz field but influenced every field of music. Better Git It In Your Soul & Slop both had a huge influence on 60’s soul music. Sketches of Spain has its own terrain and influence over lives and loves. All of these are classic collections that belong in every music library.

Which brings us to a new point. I have all this music, still on LP, and on CD, often with alternate takes included as bonuses. So I’ll pick out what is new on these collections, and harbor one small wish. My wish is that these collections had their booklets enlarged, and presented as huge as lps in gift editions for old folks that end up using magnifying glasses along with their reading glasses just to read the liner notes. They are all apparently re-mixed from the original tapes, and that in itself makes for a new listening experience for collectors.

Dave Brubeck’s collection has a previously unreleased bonus CD of the Quartet recorded live at Newport in 61, 63 & 64 – The sound is decent & the performances excellent. The stretches on Tine Out at Newport alone are worth the price of entry into this collector’s edition. Also included is a DVD with an interview of Dave talking about his quartet and the roots of Time Out. There’s also a film of the master at the piano with four different view choices. You can simply watch him play. If you have interest in technique, you can watch the left hand OR the right hand. Once you have those mastered, there’s an overhead version of both hands playing. This would be a great gift all on its own for any budding musician. Having the bonus of 2 CDs of music is simply icing on the cake.
Dave Brubeck – Time Out 50th Anniversary Edition

Sketches of Spain includes Song Of Our Country, recorded at the same sessions, but that’s appeared on other releases. The prize on this collection that creates value is a 17 minute version of Concierto de Aranjuez recorded live at Carnegie Hall.
Miles Davis – Sketches Of Spain 50th Anniversary Edition

What sets this Legacy edition apart is the inclusion of Mingus Dynasty, which was also recorded in 1959. Mingus Ah Um includes the unedited versions of tunes made “to fit” on the LP. They have been restored to include complete solos, which is a treat in itself. There are also 3 tunes recorded at the session, as well as 3 alternative takes. The Minus Dynasty includes Strollin’ recorded at the same session date with Honey Gordon singing Mingus’ melody, many years before Joni Mitchell took on the same task.
Charles Mingues – Mingus Ah Um & Mingus Dynasty 50th Anniversary Edition

The treat on Kind Of Blue can be counted as two things. The remastering is superb. As is a 17 minute live version of So What. For those interested in small treats, there are false starts for several tunes. Kinda makes you feel a part of the process. There's also an alternate take of Flamenco Sketches which adds just enough jalapeƱo to the collection to make this a must have.
Miles Davis – Kind Of Blue 50th Anniversary Edition

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Tall Tall Trees - Considerable Speck

Run on random thoughts of meandering with focus on the joy of life is how this Considerable Speck has been entering my thoughts this week. I shouted them out in a summer singles roundup last weekend, and realized afterwards that I had shouted them out 7 times. That’s a single release every other week starting in May and ending in September. Nope, I decided I did them wrong. These guys deserve for you to hear them and get a bit more insight into their full-blown americana stream of consciousness dance. “I jump off bridges but I never seem to ever fall down the road I can kinda of make it out it’s a cloud of smoke but I know there’s something else behind the door on the other side of town. . .” and it keeps going. He narrator is very honest, tho. “Let’s stay on target, I tend to digress.” Yeah, well, that’s true, but at least it’s fun taking the trip with you, especially when you add “my mouth can show up in various states of undress, before you know it, nothing’s been said.” But lots has been sung, and the kids are up and dancing while he adults in the room are rolling on the floor laughing. And wait till you hear a banjo against a full-blown metal assault! Beautiful! The fun continues with shoutouts for the rockin’ I Got You (“ain’t got a car or a decent guitar, but I sure got me a friend”); the smiles of Hats (“Usedta have a big smile, now I have a big frown – how do I turn this thing around”); the poignant Heart Says Go (“here’s a chance I might get it right”); the kid-friendly Spaceman (“when I look up to the stars I wonder where my parents are”); and the hilarious Opposites (“you’re sure of yourself and I’m filled with doubt”). Thank you Tall Tall Trees for making a day of fun for small small mes.“If I never find my kind surely I will lose my mind.” Tall Tall Trees


Friday, May 22, 2009

Iggy Pop – Nice To Be Dead b/w King Of The Dogs

Iggy brings my life party to new visions with this album. It definitely does not fit what my mind has been conditioned to received as “Iggy Pop,” and as a music lover, I consider this a good thing. He does a French crooner act on several tunes, quite well actually; but completely turning my mind inside out. Some experimenting with hip-hop French style on Je Sais Que Tu Sais with Lucie Amie. "How cool it is to be a dog - how much it beats human life." The King Of The Dogs sounds like it’s ready for the All Dogs Go To Heaven childrens franchise, and has a wonderful pop new orleans flavor that keeps my ears pleasantly filled. The jim morrison doors style of Spanish Coast is a slow synth-enhanced vision that makes for an interesting vegetable on this plate. Interestingly, the meat on this plate that brings this party to life is a tune Iggy calls Nice To Be Dead. I enjoy the variety of flavors, even the rather scary ones where Iggy takes on Frank Sinatra, or when he crawls into a bathtub and croons the blues with a sole guitar for two minutes. Iggy has never been short on irony, so it’s fun to attempt to analyze why an album entitled “foreplay” largely centers on 'death, sex, and the end of the human race'. Best though, to simply dance. Iggy Pop

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mike Kotulka – Selfish Avenue

A fun song about returning home, “don’t you mourn for me, it’s where I belong.” We don’t always return home because we want to. Circumstances sometimes spin us out of control, and we need to face those demons. With a fun beat the narrator continues on about “the child that I outgrew on a selfish avenue.” Would that we could all outgrow that child. One never knows how much of a song is autobiographical, but I can assure you that Mike and his band are not selfish, but are totally giving of their creative abilities and very open to sharing. Thanks, because I certainly enjoy the song, as well as two shoutouts – a harmonica led Born To Try, and the rock and roll pop treasure Mike calls Gimme Love. Good fun. Mike Kotulka

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Seldon Plan – Lost And Found And Lost

“We are lost a sea with no sense of what went wrong.” What a statement for our age. Well, then good news, is this is a hump-day dance tune to take my mind off the woes of our age. There always seems to be woes, and to me it’s great that groups like the Seldon Plan meet the woes with happy tunes, bright guitars and luscious harmonies. Besides, the tune has a happy ending, "Captain - Bring my ship to shore,put these feet on solid ground." Shoutout tunes are See A Word (“all eyes are on us”), and the upbeat Ezra Jack Keats, a favorite of all elementary teachers and students. It’s great that a pop music group can pay tribute to a Caldecott Award winner who wrote and illustrated over 80 books kids of all ages love("Blending colors on the page taught me ways to feel my age.") Thanks! The Seldon Plan

The Seldon Plan on Eartaste

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Beach Boys – Summer Love Songs

Every five or six years we need a new Beach Boys collection of summer hits for a new generation. This one is fun because it has 20 songs, but 14 of them seldom appear on the many ‘greatest hits’ collections. The CD starts off with 6 familiar tunes, then dives into some great album cuts that only old fans know. I like this concept, because the new generation of listeners will find there’s more to the Beach Boys than the 20 songs they hear on the radio all the time. Good call on the compiler’s part. With this CD on the racks, summer is officially open! Hit the waves! Beach Boys

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Thromboes - She's Like A British Car

Take some 60’s surf rock. Mix in some B-52s in the 70s and send them over to Japan for a real workout in to 80’s & 90’s. Spin them a day or two through Australia and Germany, maybe with a few orbits on the space station along the way. Return them to Baltimore with garage preciseness and the Thromboes are ready to rock my week off to a great start. “She’s a chick that won’t go far, but she thrills me to the bone!” 50’s slang, with sleek 60’s jamesbond humor – she’s a “jaguar in my bed.” Then 70’s humor – she “rules my leather world”. These guys rock the ages with the beats of the ages, yet there’s no doubt their sonically ready to rule the summer airwaves in 2009. This is a brand-new group with a brand-new sound. They have three friends on MySpace – so get over there today & welcome them to the music scene!

You Belong To Me is the shoutout tune. The lyrics lead one to wonder about the narrator of this misogynist misanthrope who seems to at once be a histrionik caveman - persistent yet occasionally questioning himself (especially when she takes off on the jerk). Interesting psychological lyrics that have you thinking until the vocalist stops for breath. Then the guitars take on the break for a second until the drums explode – the garage roof just flew off in the tornado caused by the drummer's antics. Great work! Listen to both songs below, then click on their name & become their friend on myspace: The Thromboes Then click here to buy the CD: The Thromboes - She's Like A British Car (CDBaby).

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Susan Cattaneo - Wrecking Ball

When a singer sounds serious as sin and says without a trace of humor “my regrets are piling up like your empty beer cans on the porch” she has me hooked as I roll on the floor giggling my heart out. Susan tackles a bad relationship with a fun band willing to play their hearts out without a trace of irony. The ensemble is saying, we’re playing rock and roll music about a heart-wrenching situation – and if you find humor in it, then more power to ya. And I do, here’s another hilarious line from this troupe – “that boy gone bad routine turned this soft hearted woman into a demolition queen.” Great fun, well-performed music, and a dire warning – “if you’re wondering how it’s gonna feel, think about 10 thousand pounds of cold grey steel coming down. Susan Cattaneo

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Ring Of Truth - There But For The Grace

“Trust in your intentions, who knows what that could mean?” Excellent question. Leads me to ponder whether or not I should sit and contemplate, or jump and dance with the band? Cool beat, with instrumentation that forces my feet up to mambo across the floor to get another hump-day margarita. Shoutout for Never Compromise (“ without you I’m lonely, with you I’m alone”). Ring Of Truth

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cavashawn - Secret Satisfaction

“Everything’s new, so anything goes!” Poppy love song – a lot of noisy fun! The narrator is very bold – “Here I am! I’m you’re secret satisfaction!” He also claims to be “short on words” as he sings on about how good he is for the one he’s professing a desire for. LOL!!! Shoutout for The Day You Forgot About Me – a song about what happens after a summer of youthful exploration, and what happens when she returns to the real world in September. Took about a week for her to forget him, despite his stage presence and great pop radio voice. The three piece band has a good handle of 60’s styles hooks done 21st century style. Yummy! Cavashawn

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Brian Hebert - Run for Your Life Jig

At least once a month some sorta Beatle ‘tribute’ pops in here. They get their cursory listen and end up in the pile. This one took on a completely new approach. It reminds me a lot of one of my favorite Beatle knock-off artist, John Bayless. He took the tunes and made them sound as if Bach had composed them. That was satisfying. Brian takes the same sort of approach. What if the Beatles had been composed by an Irish band in the 1800’s, and played around the fireplace of the bar for the entire village to enjoy? That’s Brian & friends. They maintain the melodic strength, but play freely with rhythm, key, tempo, and chorus placements to bring to light the leprechaun dreams available deep within the four cherubic players from Liverpool. It’s very difficult to pull this off without falling into the trap of muzak. Brian has pulled it off, and has made an album that fulfills all desires of my ears to taste love and goodness and mercy. Shoutouts for Not a Second Time Slow Air and Hornpipe, Any Time at All Slip Jig & I'm Only Sleeping Jig.Brian Hebert

Ancient Future – El Zaffa

Ancient Future takes on the subject of love, and playfully explores the different depths of love as the CD progresses, from flirtation to courtship, on to eros and the wedding. El Zaffa, composed by Matthew Montfort, is a beautiful wedding dance, and explores the theme of the ceremony of two becoming one. This leads directly to the shoutout arrangement of a traditional tune, Ne Pa Pogrebu Bochonochek sung by Irina Mikhailova. The beautiful song is a tender exploration of the wedding night seduction, “loving without fear, like the white swan.” Ancient Future

Mariah Parker - Waterwheel

Mariah is the bandleader and composer on this CD. Her piano begins the album, but she willingly makes this a full musical experience, with every member of the group making important contributions. Maria obviously knows and appreciates the strength of each member, and takes full advantage when composing. The bowed bass played by Kash Killion invites me to take a journey to visit the virtuosity of Duebopriyo on tabla, Suru on percussion, Devi on bansuri, and Matthew on guitar. The composition easily feels like an outdoor walk on a farm that is graced by the presence of a Waterwheel. It’s easy to hear the birds and breze, as well as the water sounds between the notes of this beautiful composition. Shoutout for Sangria, which is a perfect taste of wine poured over oranges, grapes and apples. On this tune Mariah trades the piano for a santur. The blending of the santur with Matthew’s guitar work is majestic. I feel I am in a palace in the presence of royalty as I listen to the sounds that are able to evoke passionate memories that transverse Spain, Iran, and India. Another version of Sangria is available on Matthew Montfort’s recent solo album. The rest of the CD is great for a relaxing Sunday meditation. Mariah Parker

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Bob Marley - Three Little Birds

A lot of ‘children’s’ cds arrive here with the claim on them that ‘even the parent will like them’. All of them lie. Part of the game. This one is completely different. When Ziggy Marley was approached by the record company for permission to compile his father’s songs for a children’s CD, he went back to the master tapes and played with them making new magic. I’m the kind of guy who says all of Bob Marley’s albums are children’s albums, and all are adult albums. Bob Marley can be loved by any generation. Ziggy also seems to believe that, and did not change the music or emotions of his father. He added a few enhancements here and there, but did not attempt to water down the spirit and joy to try to be more “childlike”. Bob’s music is so important because it never lost its childlike majesty. This music is not ‘reinvented’ for a new generation, just presented with a fresh re-mixing, with an occasional musical flavor added by Ziggy that retains everything Bob about the music. I truly enjoy this, and feel strongly that my grandchildren will find joy dancing along too. Shoutouts for the slick re-mix and add of a children’s choir on Bend Down Low, the acoustic power re-mix of Stir It Up and the tasty dream-enhancing version of High Tide Or Low Tide. Bob Marley


Friday, May 08, 2009

Playing For Change World Ensemble – Chanda Mama

I admit this CD/DVD works better on a visual level than as a CD alone. Chanda Mama stands out as a track that I plan to listen to a lot, and keep in my stack of party records. It starts off with an accordion introduction, morphs quickly into a reggae dance beat, and soon the choirs join in. Between choruses is some tasty playing by some great musicians. The notes say this was recorded in the streets of four continents. Perhaps. The video does a good job of making the claim believable. Everyone involved sounds intimately involved, so deep credit goes to the production team able to pull this off. I’m impressed. Playing For Change

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Iris Leu - The Red Bird

“I could reach you before the walls come down.” Iris is upbeat on The Red Bird, but maintains a serious approach to her story. Her vocals are intense and totally convince me that she has total control of her thoughts. “I’ll remain still and take notice of what’s in front of me without staring far out into sea, who’s inside of me?” She could also be verbally saying “see who’s inside of me?” Works either way for me. Shoutout tune is For Keeps (“I’ll take my chances, but I won’t get caught with my head down”). Iris Leu

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Beaucoup Blue - Oh America

“There ain’t nothin’ that ain’t for sale in the land of the free.” Beaucoup Blue uses good old fashioned American country party flavors to bring forth some solid truth while we dance and drink our hump-day margaritas. “The heros go homeless in the ‘home of the brave’”. The entire poem is thought-provoking. “Beautiful for spacious skies, amber waves of grain. Put a casino in the middle.” Yep. Pure American sentiment. Shoutout for the sweet harmony dance of Drive For Hours.
Beaucoup Blue

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

White Roses - Green Gone Red

White Roses presents this contemplative piece of anger thinking about the organizations that spend millions on advertising to plead for 5 cents of your money each day to help the children. This does not compute. Enough to make those who believe in humanity and the earth to turn red with anger. I’m with White Roses, and it’s great that the music is presented in way to make the meditation approachable by many people. White Roses

Monday, May 04, 2009

Nico Vega - Million Years

“You better learn from the man who’s afraid to dance with a witch like me.” Wake up! It’s Monday, and Nico Vega has no shame. They blast the speakers and make them bounce outside of their enclosures with natural thunder. A perfect tune to start a full week of energy. Shoutouts for Living Underground, Gravity and Rabbit In The Bag. Nico Vega

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Yusuf Islam - Be What You Must

“To be what you must, you must give up what you are.” The opening bars revisit the classic tune, Sitting. Like many of his stories, this one grows into a new flower as it evolves. When the children’s chorus enters to sing with Yusuf, the poetry has transformed into a less didactic message. “Be you dust or be you a star, to be what you must, just reach out for what you are. And though you travel many roads, there’s but one way and that’s the one you chose.” Shoutouts for Thinking 'Bout You & World of Darkness.

A special shoutout for Roadsinger (“where do you go when hearts are closed? when a friend becomes a stranger nobody wants to know?”). The lyrical poetry leads to an answer that reflects my entire live. Where do I go when “lies are told, and the light of truth is blown out and the night is cold?”? I go “to a song” to keep me warm. Yusuf Islam

Saturday, May 02, 2009

The Oxygen Ponies - Finger Trigger

“You and I and everyone are waiting for a brighter sun to shine. We’re wasting time.” I admit this sounds a bit pessimistic for a good party song, but the music surrounding these words is pure magic. The guitars enter the ether between the neurons and allow for a full escape into an experience that thrills. I’ve been holding to this CD for about a month, shouting out ½ of it last month and the other ½ this month, because it’s not being released until now. It can finally be pre-ordered on Amazon, and it’s worth every penny. It’s not very often a band can come up with a brand new sound that fulfils the promise of rock and roll yet sounds like nothing that came before.

The slow dirge Tryna Get To Heaven “through the cellar door, but everything I do, it’s all been done before” turns into a party ½ way through with a reminder “what’s the point of fighting wars you cannot win?” At the end, the beautiful dirge returns momentarily to remind us this is a fully composed story with a musical purpose, not simply a pathway into a private journey. Well done. Villains is another beautiful tune, and is totally up-to-date when it talks about the folks “in the white house” who “hate your family.” It truly doesn’t matter who is in the white house, if your family is in Afghanistan or a small town in Ohio, or anywhere else that rich people do not control the inevitable, you are indeed hated. Just listen with open ears. The point of this composition is that we should not be prepared for the government to help the poor and needy, that indeed, “we have a long drive home.” Tasty bass guitar picking enhances the flavors of the other guitars.

“I don’t care what you say ‘cause you don’t listen anyway. Everyone around me is on trial, so smile.” The calliope has last a few belts but is running anyway in the tender dreams of Smile. “Don’t you tell me I’m acting like a child when I smile.” A Bottle Marked The Enemy is a brutally honest look at American Christianity. The Oxygen Ponies supply more of an experience than a party; but then every great experience is a party and I have felt totally fulfilled when listening through this CD, and anyone who puts up with my daily meanderings will have the fortitude to listen to these folks and make them a part of their daily consciousness with joy. It’s difficult looking ahead to November already, but I feel really secure in picking this CD as one of the most important releases of 2009. The Oxygen Ponies

The Oxygen Ponies on Eartaste

Added 5/11/09:
The Oxygen Ponies on Amplified Magazine

40 years on

Friday, May 01, 2009

Putumayo Presents Italia

A new sound for Putumayo? This time around we have soft, singer-songwriter mellow music to drink with a glass of wine and a good meal of eggplant parmigiana, with a side of Penne ‘Al Brucio’ (the recipe is included in the booklet that accompanies the CD). The music reflects how much modern Italian music has been influenced by the regional musics of South America. The percussive accents prove the influence goes both ways, so the Putumayo world party flavors make for gentle excitement on the new CD. Shoutout for the treat by Rocco De Rossa called Iquique, which borrows spices from all the shores along the Mediterranean.
Putumayo Presents Italia

Putumayo On Eartaste