Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Album Review: Jason Isbell- Something More Than Free

Jason Isbell
Something More Than Free
**** out of *****
Following a milestone record is never easy and when Jason Isbell released 2013's Southeastern he didn't only redefine his career, he straightened out his life, got married (for the second time) and sober (for the first time). The passion, heartfelt emotion and raw yearning all came clearly through the stripped down songs on Southeastern and Something More Than Free could never live up to it; but when the dust settles it has tried it's damnedest.

The majority of the album has an easy Americana/country feel even if the lyrics are dealing with weighty topics. Keeping producer David Cobb in tow was a wise move and Isbell's backing band, the 400 Unit,  was brought in to add dynamics. The added instrumentation can dilute the intimacy of Isbell's words and singing, oddly at times the production falls flat with the music; for future records a better balance between band and front-man will only elevate the whole product. 

As for the songs themselves opener's "If It Takes a Lifetime" and "24 Frames" could be weepers of the highest degree dealing with broken romances and lives in tatters but the band helps smooth things along so a listener never needs to dig down or think to hard on their/the songs characters problems.

Other numbers like "Flagship" and "The Life You Chose" also roll by easily without leaving too much of an impression other then solid, if unspectacular Americana songs with weighty words/topics and smooth sounds. "Children of Children" raises the emotional stakes by pairing electric rising guitars with Amada Shires exploring fiddle while "How To Forget" actually switches up to a light airy feeling which doesn't match the lyrical matter being sung about and it is possible that listeners could be disappointed at that point. The trick here is the disk is back loaded, saving it's best tracks for its second half. 

It really kicks you in the teeth with the title track. The loneliness and straight ahead drive is encapsulating, dealing with the struggles of day to day living, spirituality, emptiness and politics all in poetic fashion over strings, a moving rhythm section and flowing guitars. A title track for the ages and one that the likes of Bruce Springsteen should look to for inspiration. While Isbell has been compared to lots of singers (Rick Danko) and songwriters (Steve Earle) it is The Boss that Isbell seems to be working closest to, swapping out the New Jersey Shore rock shimmy for Alabama Pines Americana/country everyman.

That vibe continues in "Speed Trap Town" which takes the small town living dynamic to its stark degree shining via depressing clarity and lonesome guitar lines. "Hudson Commodore"  tells family stories from the escapism of the road while "Palmetto Rose" brings on some boogie-woogie southern swing to the mix. The closing track is a ode to one of his favorite bands Centro-Matic but the history isn't as important as the feeling of thanks that emanates from it, also the piano and feedback driven guitars help out immensely.      

While not possessing the same personal/emotional impact of Southeastern, or the musical power of his Drive-By Trucker songs, Something More Than Free still does the job of cementing Isbell as one of the best singer/songwriters active today. The mini movies and brokenhearted tales that incorporate his world are vibrant, alive, desperate and yearning all while he personally remains in great emotional shape. 
Love Jason, thought the last album was one of the best of the year, happy to have recently caught him live.

Support the artist here, buy the album here and peep some video below:

Monday, July 27, 2015

Dylan Cover #195 TJ McFarland "From A Buick 6"

In this ongoing Monday Series we will be exploring various artists versions of Bob Dylan song's. Today's tune is a live performance by TJ Mcfarland doing a cover of "From A Buick 6"

Thoughts on Original:
From the first time we reviewed a cover of this tune:
The electric Dylan and one of the few songs where the Band Bob played with overshadows his early talents. Namely Al Kooper on organ and the great Mike Bloomfield on guitar as the two rip it open.  Bob is in a lighter mood and recalling old blues tunes like "Milk Cow Blues" but he also has a stream of consciousness appeal to the lyrics. Nowhere near one of his best, but one that lots of musicians like to cover because of it's kick ass blues rock feel.   

Thoughts on Cover Artist:
I have not heard of TJ Mcfarland before listening to this live cover. Turns out her is a singer songwriter living in Nashville. You can check out his Reverb Nation page here.
Thoughts on Cover:
This one has balls and muscle. A blues rip that owes a bit more to Jack White then say Bob Dylan, but it has a great sound and feel. Just a duo McFarland pumps on the electric axe while Aaron Hess plays drums. This is a doozy of a way to kick off the week.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Full Show Friday: Living Color 1992

We search the murky back waters of youtube to find full concerts and post them to the site weekly, come back every seven days to help us celebrate Full Show Friday's. These shows are of varying quality and may not be here for long so enjoy them while you can...As always, please support the artist every which way, but especially by seeing them live (if they are still playing)...This week...Living Color!

We are going back to 1992 this week with a full show from Living Color. Pro Shot, Pro Sound, setlist below. Enjoy:

0:00 Time's Up
3:32 Pride
10:49 Intro - (Open letter...)
13:08 Open letter to a landlord
18:12 Love rears its ugly head
22:51 Desperate People
27:03 Elvis is Dead
32:33 Type
38:17 Cult of Personality ( Cut )
41:06 Rebel Rebel (David Bowie cover)
47:35 Should I Stay or Should I Go? (The Clash cover)
51:00 Will Calhoun Drum Solo
54:50 Solace of You

Thursday, July 23, 2015

New Yuck Song, Free NYC Show Coming 8/6

We have covered and enjoyed the English based band Yuck since they started out and instantly identified with their Dinosaur Jr. noiserock sound.

While we weren't in love with their lineup change or softer sound last EP, the new song seems to add a bit more punch to the formula, it is called "Hold Me Closer" and you can hear it below:

The band also announced they will be playing a free show in a few weeks as part of the Hudson River Rocks Series.
The show will be on Aug 6th on Pier 84. We hope to make it out to check out the band then. You should as well. Here is an old live favorite of ours:

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Album Review: Galactic- Into The Deep

Hey all got a new review up @glidemag which you can read Right C'here!!!
The NOLA funkers are back with loads of special guests (as always) and put together a solid album. Personally we liked Carnivale Electricos better and our favorite album from them is Ya-Ka-May which we wrote about for the day job.

This one is totally solid though. A funky album that hits some real high notes. None higher then "Right On". As always support the band here, buy the album here, catch them live here, and peep some video below:

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Live Review: 4 Knots Festival 2015

Hey all got a new review up @bullettmedia which you can read Right C'here!!!
It was a gorgeous day for music on NYC Westside and it was just as nice to review the show. It is our first piece for Bullett and we are grateful to our friend Mike and the Press Here PR team for giving us the opportunity to cover the event.

The review covers our feelings on things (keep clicking it for some love)  so peep some video below.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Dylan Cover #194 Ben O'Neill "Shelter From The Storm"

n this ongoing Monday Series we will be exploring various artists versions of Bob Dylan song's. Today's tune is a live cover by Ben O'Neill of the Dylan tune "Shelter From The Storm"

Thoughts on Original:
From the first time we tackled a cover version:
An epic track, feeling simple and etched in history at the same time. Religious overtones, passionate asides all mix within the confines of the illustrious/mysterious "She" who is bringing us all in. A gorgeous song and one of my favorite odd phrases Dylan has ever recorded, "Hunted like a crocodile/Ravaged in the corn".  I have no idea what it is supposed to mean and I don't care, it is perfect.  One thing that may bring this one down a peg overall is the connection to another great song "Up To Me" which is basically the same tune...hearing one always makes me want to hear the other.  

Thoughts on Cover Artists:
Ben O'Neill and company are new to us, but it seems he is a singer songwriter from Philly. More info on his facebook page here.
Thoughts on Cover:
A really crisp and clean rendition of the song that moves along and really cooks with the brush work on snare drum. Not much different from the original, but a clean astute offering and a nice way to start Monday.