Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Glide Review - Arctic Monkeys - Suck It And See

Hey y'all...

Got a new review up on Glide.

Read it right C'here!!!!

It is of the Arctic Monkeys new release, Suck It And See.

I can make a strong argument that the Monkeys put out one of the best rock and roll 'first release' in decades when they debuted with Whatever People Say I am That's What I Am Not.  Forget the hype and blogosphere love/hate affairs; that album kicks ass in all the right ways.  I had it ranked 22nd on my list of the decades best albums, musically powerful and lyrically excellent.  Their last two albums varied in style and quality and the newest threw me for a loop when I first heard it.

Gone are the real rockers, or the late night dancey numbers, and in their place are pop rock nuggets.  I dig it.  They are legit song writers and Alex Turner always puts a unique spin on things.  The primal drumming of Matt Helders has toned down some which is a let down but as the group grows and flourishes it is nice to have this structured (dare I say it) Beatlesque album to mess around with.  Keep on Growin'...some tunes for you to check out:

The opener "She's Thunderstorms":

"The Hellcat Spangled Shalala"

My current Favorite "Love Is A Laserquest"

Monday, June 27, 2011

Dylan Cover #18 Jeff Tweedy "Simple Twist of Fate"

In this ongoing Monday Series we will be exploring various artists versions of Bob Dylan song's. Today's tune comes from Jeff Tweedy and is a cover of "Simple Twist of Fate"

Thoughts on Dylan Original:
I have talked about this song a bit before, but it is really an all time classic and one that is hard to dislike even slightly. 

Thoughts on Cover Artist:
I just spent the weekend up at Solid Sound (full review coming soon) so I had a chance to take in some Jeff Tweedy.  While he didn't play a solo set, he did come out with Levon to cover some Dylan, so it made me think this would be the perfect week to showcase him.  While I do enjoy his work, I wouldn't say I am a huge fan of his, but I certainly respect what he does.  I tend to like his more alt-country side then his rock and roll vibe and this cover leans in that direction a bit more.    

Thoughts on Cover:
This is a great take on the song.  The violin dominates and matches well with his voice.  Tweedy's singing style employed on this track is the real highlight as he powerfully goes up for notes to end the lines, accenting the lyrics with his phrasing.  Dylan himself has been criticized in the past for "upsinging" at the end of his lines during recent shows, but in this version it fits well.  Not an overall different cover, fairly straight ahead and pleasant.
Grade B-

Wilson's Take:
Wilco summons memories of the girl everyone has dated in spite of her musical tastes. No sooner would you walk into her room than you'd be trapped in musical death chamber where inspiration goes to die. If you want hippy music, there are hippier acts...if you want soul-piercing lyrics, the rhetorical blades are, elsewhere, everywhere. Yet Wilco marches on...and way up here in 2011 they continue to enjoy a unique cult following.
Jeff Tweedy's rendition of "Simple Twist of Fate" is what Dylan would have sounded like if he'd never picked up the smokes or met the woman for whom he wrote the divorce album of the millennium: Blood on the Tracks. It dulls along without the twinkle-in-the-eye vocals the author originally gave it. Gone is the sense of irony. Absent are the periodic whelps that suggest the storyteller is struggling to contain his passion...because that's often what a break-up is about, holding your shit together against all internal impulses. Tweedy managed to croon out "Simple Twist of Fate" without the slightest hint of nostalgic longing, which is like obeying the speed limit on an open highway in Montana.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Album Review - Majuscules Aquarium Age

This review is part of the "Over Flow" Review Series. For various reasons these past reviews were not published anywhere else. I am tagging them as "Overflow Reviews" and may add some extra information after if needed but I will keep the ratings and reviews just as I originally wrote them. Enjoy:
Aquarium Age
**and1/2 out of *****

The title fits this EP like a diving helmet over a little gold figurine amongst the neon pebbles.  The guitars swim, floating in circles like fish around the Aquarium Age with both ease and grace.  This Brooklyn four piece isn't in a hurry with their warbling shoegazing style, the songs stick around (the 5 song collection touches 30 minutes) and repeat themselves causing some trance like rock to pour out.  "So Many" starts with a very hypnotic guitar line and whirls, never building to dramatic crescendo hinted at, yet a conveying a pleasant voyage.

While the guitars are confident in their ringing, the vocals sound like they are tip-toeing into the room trying not to offend.  There is a detached charm in the delivery, currently caught between rawness and singing/speaking but growing stronger here would add levels to the musical adventure.   "Veneers" has a early Modest Mouse vibe while flashes of later day Sonic Youth show up in the noisy, rising "State Birds".  "The Stone" ends Aquarium Age and is a 10 minute multifaceted journey into the realm of the unknown hinting at even grander things for this collection of 718 rockers whose first release pleases the ear.

Happy to be able to review this EP from Majuscules, hope to bring more to you from them, but for now give the album a listen yourself.  That's right you can check it out right here!!  Give it a gander and get your "underwater spacegaze" on...stick around Rock The Body Electric for more from the band..

Here is a live fan video that gives you a sense of their sound as well, I think this tune is my favorite from the EP but they are all pretty good. 
"So Many"

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

NYC Moments: This time with the Highline

Moments like these are the reason this is home...ahh, New York City.

Yesterday we were doing some stuff around the apartment when we randomly heard brass music.  Looking outside we saw The Hungry Marching Band cruising literally right past my window...they were Second Linin' Down The Highline!
It was part of Make Music NYC.  I couldn't get my camera in time, but eerily almost the same thing happened today. 
The Yellow Building in the back is home...
Will getting some ducks in a row, it started pouring rain outside...when the rain stopped I could have swore I heard some drums.  Looked outside and there was a jazz band playing the pop-up beer garden right under the Highline!
Sorry for the narrow video (first on my new iphone!) but I managed to run down and catch the last snippet of the bands set amidst the puddles and brave souls drinking in the rain.  Ahh small moments make me love this town more and more...however, it is a touch bizarre that 4 years ago people were getting shot here and now there is a legit art installation.
How the city reinvents itself is astounding....Now we have tourists were their only used to be hookers...Progress!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Glide Review - Steve Earle I'll Never Get Out Of This Alive

What's up killers?

Got a new review up on Glide.

Read it right c'here!!!

It is of Steve Earle's newest release I'll Never Get Out Of This World Alive.

Gotta say off the bat I think it is one of his best releases in years.  I caught him recently opening for Levon Helm and Ramble back at the Beacon in November and he put on a solid one man show hitting on most of these tunes.  The disk is primarily about him as well, focusing on his story tunes and love numbers, but T-Bone Burnett's country/folk influence is everywhere too...

Earle can be all over the map but the one word that kept coming to mind with every song was "solid".  There is very little to critique about this disk...complete songs, interesting lyrics and passionate performances dominate.  If anything the whole piece may be too "one-note" but that adds to the albums place and time I feel.  I also feel this one may end up on a few  best of lists come December time...

Judge for yourself with a few tunes that I like the best from it:
"This City"  GodDamTootin' That's a good one....

"God Is God" with some cool background info...

"Every Part Of Me"  Pretty close to a perfect song, no joking.

Monday, June 20, 2011

R.I.P. Clarence "The Big Man" Clemons

Unfortunately Clarence Clemons passed away this weekend after complications from a stroke.  He was 69.
 I have loved the man's playing since I first heard it, but a friend with deep connections wanted to chime in on the passing, so I am handing them the proverbial floor of the blog to do so...

First up is Steve Janasie.

Old Friends You Never Knew

In a cynical world, it is all too easy to write off the magic that exists between an entertainer and his fans.  Some will call it silly, overly sentimental, or go so far as to suggest that it holds no meaning.  If you can help yourself, try to never go to that place.  Each of us has the opportunity to experience innumerbale loves in our lifetime, of innumerbale variety.  But love is love is love, and any love is a thing to be nurtured and cherished.

Growing up in Jersey in the 80's and the 90's, you had to make a vital decision that would ultimately define you in the eyes of your fellow statesmen and stateswomen.  You had to declare allegiance to one of two tribes - Bon Jovi or Bruce Springsteen. Neutrality was unacceptable. From the moment I could start dressing myself, I was blue jeans and white t-shirts all the way.

As magnetic as the Boss was to a young boy, there was a second force of nature on E Street who literally blew me away.  I was lucky to catch on to the magic of music at a fairly young age and around 1984 or 1985 I understood two concrete facts about the world around me - Walter Payton and Clarence Clemons were the two coolest people alive.

For me, Clarence's saxophone has simply always been around.  In third or fourth grade, I got a small evergreen for Arbor Day.  I named it Clarence and planted it in our backyard as a monument to Clemons' unsurpassed soul.  The relationship between Bruce and Clarence taught me one of the most important lessons of my life - that a black American and a white American could not only get along, but share profound and complete love for one another.  I think they taught a lot of people that and it is something Bruce has already subtly remarked upon with the Big Man's passing.  Sly and the Family Stone showed a generation that black and whites could work together to make something beautiful.  Bruce and Clarence took it a step further, at times becoming one, and showing the world that blacks and whites can simply BE something beautiful.

I have had the opportunity to see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band on many occasions and I can tell you without a trace of hyperbole that every single time they thoroughly rocked my world.  I firmly believe that they are without peer, the best live band in America today, and perhaps in the country's exciting musical history.  They bring it every night with the knowledge that this might be the only time that YOU get to share a room with them.  This is the ultimate expression of love from a band back to its fans.  I don't know where E Street runs from here, I can't fathom how they will go on, and yet I feel certain that they will.  They found a way to live on past and pay tribute to Danny's organ and accordion, and they will do the same for Clarence.  Family doesn't stop being the family with the passing of kin.
The last time I was on E Street I was with my wife at her first Springsteen show.  At one point, we were standing in one of the hockey stadium's upper gates overlooking the crowd and the light show, holding one another and listening to Clarence Clemons blow out the majestic solo from "Jungleland".  I consider it one of the watershed moments in our young love and I refer back to it often.  I feel privileged that Jennifer, Clarence, and I had the opportunity to share that moment and our love for one another.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, appearing stage left in heaven's orchestra, weighing in at 265 pounds, the king of the world, the master of the universe, a man who needs no introduction, the Big Man, Clarence Clemons.  Blow that celestial horn, my brother. 
- Clarence Clemons 1942-2011

Thanks Steve....and now a tribute from Bono, The Edge and crew as they dedicate "Moment of Surrender" to The Big Man.

Dylan Cover #17 The Unknown Origins "Silvio" Live

In this ongoing Monday Series we will be exploring various artists versions of Bob Dylan song's. Today's tune comes from The Unknown Origins and is a live cover of "Silvio

Thoughts on Dylan Original:
One of the bright spots on the stinker Down in The Groove, and I have always felt that this ha a lot to do with Robert Hunter helping Bobby out on this one.  Co-written by Hunter with Jerry Garcia, Brent Mydland and Bobby Weir helping out on the studio recording this track feels very mid-career Grateful Dead.  It got even more so live, picking up the rollicking pace and sticking with Bob for the rest of his career, something none of the other Groove tracks managed to do.  I have always loved "Silvio" because of the Dead connection and because I caught a ripping version of it at my first and still to this day favorite Dylan show...    

Thoughts on Cover Artist:
Never heard of The Unknown Thoughts, and not much on line about them.  Looks like a cover band from VA if I can read the minimal websites correctly.  Any more info would gladly be appreciated.

Thoughts on Cover:
Wow...again one of the main reasons to do this series was to find new/unique/different acts and this week was a head bopping discovery.  The group goes for the goat and takes the song full steam ahead with organ solos, crashing cymbals and a hell of a lead guitar.  They accelerate the pace of the song without sacrificing one verse of the mystical lyrics, providing a smooth delivery with excellent backing vocals in the chorus...even chucking out the dated sounding woo-hoo's!

The guitar playing earns special attention with Sean Loomis killing it on solo's, adding flairs to the actual intro, and unique runs throughout the whole song.  This is a get out of your chair and boogie version, ain't not a damn thing wrong with that.

Grade: Solid A. 

Wilson's Take:

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday Funday - Free Music - RtBE Freegal Mix # 2

It's back!  The free warped mix that you crave and this time things are really sprouting eclectic. 

Again this comes from the excellent music database Freegal.

Yeah all over the map this time...you got the ever present minstrel starting things off, with an amazing live reinterpretation of one of his best songs.  Brandi Carlile is a new comer to my life but good ol' Charlie Mingus sure ain't. 
 Things take a turn for gangsta with Ghostface and then vacillate with some folksy T-Bone, the Motor City Madman's best tune "Stranglehold" and the funky/sexy Johnny "Guitar" Watson's "Booty Ooty" which you need to love for the title alone.
The ending duo couldn't be more divergent as we have all-time country bad boy Billie Joe Shaver rocking out to the fantastic "Black Rose"  while that guitar moves me (as do the lyrics) it doesn't make me smile as much as this BJS ditty...

Then we end with the pulsating noise of Sunn 0))).  If you Mary's can't take the drone I understand, but give it at least one spin...Enjoy the tunes, and enjoy your weekend. 

(By the Way...the first one is here in case you missed it)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Happy Bloomsday...and other things

So it is a Thursday with lots going on...for one it is Bloomsday and I hope to be toasting to the fantastic James Joyce very soon...
See, the best read Joyce...
 Here are some ways to celebrate the nerdy holiday.  Unfortunately I couldn't make it down to Ulysses, I guess that was a mistake...then again:

A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.

I am no genius, obviously either are the Vancouver Canucks, who blew game 7 pretty badly (yes I was rooting for them).  The riots were something...I am not sure I will ever understand the mentality of "my team just crushed my soul with that loss...so let's burn this car!!!!" but I have to say...when I was flipping open my morning Internet I never expected to see an image as glorious as this (click on it to get the full majesty):
That seems to be all that is Holy and strangely Riot in the world...(sorry for the pun...here is the real deal)

Plenty to see and hear and feel yet. Feel live warm beings near you. They aren't going to get me this innings. Warm beds: warm full blooded life.

Amen Brother...One last thing, I also got a give a cheers to Tom and Lindsey....Slainte!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Album Review - Meschiya Lake & The Little Big Horns Lucky Devil

This review is part of the "Over Flow" Review Series. For various reasons these past reviews were not published anywhere else. I am tagging them as "Overflow Reviews" and may add some extra information after if needed but I will keep the ratings and reviews just as I originally wrote them. Enjoy:
Meschiya Lake & The Little Big Horns
Lucky Devil
**** out of *****

Lucky Devil contains the neatest of all tricks when it comes to music; it is impossible to tell just when in time it was recorded.  You could probably pin it to the 20th century but after that it gets tough…1920’s?  It does have the earliest of Blues and Jazz influences but maybe the 40’s or 50’s…nah, not enough be-bop.  To find out it was recorded by a current group of young musicians is a revelation, not only in its production values but also Lucky Devil’s crisp and snappy “old-timey” tracks.  

The group has such a devotion to this classic period in American music that it shines refreshing in a technological filled synth era.  Turning to the classics the group covers everyone from Duke Ellington to Bessie Smith while dropping in a few originals that sound like kindred spirits of the older tracks.  One of those originals, “Slowburn” brings a Spanish sizzle and sexiness when it rolls out.  Meschiya Lake is the headliner and immediate draw with her smoky vocals that can get raspy before soaring in the next measure to mingle with the stars as it does on “Do For Myself”.

Lake has a flare in her performance that transports the listener; in her rendition of "I'm Alone Because I Love You" her warbling intro vocals sound as if they are being filtered through a huge radio as the family gathers around to listen after supper.  The title track "Lucky Devil" is a torch song that has bruised love seeping out of the speakers as Lake croons her pains and desires away; a immediate show stopper.   

The backing Little Big Horns support and solo wonderfully like on the upbeat closer of “Joesph! Joesph!” and the perfectly lazy cover of Jelly Roll Morton's "Sweet Substitue" which does just to their famous fellow New Orleanian.  The brass and cymbal rides call out while tuba bubbles and guitar/banjo strums drive tunes along.  One of the best compliments I can think of for this album and group as a whole is that Lucky Devil and Meschiya Lake & The Little Big Horns are authentic.  Enjoy the time-warp.

Meschiya and The Lil Big Horns have talent...no doubting it and any jazz fan should check this group out.  Sure they are from the early period and there are no virtuoso displays of free form solos I gravitate towards but Lucky Devil harkens back to a gloriously sounding time...and the band adds to that glorious sound.

Meschiya is the obvious standout and hopefully she will continue to grow as an artist and performer.  She sings in a variety of outfits, from (my favorite) the Rough Seven to duo's with piano player Tom McDermott:

but The Little Big Horns is the group she butter's her biscuits with.  Give the album a whirl and check them out when they come to town...like I am tonight at The Radegast Hall & Biergarten  Come on out and get down if you are around...hopefully pics and video of the show will get up soon, but for now peep some of their older vid's and enjoy:

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Glide Review - The Rough Seven Live 5-8-11 Checkpoint Charlies, NOLA

Got a new review up on Glide.

Read it right c'here!!!

It is from The Rough Seven's Live set early on the morning of 5/8/11 (late on the 7th?) down in New Orleans at Checkpoint Charlie's.

The band took the stage late, and almost made me miss my flight...they were that good.  As I so casually mentioned in my Sazerwrap-up of this years fest, this was the show of the year for me...The bands were both fantastic with The Rok Boms surprising and The Rough Seven confirming their greatness. 

I can not hype this band enough, I was really moved by their set and wish I lived in town so I can see them play whenever they do.  Talking briefly with the members was a thrill and I hope you all go and grab their album as it will undoubtedly brighten up your life. 
Here they were playing the big stage at the fairgrounds the morning before this amazing late night set:

Keep up the great work ladies and gents!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Dylan Cover #16 Pearl Jam "Masters Of War" Live on Letterman

In this ongoing Monday Series we will be exploring various artists versions of Bob Dylan song's. Today's tune comes from Pearl Jam and is a live cover of "Masters Of War"

Thoughts on Dylan Original:
Ranking as one of his most accusatory and cutting tracks is no easy measure but Dylan condemns the whole "war machine" on this classic and vital track (the "hope that you die" line is so facking cold it is brutal).  Often misrepresented as an attack on war itself (Dylan always said he wasn't a pacifist) this track calls out the government for using war-as-business (the Cold War in Particular) and business-as-war models when lives are put on the line for meaningless reasons.  As alive and burning now as it was in 1962 when he wrote it which I am sure is the reason the Seattle boys covered it...   

Thoughts on Cover Artist:
Pearl Jam are a rare beast in today's musical landscape.  Touring giants who really don't need to put out any more albums but do in order to stay current and relevant.  Not everyone agrees with what they do and not all new records are hits but the band are so well oiled that they can take covers and their own fantastic arena rock songs and mine them for meaning and nuances.  Pearl Jam is one of the great American rock and roll bands ever and currently one of the best live arena acts out there....catch them if you can. 

Thoughts on Cover:
After taking another week off with Memorial Day last week, we wanted to come back strong and what better way then Eddie Vedder belting out a Dylan all-time great?  The first time I heard Eddie's take on "Masters of War" was during the 30th Anniversary celebration at MSG.  Playing with just Mike McCready the duo did a phenomenal job with the tune.  Vedder's baritone vocals add power while the acoustic undertones add some harmony.  Today's version has the full band largely acoustic...except for Eddie's Fender (having him alone playing electric shows how far he has come as a guitarist) and the tune rises in rage and volume towards the end.  The "Hope That You Die" line mellows out to keep its chilling effect.  The group was playing the tune on Letterman before they left for the Vote For Change Tour, and wanted to make a statement.  They certainly did with this fairly straight ahead cover of one of the most powerful songs written in the 60's.

Grade:   Solid B.
Wilsons Take:

Unlike most Dylan songs, which can be picked up by any artist, I've never thought "Masters of War" was ripe for the covering. Much like "It's Alright Ma", "Masters of War" was birthed in the early hours of Dylan's genius. It belongs to Dylan. It belongs to that time in American history when young Americans began questioning the military industrial complex. Transported to 2008, as it is played here on The Late Show with David Letterman, the song loses its essence. Pearl Jam's cover of The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" is far more relevant to our bizarre age.

The real issue at stake is that a song like "Masters of War" exposes the subsequent generation's failure to write its own political anthems. We needed music of colossal depth to chronicle our times...and it never came. It was as if the Baby Boomers sucked all of the oxygen out of the room and relegated music of true political depth to the basement of cliches. Generation X had front row seats in the theater of "what happens to moments of revolution in America," and the resounding answer was: they get abandoned once they become inconvenient to the pursuit of fun. The tumult of the 1960s devolved into the depression of the 1970s, followed promptly by the cocaine-fueled money crusade of the 1980s. That generational cop-out ruined, for a time, the next generation's will to pursue cultural change with a straight face. Nowhere was that more apparent than in Generation X's music (out of decency, we will politely ignore the generation that filled stadiums for Devo and The Bangles). Thus we get the 1990s. To be sure, Grunge was beautiful, ironic and far more spiritually-honest than the American 1960s. In the 1990s, grunge artists honed in on what America had really been about since its inception: the individual. And by the 1990s, the individual was jaded and socially-ambivalent.

Jaded, social-ambivalence does not prepare one for romanticizing human culture. And at its tap root, any protest song is an act of romanticism. The ability to write a song like "Masters of War" requires the writer to be a closet optimist; both an observer and admirer of other people. You have to be somewhat optimistic about mankind's true possibilities to so cuttingly and beautifully identify his horrors. Dylan, in his youth, was a bard of that caliber. The songwriters of the grunge era never embraced the notion that man was fundamentally good. Cobain shot himself and Vedder routinely hinted at that possibility before settling down with a supermodel, having a kid and splicing world tours with social causes.

However, Eddie Vedder is a remarkable talent, especially when he's being authentic. When he's embracing his talent, he's on. He has no superior among his peers. Yet we all know - and this is hardly a knock - that like all admirers of early rockers, he has a strong penchant for inauthenticity (see early emulations of Jim Morrison, and early-90s "I'm on the edge!" camera-pandering to put any politician to shame). It's a testament to Vedder that even when he's faking it, he's still better than most. A far better reprisal of "Masters of War" was given by Eddie Vedder in a 1992 tribute to Dylan...whereas this Late Show performance just doesn't get it done. Musically it sounds flat and Eddie Vedder sings like he's going through the motions. To see the better side of Vedder's appetite for protest, and a simple yet not-half-bad song, check out "No More War".

Friday, June 3, 2011

Friday Funday: Oysters NYPL Blogpost

I Love Oysters...
I know I just posted this last week...but what a pic!
I could eat them for every meal and some days do so when I saw Carmen's blog post over on NYPL.org I got hungry.  When she opens with this paragraph it is hard not too. 
Blue Points, Saddle Rocks, Rockaways, Lynnhavens, Cape Cods, Buzzard Bays, Cotuits, Shrewsburys -- raw on the half shell. Fried oysters, oyster pie, oyster patties, oyster box stew, Oysters Pompadour, Oysters Algonquin, Oysters a la Netherland, a la Newberg, a la Poulette, oysters roasted on toast, broiled in shell, served with cocktail sauce, stewed in milk or cream, fried with bacon, escalloped, fricasseed, and pickled.
Fantastic, my mouth is watering...Then I remembered this was a NYC library blog so I knew it wouldn't be long before she mentioned the excellent Mark Kurlansky book The Big Oyster: History On The Half Shell which is a fascinating look at the oysters history with a specific focus on NYC. 
I won't say much more...except I could really go for a couple of dozen of Phantom Creek's right about now...anyway go read Carmen's excellent blog post, play around in the menu world of NYPL and enjoy your weekend.