Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bombino - Live Review 11/29/11 @ Le Poisson Rogue NYC

Live @ Le Poisson Rogue, NYC

It was a rare treat to have this guitar player visit NYC, and for those who have not heard him Bombino (Omara Moctar) is a Turareg artist who lives in the country of Niger but plays protest music for his nomadic people.  The intriguing thing is his fluidity and flair of Western style rock that he places into his Eastern sounding songs.  His sound is very popular in Africa and with this years release Agadez he is being discovered by music fans here in America.  Tonight's performance was his only in New York City as his brief North American tour travels west and ends on 12-13 in Mexico City. 

Wearing their traditional garb Bombino himself and a percussionist took the stage to open the night with 3 acoustic offerings.  Singing in his native tongue Bombino express his emotions and having no knowledge of what is being sung doesn't cause much of problem because the feelings come through.  There was a middle eastern flair with the acoustic numbers that fit the venue well, as Le Poisson Rogue has an artsy vibe that is a world away from the Bleecker St mayhem just outside.

After the short acoustic openers and a few grateful "Merci Beaucoup's" and "Thank You's" from Bombino the percussionist jumped behind the drum kit to start the pumping snare and beat that would vary only slightly and stay driving the rest of the night.  A second (unnecessary in most ways) Turareg guitarist joined as did an out of place looking t-shirt and jean wearing older white bass player who kept the tight simplistic groove going.  That is primarily what Bombino is all about, the groove.

Once electric the songs got longer and repetitive sinking into deep deep groves that try to reach trance like states, reminiscent in style to Fela Kuti's approach but a totally different sound.  The simple notes recycle themselves over and over again while Bombino steps to the front and adds electric sonic flairs over the constant beats.  There are no parts or changes just augmented, stylistic diversions from the lead player while he sings.  Some songs and grooves enchanted on this night, others fell flat with no emotion or importance emanating from them.   The tone and sound is very intriguing combining an almost surf vibe to the eastern style giving the ear a unique twist of something that sounds familiar and foreign at the same time. 

Bombino has been compared to Jimi Hendrix by others, but Hendrix he is not.  Barring the lack of showmanship or abandon his playing is much more restrained as he is content to stick to the beats and notes for the majority of his tunes rather then explore.  A better comparison would be to older blues players like, Muddy Waters or John Lee Hooker who could sit in the same simple note soup for hours and still cook up something tasty from them.  The snake like riffs that Bombino toyed with tonight could be appreciated by those masters, and if he tossed in a cover of "Crawling King Snake" that would indeed be an exciting concoction of styles.      
Set List: Tar Hani, Inchin Chilan, Tenere Ietninhal, Ouhou Iakamin, Tebsakh Dalet, Adounia, Tenere, Kammou Taliat, Amidinin, Imouhar

 Here are some live songs from the Bombino to give you a sense of his music, you can buy the fantastic album Agadez hereRtBE will be reviewing the album early next month.

"Tar Hani"

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Album Review - Reigning Sound -Abdication...For Your Love

Reigning Sound
Abdication...For Your Love
**** out of *****

Greg Cartwright tirelessly works at his beloved garage rock, after last years partnership and new band The Parting Gifts, this year we get a cross between an EP and full album from his main band Reigning Sound.  The eppy/album continues what the group does best put out  the catchiest goddamn retro rock this side of 1967.  Cartwright's songwriting is at once simple and textured, nuanced and heartfelt, intellectual and purely visceral.  The opening "Lyin' Gal" hits all of these notes, with its whirlwind organ buzzing riffs and descending bass line rattling the ear drums before the drum slamming rising chorus can't lets the anger out.

It is easy to see why heavy weights in the world of stripped down rock and roll seek Cartwright out as Jack White has sung his praises and Dan Auerbach has hopped on board to produce 5 of the tracks from this album.  "Shaw" is a heartfelt ode to Jim Shaw a mainstay on the Detroit rock and roll scene who recently passed away, the band turns in a raw performance he would have been proud of.   The more melodic side of the group comes out in the classic sounding organ laced "Call Me" and "Eve" keeps the mellow mood with simplistic love song that burns bright.

An exciting addition here is "Watching My Baby Get Ready" which is long time fans will recognize from a Greg Oblivian and the Tip Tops.  This is version has been updated from Cartwright's original slower take and given a jangling injection that reinvents the tune and shows Cartwright can update his own catalog just as easily as forgotten rock and roll gems.  "Can't Hold On"shows just how vital Dave Amels organ has become to Reigning Sound's overall shape as a band, fronting this tune and acting as the backbone during most of the tracks.

The popping drums that kick off the closing "Not Far Away" run behind the "ooh and ahh" vocals describing lovers problems and lost dreams "He's just a three time loser/Working on number 4" with a delicacy and intimacy that sucks you in.  Reigning Sound reigns supreme in these throwback waters and offering this release to fans for free is a Christmas present come early. 

I found this album earlier this month and the best thing?  You can still grab it for free or stream it on line, so don't waste another second get on over there and check out some great retro rock and roll!

An awesome side note is WFMU's Rock and Soul Ichiban show where Greg Cartwright stopped by recently and DJ'ed.  This is a great treasure trove of 45's that make a fantastic listening experience.  You can click here for a direct link to the tunes!

Here are some video previews of Abdication...For Love if you are too lazy to get off of this page:

"Lyin' Girl":

"Can't Hold On" Cool Fan Video":

The Original Release of "Watching My Baby Get Ready" to compare to the new version:

Monday, November 28, 2011

Dylan Cover # 32 Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers "License To Kill"

In this ongoing Monday Series we will be exploring various artists versions of Bob Dylan song's. Today's tune is a live cover by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers,"License To Kill"

This is RtBE first part of a "Best Of" for Dylan Covers, so strap on in. 
Thoughts on Dylan Original:
On one of Dylan's more intriguing albums Infidels we find "License to Kill" a song that seems to be spiritual, longing, environmentally concerned, and scientifically fearful, all in a 3+ minute pop tune.  The man has many traits but having his words play on the mind is easily his greatest and what starts out simple very rarely remains that way.  Is Dylan really thinking our Doom has now been instigated by walking on the moon?  Is this a hold over from his evangelical feelings?  One is never sure just what he is exactly thinking (which is all the fun) but I get a sense of real fear for change and particularly corruption of the environment in this one without sounding like a hippy at all.

The original Mark Knopfler produced album cut is solid, but I have always had a soft spot for this song live, and his stripped down almost punk-ish version that he played on Letterman is the version I often go back to and you can watch it here. There is an urgency in that performance that I think captures the mood perfectly.  The Real Live version also has that edge-y feel to it (and a cool drum break) while backed with Mick Taylor's fluid live playing, like on the studio LP.      


Thoughts on Cover Artist:
Years ago friends of mine talked about doing a break down of our version of the Greatest 100 Albums, it was around the time when Rolling Stone was doing one of their argument filled lists.  Anyway I went through and started doing some research on my time off and the artist who I was probably most surprised at was Tom Petty.  At the time I was considering 4 or 5 of his albums for inclusion, and I am not a massive Petty fan either, but he is a great pop-rock and roller with a dynamite collection of tunes.  He is an all-time great whose album Wildflowers stills holds a special place in my heart (I can argue it's his best) not to mention all of the great sing along classic greatest hits.  All that said, one of my favorite performance of his isn't on any album, it is today's cover. 

Thoughts on Cover:
I am not going to front the whole 30th Anniversary Concert is a winner, there is not a dud in the bunch, yet every time I go back to it this is the track that stays with me the most after the final notes ring out.  "License To Kill" however was never an obvious choice for a cover, let alone one for The Heartbreakers to pull off and there in lies the glory.  The simplicity and grace with which they handle things is softly run through and perfectly paced, the pauses and breaks elevate the material before Mike Campbell brings things to a bluesy level with a fantastic slide solo.  It can not be over stated how perfect Petty's vocals on this live track are, he hits every note, makes the nooks and cranny's brighter, and adds a strained sense of longing that haunts.

This version has over taken the studio cut and is the live take that feels the most complete that I have heard.  A perfect cover on a night full of good ones, "License To Kill" shines brightest.        

Grade: A+

Wilson's Take:
"Man has invented his doom, first step was touchin' the moon."
At first listen, License to Kill is the finest Luddite Anthem ever written; yet  it's also a sympathy card to mankind's sense of his own lost heroism...the existential curiosity that preceded our obsession with technology.  Bob Dylan witnessed the moon landing with a scowl. Norman Mailer shared his dismay in his novel Of A Fire On The Moon. Both looked beyond the short term jubilation following the successful moonshot and offered us a glimpse into what humanity was really losing. Yes, walking on the moon was a triumph, a major acheivement for mankind. A young president said our country would send a man to the moon (and bring him back) by the end of the 1960s - and we did. And we've done nothing so technologically grand since - because the technocrats won. The imagination of Kennedy was quickly replaced by technologies geared toward consumer appetites.
The thing about the moonshot is that today - it would never happen. Nobody knows how to conceive of anything that big with a straight face. That is, in part, the fault of being enamored with the very technologies the moonshot made possible. Our imagination has paid the bill for our technological advancements. Today, our pursuits are all geared toward things being made smaller. The smaller, the godlier. Everything's gotta be on pintip. Everything's gotta be in your hand. Everything's gotta be micro - be it a chip or software - and our imagination and sense of self has followed in lock-step. No one's looking up at the stars.
Today, we no longer have a space program. We instead have the ability to bark a question into our iPhone and get an answer. You don't even need a question - a statement implying need will suffice. "I'm hungry," you might say into your iPhone 4S, and it replies, "There is a restaurant right in front of you."
We need a law in which the iPhone 4S adds, "...dipshit" to the end of every answer.
If you need your phone to remind you where you parked, you should also be reminded of what you've become.
"Where did I park?"

"Lex and 43rd...dipshit."
We digress...
The space race was a beautiful thing - but all the derivative technologies it spawned - Compact Discs, GPS systems, microchips - neutered the mind of man. He's been removed from the full reality of his own life. And that is why we will never have another moonshot, or anything of such imagination.  And that's the point that Norman Mailer and, in License to Kill, Bob Dylan convey.
The very imagination that once put us on the moon, has been put out of business as a result. And Dylan on License to Kill gives us yet another beautiful question - in the spirit of Blowin in the Wind - that your iPhone 4S cannot answer...these ruminations belong solely to the human mind.
Dylan was wrong on one count. Man "invented his doom" not by "touching the moon," but by coming back and leaving the most noble part of himself up there. Maybe someday we'll go up, go farther, and get it back...but until then we've got YouTube - and on it we can watch Tom Petty do a medicore rendition of Dylan's gem.
Janasie's Take:
I really like Infidels.  In addition to Mark Knopfler and Mick Taylor lending their chops to the effort, let us not forget that Dylan's rhythm section was Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare, one of the greatest production teams in reggae history.  What an ensemble!
"License to Kill" is one of those Dylan tunes that really isn't a great Dylan tune but probably would be a great tune by someone else's standards, yet it feels kinda like Dylan got four-fifths of the way to an all-time classic and then got bored.  Does that make sense?  I think so.  Does that mean I don't like it?  Hell, no.  I particularly enjoy the tension between the masculine and the feminine in the song.
Petty's cover is on point, which is unsurprising, because if I needed someone to cover a bunch of Dylan tunes, Petty would be on the very short list.  Mike Campbell is a bad man.  The Heartbreakers have brought it, bring it today, and will likely continue to do so a ways into the future.  I raise my thumbs to this one.  Crank it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Glide Review - Fitz And The Tantrums Live 11-10-11

Hey All!

Got a new review up over on Glide. 

Give it a read right c'here!!! 

It is of Fitz and The Tantrums live show from the 10th at Terminal 5 in NYC.

I caught the show with my friend Eric as we worked our way up the west side of Manhattan mentally preparing (and liquidly preparing I guess) for a night of smooth tunes.  

Eric has been a fan of the band for a while now, cluing me into their existence earlier this year.  I managed to catch a few tunes of theirs at Voodoo this year and was excited to see them at Terminal 5 when they came to NYC.   Opening for them was Walk The Moon who had a great following for an opening band and really got the crowd amped.  It is fun to see that when an opening band sets up the night for a good time, there biggest song was their closer "Anna Sun" here is the video.  

While they are a bit too hipster for my personal taste the crowd really ate them up and they had the energy to go along with their show...

Same could be said for Fitz and The Tantrums, while their smooth retro soul style is catchy there is something a bit too slick for me.  Whether it is the 80's blue-eyed yacht rock appeal or something else, I can not quite put my finger.  None of that mattered though to the sold-out house that was singing along to every word they knew and clinging to the new ones that they didn't.

The crowd was so into the band it was hard not to take notice, here a couple of videos from the show for you to judge yourself...

"Wake Up"

And their Occupy Wall Street Appearance, earlier in the day:

Monday, November 21, 2011

Dylan Cover #31 Shirley Caesar "Gotta Serve Somebody"

In this ongoing Monday Series we will be exploring various artists versions of Bob Dylan song's. Today's tune is a cover by Shirley Caesar of "Gotta Serve Somebody"

Next Week RtBE begins it's "Best Of" Season with a look at the Best of Dylan Covers

Thoughts on Dylan Original:
This powerful call of hellfire and brimstone rained down from the mountaintop as Dylan proclaimed his faith proudly, and this was the first song that most of the public heard confirming the fact that Bob did indeed "Go Jesus".  It is point and fact with its belief and message.  You gotta serve somebody...can't be simpler then that when it comes to faith can it?  The original has a driving beat and a propulsion to it that sounds urgent, but not as urgent as Bob sings, reenforcing the proclamation through his powerful lyrics and leaving no man or woman on the sidelines...he brings everyone into this spiritual battle, and whatever your beliefs it is impossible not to feel Bob is committed as he runs through the verses and chorus.  


Thoughts on Cover Artist:
Shirley Caesar is the First Lady of Gospel Music having won so many awards in the field and touched so many lives it is impossible to list them all.  Through her ministry and her recordings she is in touch with her spirituality and expresses it like few others can.  She isn't branching out with her tunes to reach a wider audience, she is proclaiming her message through her medium and has been very successful doing it.  

Thoughts on Cover:
There haven't been very many tunes that set up more picture perfect by a particular performer in a particular genre then "Gotta Serve Somebody" for Shirley Caesar.  All of Dylan's Gospel period would fit her repertoire but the first, perhaps the strongest, song he offered from this time period fits the First Lady Of Gospel like a glove.  The difference is in the performance presented here.  Leaving out a few verses, like the "rock and roll singer/girls in a cage" or the "Bobby/Zimmy",  is not a big deal to me at all, but switching up the message in the chorus; from giving the listener a choice, to proclaim they must follow "Jesus" (not even "The Lord") takes a bit of the challenge out of it.

This proclamation to follow the righteous path of her Savior Jesus Christ can be expected from the Gospel great, but from a purely cover standpoint I do believe it dilutes the overall tune.      

Grade B+

Wilson's Take:
Janasie's Take:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

2011 Voodoo Experience Review - Part 2 -

For the first part of the review click here...

There are a lot of places I like, but I like New Orleans better. There's a thousand different angles at any moment. At any time you could run into a ritual honoring some vaguely known queen. Bluebloods, titled persons like crazy drunks, lean weakly against the walls and drag themselves through the gutter. Even they seem to have insights you might want to listen to. No action seems inappropriate here. The city is one very long poem.
-Bob Dylan, Chronicles Volume 1 
Bob Dylan is one of my hero's, sure I love his songs, but even if I hated them his description of New Orleans in his book Chronicles is the best I have ever read.  I agree 100% with him on all of it, and just reading those lines makes me want to buy a return ticket...Jazzfest can't come soon enough...but let's not get ahead of ourselves, Voodoo Experience still has plenty to offer.
 Mid way through Saturday, heading over to the main stage one had to get roped into the multi-genre-multi-cultural offerings of Ozomatli who combined everything from hip-hop to salsa in their set, fitting in beautifully amongst the musical blending pot of New Orleans.  This LA band brings the party live every time,

 check out some high quality videos of their performance here.   

What is better under the mid day delta sun then a bit of metal?  Mastodon took to the main stage and under pristine skies thrashed out a set worthy of the main stage bashing and blasting notes all across gorgeous City Park.  Groups of fans headbanging or even laid down to enjoy the madness surrounding as costume clad revelers (lots of Sexy Native Americans flocking around this year) drank and gabbed behind the metal curtain being lowered over the stage.

Next up was suppose to be the fantastic Azztravaganza, showcasing the best in NOLA bounce, but sound issues and a bit of Diva-ness seemed to delay things for waaay too long.  One of the problems of any festival is booking and scheduling and while Cheeky Blakk and the others would have been great to catch for more then just a few songs of, Social Distortion called back on the main-stage.

While I will never doubt the absolute coolness of Mike Ness, this set at Voodoo was not one of the bands best.  They played all of the hits and had the crowd pogo-ing, but the overall sound, either from the venue itself or the band, was not up to snuff.  There was a tin sound that was high pitched and distracting through much of their set.  It didn't distract the fans though from crooning along with the punk legends.  

Saturday had to end early at this point, but Sunday came on strong like a stiff Sazerac.  The Sheepdogs woke up some sleepy eyes via their straight up blues rock riffing.

Fishbone brought their freaky style-ee sense to the stage just afternoon, but again scheduling became an issue as Dr John and Preservation Hall with Del McCoury were all scheduled at the same time causing lots of walks back and fourth from stage to stage...thankfully they were real close.   Then a rare treat occurred as the Morning 40 Federation was resurrected and reunited for a special Voodoo Experience show.
Blowing a Baritone and playing on a Slide trombone the group washed the crowd in its sludge water party music causing even the most hungover revelers to raise a cocktail towards the stage.  The group ran through it's drunk classics's like "Gin Instead of Whiskey" and "Dumpster Juice" while closing the daytime shenanigans with the classic "Corkscrew".  For professional videos from their set click on over here!

The Holy Voodoo Last Day continued over on the main stage with Odd Future, who can safely be called the worst band to grace any stage that RtBE caught this weekend.  Their recycled hip-hop beats sounded tiny and weak on the huge stage, their rhymes mixed "fuck" in so much it just sounded lazy.  The group had little charisma and even people who went in want to catch them live were walking around disappointed post set.

Thankfully after them TV On The Radio took over and while things were instantly rectified the group built and built a layered set.  While at times the nuances of their studio recordings were lost over the vast field the group managed to pull things off in the end.  
The band played a combo from their albums and was more intellectual and textured then groovy causing most fans just to watch as opposed to dance, which was a distinct difference then most of the crowds through out the festival.

While semi on the fence during the set the bands final number put the playing over the edge as they threw down a surprise cover. "Waiting Room" by Fugazi is a direct ticket to RtBE's heart and these Brooklyn boys did it swimmingly.  Here is a version of their cover from this summer:

Then the final schedule conflict of the festival, The Meters or Cheap TrickGeorge Porter Jr's bass lines were so tasty we just had to chew on them for a while, but we couldn't pass up the Trick when it came to some classic 70's rocking:

That also made the transition easier to the finale and highlight of a weekend of highlights with The Raconteurs closing out an amazing weekend of music.  Jack and the boys were a steam engine driving south from Memphis straight through to the mouth of the Mississippi, rolling the whole dam way.  The group is exactly what a rock and roll band is all about, power, texture, kick ass-riffs, engaging verses and sing-along chorus' gotta give it up for one of the best bands in America.  Opening their headlining set with "Consolers of The Lonely" the band never looked back.  They played almost all of their back catalog and never let down for an instant, truly a set for the ages and a perfect way to wrap things up on this weekend:

Epic "Blue Veins" Solo:

Until next year when the Voodoo Dawn calls once again, and RtBE tries to chase it down...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Album Review - Radio Moscow - The Great Escape of Leslie Magnafuzz

Radio Moscow
The Great Escape of Leslie Magnafuzz
***and1/2 out of *****

There are different kinds of "retro" albums, some take a beloved genre or sound and use it as a template putting a personal and unique twist on familiar proceedings creating something "like" but unique.  Then there are retro albums that immerse themselves wholly into a style and don't variate, recreating exactly what came before; the term "biting" jumps to mind to describe them.  The line can be fine at times and can get blurred often, that seems to be the case with Radio Moscow's 3rd release, The Great Escape of Leslie Magnafuzz

Fans of late 60's and 70's bluesy psychedelic rock and roll will instantly feel at home as the disk spins out, massive cuts with huge feedback and channel shifting riffs will bring listeners back to lava lamps and late night trips.  The looseness and jam vibe of the whole disk adds to the charm, the sonic hiccups in sound or production seem more planned changes or artistic decisions then mistakes.  Tracks like the hard stomping "Creepin'" and the feedback laced blues workout of "Deep Down Below" (which takes 4 minutes to get where it's eventually going) will remind listeners of the past, instantly calling to mind Hendrix and a host of others (more on that in a minute). 

There are enough crazy tempo shifts, guitar squiggles and effects to keep the listener guessing at times like on the hyper "Speedfreak" and the crunchy propulsion of "No Time".  "Little Eyes" is a fantastical warped journey that feels a lot longer then its 4:45 run time, leaving you breathless when it crashes to a close, a disk highlight and one that the legends this band worship would be proud of.           

However that familiarity can be a bit too comfortable at times as it is virtually impossible to hear songs like "Turtle Back Rider" and "Summer of 1942" and not think instantly of Blue Cheer and their ilk.  There are much worse things in the world then calling back a style and sounding like successful bands, but after a few listens you may reach for some of the dusty originals on your shelf.

The groups retro sound still packs a wallop even if it times it rings too reminiscent of past efforts from some of rock and roll's greatest, Radio Moscow is on the right path with The Great Escape of Leslie Magnafuzz.  The disk would make a great gift to that grumpy fan we all know who is stuck in the 60's /70's and says there is no more "real rock and roll" out there, Radio Moscow could quickly change their mind.          
Some preview tracks from the album, please support the artist and buy the album here, even better go catch them live.
"Little Eyes"

"Speedfreak" Live Paris 2011


Friday, November 11, 2011

Album Review - Lou Reed and Metallica - Lulu

Lou Reed & Metallica 
* out of *****

I will fully admit that I have not been influenced by Frank Wedekind's work and if I had seen the plays Earth Spirit and Pandora's Box perhaps I would have a greater understanding of this album that two "Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame" acts have produced.  That admission stated upfront, it is really hard to get into this 90+ minute double album in any conceivable way for a dedicated listener, let alone a casual one.

Lou Reed has been off putting with his singing style his whole career, at times intentionally so and here he continues that trend while keeping the listener on edge with his destructive timing, caring not a lick for the music going on behind him.  That in truth seems to be the worst part of this collaboration; the fact that very little of it feels like a meshing of styles.  Lulu plays as Lou Reed putting his warped theatrical vision over a backing band that doesn't sound like it knows which direction it is suppose to be going, so they just run in place for a while.

"Brandenburg Gate"  lets Uncle Lou show the kiddies how he do from the first track and it ain't pretty.  That said, Reed has a hard time being shocking in this internet age when exposure to far more horrifying sites are available at a click of a mouse.  Is "spitting in my mouth" really going to get the juices flowing from a generation who have seen, and maybe done far more then that?   

"Frustration" which kicks off the "second act" shows legitimate promise for a whole 2 minutes before collapsing under mixed gender failings and impromptu breaks.   Metallica seems to be trying to stay out out of Reed's way for the most part, letting him go where he wants to and play second fiddle in the background.  Their riffs can get drone-like on "Cheat On Me" but sound very nondescript for the majority of the proceedings "Pumping Blood" and "Iced Honey" included.   They add very little in the way of "art-rock" to Reed's vision, some minor feedback here and some sparseness there, but by the sounding of things getting freaky isn't in their heart of hearts.

The fact that this project even got made is pretty cool, seeing artists try different things, especially ones this established can be exciting...but sometimes when you go out on that limb, it can snap.

Some tracks for Previewing the album, you can buy it here:
Album Trailer:

"Iced Honey" Live on Jools Holland:
Metallica and Lou Reed seem to be taking down all of the album tracks from Youtube, which is fine by me, so instead here they are on Jools Holland playing the Velvet Underground Classic "White Light/WhiteHeat"

Thursday, November 10, 2011

2011 Voodoo Experience Review Part 1

The ghosts race towards the light, you can almost hear the heavy breathing spirits, all determined to get somewhere. New Orleans, unlike a lot of those places you go back to and that don't have the magic anymore, still has got it. Night can swallow you up, yet none of it touches you. Around any corner, there's a promise of something daring and ideal and things are just getting going.

You said it Bob.  

This town just drips intrigue, it infects your blood like a drug and reeks havoc with your mind.  Worlds are swallowed with every drop of spirits and eons flow by in hours.  The 2011 Voodoo Experience was no exception, it rushed by but felt suspended in time while combusting in the air above City Park.

After some effervescent lunch time Gin Gin Mules at the Swizzle Stick Bar in the Loews Hotel we made our way into the dazzling City Park Landscape, which has to rank as one of the most magnificent locations to host a concert in the country.
Weeping willows extend over fairgrounds, offering shade and relaxation beneath sunny skies.  The New Orleans weather was intensely schizophrenic on this journey as Day time set's were held under burning suns while night fall brought forceful winds chilling the crowd, there were many costumed revelers unprepared for the drastic changes.  In the shadow of a hurricane that blew by one couldn't help but be grateful for all the dry nights presented though.

Besides being blown away by the venue, the 5+ stages were all humming with vibrant performers from noon until midnight.  Friday had a few bright spots, one was the LA soul outfit Fitz & The Tantrums who had the Bingo Parlor Stage grooving to their smooth jazzy soulscapes:

The constant delight of Band of Horse's was also appreciated by the masses as the group controlled the main stage with ease and delivered a heart warming set.  Looking as if they just walked off of Frenchman the group blasted off into "The Great Salt Lake", got expansive with the title track off it's most recent album "Infinite Arms" and dripped with emotion over "No One's Gonna Love You".  "Cigarettes, Wedding Bands" was a crowd-pleaser as well:

The band had masses of fans singing along and with their new album almost finished up here's hoping they continue their upward trajectory.  Soundgarden ended the night via their metal/grunge ways playing crowd favorites like "Spoonman" "Beyond The Wheel" and "Fell On Black Days".  The group added an "event" feel to what just felt like a fantastic day in the park.

Saturday started early for RtBE as we got to the fairgrounds before noon to catch the gutter gospel styling of the one and only Rough Seven .  
 Click on the pic to expand (more Rough Seven pictures below)

While not packed to the gills, it didn't matter as the band easily put on one of our favorite sets of the whole weekend with their winning mix of gospel, rock, mayhem and energy.  Their late night Checkpoint Charlies set (while lacking a female touch) ramped up the energy even more 12 hours later...these kids are a must see attraction whenever they grace the stage in New Orleans.  
Because Voodoo won't let me embed the offical videos, you need to click on these links but they are worth it Here is "Had A Home" and one of RtBE's favorite songs from any band, "Meltdown"

After that delicious set it was time to check out the food selection at Voodoo, and while light years better then most festivals, there did seem to be a lot of the same food, just prepared by different local stations.  We scarfed down a Fried Green Tomato and Shrimp Po'Boy as friends tried out a host of different entrees such as the Vegan Black Beans and Rice and Crawfish Bread Bowls.  

To digest we strolled the park grounds following the Noisician Coalition Parade, which was a hoot as they laid down in front of concert goers and freaked out everyone they could.

When we got back around to the stages we were just in time to catch The Soul Rebels Brass Band and start getting funky!

The beauty of a festival like this was the proximity of the stages but never a mixing of sound.  You have the ability to wander between the blasting funk of the Soul Rebels and the piano based rock and roll of the Happy Talk Band:
The Song "Mayday" from this years Voodoo:

We took full advantage of this checking out bands for a song here or there before settling down to get down.  This would come in very handy for Sunday night, but we aren't even through with Saturday yet!  For that and more  you will just have to wait for part 2 of the review.   Until then a few more RtBE Pics from the Rough Seven set, click to expand:

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Glide Review - Male Bonding - Endless Now

Afternoon all,

I have a new review posted by the nice fellas over at Glide

Give it a read right C'HERE!!!!

It is of Male Bonding's newest release Endless Now

I alluded to it in the review, but I can not get behind that bands name.  Granted names for bands are trickier then actually writing songs in some cases, I mean there have been some horrible band names to have hit songs...(Note to RtBE that is a future blog post) and Male Bonding is pretty blah.

The group themselves are intriguing playing a brand of lo-fi punk that is very catchy, and usually I find myself more drawn to these types of bands.  While I recognize the album is well done and stands up for it is suppose to bring across (hence the 3 and 1/2 stars) it is hard for me to really say I love these songs or will listen to them much in the future.  I think that is one of the hardest things about reviewing music, recognizing positive attributes in albums you don't particularly care for.  It would have been unfair to rate the album any lower on the Glide rating scale, but I doubt it ends up on my year end "Best of" list.

The album is solid, not spectacular, give a listen to some of the tracks here:
Album Preview from Sub Pop:

"Tame The Sun"

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Album Review- Mastodon - The Hunter

The Hunter
**** out of *****

The Hunter finds Mastodon cutting back the excess with surprising success, focusing on taut changes and pummeling riffs.  Granted long time fans will probably be disappointed that the band hasn't expanded on 2009's Crack The Skye prog-rock leanings, but metal fans should perk up and be delighted at the Atlanta groups newest release.  

Gone are the 10 minute opus tracks and returning in their place are the streamlined precision of a band motoring along.  "Curl of The Burl" and "Black Tongue" are two early numbers that blast out and remind of the bands first major success, 2004's LeviathanThe Hunter is easily the most accessible Mastodon has been in years, but tracks like "Stargasm" and "Bedazzled Fingernails" sacrifice nothing in terms of power or freakishness as the sonic warbles and drums pound on the latter as the refrain "Lay me down, Stand on my ground!" rings out.       

Other tracks show the groups prowess, "Octopus Has No Friends" will raise blisters on your fingers just by listening to it before the track captures the ear with it's ringing climax.  The title track is the most expansive with nods to Black Sabbath and mid-tempo tracks from the band's own catalog while "Creature Lives" has a sci-fi beginning before slugging up from the depths into outer-space via vocal soaring, shattering things along its path.

By stripping down with The Hunter, Mastodon remains one of the most interesting bands in today's metal scene and with the disk's openness and listen-ability it wouldn't be surprising to find them gaining an even larger fan-base with this release.           

Some tracks to preview the album, please purchase it and support great music

"Curl of The Burl"


"Octopus Has No Friends"

Monday, November 7, 2011

Dylan Cover #30 James Raymond Smith "To Be Alone With You"

In this ongoing Monday Series we will be exploring various artists versions of Bob Dylan song's. Today's tune is a live cover by James Raymond Smith of "To Be Alone With You"

Thoughts on Dylan Original:
One of the standout tracks, and the first one he recorded for the crooning Nashville Skyline, "To Be Alone With You" is a simple tune but one that can constantly sound fresh.  Dylan waited until 1989 to play this live, the first time was in Upper Darby, PA and I wonder if it was because of the voice he used on the original recording worked so well and he wasn't repeating that one.  Or maybe he just forgot about it...either way it is a winner and one that fits easily into his current 12 bar blues shuffle sound.    


Thoughts on Cover Artist:
I have no real thoughts on James Raymond Smith, having not heard of him until I checked out this cover.  Some minimal online research doesn't reveal much as his bio on youtube lets me know that he loops his own bass lines then does a raw live cut of the track he is playing on guitar and vocals.  His songs seem to have a blues bent and his gear/setup is very sweet.  I checked out a few of his other covers, like his JJ Cale and you should probably too...

Thoughts on Cover:
I like these kind of covers that twist up the genre or style of the original into something fresh and new.  James Raymond Smith, puts a flourish of jukejoint blues into Dylan's original sweet tale and adds a spice that accentuates the original in a tasty new way.  Like a few others in this series it is fun and surprising to find unknown of (to RtBE at least) and give them a spin.  When he gets to his outro guitar solo your head will probably be bopping along like mine was; a great cover.

Grade: A-

Friday, November 4, 2011

Free Reigning Sound Album, Happy Friday!

Oh glorious day...the great people over at Scion A/v have allowed us all to get some FREE ass kicking rock and roll music from one of my favorite bands, Reigning Sound!

Dan Auerbach from The Black Keys produced a couple of tracks but if you are at all into great song writing and throwback rock and roll, trust me you will love it.  This just made the weekend even sweeter....BOOSH!  Who Jack Oblivian and Greg Cartwright in the same week? Fantastic garage rock for all!

Here is an older take on one of the songs presented here, in this form it was amazingly titled, "Watching My Baby Get Ready"

The new one is faster and pepped up, but both versions are fantastic songs...

Those waiting on the Voodoo Experience wrap up fret not, we have a lot in store for you good people, so stay tuned to RtBE.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Glide Review - Jack Oblivian - Rat City

Hey all...

Got a new review on Glide.

Read it right c'here!!!!

I have dug Jack Oblivion's style ever since I first loaded up Popular Favorites back in the day.  His rawer sense of blues-punk-rock completed Greg Cartwright's soul touch perfectly, creating one of the best garage/lo-fi/whatever-you-want-to-call-them rock and roll bands that somehow never struck it big-time.

The new disk is the most polished he has put out and really plays like a great summer record that I hope warms up these cold winter months ahead. 

There is a sense of refinement that hasn't always been present when you dig in for some Jack Oblivian fun, I don't necessarily think anyone who closes a disk with a chorus about "Jumping Your Caboose" has grown up, but he has certainly produced a great collection of songs that dare I say sounds a touch more mature.  Tunes like that though keep things light and add an extra set of fun to the album, not to mention a disco pumping guitar line that gets caught in your ear.

"Crime of Love" is a trucking number that sums up the whole style with it's tough groove and swagger and I can't get enough of his cover "Kidnapper".  That is one of the things I love about this whole scene, the crate digging covers that you come across which opens up a whole new world of music to you....a definite plus.

Jack and his band is currently touring over in Europe, so catch them when you can, and def grab the album as it is worth your time.  Some songs for preview purposes below:

"Dark Eyes"

"Crime of Love"

"Caboose Jump"

"Kidnapper" Live from September in Memphis: