Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Glide Review - Lowry - Emporia

Hey all,

Got a new review up on Glide. 

Give it a read right C'here!!!

It is of Lowry's most recent release Emporia.

The review pretty much covers everything you need to know.  You can grab the album over here and below are a couple of preview tracks for you to check out.

There is an album teaser that talks about the band re-recording the whole album and delaying it's release for one full calendar year:

The central track on the album is a good example of what you can expect, here is "Lie To Me":

Monday, January 30, 2012

Jack White Goes Solo, First Single Here!

This seems like a natural progression but Jackie White has taken to calling his upcoming album titled Blunderbuss his first official solo project.  From the man himself:
"I've put off making records under my own name for a long time but these songs feel like they could only be presented under my name. These songs were written from scratch, had nothing to do with anyone or anything else but my own expression, my own colors on my own canvas," White said in a statement on Monday.

Exciting stuff, and while a new Dead Weather, or even better a Raconteurs disk would be a welcomed addition, Jack's first venture on his lonesome will be an interesting journey to follow, will he tour with backup musicians?  Do everything himself?  We will wait and see, until then peep his first single from the upcoming Blunderbuss, it is called "Love Interruption":

We all hate it when love gets interrupted but this song has the feel of a skeleton, it will be interesting to see if the rest of this album is as musically stark.  The back up singer proves he isn't 100% alone, unless he is doing some whacky studio vocals thing, but it is an eerie song especially the lyrics.  Pretty swell all around and it goes without saying RtBE is waiting anxiously for this one.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Album Review - JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound - Want More

JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound
Want More
***and1/2 out of *****

The party soul flows hot like lava with JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound's first release on Bloodshot Records, Want More.  That is exactly what the group seems to be shooting for, more, as they take the freewheelin' singer fronting a drum tight soul band motif made famous yesteryear and starts it up again for a new generation.  The trend has been in vogue lately with lots of groups (Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Fitz &The Tantrums etc.) but Brooks radiates that unmistakable front man charm, vocals and magnetism that is crucial for these types of outings, not to mention the band cooks.

The title track and "I Can See Everything" both give off that good times vibe with flashes of Karl Denson jam ability but the groups obvious influence arrived a few decades earlier via Sly and the Family Stone era interplay.  The sunshine throwback style of "Everything's Will Be Fine" is extremely polished exhibiting a band that is lock step together when it comes to delivering the goods.  "I Got High" shows off some top notch vocals and more intricate playing if not the most astute lyrics, but those seem to be secondary throughout this first major release from the band.       

2 highlight tracks are "To Love Someone Who Don't Love You" and the bands cover of Wilco's "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart".  On their original the falsetto singing, strings and over the top orchestration raises the bar for this band to expand upon their soul roots in the future, while the cover of their fellow Chicago band's tune turns the original on it's ear, crafting a unique interpretation that might surpass the source material in quality and enhancement.

Things could get a bit more dirty/funky in places as opposed to grease slick soul, lyrically the group will also hopefully evolve, but this is a fantastic effort that will make listeners smile and shimmy.   

This review never saw the light of day last year and it is a shame, because this album is a winner.  I caught JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound twice over the MassMOCA Festival weekend last year, and they were one of the standout acts from the weekend.  The album is a real joy ride, nothing to deep, just a band playing to their strengths.  If you are into that crisp soul sound give it a whirl, with out a doubt Wilco fans should peep their cover, I certainly like it better then the original as it downplays the so-so poetry and plays up the emotional fisticuffs.  I think Tweedy may too as he came out and performed it with the band last year...

Grab the album here and preview some tracks below:

"I Am Trying To Break Your Heart" Wilco Cover

"Everything Will Be Fine"

"To Love Someone That Don't Love You" Live, stripped down and still impressive..

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Glide Review: Craig Finn Clear Heart Full Eyes

Hey all,

Got a new review over on Glide.

Give it a read Right C'here!!!

It is from one of RtBE's favorites Craig Finn as he ventures out on his own with the solo album Clear Heart Full Eyes

The album is bleaker then anything The Hold Steady have ever done and that includes the song for the cutters about banging townies and getting in knife fights...

You can hear the Austin music scene drip off this disk and Craig even mentioned that the title of the album is taken from Friday Night Lights so it is pretty obvious his brain was in a southwestern/Texas mood.  While this isn't exactly his Nebraska, it does have some of the same sonic structure found on Springsteen's Ghost of Tom Joad

I had the pleasure to meet Finn this past fall and he was a down to earth cool guy.  Can't wait to catch him on tour with this album and here's hoping a new Hold Steady disk is in the works too...Grab the album and support great music, here are a few preview tracks for you to check out in the mean time:

"Honolulu Blues"

"Western Pier" Live

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Free Live Download: Clear Plastic Masks 1/4/12 via nyctaper

Our friends over at nyctaper have unearthed a good one, acidjack recorded the Brooklyn based Clear Plastic Masks when they played their recent Jan 4th show at the Mercury Lounge
You can grab the full show with some perfectly warm live sound right here.  

This is the first RtBE has heard of Clear Plastic Masks but it certainly won't be the last.  When the band plays their original tune "Working Girl" and drop the line "I put things together too" I was hooked.  More seriously the straight ahead blues rock and roll touched a nerve too as the band sounds in top form this night.  Fans who are diggin' on the new Black Keys album should give this a listen, or any fan of rock and roll that spills over a bit loud and messy into the ears.  

Their bandcamp site offers a chance to hear the older tracks from this four piece as we wait for a new release.  They have a few tour dates lined up for those who want to catch them live.  Here are some videos from this particular show, give it a glimpse it you want a preview before downloading, but the sound is much better from nyctaper...as always:

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Glide Review - Run Dan Run Normal

Hey all,

Got a new review up at Glide.

Give it a read right C'Here!!!

It is of Run Dan Run's newest release Normal

Go on over and give it a read. 

The album is pretty good, if not mind blowing, but the first track that I rave about is really worth hearing and a solid indie rock tune. 

It is called "Lovesick Animal" listen here:
    Run Dan Run - Lovesick Animal by The 405

and you can peep a live performance of it below. 

Agree?  Disagree?  Feel free to comment.

"Lovesick Animal"

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Live Review - Preservation Hall Jazz Band & Friends 1/7/12

Preservation Hall Jazz Band & Friends 
Golden Anniversary Celebration and Concert to Benefit the Preservation Hall Music Outreach Program
Carnegie Hall, NYC

The year is only 1 full week old and already there is a show that will be remembered well beyond the calender year of 2012 (assuming we as a planet get there).  The Preservation Hall Jazz Band celebrated it's 50th year of functioning Saturday night in the most elegant of locales, New York City's Carnegie Hall.  As was mentioned multiple times by the band it is quite a trip from Preservation Hall to Carnegie Hall, and you "Traded waiting in line, for a seat" but no cocktails were allowed to be near those seats and dancing was limited to the upper edges of the balcony both odd occurrences for this celebratory of a show.
The night opened with piano player George Wein writer Tom Sancton taking some time to act as an introduction, well I will let Tom say it himself from his blog:

 What am I doing here? I asked myself more than once. Nonetheless, when the show started, there I was onstage with the legendary festival promoter and pianist George Wein seated at the Steinway behind me. I recited a passage from my memoir, Song for My Fathers and played "Burgundy Street Blues" as a tribute to George Lewis and the other great jazzmen who played at the Hall when it was founded half a century ago. Wein and I were onstage for all of eight minutes, but it was for me an unforgettable occasion.

There was no doubt this was going to be a special night and this was all before the guests of honor came out.  Mark Braud Trumpet/Vocals, Charlie Gabriel Clarinet/Vocals, Clint Maedgen Saxophone/Vocals, Freddie Lonzo Trombone, Rickie Monie Piano, Joe Lastie Drums and Ben Jaffe who is the Creative Director of the band along with his duties on the Tuba and Bass lead the group on this night and acted as MC for the evening.
The players eased in with some standards including one that would show up later and no one minded a bit, "When The Saints Go Marching In".  This version began very laid back jazzy as the group slowed things down and vamped before moving into the song and out again with a slew of tempo changes and excursions.

 The band then moved into their collaboration with the Trey McIntyre Project as they played "Ma Maison" which started out as a commission from the New Orleans Ballet.  Ben Jaffe shined here with the Tuba laying the beefy bass line as everyone began to cut loose around him.  To add to the performance skull masked dancers flooded the stage to get down with grace and heart, the dancers would reappear throughout the night and it must be said they were always a welcomed site, not always the case when it comes to these kinda shows...

 The first full on musical guest to play with the band were The Givers whose best contribution was a showcase for Gabriel on clarinet while lead singer Tiffany Lamson belted out the spiritual, "A Closer Walk With Thee".  Ed Helms then came out to introduce The Del McCoury Band, everyone on stage were very comfortable together as they just recorded the fantastic American Legacies album.  The two groups did a violin and muted trumpet version of "Sugar Blues" and a 1st set closing bluegrass soaked "One More 'Fore I Die" that focused on Del's timeless voice and even had Ed Helms rejoin the guys on stage with his banjo, doing himself proud.

The band came back to showcase the raw soul of Clint's saxophone and voice before keeping the guest train rolling with original PHJB member Frank Demond coming out on stage with Merrill Garbus from tUnE-yArDs.  While not a bad collaboration the night certainly jumped up a level for the legendary Allen Toussaint with his sparkling shirt joining the group on piano.  After running through an almost theme song, Allen stayed out as the crowd gave the biggest reaction of the night to Yassin Bey (F.KA. Mos Def) and specifically Trombone Shorty, who with arms raised soaked in the cheers as the fellas rolled with "It Ain't My Fault" an old tune, which Bey added updated lyrics to after the BP Oil Spill:

The crowd stayed energized as Bey switched places with Jim James who threw down an emotional rendition of "St. James Infirmary Blues", Shorty even stuck around to help blow those blues away.

After the slow jam, the group transitioned into their King Britt infected remix of the tune with all of the members of My Morning Jacket coming on stage to help out, Shorty happily continued to hang out and contribute his 'bone.  Jacking up the backbeat to get the party pumping again, Clint sang and the poly-rhythmic rumblings brought out the dance troupe to add some visually striking moves, raising the celebration factor.   

Kind of surprisingly after this high energy showcase of talents, My Morning Jacket alone played the slow "Wonderful (The Way I Feel)".  MMJ were the only band to play a song without Preservation Hall Jazz Band helping them out and it was a definite down moment on the night.  Even fans who were their to see MMJ specifically seemed confused as the vibe was certainly derailed.  The group did it's best to try to crank start the engine with PHJB on board to play "Carnival Time" but it wasn't until the clap along habanero spice of Tao Seeger singing in Spanish that got the crowd fully invested again.

Steve Earle then strolled onto the famous stage and talked about doing a New Orleans song Chicago style, or was it a Chicago song NOLA style? Either way when he dug into "Ain't Nobody's Business But My Own" with the horn accentuation throughout nobody needed to ask anyone their business.  Then Steve with the PHJB closed the second set via Earle's fitting tribute song to a city he and everyone in attendance loves, "This City".  It is good to see this song take a major slot in a set so focused on New Orleans as Earle's warm voice and emotional lyrics flowed while the brass backing burst like firecrackers.     

After a brief break the encore on this night saw over 50 performers gracing the stage with new comers and old timers rubbing shoulders to sing the standard "I'll Fly Away" in anything but a standard style.  The Blind Boys of Alabama made an appearance and sang some verses but they got a bit drowned out with all the other people on stage banging away.
Part 1

Part 2

 The version was fantastic and a second encore was slipped in as The Preservation Hall Jazz Band along with some recent graduates of their music education program led the crowd in revisitng "When The Saints Go Marching In" to end the night, full on with some "Who Dat!" chants (The Football Saints, had taken the lead for good by then over Detroit) as the party flowed out onto 57th St with joyful tunes still ringing in the ears.

When this young year grows old, this epic show will still stand as a highlight as luminaries of the Jazz, Blues and Rock world's all came together and let America's heart seep into one of its most glorious venues, truly a memorable evening.  If you sadly missed it, buy your Jazzfest ticket now as a similar event will happen this year as The Preservation Hall Jazz Band plan on recreating some of this magic with the Festival closing slot on Sunday May 6th.

(Special thanks to Pat for the Tom Sancton blog find and all of the youtube uploaders for the great clips.)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Free Songs from The National & More - Brassland 2012 Sampler

Aaron and Bryce Dessner of The National along with Alec Hanley Bemis have been putting out music via the Brassland Label for over ten years now and wanted to give out a free sample of some of the artists the label is supporting. 

More info on the disk from the press release: 
Call it the after party for Brassland's 10th Anniversary celebration in 2011, or call it a look back before the buzzy excitement of what already looks to be a damn good year, heavy on the collaboration & special projects. In any case, it's free and it's for everyone. So tell everyone!

To go along with The National big boys, other artists represented on this release are Clogs, Baby Dayliner, Pela, Doveman, Erik Friedlander and Buke + Gase.  Give it a listen and support these artists when they are out on tour...because live music is always best.

"The Way You Look Tonight" Baby Dayliner

"Sunrise" Doveman

"Cold Girl Fever" The National 


Friday, January 6, 2012

Friday Funday: End of 2011 Rewind

The end of the year is hectic any way you slice it.  Holiday's, gatherings, travel, weather issues, family issues, health issues, everything always seems to crop up.  So with that RtBE wanted to highlight some of the end year posts we had in case you missed them.  So here is a quick end of 2011 RtBE Rewind:
We had 3 posts covering the Top Ten Best Albums of 2011, the first chatted about the just misses and unfortunately the flops of the year.  The second had 10-6 and the third talked about the top 5.  We weren't completely blown away by any this year, and as we mentioned none of these would have cracked the top 5 from 2010, maybe not even the top 7.   

We had a fun time catching and reviewing RtBE's good friends The Clay Pigeons as they did their 4th Annual Christmas Show, always a festive highlight.  Along those lines we also discussed our favorite live shows of the year, the crowning moment happened for free in a small bar by a big river...see magic can be found anywhere.

Our Norwegian Noise-Rock friends The Megaphonic Thrift reached out and gave us a sneak peak of a track from their upcoming album, and it is a fuzzy doozy.  We also hit up some of our favorite Dylan covers this month, but their are still more out there so look for that Monday feature to get rolling again sometime in 2012.

Thanks to all for reading and commenting.  Stay tuned for 2012, it is sure to be an exciting ride...whatever happens along the way.     

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Live Review: Phish 12/29/11 MSG, NYC

Live 12/29/11

After being much more involved in the Phish scene in the past Phish 3.0 has been regulated to a once a year happening for RtBE and for the last 2 years those shows have come during the New Years Run held at MSG.  Last years show was an old school setlist, throwing down with friends I hadn't seen in a long time, amazing MSG energy levels (floor bouncing and all) and all this was going on during a pretty ripping "Axilla" 

 When things wrapped up after a "Run Like an Antelope" >"Tweezer Reprise" encore, I couldn't have asked for anything more; it completely satisfied my Phish fix for exactly 364 days.  On 12/29 this year more old friends gathered in the "new" garden to get the festivities going.  Shortly stated, the first set on this night was top notch all around.  Every song was a highlight in some way, starting with "Y.E.M" as the second song, after a really old "Sloth" opener.  The second set was a mixed bag. 

One of my hang ups with Phish 3.0 (as to say 2.0 or pre-hiatus) is that there seems to be a lack of real adventure.  They still will jam out (and are the best live band I have ever seen) but in past incarnations of the group ANY song could explode into unexplored territory, and that just isn't the case with 3.0.  Now you get LOTS of songs per show, expertly played, and you can expect a bust out here or there...but that sense of pure abandon, or playing with zero net doesn't seem to be something they are that interested presenting anymore.  I always enjoyed a shallower song pool with the possibility that any song could be the platform for magic any night.  

One example of this is "Back On The Train" whose version from Nassau in 2003 blew my mind.  Here was a simple song of the bands that rolled into one of the highlight jams I ever heard them play.  It instantly became a favorite of mine and was a delight to hear tonight in the Garden with the same people I caught the barn burner in 03 with.        

That personal fav, leaked into a funky as all get out "MOMA Dance" before the band shifted it over gear during "Funky Bitch" which found Page McConnell playing his face off on his keys.  It has been said when Page is in high gear Phish will be rocking and that was exactly the case on this night:

They kept up the Page/Trey interwoven/dueling motif with a blistering (as always) "Maze" next before the much loved cover of Ween's "Roses are Free".  It is always fun to see fans cheer out to certain lines that apply to them and "Get In Your Car And Cruise The Land Of The Brave & Free" certainly adds up nicely with Phish's constantly touring fan base:

The "Halley's Comet" > "Run Like An Antelope"  set closer was a great way to cap off a fantastically scripted set.  No downers in the bunch and the arena was primed for things to soar even higher...   

With those opening notes of the Talking Heads live classic "Crosseyed & Painless" the 4 guys seemed to want to push the envelope as well while Fishman sang and Mike grooved away.  This is a fantastic cover by the band and one that shines the more exposure they give it.  

The "Simple" seemed a bit jarring and while a decent version that song benefits from bubbling up organically from a jam and surprising.  The fans seemed to really be pumped to hear "Lifeboy" but I am not really sure why as this ballad has never been one of the bands best, in fact it seemed to suck the life completely out of the second set and proves the point while and amazing live act, Phish has never really written a great song, arguably "Bouncing Around The Room" is their high water mark on that front. 

That evil pig "Guyute" tried to dance a jig and re-energize things via Chris Kuroda's consistently best light arraignment, but things really didn't pick back up until "Mike's Song" got down and funky.  The band surprised many in attendance by amping the rock factor by segueing into "Chalkdust Torture" which got the crowd cheering before flowing via hard rock riffs into "I Am Hydrogen"

That segue (13:45 in above video) had an Allman Brothers flair and was the highlight of the night as "Hydrogen" and "Chalkdust" proved they could meld nicely.  It would have been interesting to see the band keep this up longer, yet it showed they are not against toying with their own "classics".  The funky "Weekapaug Groove" followed, but the band clearly wanted to keep rocking and tried to do so via their new song "Show of Life" which plays like a classic rock radio number, very straight forward for this weird band.  It must be noted though a lot of fans flooded the bathrooms for this one before they rushed back for the set closing "Character Zero"  RtBE did just the opposite as Zero has never been a favorite and we were curious to hear the new tune.  

The rock jones was still alive in the Vermont foursome as they ripped out a screeching cover of the Rolling Stones classic "Loving Cup" to end the night via a killer one song encore.

While perhaps not as consistently great or personally pleasing as 12-30-10 this should hold me over for a long time with the band as there were glimpses of their past greatness, but a reminder that they just aren't the same band who I used to tour with in the late '90's early '00's, and that's fine for both of us...who knows though, maybe we will meet again for a show on Summer Tour this year.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Glide Review - Nils Lofgren - Old School

Hey All

Got a new review up over at Glide.

Read it Right C'here!!!!

It is of Nils Lofgren's newest release Old School and safe to say I won't be going back to listen to this all that often...if ever.

I pretty much say it all in the review above, so I won't belabor the point, things just don't feel right when Nils wants to pump up the energy.

The "rockers" presented here are woefully misguided, I guess it is an attempt to reach out to people his own age, and I never begrudge aging rockers, hell some of them are still my favorites, but these songs just sound petty. 

If the album had more of a focus on the ballads it would have went over better.  "Love Stumbles On" and "Irish Angel" (which is a cover originally written by Bruce McCabe) are both very pleasing and fit his style well.  1 and 1/2 stars states on the rating scale states "If someone hasn't heard it, they aren't missing anything - skip it" that sums it up nicely...those stars do come in handy sometimes...

Some tracks to sample:
"Old School"

"Irish Angel"

"Love Stumbles On"

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Years Eve Live Show Round Up Link, Free Download

Happy New Year to all from the RtBE crew, Tom shared with us a list of Woody Guthrie's New Year's Rulin's from 1942.  All though Woody gave these to himself on Jan 31st of that year, we wanted to share them now.
On the more 2012 side of things, our good friends over at Hidden Track have herded up a ton of New Years Eve shows for fans to check out.  You can click this link and see the list.

RtBE caught Phish on the 29th, (review coming) but otherwise the NYE was very quiet, so this link is a great way to catch up on the festivities.  We are excited to hear Ween's crazy 33 song NYE show from Denver.

and the 7 Walkers show from Reading, PA looks interesting with some really cool sit in's like Buddy Cage.   
There is always interest in Gov't Mule at The Beacon and this years "Mad Mule & The Englishmen" shenanigans seem interesting so that one will get peeped as well,

Here is "Kind of Bird" from their 12/30/11 Show:

Hidden Track will be updating this link as more shows surface so feel free to check back in.

Monday, January 2, 2012

R.I.P. Christopher Hitchens

Granted this one isn't music related but we over here at RtBE have long admired the work and social life of the late, great Christopher Hitchens and we wanted to pay tribute to him.  The man had a knack for causing people to think, getting under your skin, infuriating and defying all categorisations when it came to large topics and small ones.
Simply put he was a great thinker (drinker) and conveyor of his thoughts.  He addressed these inconsistencies (especially when it came to politics) in an interview with Richard Dawkins:
I have one consistency, which is [being] against the totalitarian - on the left and on the right. The totalitarian, to me, is the enemy - the one that's absolute, the one that wants control over the inside of your head, not just your actions and your taxes. And the origins of that are theocratic, obviously. The beginning of that is the idea that there is a supreme leader, or infallible pope, or a chief rabbi, or whatever, who can ventriloquise the divine and tell us what to do.
He sounds like a Jedi and in some ways I bet he followed those cosmic properties as a free thinker, or at least he strove for them.  It is hard to feel sorry for Hitchens as he was true about living his life to the fullest, however when the world losses a great mind it is impossible not to think, "What more could have been?".
 In one of his last interviews before he was told he was sick, he sat down and talked at NYPL about his memoir and why he was writing it, you can view the whole conversation here (Skip to 7 minutes in on first video to skip the commercial and get right to Hitch), but below is an excerpt regarding Death being a liberating thought and experience, lets hope it was:

RIP Hitch.