Friday, November 30, 2012

Album Review: Jimmy Cliff -Rebirth

Jimmy Cliff
**** out of *****

Rebirth, that is a bold title for anyone, but for reggae legend Jimmy Cliff' who hasn't produced any new music of note in quite a long time (let's safely say decades) the statement is large indeed.  Produced by Rancid's Tim Armstrong this collection of songs are quite simply the strongest of the Jamaicans career since his earliest releases. Stripped down to the roots of reggae and ska, Cliff sounds alive and fresh with his singing and phrasing as the album puts out one good song after another.

The opening "World Upside Down" is an instant ska/reggae classic with it's simple approach and direct message, setting the plate nicely for the rest of the release. "One More" pumps along with horns fueled by an artist singing about his one last shot at "singing his song", and while it sounds hokey in theory it is performed winningly behind a group of up beat players.

Even when Cliff strains his vocal chords, or gets silly lyrically there are factors that make everything seem all right, like the back up singers on "Cry No More" or the surf guitar styling that wiggles throughout "Bang".  Armstrong deserves credit for these touches as the album feels extremely well crafted.  An admiring fan and incredibly talented producer should take some of the credit, but Cliff surprisingly shows he still has something to prove throughout the disk.

"Outsider" cooks like a 50's soul shakedown, while "Reggae Music" recalls Cliff's own personal history over some funky keyboard's that seem to be stolen from Stevie Wonder circa '72.  Both tracks pulse, bringing a smile to the face upon first listen.  

Much has been made of the cover song choices since the Sacred Fire EP came out last year and with good reason as they are spot on. "Guns Of Brixton" rawness fits like a glove and must be making Paul Simonon smile over in London as he hears Cliff sing a song which Simonon name checks The Harder They Come. Having Cliff cover his own "Ruby Soho" also proves to be genius on Armstrong's part as the track bubbles with energy.        

"Ship Is Sailing" ends things on a smooth drifting note (before a tacked on remix of "One More") that places this collection of tracks on par with anything Cliff has produced since The Harder They Come and gives him a whole new set of music to cull from for his great live sets.  Even if Rebirth proves to be an singular event rather then a full on career revival it is a great work that all involved should be proud of.  

Color RtBE pleasantly surprised that when our good friend Glen sent us this album and we got more then one listenable song from it.  Glen and I actually saw Jimmy Cliff at BB Kings years ago and I was blown away by his stage fire, something that has never dulled throughout his career, however his new songs were weaksauce all over. 
Rebirth is far from that, a great listen to any fans of good music regardless of the genre, but fans of ska/reggae need to check it out.  Start to finish a good one, grab it here, see Cliff on tour here, and peep some samples below:
"Guns Of Brixton"

 "Ship Is Sailing"

"World Upside Down" Live on Jools Holland

Live Review: Bob Dylan & Mark Knopfler 11-21-12 Brooklyn, NY

Hey all,

Got a new live review up over on Glide

You can read it Right C'here!!!!

It is of the Thanksgiving eve show which saw Mark Knopfler and Bob Dylan playing at the brand new Barclay's Center in Brooklyn

The tour closer was good, if Knopfler's set was a bit yawn inducing.  It wasn't bad, it was just dull and not what I would expect for an opening act, but he obviously treated this show as a co-bill. 

Dylan was in good spirits and played well.  While we are not fans of the new album we dug his playing and the band as always was in top form.  The review itself is long so go read that.  Below are a couple of videos from the show:
Mark Knopfler
"So Far Away"

Bob Dylan (audience shot piece of Blowing in the Wind)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Full Sonic Youth/Black Keys Concert!!!!

So now every month we will search the murky back waters of youtube to find full concerts posted to the channel.  They may not be here for long so enjoy them while you can...As always, please support the artist every way you can but especially by seeing them live...This month...Sonic Youth and The Black Keys!!!!

Ok this one was too good to pass up, yeah technically it's not a full concert from either, but Austin City Limits lumped together two of RtBE's favorite artists, how could we not share this one?!?!  Sonic Youth is up first ripping in tight form midtour for The Eternal rocking out as a 5-piece, getting art rocky-beautiful with "Anti-Orgasm" and throwing it back to epic riffs of "'Cross The Breeze" to close.

The Black Keys are flying high from the killer Brothers for this one, but start off old via "Thickfreakness".  The four piece get tight as hell on well..."Tighten Up" and groove hard via "She's Long Gone".    
Get in here and spend an hour with two rock and roll bands worth your time:

Sonic Youth Setlist:
No Way
Sacred Trickster
What We Know
'Cross the Breeze

The Black Keys Setlist:
I'll be Your Man
Next Girl
Howlin for You
Tighten Up
She's Long Gone
I Got Mine

What's that I hear you mumbling?  This is great and all but how about a full show by each great band?!!?  Done...Who loves ya?!
Sonic Youth The Art Rock Festival 2005:

The Black Keys Live 2012 BBC Lounge:

Thanks for reading, now get listening...

Album Review: Metz Metz

***and1/2 out of *****

This clanging trio from Toronto, Canada have produced some angular, aggressive, flat out noisy rock for their first release on Sub-Pop.  You can call it post-hardcore, sludge rock, noise metal, grunge, whatever just be prepared for some power behind this threesome.

Metz's first song is appropriately titled "Headache" as I can only imagine this is the sound of insane migraine.  The pounding drums lead into off-kilter flashes of sound before repetitive guitar slashing commences for two minutes.  Distorted echo laced vocals come screaming in before a cacophony of noise closes things out with scraping and scratching all over those god damn pounding drums that won't stop!!!  Pretty perfect in its mission and outcome.

The rest of the album continues along those lines if not so completely abrasive, "Get Off" is a straight up punk rock bopper that gets scuzzied up with feedback and distortion as Christ Slorach bass gets raw. "Nausea" is an odd instrumental interlude that acts as a break from the chaos before "Wet Blanket" slaps an industrial sounding track on the album, throughout the self titled release lead vocalist Alex Edkins has a style reminiscent to Al Jourgensen's early Ministry days that works well with the blast sounds.

The electric drill guitar Edkins fires off on "Rats" dissolves into a smashing of drums of Hayden Menzies that Nirvana and Mudhoney fans will find comforting. "Wasted" also feels like a track dragged up from the flannel clad early nineties with big crashes, screeches and pure aggression before putting in an actual chorus that the disenfranchised can scream along to.          

There is a definite, "return to early days feeling" with this band being signed to Sub-Pop.  The rawness and power call to mind the labels most successful acts and that bodes well for Metz and any lover of that pissed off grunge style of rock.  

2012 turned out to be pretty good year for Canadian noise rock, first we got Nu Sensae now we have Metz to attack the ear drums. Both loud, pissed off clanging rock acts that would sound good in basements.  Both owe to punk/noise acts of the past and yet have the youth and energy for the present.  Here's hoping the future bodes well for both.
Support the band here, buy the album here, and peep some samples below:
"Wet Blanket"

"Negative Space"

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Live Review- Neil Young & Crazy Horse 11-27-12 MSG, NY

Neil Young and Crazy Horse
Live 11-27-12 
Madison Square Garden, NYC

Stepping into the refurbished inner workings of the upper levels of the Garden, the first thing you notice is that they simply aren't done working on it yet. Vendor shacks on the upper levels are still boarded up telling patrons of what is coming, not whats available. While underwhelming, it is understandable as workers are needed elsewhere since Hurricane Sandy, but what is more off putting is the narrowness that was constructed as the upper hallways.  Arriving at the break after Patti Smith's set found the corridor in the 200 level (previously the 300's or even 400's in some spots) almost clogged to the point of immobility.  Not a good first sign, but with work left to do hopefully the venue will be up to snuff soon.      

As the roadies for Neil Young & Crazy Horse, dressed up like scientists and construction workers, got the stage set for the show by revving up the over sized speakers the crowd was treated to a preset, recording of The Beatles "A Day In the Life" before Young and The Horse walked on stage to stand and salute for a listen to "The Star Spangled Banner" being piped in as if the Rangers were about to play. Hockey is on hold though as the band wasted no time working out past gems with an extended take on "Love And Only Love" to kick off the show.   

While the playing was snake-like and patented Crazy Horse in it's rambling, the sound in the arena was low from our seats in section 220. Noticeably all night the overall volume seemed to be minimal, I am not sure if this is on the performer or the new bowl like structure of the arena, which now contains a ring of Luxury boxes where the old walk way used to be mid-level. As the lights washed the stage in purple lights the band played a melodic and well received version of their classic "Powderfinger".    

A pair of new tunes from the groups newest album came next, "Born In Ontario" is a fairly straight ahead nondescript ode to the bands homeland, while "Walk Like A Giant" was the highlight of the night with it's 2 separate distortion drenched guitar duels and crushing 5+ minute feedback closing section which saw garbage being tossed on the stage (by the roadies) and fans of Neil's pop selections muttering in disbelief.

Understanding the ambiance though, Young broke up the show at this point with a few acoustic numbers, the first being "The Needle And The Damage Done" which brought the crowd back.  Then the new entry into his folkie "singing about peers" song catalog was played "Twisted Road".  When the band revved it back up it was another new tune that dominated as Neil played his guts out on "Ramada Inn".

Finishing the show in the "Crazy Horse Analog Time Machine" as Neil put it saw the band get it's biggest reaction from "Cinnamon Girl" before "Fuckin' Up" found the band break down into a vocal jam lead by Frank Sampedro.  The band closed with a nasty sounding "Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)" before sweating the crowds ride home with "Roll Another Number" during the encore.

The groups playing is more mellow then in the past which can be expected, but the passion is obviously alive and well as they performed a solid set of tunes.  What may not be so alive is MSG's reputation as the best sounding arena for music.  During the quieter parts of the show there were noticeable echoes bouncing around the rafters and odd patches of emptiness, while it is too early to pass judgement this was not the most successful first venture into the new upper reaches of the garden, hopefully things work themselves out in the future, especially as prices increase for live shows there.          

High light of the night:


2012-11-26, Madison Square Garden, USA
w/ Crazy Horse
Love And Only Love / Powderfinger / Born In Ontario / Walk Like A Giant / The Needle And The Damage Done / Twisted Road / Singer Without A Song / Ramada Inn / Cinnamon Girl / F*!#in' Up / Mr. Soul / Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black) // Roll Another Number 

Album Review: Band of Horses -Mirage Rock

Band of Horses 
Mirage Rock
***and1/2 out of *****
"Knock Knock" gets Mirage Rock started, rocking fashion, but that is not the path the rest of the album takes, and thus the title is perfectly apt.  Mirage Rock and Celebration Rock from Japandroids are two albums that you can instantly judge by their titles, a rare trait.  It is amazing how much Band of Horses channels the mellow vibe of 70's So-Cal rock of acts like Jackson Browne or more specifically CSNY on their newest release, this album could have just as easily come out in 74 as 2012.

The calling card of CSNY, and Band of Horses here, is the pristine vocal work and soothing melodies that float out behind them.  Ben Bridwell has one of the best front-men voices out there in popular rock today, and with Mirage Rock he has put together his most consistent lyrical effort, moving from scattered images and phrases to introspective thoughts and phrases. The best example is on the excellent "How To Live" singing here about real world issues convincingly and finishes the song with one of the best coming of age lines, "Guess what? You're growing old/Still gotta grow up" simple, direct and spot on.

The albums smooth sounds washes over the ears with perfect ease.  The gorgeous, past looking "Slow Cruel Hands Of Time" has a country fried twang as "A Little Biblical" holds on to a bit of easy listening swagger before "Electric Music" picks up speed out on the open road.  The Tyler Ramsey tune "Everything's Gonna Be Undone" is a simple ode that works beautifully in the context of the rest of the tracks connecting wonderfully with the aching album closing "Heartbreak On The 101".   

The only time the band gets noisy or loud is on the odd "Dumpster World" which probably contains the most interesting musical tone on the album, but the down right stupidest lyrics.  It is an odd one all around, proving the band can still rough it up a bit, but just toss away any sense of meaning with the weird words.  That along with the "Light-Fm'ish" feel at times are the only real detriments to a solid, if mellow, release.

The band already has a fantastic back catalog of music and hopefully they don't completely slip into middle age as a rocking Band of Horses still has just as much appeal as a Mirage Rock'ing one.             
RtBE loves Band of Horses immensely and will be seeing them 3 times in less then a week and this album is pretty great.  However, we really wanted to have the boys start messing up their musical backing with more angular riffs, maybe some feedback or distortion to go along with their fantastic vocals.  That was not the case as the group went even more mellow this time, but alas the end result is no means bad, just a bit different. 

The truth is we can't get enough of the band, so anything they are putting out we will probably like, but here's hoping they up the energy on the next release.  You should support this band here, catch them live here and Stream the full album below!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Album Review- Star & Micey -I Can't Wait EP

Star & Micey
I Can't Wait EP
** out of *****

The Tennessee folk pop trio has put out a brief 4 song EP of their sweet sounding tunes titled I Can't Wait.  That also happens to be the title of the strongest song in this batch of tracks.  "I Can't Stop" closes the EP with a fully constructed pop-rock gem, with a trotting guitar line and confident vocals the group marches into a full steam send up incorporating sweet backing vocals that ooh and ahh. 

Reminiscent of The Avett Brothers or Fleet Foxes the band keeps things incredibly simple and short.  "No Pets Allowed" is poetic with a light snare and mellow guitar which works while "Soul Stormin'" has distinct commercial appeal that feels very middle of the road.  The only other track on the EP is the under 2 minute disco infused "Love" which is out of place behind its falsetto vocals and violin strums.   

Vocally the disk is very appealing, but these songs can deteriorate into mere sketches at times, as an EP though it does draw interest to see what the band can produce over a full length release.     
You can support Star & Micey here, buy the EP here and check out a sample of their sound below:

Monday, November 26, 2012

Dylan Cover #63 Molly Case "Don't Fall Apart On Me Tonight"

In this ongoing Monday Series we will be exploring various artists versions of Bob Dylan song's. Today's tune is a cover by Molly Case playing "Don't Fall Apart On Me Tonight"
Thoughts on Original:
A rambling, plea filled song that seems to be about the singer as much as the person he is singing too.  Pretty and scattered amongst shambles of thoughts and broken ideas. In discussing  Infidels Dylan told Paul Zollo in a 91 Song Talk interview that "those songs hung around too long" and I feel like this is one of the main examples.  There is a really good song in there somewhere, but finding it can be hard.    

Thoughts on Cover Artist:
Like last week, we focus on an artist who has limited out put with just a few tunes uploaded to Youtube.  Unlike last week, we are very impressed with Molly Case.  She seems to be a young singer/songwriter from England. Don't have any more information, but the talent seems to be there, here's hoping nothing but the best for Molly.    
Thoughts on Cover:
Ms Case has taken a winding and confusing song and stripped it down to basics and with her fluttering vocals made a sunny pop delight out of darkness.  She flips the girl to boy for her version which doesn't change much, if anything about the actual song.  Only addressing the first two verses and the chorus has kept a lot of the confusing "St James St." and Clark Gable reference's at bay and drives the song in a clear direction, at least semi clear.  Her upbeat vocals and playing make this a delightful cover.  I wonder if adding the remaining verses would enhance the performance or weigh it down?  Either way it would be fun to hear her tackle the whole song, but even as is, I find it really enjoyable.   
Grade: B

Friday, November 23, 2012

Free Download: Band Of Horses Cover Townes Van Zandt

Happy Black Friday Funday!  Wouldn't you know it, RtBE has a present for of our favorites, Band of Horses partnered up with their friend and current tourmate Jason Lytle to produce a cover of another one of RtBE's favorites, Townes Van Zandt!
That is quite a trio, and the most beautiful thing?  The cover is good...and free!  You can stream the song below and just click here to capture the song for yourself.

Nice job fellas, you can catch both acts on tour now, we will be seeing them in NYC for a few shows then down in Philly and will also have a Mirage Rock review for you next week so more BoH Boosh-ness on the horizon.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Album Review- Bob Dylan -Tempest

Bob Dylan
** out of *****

With pre-album leaking of the fact that Bob Dylan would be releasing a new album that contained a 10+ minute opus on the Titanic it was fair to say this was the most anticipated Bob Dylan original studio release for a very long time.  Even after classic albums like Time Out Of Mind, Love and Theft and Modern Times, there seemed to be a greater sense of enjoying the present without looking forward much to the next release.  As Tempest shows this was probably a wise move, anticipating anything about the bard is utter folly.     

Dylan has slightly moved away from his late career style of throwing together smart/funny/prophetic couplets into standard 12-Bar-Blues numbers, mixing oldies with newbies so to speak, and gone back into more of a folk singer mode for this disk with songs that string together coherent stories/ideas.  The already mentioned "Tempest" deals with the Titanic and manages to bore almost from the get go becoming a weight around the neck of the album.  It never develops any real energy in the lyrics or the playing, which itself becomes a major issue with the album.

Musically speaking, Tempest is by far the weakest of his "comeback" albums (which now stretch back to Oh Mercy). The band behind Dylan is so nondescript and lacking, adding virtually nothing to the songs.  You will be hard pressed to find one musical number or phrase that stands out apart from the opening old-timey swagger of "Duquesne Whistle" which plays back into the 12-bar blues while shuffling the night away.  "Scarlet Town" is a 7 minute work that only deviates for a brief moment into an extremely mellow guitar solo, while the rest of the track repeats the same restrained musical phrasing over and over again.         

This musical mannerism (restrained repetition) seems to be the norm on the album the band stays very low key and repetitive with only minor flourishes.  "Early Roman Kings" plays an accordion over a "Mannish Boy" riff while "Narrow Way" is pretty stand-up bluegrass with electric violin and steel guitar.    

The two best tracks on Tempest are vastly different.  "Pay In Blood" is a defiant career spanning tune that at once feels vengeful and remorseful, taunting and empathetic.  It is classic Dylan over a swirling mix of piano, electric/steel guitars, bass and drums.  Disk closer "Roll On John" is an effecting, direct tribute to John Lennon.  The straight forwardness that Dylan writes and sings this song is a bit shocking, and powerful as he usually masks his songs topics.  Both tracks prove Dylan's talent will never leave him as they can stand with any in his catalog.    

Making it a point to never try to read too much into any lyrics it is tough not to notice Bob's aggressive fronting when it comes to the fairer sex in multiple songs. Using derogatory phrases like "Flat Chested Junkie Whore", "Bitch or a Hag" is sure going to raise some eyebrows, but critically it adds an lyrical edge that can be lacking here.  On the flip side he loves his "Heavy Stacked Woman" who is above him (probably both literally and figuratively) on "Narrow Way".  

Sure you can't compare artists to their former self (especially Bob), but we do it anyway and more recently in examining the late career output of Dylan, Tempest is closer to 2009's middle of the road release Together Through Life then the all-time classic Love and Theft.  The beautiful thing about Dylan though is we all see/hear/experience/live different things when we listen to his songs, that's why there is no one else like him.    
Anyone who reads RtBE knows our massive Dylan love, that said we can see faults in our hero, he is human and can't be perfect (even though some of his songs are). Tempest falls shorts on a few levels with just some boring tracks, the title track being the biggest culprit.

While Bob does sound more into his lyrics and singing then he has in the past the music backing is bland at best. Who knows maybe in 5 years RtBE will be singing more then just a few tunes praises, but for now we can't go much higher then 2 stars and without "Pay In Blood" and "Roll On John" it wouldn't have gotten those...very curious to see what songs if any he plays tonight at the Barclay's center.

We can talk about Dylan all day and sometimes do but we will end here.  You can find more info on the artist here, buy the album here, and check out a few songs below. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Grateful Dead New Yorker Article

There is a fantastic article in the New Yorker that I need to point out by Nick Paumgarten on one of RtBE's favorite topics, The Grateful Dead and specifically their back catalog of music.
You can read the full article, titled The Vast Recorded Legacy of The Grateful Dead here.  Fair warning it is a long one, but it is really a solid read from an obvious fan of the band who can easily communicate with non-fans.

I had never heard Brent Wood's characterization of the Dead as "Electronic Dixieland" but I love it. We have called the Grateful Dead, the best American Band and that description accentuates it nice-like.     

In talking about the community and taping of the band this sentence stands out:
So a drug-addled, rehearsal-averse, error-prone band of non-virtuosos perfected a state-of-the-art sound system that created a taping community that distributed a gigantic body of work that often came to sound as sloppy as some of the performances.
Some of those sloppy tapes will always be my favorite (as I am sure they are for Paumgarten) and that was kind of the personal touch and generosity that really got me and countless others into the band.  These tapes were mine, I owned them, shared them with any who wanted them for free, entering into a special kinship with the music. 

Nick's recollection of the Fox Den tape is so fucking funny and spot on it is hysterical, and he is right, that transition from "Scar>Fire" is amazing, Grade A stuff.  I wonder if the digital age is going to feel the same way with all of the top notch streaming shows on sites like as opposed to dusty old tapes?

Just the sheer volume of live tapes described in the article is staggering.  While it is always sad when a person dies, having the musical legacy the Dead has is unequaled; new fans will be analyzing it for years to come and that is exciting.    

Something odd also came out of reading the article, I realized after the latest mishap with my iPhone's music I do not have one Grateful Dead show on the error I need to correct this weekend, and that Fox Theater show will be on there.

Also I have not pointed out this year that once again the Dead are releasing a song a day for November, 30 Days of Dead.  When they are all aggregated come the end of the month I will post a link for all of them, but feel free to jump in now and enjoy a pretty good version of "Playin' In The Band".  Thanks to Paumgarten for a great article and a reminder of how important the Grateful Dead truly are

Monday, November 19, 2012

Dylan Cover #62 John Withnail "Man In The Long Black Coat"

In this ongoing Monday Series we will be exploring various artists versions of Bob Dylan song's. Today's tune is a cover by John Withnail playing "Man In The Long Black Coat"
Thoughts on Dylan Original:
From the Dylan album that proved Bob had something left to offering in regards to original songs, Oh Mercy, comes this song which may be about the Devil, or some dude he saw on the street who knows.  Whatever it's meaning Dylan likes this song having played it often during The Never Ending Tour and it is a good one.  Bluesy, simple, direct but still in the shadow's a solid song.   

Thoughts on Cover Artist:
Part of this series was to find random artists and be able to highlight their work along side established performers. I had not heard of this artist and in searching for info on the performer John Withnail, I found this reverbnation page that has a few songs on it.  It seems Withnail is from Oslo, Norway and has at least an EP to his credit.   
Thoughts on Cover:

A solo scaled down version of this latter day Dylan song finds Withnail taking a minimalist approach to the song His voice is raspy and engaging but the pace may be a touch to fast, perhaps a slowed down version would accentuate his vocals and the lyrics.  Who knows maybe Withnail was at the Olso show back in 96 and saw Dylan play this one.  Cruising to a finish under 3 minutes seems a touch quick, otherwise a fine listen.

Grade: C- 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday Funday: Free Album Download Action Bronson

Happy Friday, and to celebrate the end of the week we have a free download for all of you, Action Bronson's brand new full length release Rare Chandeliers.

To be honest I hadn't heard of Action Bronson until our friends over at Brooklyn Vegan had this post, but c'mon, how can I not share it with you after one look at that freaking amazing cover art??!?

The NYC MC's new 14 track LP is produced by the Alchemist, who provides some pretty dope beats.  Action Bronson, vocally,  sounds a lot like Ghostface Killah, it is kinda weird, especially when you see him and there are even a few similarities in what they are rapping about; as weird as it might be I could see Ghost use samples from Antiques Roadshow too.   Overall I am pretty impressed by this mixtape...full review to follow

If you are hesitant to download the disk, you can give it a full streaming listen at the link below, Enjoy your weekend:
 Action Bronson - Rare Chandeliers

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Album Review: Yuppicide-American Oblivion EP

American Oblivion EP
*** out of *****

Has it really been since 1995 that the NYHC/punk legends Yuppicide has put out new material?!?  Well time flies and so does American Oblivion as it's 6 songs speed past you in under 13 minutes.  This EP (and their anthology from a few years ago) just points out that the band never reached the large audience it deserved as they throw down aggression and power as if it was second nature. 

Quick and too the point the band focuses on American fears post 9-11 with the title track and overall feeling.  "Too Late" is pure punk with it's straight ahead drive and power while "Flies On..." dissects our smothering fascination with celebrity.   

The opening and closing tracks "Dead Inside" and "Not With You" are both top of the line, no-frills punk rock.  With the popularity bands like Off! have received over the last few years Yuppicide looks to toss its name back in the ring as a punk rock heavyweight.  
We have been fans of Yuppicide since we first heard "Fist Full of Credit Cards" (below) back in the mid 90's. It is exciting the RtBE's good friend Glen Lorieo was the producer of this EP and we have been meaning to review it for some time now.  There is a great interview with the band here, buy the disk here and peep a few videos below:
"Too Late", "Dead Inside", and "Follow The Leader" Live 9-30-12

"American Oblivion/True Love" Live Tompkins Sq 8-5-12

"Fist Full of Credit Cards"  

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Album Review: Elim Bolt-Nude South

Elim Bolt
Nude South
**and1/2 out of *****

Nude South, the first release from this South Carolina, indie-rock 5 piece has a roots vibe with flashes of the blues and early 50's ballad induced rock and roll. There is an easy feeling throughout the 7 song affair that was the brain child of front-man Johnnie Edward Matthews III.  The vocals are clear and the obvious focal point at the forefront of every song with Matthews sounding like a slowed down/restrained Jim James, with touches of Roy Orbison's style for good measure. 

The organ flourishes on "Field" add nice flairs of sound while "Farm Kid" works behind stout drums, a droning tone and solid electric guitar line.  The most upbeat track on Nude South, "Batshit" marches with its stomping boots and "Only You" twists around the blues with it's waltzing tone and lyrics stating "Only You/Can Bring Me Down".

The overall tone of the album is very low key but "Alright" contains a growing sense of tension that works well.  On the flip side some of that same laid back vibe can be a bit dull like on "Myers Farm" and disk closing "Blue Jays".      

The production, tone, playing and singing calls to mind Monsters of Folk fantastic album and while the songwriting might not be as memorable, Nude South is a soothing and successful first step for Elim Bolt.  
Coming from the Hearts and Plugs label Elim South has crafted a solid first release, shout out to producer, organist and RtBE Interviewee Dan McCurry for his help with this one. Give it a listen here, and peep a video below of the band live:

Monday, November 12, 2012

Dylan Cover #61 K'naan "With God On Our Side"

In this ongoing Monday Series we will be exploring various artists versions of Bob Dylan song's. Today's tune is a cover by K'naan playing "With God On Our Side"
Thoughts on Original
Perhaps the most poignant and lasting song Dylan has written and that speaks volumes. Lyrically it is perfect, using history, the warping of religion and politics to get across the point that man will rationalize anything, even war. Only played live 30 times since it's debut at Dylan's historic Town Hall show the song has added weight and meaning when it is played.  Morality and War, Religion and Righteousness, all just words when it comes down to it hold life inside those letters. Musically stark Dylan uses his impressive lyrics to express the confusion perfectly, should be mandatory listing in every history classroom.   

Thoughts on Cover Artist
I had not heard of K'naan until I was walking into The Global Citizens Festival in Central Park and his music could be heard in the distance.  We actually missed seeing the Somali Canadian Poet/Hip hop artist that day but just being on that bill speaks wonders regarding his stature as does his cover of this tune for Amnesty International

Thoughts on Cover
This week the term "cover" is a misnomer, this is a whole new song that just barely uses "With God On Our Side" for inspiration and a few choruses.  In all honesty it probably isn't fair to compare it to the original because the lyrics and presentation are totally different.  When it comes to reinventions like this though I am always interested and usually give more credit then most.  To me straight covering a song speaks to the artists tastes, but not necessarily to their talent.  I usually love when artists own a cover song and change it up...not this time.  K'naan certainly makes it his own, putting all of his own lyrics into the verses before doing an interpretation of the chorus twice (switching that up too).  He drops the seriousness from the song and the weight it carries vanishes with his phrasing about missed kisses and popcorn, while I appreciate the effort I hate the result.
Grade: Incomplete (this is a different song)

Below is the original for comparison as it is Veterans Day (Observed) and I want the message to get through for those who haven't heard the original:

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

NYPL Blog Post: Baseball Nicknames

Hey everybody.  This post got delayed a bit, but I have a blog post up on NYPL's site that I think you might get a kick out of regarding the Baseball Hall of Fame and Nicknames:
George (Chappie) Johnson, firs... Digital ID: 1231499. New York Public Library
 Unfortunately Chappie didn't make the hall...

This summer when Jeff, Hot Tub, Mike and myself drove up to Cooperstown to catch Lee Ranaldo and Wilco play (review here and pics here) we made the obvious trip to the Hall of Fame to check out the history etched there.  For those who read the site or know me, my love of baseball knows very few boundaries, and a trip to Cooperstown needs to be done every few years.  So much goodness can be seen in those halls and hours can get lost.  While checking out the plaques I started taking pictures of some of my favorite nicknames and it was suggested I should do a blog post for this.  So during the world series I got one up on NYPL blogs.  

Give it a read, feel free to comment (here or there) and let me know what you think....excitingly Spring Training is only a few months away!  

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Album Review- Gary Clark Jr. -Blak and Blu

Gary Clark Jr
Blak and Blu
***and1/2 out of *****

Talent and success do not always go hand in hand, the music business is just that, a business.  With access to fans being greater then ever now through technology, bands and artists need less help from labels and the "industry" then ever but mainstream success can be even more elusive with a more segmented then ever before listening population.

Gary Clark Jr's first full length album tries to break through on a national scale casting a broad net trying to appeal to everyone.  It is mostly successful but strays from the electric bluesman roots that earned him this major label debut. It seems to put style on shuffle with songs that have pop ("Ain't Messin 'Round"), hip-hop/new school R&B ("The Life", "You Saved Me", "Blak and Blu"), and rock-a-billy("Travis County") overtones; even the blues track "Numb" has a metal texture that should appeal to the headbanging crew.      

You can't fault him for expanding his pallet but these tracks, especially the hip-hop/smooth stylized tracks, don't hold up with the hot bread and butter blues songs that made Clark such a sensation when he burst on the scene.   

3 of the 4 songs from Clark's Bright Lights EP show up here in re-recorded style and show off his blazing skill with the guitar and form the best songs on Blak and Blu. "When My Train Pulls In" gets a burning electric treatment this time around as does "Things Are Changin'" while "Bright Lights" keeps its confident, sexy, strut.

Knowing that the Jimi Hendrix/Stevie Ray Vaughn/Every great electric bluesman from the past comparisons are going to be inevitable Gary Clark Jr attacks them head-on with a staggering take on Jimi's "Third Stone From The Sun" that melts into Albert Collins "If You Love Me Like You Say".  This is an explosive pairing that shows off Clark's talent and even incorporates Tom Morello like guitar scratches in the middle.      

Overall Clark's talent will win the day, and maybe expectations were too high coming in for the Austin, TX man, but this album seems to be trying to hard to appease everyone straight out of the gate and ends up playing like an i-tunes shuffle of his skills rather then a modern era classic.

Clark is still be finding his way as an artist, but just like recent super talented players before him (Robert Randolph, Trombone Shorty, etc) his skill is so immense he will always have a crowd in front of him cheering him on until the next effort.  
We loved Clark's 4 song EP when we first heard it earlier this year.  We were blown away when we caught him live as he dominated the blues tent down at Jazzfest, hopefully making it his home stage for years to come.  We have to say on the grand scheme of things we are disappointed with this full length album, while it is a good first step in his career (hence the 3 and 1/2 stars) it isn't the masterpiece we were hoping for.  The comparisons to Shorty and RR are easy; super skilled players who tend to write songs all over the map in terms of quality and context when it comes to the studio. I will always try to catch all of them live, but I am guessing I won't be reaching for their studio albums much (except for Backatown, I still love that disk).

Anyway if you haven't heard GCJr yet grab the disk here, and definitely catch him live when you can RtBE will be there tomorrow.  Below are a few samples of the tunes:
"Third Stone From The Sun/If You Love Me Like You Do"
"Nextdoor Neighbor Blues" Live

"Numb" Live

Monday, November 5, 2012

Dylan Cover #60 Pat Guadango & Tired Horses "Hurricane"

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 Pat Guadagno & Tired Horses playing "Hurricane"
Thoughts on Dylan Original:
We already covered this a few months back when we discussed Ani Difranco's cover version, so lets take a minute to talk Hurricane Sandy.  We were out in Cali last weekend for Jen and Ed's fantastic wedding and we couldn't make it all the way back east to NYC as Sandy forced us to explore Denver for a week (great city BTW).  We had to watch the damage from afar, but it was for the best as our apartment was without heat, hot water or power for 5 days.  In all honesty that is nothing but an inconvenience; we really feel for Jersey, Staten Island, Long Island and all of the places truly wrecked by Sandy.  It is never easy but we know since it effected the NYC area things will be fixed as quickly as possible, that's just how we do. 
Already politics seem to be out the window and the devastation is being handled fairly well all things considered, even though it can be hard as we have friends, loved ones and co-workers displaced from their homes still. In the grand scheme of things being without power, heat or gas for a few days isn't the end of the world and we should treat it as such, even though it can be hard to at the time, things could always be worse.  Just reinforces our overriding belief that Warren Zevon so elegantly stated: "Enjoy Every Sandwich".

Thoughts on Cover Artist
I had not heard of Pat Guadagno before but after some research I found out he has had a nice career as a touring cover musician.  Here he is playing with the Tired Horses band at a Bob Fest.  More importantly Pat is from Jersey, Matawan specifically and I know that there is major damage in that area.  Here is hoping Pat, his family, friends, band and fans are all doing OK today.     
Thoughts on Cover
My thoughts on the cover seem secondary at this point, but I will say that is a direct, straight ahead reworking of the song in a live setting.  A fantastic live cover that any Dylan fan in attendance would be excited to hear and I am sure Pat and crew can not wait to play live again.
Grade B
If you would like to donate to help out Hurricane Sandy Victims please do so here.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Friday Funday- Chamberlin Covers Paul Simon

Happy Friday Suckers!

A few weeks ago we covered Chamberlin's newest EP.  Now thanks to Scott at Popgun Pr we got hip to the bands cover of the Paul Simon classic "Call Me Al".  This is a distinct, original take on the song. We here at RtBE love when covers take on a whole new direction for a song, and Chamberlin has done that here, give it a listen: 

Here is the original if you ain't too keen on the cover:

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Album Review- Japandroids-Celebration Rock

Celebration Rock
****and1/2 out of *****

The award for the most aptly named album of the year has to go to Japandroids for their second release Celebration Rock.  Starting off with literal fireworks the album doesn't let down the energy until it's 8 songs are completed as the Canadian duo fire off drum fills and guitar riffs with beautiful frantic energy.     

The party rock of "The Night of Wine and Roses" is infectious, you can't help but singing along to debauchery filled lyrics and "Yell Like Hell To The Heavens!".  The tour love song of "Fire Highway" shows hearts colliding and gypsy fears running amuck; apparently the band was getting anxious to get back on the road when they wrote this album and this song encompasses that burning desire.

"Evil's Sway" bites a Tom Petty "Ok! All Right!" call out from "American Girl" but the band sneaks past this with a tune about slinky night time activities that is infectious.  The bombastic "Adrenaline Nightshift" is the best out and out  jam the band has put on an album filled with them.  The song contains both the passion and teenage rebelliousness that makes rock and roll constantly invigorating to anyone with a pulse.  The rising climax of "Continuous Thunder" that closes things is so powerful you may just start the whole road-trip over again when it is done.    
Celebration Rock isn't perfect, the cover of Gun Club's "For The Love of Ivy" is slightly lacking and the whole album is fairly one note, but these are small complaints when that one note is so fucking exhilarating.  Perfectly titled, expertly played, feel free to thank the Japandroids for a hell of a ride.  
We dug the bands first album, but didn't know if it would stick around...honestly except for "Young Hearts Spark Fire" it didn't, Celebration Rock proves Japandroids are for real.  The band has energy for days and have produced some of the best party rock out there.  Support the band here, buy the album here, and peep some song previews below:
"The Night of Wine and Roses"

"Adrenaline Nightshift" Live