Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Album Review: Jim James- Eternally Even

Jim James
Eternally Even
***and1/2 out of *****
On Jim James first solo album, 2013's Regions of Light and Sound and God, the My Morning Jacket front-man was spiritual and positive throughout. Eternally Even continues the crooners love of skittering beats, digital-dance funk and soulful bass, but his outlook is a lot less rosy.

Clearly effected by the current state of politics, violence and race relations James tones back on his falsetto flights of fancy, getting plainspoken and direct. From the start he directly addresses things with "Hide In Plain Sight" calling out bigots via a mix of old school R&B, updated digital bleeps and feedback fuzz; the bass line here and throughout can be intoxicating.

However there is no bumping bass for the following directness as "Same Old Lie" skitters about moving from indictment of the whole system to warbling string laden, eastern tinged dance instrumental to close the last two minutes of the effort. The track shows both the pluses and minuses of James on this album; willing to go anywhere, but convoluting things in the process. Acting as a an indictment dance party it works, but the oddly engaging music to close dilutes the preceding screed.

The follow up "World In Spirit" is better but is still overcooked with its mid song digital break and chopping. Before that though James does his best Marvin Gaye (his major influence for the whole album) with topical lyrics over updated Motown grooves. That feel turns more gospel with the searching and worldly "The World's Smiling Now". Up to this point the album may be flawed but it is still a success, that changes when it hits the wall of "We Ain't Getting Any Younger Parts 1 & 2".

Part 1 is a six minute instrumental that may have been too long at six seconds, as a mid album focal point it is stunning in its blandness. Acting as place holder or intermission music Part 1 fails, but Part 2 tries to save things with a foreboding, Leonard Cohen inspired vocal delivery about creeping death. Alone it would be a fine track, if you are listening digitally feel free to skip Part 1 completely.

The old school R&B comes back to close the album. "True Nature" finds the bass bouncing things back on track (both producer Blake Mills and James himself are credited with playing bass and both should be commended for that contribution). James breathy clipped vocals return to his Marvin Gaye theme encouraging the listener to "Do whatever feels right". Sonic over-saturation still abounds but James grooves it long for "In The Moment" with wispy horns sweeping throughout. The slow crooning title track allows James to vocally shine, but his singing is clearly not his motive on this record, his theme that time is passing us by and we need to do something is the point.  

Overall this album feels more substantial then Regions of Light and Sound and God. Powerful but flawed, where it might be better to cut down on all the tricks, instrumental interludes and pro-tools studio options, and focus on his lyrics and theme. However as is, Eternally Even delivers an honest expression of disconnected anguish with a silver lining of hope for 2016.
Support the artist, buy the album, peep some video:

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Frank Zappa Vinyl Re-Issues Coming Soon

News is out that the notoriously stingy Frank Zappa vault is semi opening as five of his albums are getting a vinyl reissue.

We're Only In It For The Money,  Cruisin' with Reuben & the Jets, Lumpy Gravy, Weasels Ripped My Flesh, and the epic Joe's Garage will all be released on vinyl (more info). It is an odd mix of releases, some are classics, some are kinda boring, and it is strange that they didn't release the whole collection or do it at least by year, in order.

Our favorite Zappa releases are not on this list (well Joe's Garage is probably in our top five) but it is cool to see this movement happening. To celebrate, how about some Zappa video and tunes for your ears and eyes below:

Album Review: Phish Big Boat

Big Boat
*** out of *****

A few weeks ago we reviewed a new album from the metal giants Metallica and you may wonder what the Vermont four piece jamband legends could possible have in common with the San Francisco headbangers, but it is simply this, do either need a new album? Both bands have hugely popular back catalogs, covers and obscurities that they could play live from now until they were dead and fans would still sell out arenas all over the world to see them.

With Metallica it seems more of an industry thing to do, new record, new two year world tour, rinse and repeat, but with Phish it is something different; these guys just love playing music together. If they are not on stage feeding off the energy they are in the studio, having a goofy time writing intricate (yet still very goofy) songs. Big Boat is the most recent of these gatherings which produced a studio album and overall it is a pleasant sailing that is inconsequential.

The band continues to just do what they do, fans will find moments they like here (then LOVE live) and critics will say they are scattered, boring and long winded. Both are right.

"Friends" is a Fishman opener that is odd yet preaches to the choir in it's "Bathub Gin" like lyrics, correct Jon, we are all in this together. The crisp as hell horns are dazzling and overwhelm some otherwise humdrum "standard Phish" numbers like "Breath and Burning" and "No Men In No Man's Land". Bob Ezrin's production captures all this brass work stunningly, and while it isn't always lock step with the foursome (or the songs themselves) it is clear the players sound fantastic. Like Fuego before this, the overall production is world class, if nothing else Phish knows how to get a great the music coming out of the speakers to sound great.

The song writing is a different story. "Blaze On" falls into summer time soft reggae Jimmy Buffet land and easily flows around the ear via weed smoke and Caribbean vibes like the Phish live staple it has already started to become. The group also goes an old school R&B route with "Tide Turns" which has all the elements to work, but drags courtesy of Anastasio's vocals, if ever there was a time for a guest vocalist, this was it.

Bassist Mike Gordon puts his unique twist on things with "Waking Up Dead" that displays an odd 80's electro vibe as does the Page McConnell penned "I Always Wanted it this Way" perhaps signalling a new direction the band will travel in. "Miss You" goes simplistic, with sappy balladry and would be duller than white bread, however Trey's guitars manage to shine, pushing it towards a lesser "Velvet Sea".

The closing numbers are the albums high points, "More" moves into Trey's direct wheelhouse. Positive honest lyrics via every-man vocals in front of a rising tide of energetic music that never quite explodes (a cool rarity for the band) while closer "Petrichor" dives back into "Guyute" land for mapped out orchestrated flights of fancy. Phish is just doing what they do, either hop on board, or let the Big Boat pass you by, the band and the fans will be fine either way.
A little breezier than Fuego, but basically more of the same. Support the band, buy the album, peep some video below:

Monday, November 28, 2016

Dylan Cover #257 Casey Pearce "Let Me Die In My Footsteps"

In this ongoing Monday Series we will be exploring various artists versions of Bob Dylan song's. Today's tune is by Casey Pearce and it is a live cover of "Let Me Die In My Footsteps"

Thoughts on Original:
From the first time we tackled a cover of this track:
A Dylan track that for once you don't have to wonder what he is singing about. This is Dylan's reaction to nuclear war and the cold war scare that was happening, "Let Me Die In My Footsteps" is a defiant statement against to the idea of bomb shelters and fear. A proud American song that still resonates today and an early Dylan track we go back to periodically. Also sounding a whole hell of a lot like "Long Black Veil" helps things out too. Quick side note, it was the first Dylan song we put on the morning of September 11th 2001.

Thoughts on The Cover Artist:
Can't find much about him, but Casey Pearce's youtube page has him doing a few other covers on it.
Thoughts on Cover:
Really great version of this song, taking it on straight ahead but Mr. Pearce does an excellent job, Wish we knew more about him. 

Friday, November 25, 2016

Full Show Friday: MGLA @ Metal Meeting 2016

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

It is upon us! BLACK Friday! In a tradition we started a few years ago it is time for the most evil Black Metal ever; because really it is the perfect soundtrack if you are hitting the brutality of shopping on this day. Granted we here at RtBE are not fans of the genre (or shopping) but have researched a few bands after enjoying the documentary Until The Light Takes Us.

MGLA (I'm told that translates to Fog in English) is a Polish Black Metal Band who has been killing it since 2000. This show is from Black Easter Metal Meeting earlier this year. Start banging your head, full setlist below. Enjoy the metal or die!!!!


00:00 Mdłości I
06:21 Further Down The Nest I
12:18 Exercises In Futility I
19:28 Mdłości II
23:10 With Hearts Toward None I
28:38 Exercises In Futility II
35:34 Groza III
41:12 With Hearts Toward None VII
50:15 Exercises In Futility VI

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving from RtBE!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving. Make sure you spend some time over this holiday doing what is truly important...Watching The Last Waltz:

Also make sure to enjoy your time with loved ones and family. As a famous man once said, "Enjoy Every Sandwich"...especially the leftover turkey, mashed potato, stuffing and gravy ones on potato rolls...

The last few years we have thrown it back to Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parades of the past and this years no different. Here is the beginning of the 1992 Thanksgiving Day Parade:

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Album Review: Metallica Hardwired...To Self Destruct

Hey all, got a new review up @glidemag which you can read Right C'here!!!
It is from the legendary Metallica. While it is nowhere near as bad as the last album of theirs we reviewed, it isn't anything great. Mid level Metallica may be exciting for some, but honestly not RtBE

In fact after reviewing it we went back to their old records and we were reminded just how awesome they were. Master of Puppets has to be one of the top three metal albums of all time. 

Support the band, buy the album, peep some video below and feel free to tell us your thoughts on the metal men in the comments. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Album Review: A Tribe Called Quest- We got it from Here…Thank You 4 Your service

Hey all, got a new review up @glidemag which you can read Right C'here!!!
It is of A Tribe Called Quests final album, awkwardly titled We got it from Here…Thank You 4 Your service. Tribe was vital in our musical development, Low End Theory still ranks in our top five favorite hip hop albums of all time. 

That said we were between a 7 and 8 stars on this one for Glide with the editor bumping it to 8. Personally, love the first half and think the second half is a let down by the bands high standards. 

Support the band, buy the album and peep some video below:

Monday, November 21, 2016

Dylan Cover #256 Eddie Vedder "Girl From The North Country" Live

In this ongoing Monday Series we will be exploring various artists versions of Bob Dylan song's. Today's tune comes from Eddie Vedder and it is his live cover of "Girl From The North Country"

Thoughts on Dylan's Original:
From the first time we tackled a cover version of this song:
A fun little number that connects Dylan with folk's past. I heard Simon and Garfunkel's "Scarborough Fair" first when I was growing up so I have always been a bit more partial to that version of this old folk tune even though Dylan changed a bunch of stuff around (obviously) with his recording that appeared on The Freewheeling Bob Dylan. His duet with Johnny Cash that highlights Nashville Skyline is something else entirely, a major sonic effort that I love. On an album that saw so many massive tunes come flowing out of the bard this one can be overshadowed yet his first version of this track is just a sweet folk ditty that has aged very, very well.

Thoughts on Cover Artist:
We love Eddie. Love Pearl Jam. Now that Pop Week is done we are back to normal scheduling broadcasting here at RtBE.
Thoughts on Cover:
Awesome, fantastic version, live from his solo acoustic tour. Not much to add, just enjoy the sweet little song. 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

RIP Sharon Jones

RtBE would like to honor the passing of a great soul singer Sharon Jones who died this weekend, she was 60.

We just recently reviewed her soundtrack, and it hurts our heart she passed. As Zevon said, "Enjoy every sandwich". Here are some videos of her and her Daptones, the peoples who brought real R&B back to the forefront. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Full Show Friday: Michael Jackson Live 1997

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

Well we end Pop Week here at RtBE the only way we know how, with the King of Pop. MJ, live in 1997. Pro Shot, Pro Sound, Enjoy:

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Album Review: Solange- A Seat At The Table

A Seat At The Table
*** out of *****

(Editors Note: We here at RtBE normally don't cover mainstream pop, but with the year in review coming soon, we wanted to dig into some of the more critically acclaimed pop albums of 2016. So welcome to Pop Week on RtBE.)

The third full length from Solange finds the pop singer slowing down to let her inner soul woman shine as she creates a thematic full length that is restrained in sound but not texture. Focusing on Blackness in America, Solange incorporates snippets of interviews to link today's problems to past issues that have never been solved.

While previous efforts (like "Losing You") contained a dance laden indie vibe, complete with 80's flourishes, her newest is squarely rooted in 90's Neo Soul. Minimalist production lets her vocals and lyrics take to the forefront while the trend of 'less is more' in modern R&B continues.

Opening with the soft rolling "Rise" and "Weary" the awakening with a societal hangover sets the tone right away as Solange softly sings as the album blooms. The first of the "Interludes" comes in and unlike many hip-hop/R&B albums the breaks contained on A Seat At The Table are vital to the overall message. Interviewing friends and family Solange brings political commentary directly into her music; where her lyrics can mean different things, these interludes can not.

Musically the theme is kept through the sparse instrumentation. sleepy vibe and for the first few songs an easy piano. Those pianos color "Cranes In The Sky" while the first guest, Lil Wayne shows up for "Mad", but never gets really angry. One aspect of the album that makes it a cohesive success also makes it boring, as the tone, instrumentation and energy never gets above slight head bobbing levels.

The snares slap forward on "Where Do We Go" and horns that have a beginning in New Orleans show up for "F.U.B.U" via a restrained brass run. Solange sings her strongest on "Don't Touch My Hair" which also features Sampha before "Borderline" welcomes Q-Tip who pairs perfectly with Solange's laid back crooning. "Junie" tries to kick up the digital energy but never gets over the easy grooving hump while "Scales" (featuring Kelela) brings back the bleak spareness discussing the painful street heroes dreams.

A Seat At The Table is a complete work of art, but one that suffers from its one note tempo throughout and lack of a must hear track. For Solange however it breaks her away from her more famous big sister and gives her an album worthy of recognition.  
Pop week continues. Support the artist, buy the album peep some video below:

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Album Review: Frank Ocean- Blonde

Frank Ocean
*and1/2 out of *****

(Editors Note: We here at RtBE normally don't cover mainstream pop, but with the year in review coming soon, we wanted to dig into some of the more critically acclaimed pop albums of 2016. So welcome to Pop Week on RtBE.)

If you a major or minor recording artist these days you need some sort of hook to get noticed, so after years of waiting Frank Ocean finally came out with a magazine, pop up stores, a visual album and Blonde the proper follow up to the critically acclaimed channel Orange. However, whether it was expectations or mounting pressure to release an album Blonde sounds half baked, in line with another much publicized release this year.

Throughout the disk, songs feel under produced, trailing off midway, injecting new ideas only to have them drift off or flow into the next track with no energy. There is almost zero drums present, and rhythm seems to be an after thought, so does melody actually. While Kanye West can be blamed for the move to remove drums from R&B and hip hop recently, Blonde seems to take it to an extreme, using monotone and auto-tune instead of singing or rhyming.

"Nikes" feels jumbled as in the moment heartfelt reactions like "RIP Trayvon, That nigga look just like me" are convoluted next to shout outs and over-voiced nothings all trying to turn the light on commercialism. Playing like a demo tape, pianos dominate "Pink + White" as the mood is somber with Beyonce providing backup ooh-and-aah's. From here the tracks get shorter further enforcing the unfinished feel to things. Five of the remaining tracks are just over a minute, as if Ocean really didn't know where to go, and the popping up of Andre 3000 is the most lively minute on the disk.

"Ivy" is his most complete and questioning track, dealing with getting down, hooking up and being nervous about the whole concept. The breakup effort of "Self Control" can also open up Ocean's world to his pain about failed relationships. Those are the few highlights where other numbers like the stringed out and over done "Pretty Sweet" thankfully bury his words and "Skyline To" feels half-assed all around.

Throughout the full album, it is difficult to shake the "There has to be something more here right?" feeling, but there really isn't. There are no standout tracks, few worth remembering and even less that seem to mean a whole hell of a lot, will any of these songs have any shelf life into the new year? Or next month?

Rambling from one lazy track to the next Ocean has hopefully reached the pinnacle of the "less in more" vibe contaminating hip-hop and R&B in 2016, but that is doubtful as people seem to eat it up. I'll pass.
While RtBE wasn't a fan, you should support the artist, buy the album and peep some video:

Frank Ocean - 'Nikes' from DoBeDo Productions on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Album Review: Beyonce- Lemonade

**** out of *****

(Editors Note: We here at RtBE normally don't cover mainstream pop, but with the year in review coming soon, we wanted to dig into some of the more critically acclaimed pop albums of 2016. So welcome to Pop Week on RtBE.) 

The breakup album that set the twitterverse ablaze in 2016 contains the most impassioned singing of Beyonce's career because she is very clearly dealing with some powerful emotions; it also happens to be her strongest album to date. While there have been other albums that have played out on social media, the shocking aspect to Lemonade was the surprise it took everyone by when it came out and was so open or at least appeared to be (from Beyonce's side at least) about the highest profile musical relationship on the planet.

Packed with samples, long lists of songwriters and producers (15 writers on "Hold Up"?!?!) this isn't a solo album so to speak, but the energy and passion come from the biggest pop superstar on the planet going scorned-lover-ballistic. Opening with the breezy calm-before-the-storm of "Pray For Me" the energy is only hinted at, then the anger of "Hold Up" flows out and the cheater in her sites gets his. There is always a tendency to read into artists lyrics as being personal, but this one takes the cake for directness as Beyonce isn't writing too many similes. Sure, it is only her side of the story, but with the passion flowing this electric, is another side needed?

While the anger is there, a song like "Hold Up" suffers from 2016 hip-hop/R&B restraint; if ever there was a time for a Rick Rubin beat, this was it. While samples and lyrics contributed by everyone from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to Souljah Boy to Andy Williams flowing out, the musical power is lacking on "Hold Up", which should be a showstopper. Instead that comes via the next track when Jack White gets involved for "Don't Hurt Yourself" and Led Zeppelin's "When The Levee Breaks" booms. While the mega hip-hop-blues-rock is magnetic, it is Beyonce's killer line of "Watch my fat ass twist, boy/As I bounce to the next dick, boy" that is the real metal moment; she has never been more palpable, real and electric on a record.

Beyonce's rage reaches a climax on "Sorry" and "6 Inch" as regret takes a back seat to out and out destruction. The first moves into turn about is fair play realm via "Middle Fingers up/Put Them Hands High/Wave It In His Face/Tell'em Boy Bye" while the second takes on the pure lust as she turns on her sultriest vocals on the album. This run of songs is staggering as Beyonce is firing on all of her cylinders.

"Daddy Lessons" is a musical detour down to New Orleans and Texas as Beyonce equates her paternal relationships with her current one, adding depth and background to the situation. It is a definite switch both musically (bordering on country) and lyrically with its storybook telling. This is new ground for Beyonce and a possible window into her genre hopping future.

The second half of the album is not as successful as most of the fiery rage has been extinguished and Knowles grapples with the forgiveness part of keeping the relationship intact (not an easy task). The weakest track is the dull R&B of "Love Drought" as Bey is at a crossroads, and not the Robert Johnson kind. She goes the ballad route with "Sandcastles" and does a passionate vocal job of reveling in the falsehood of promises, beginning a segue session that sees a transient James Blake moving "Forward" into a propulsive "Freedom" that Kendrick Lamar helps try to help exclaim, but there is not full on acceptance.

Knowles addresses this in the finale of "All Night" in which she honestly claims it is going to take some time to get back to rubbing up on her philandering lover while the sample of the fantastic horns from "Spottieottiedopaliscious" ring out and get interrupted as strings as well. The odd encore of "Formation" founds Beyonce still moving into the future with a hopefully repaired relationship and fiercer outlook on life.

While "realness" is an issue Beyonce will continue to grapple with, she has clearly made the Blood On The Tracks for the millennial generation. Where Dylan ended things behind the scenes, Knowles decided to patch things up in her high profile relationship, an interesting twist for a generation that seems to overshare. Since the release Beyonce's details have stayed hidden, until her next album perhaps?

(This review is of the musical album Lemonade, not the "visual album")
Color me semi-surprised, this is a very good to great album. Support the artist, buy the album, peep some video below:

Monday, November 14, 2016

RIP Leon Russell

RtBE would like to honor the passing of rock and roll legend Leon Russell who died this weekend, he was 74.
For a full review of his career check out this article from Jon Pareles to get a glimpse of what he accomplished.

We have always loved Russell, while not all of his albums are our favorite, his triple live disk is a pure injection of energy that we listen to often. We haven't even mentioned his fantastic work leading Mad Dogs & Englishmen who were amazing for a short period behind Joe Cocker's insane voice and Leon running the musical show. 

He seems to be a natural fit in the live setting and struggled a bit in the studio, but live music is where it is at. Want more proof? Then check out the Concert for Bangladesh for his work with George Harrison

Here are a few live tracks to celebrate his wonderful life. RIP Leon. 

Dylan Cover #255 Kesha "It Ain't Me, Babe" Live

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 Kesha of the Dylan tune "It' Ain't Me, Babe"
(Editors Note: We here at RtBE normally don't cover mainstream pop, but with the year in review coming soon, we wanted to look at some of the more critically acclaimed pop albums and performances of 2016. So welcome to Pop Week on RtBE.)

Thoughts on Original:
From the first time we tackled a cover of this song:
One of the best Dylan songs because it is universal, to the point, lyrical, smirking, self-centered and a perfect statement. Dylan has written lots of songs that can be covered well (as evident by this series) but "It Ain't Me, Babe" fits perhaps better then almost any other one into a huge variety of styles. That is because we have all been in the singers position one time or another...and it is a damn good song.

Thoughts on Cover Artist:
Kesha gets to handle cover duties as we begin Pop Week here at RtBE. Don't have much of an opinion of her, but you can support her here.
Thoughts on Cover:
A fine scaled down cover of a fantastic song. For an award show, it is nice version and a great effort to inject some Bob into the kids ears. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Full Show Friday: STS9 @ Playstation Theater NY, NY 11/5/15

We search the murky back waters of youtube to find full concerts and post them to the site weekly, come back every seven days to help us celebrate Full Show Friday's. These shows are of varying quality and may not be here for long so enjoy them while you can...As always, please support the artist every which way, but especially by seeing them live (if they are still playing)...This week...STS9!!!
From last year, when Sound Tribe Sector 9 played at the Playstation Theater Times Square NYC. The electro-jam outfit go on and on in this set. It's a one camera shot, but lots of great visuals with the lights and excellent sound. Full set list below, Enjoy:
2015.11.05 :: Playstation Theater :: New York, NY

Set I:
When the Dust Settles Reprise
New Dawn New Day
What Is Love

Set II:
Dance - We Want The Funk^ - Dance - We Want The Funk^ - Dance
Natural Blues*
The Unquestionable Supremacy of Nature

Breathe In

^Parliament Funkadelic cover
*Moby cover

***Circus cut short and EHM starts late due to stream issue. If any fan video surfaces may try to edit that in to fill out the songs.***

Veterans Day 2016

Veterans Day is an important one in our history, read more about it here.

Since this is a music site we will pay homage in our way and especially since our friend Glen has recorded a song with his great NYHC band Billyclub Sandwich titled "Veteran's Day". You can listen to bad ass tune below following the perfect Patton quote that the group used to intro it:
No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.

"I choose to fight for what I live for" Well said fellows. Well said.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Album Review: Sleigh Bells- Jessica Rabbit

Sleigh Bells
Jessica Rabbit
** out of *****

Sleigh Bells make the perfect music for an ADD generation,. The Brooklyn duo of Derek Miller and Alexis Krauss have been at this for a while now, putting out noise-pop that at times can be dance-able and huge before instantly becoming incredibly grating and annoying. This trend continues for the duos fourth full length, Jessica Rabbit which pairs scattered riffs, plucky synths, electrobeats and jarring mid bar changes with some powerful singing.

The musical backing from Miller has changed little from the bands debut Treats, perhaps he has softened a tad and stopped trying to shock at every moment but those jarring changes are always going to be part of the Sleigh Bells formula. Opener "It's Just Us Now" quakes and shakes in the most random of moments, if this were back in the CD days listeners may have thought they got a scratched version when the song starts as clipped riffs choke off into pure silence. The track never catches hold, stuttering into an odd huge chorus that is jammed down your ears; unfortunately this track showcases the worst parts of the group. Crescendos come from nowhere, vocals and music don't match, or even sound like they were written for the same song as the track feels eternal at just over three and a half minutes.

However, the band can find magical moments among the chaos and one of those is clearly evident on "I Can't Stand You Anymore". Miller to his credit saves the hair metal riffs, school bell jingles and experimentation to the beginning and end, leaving Krauss to vent over a grooving minimalist R&B beat. Alexis Krauss vocals are confident and the best part of Jessica Rabbit as they blast out of the speakers and grab the listener by the lapels. Here she also harmonizes with herself over some glorious backing vocals adding a deeper dimension to the song with flashes of electro R&B.

Jessica Rabbit as a whole continues this up and down roller coaster ride for Sleigh Bells, who have staked their turf out by this stage in their career. Some tracks soar ("Crucible") some are immensely skippable ("Torn Clean", "Loyal For" "I Know Not To Count On You") most fall in-between ("I Can Only Stare", "Lightning Turns Saw Dust Gold", "Throw Me Down The Stairs", "Unlimited Dark Paths") as the group pushes and pulls with metal edged riffs and pop sensibilities.

Sleigh Bells tension between sonic worlds is their strength but the constant shifting and re-imaging dulls for when the real powerful collaborations are present.        
Some cool album art here, support the band, buy the album and peep some video below:

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Album Review: Spam All-Stars- Trans-Oceanic

Spam All-Stars
*** out of *****

The eight piece electro-Latin-jazz-jam-funk band from Miami the Spam All-Stars newest record Trans-Oceanic brings their South Florida sounds to broader audience while keeping their roots firmly intact. Produced and arraigned by DJ Le Spam the group moves through sonic textures willingly and breezily never digging too deep or crashing hard.

While Le Spam takes care of samples, turntables and production the other members are, Tomas Diaz - timbales, vocals Mercedes Abal - flute Aj Hill - saxophone Chad Bernstein - trombone Jose Elias - guitar and tres Steve Welsh - saxophone Ted Zimmerman - trumpet.

The opening title blows in via sampled beats and horn lines structured around digital backing that ebbs in and out, easily setting the stage for the rest of the disk. The group's Latin influences take center stage on "Cosquilla" as the vocals are showcased in Cuban fashion, prime for dance floor routine.

That Latino groove swings back state side for some funky string and horn work on "Ruby Carat". "Around The Track" continues in this vein only adding a huge horn build, a ripping guitar solo and elements of a blaxploitation soundtrack that elevates it above all of the others on the disk. "Around the Track" seems to be the perfect combo of the bands wide range of talents showcasing their natural groove, electro flourishes and cultural flavor; if you just want a feel for this group here is your starting point. On the flip side "Satellite" puts an adult contemporary twist on things and the group clearly works better in other areas.

All the tracks are long pushing the seven minute mark for most, and while the majority drift by easily a few (like "Satellite") stick around a bit long. "La Concha" smooths things out over samples and electro beats/flourishes while "Agua De Poco" brings back the funky energy to close things on a high note.

Primarily known for their live shows, the collective have put together a solid studio disk to chill out, get down, drive around, or simply listen to with Trans-Oceanic.  
Support the band, buy the disk, see them live, peep some video below:

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Album Review: Sturgill Simpson- A Sailors Guide To Earth

Sturgill Simpson
A Sailors Guide To Earth
**** out of *****

When Metasounds in Country Music was released in 2014 Sturgill Simpson rose to prominence on the story that he reinvigorated a bloated and lax Nashville country music scene with weird psychedelic elements and a voice everyone compared to Merle Haggard. For an encore Simpson decided to take total control by singing, arraigning and producing (removing the acclaimed David Cobb from the seat) and releasing of A Sailors Guide To Earth on a major label (Atlantic). Nashville isn't his target this go around, the complete American songbook is; a weighty task, but one Simpson almost pulls off.

Caged as a sailors letter home to his son from far away (drawing on his newborn son, his life as a Naval officers son and perhaps his grandfathers actual letters) the album has a concept in giving advice, growing up and keeping the dream alive. More wide ranging than any country disk in years the musicianship is a joy to behold; Simpson has brought the Muscle Shoal sound, overdone string sections and a mid 70's sense soul/funk to the forefront.

The first few tracks begin with waves, a sailor chant or ship bells before dipping into their own myths. On the opener "Welcome To Earth (PollyWag)" the soothing ocean leads to string swells higher than most white caps as introductions are given. The Daptone Horns are major players on this disk bringing a soulful direction that juices up almost every effort, whether it be delicate fills or huge builds, the Brooklyn based brass are dynamite.

The country twang moves into the realm of lies and tall tails on "Sea Stories" with the most confident singing Simpson has shown up until now. Then the players take on "In Bloom" which comes in eerily, feeling natural among the wide-ranging sounds, as Simpson continues his gift of reinterpreting tunes (check out "The Promise" if you've missed it). A soothing violin driven effort, complete with a huge horn crescendo; one thing is for certain, Kurt would have loved it.

While the cover of Nirvana twists sounds around, "Brace For Impact (Live A Little)" finds Simpson fuzzing up and going for a distorted rock/electronic sound. While it goes on a minute to long, you can feel Simpson swaggering with confidence. That bravado moves into big band land for the cathartic "All Around You", and it is around here you begin to notice the sound of the disk outweighs the song writing.

The overall sonic aesthetic is unforgettable but few songs/lyrics really knock it out of the park. Simpsons new found freedom allowed him to indulge in studio magic and fantastic backing players, but they shine brighter then the lyrics being sung.  

Simpson comes back to the sailor motif for the raucous finale that motors with an energy not found elsewhere, the barn burner is jarring to close the sweeping disk on such a powerful trip. "Call To Arms" is a monster and by placing it at the end Simpson closes strong, but a mid-album placing would have been more effective, putting his Nirvana tribute to close instead would have pushed the listener even further from their comfort zone and prepped for what's to come.

It is not a perfect record, but A Sailor's Guide To Earth firmly breaks Simpson from the Nashville mold and label, making him a must here now and going forward; this will appeal to any fan of robust adventurous music.
A very interesting album, and one that intrigues us in many ways, not least of which begins at the start, you see that sick ass album art? Support the artist, buy the record and peep some video below:

Monday, November 7, 2016

Dylan Cover #254 Echo & The Bunnymen "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue"

In this ongoing Monday Series we will be exploring various artists versions of Bob Dylan song's. Today's tune is a cover by the Echo & The Bunnymen of the Dylan tune "It's All Over, Now Baby Blue"
Thoughts on Original:
From the first time we tackled a cover of this song:
Baby Blue is magical all around, from the pure asshole way he sung it to Donovan to put him in his place in Don't Look Back, to the heart breaking recent live versions on the never ending tour. The song has a lot of what makes Dylan who he is; mystery but a sense of understanding somehow. Dominated by the amazing lyrics the song is a hard one not to like.

Thoughts on Cover Artist:
Never been a huge Echo & The Bunnymen fan, they kind of fell into that nebulous post punk/new wave era that we never dug deep into. From what we heard they are fine, just never were RtBE's cup of tea.
Thoughts on Cover:
Love the organ intro, and the spacey guitar work. The group nails the mysterious elements of this track perfectly. Nice way to kick off the week. 

Friday, November 4, 2016

Full Show Friday: The Thrashwomen Live 2016

We search the murky back waters of youtube to find full concerts and post them to the site weekly, come back every seven days to help us celebrate Full Show Friday's. These shows are of varying quality and may not be here for long so enjoy them while you can...As always, please support the artist every which way, but especially by seeing them live (if they are still playing)...This week...The Thrashwomen!!!
After an intro from John Waters and Traci Lords of all people the trio of The Thrashwomen put on a short set of grungy surf punk and rock. Give it a listen as the video and sound are excellent.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

New Japandroids Album Due in 2017

Very excited to see the news that Japandroids are back in action.
After some surprise live shows last weekend (can't believe RtBE missed them) the group put out this video announcement of their upcoming release Near To The Wild Heart Of Life due in 2017.

Goose bumps...The band has been one of our favorites for a while and we still listen to Celebration Rock often.

Simply put; it is the kind of rock and roll that makes you feel alive.

With that said, let's listen to some:

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Album Review: The Dean Ween Group- The Deaner Album

Hey all, got a new review up @glidemag which you can read Right C'here!!!
It is of Dean Ween's (Mickey Melchiono) first "solo" record but he has a lot of friends involved. Fans of Ween, this is a no-brainer, get it now. If you don't know that band, you may want to start with say, Chocolate & Cheese to get a sense of who they are, or maybe even better yet check out some live clips on youtube. 

Good stuff from the Deaner, maybe I am just getting old but he is so good at the instrumentals I wish this was an album full of them. Either which way, buy the album, support the artist, read the review and peep some video below:

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Album Review: Shovels & Rope- Little Seeds

Shovels & Rope
Little Seeds
****and1/2 out of *****
The husband and wife duo of Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent have been crafting some damn fine Americana over their career as the duo Shovel & Rope, but recent events (the birth of their first child, tragic mass shootings, personal loss) have inspired them to craft the best record of their career with the fantastic Little Seeds.

Playing all of the instruments, self producing (Trent covered those duties) and singing perfectly together the duo seems completely lockstep in stride. They turn up the amps, distort the white noise fuzz and electric guitar more than ever before on opener "I Know" recalling a minimalist Dead Weather sound and can stay loud with other tracks like the bombastic groove of "Buffalo Nickel" and the swinging "Invisible Man" both reminding of recent Jack White projects.  

That noise injection is a welcomed added dimension, twisting up their sound proper but this band is steeped in folk tradition to their core, just listen to "Mourning Song". The track is direct, acoustic, cleverly laid out and most importantly achingly great to listen to. "Botched Execution" is energetic in its constant singing giving it a hip shaking urgency, while "The Last Hawk" feels the most like past Shovels & Rope efforts as it is an ode to Garth Hudson in a mid tempo storytelling style.  The dramatic "St. Anne's Parade" moves the band back to it's almost gospel roots setting the tone for the knock out punch later on the disk.

Hearst and Trent's mastering of the less is more idea becomes starkly clear on "BWYR" which deals with the Charleston Church Massacre via a solemn prayer approach that rattles to the core. The spoken storytelling of rolls out  "Eric's Birthday" before that rolls into "This Ride" closing the disk with simple harmonies, acoustic guitars and hand claps.  

When it wraps up the band has touched on country rock history, modern cultural issues, unique sonic experiences and a musical connection to all that comes before while giving a glimpse of their wide open future. Shovels & Rope have been successful in their career, but Little Seeds should propel them to that proverbial next level.
This has been some damn good adventurous Americana music to be reviewed lately here at RtBE. Expect both of these disks to get more love come the end of 2016 from us. Support the band, buy the album, stream it on bandcamp or below, peep some video below: