Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Todd Snider Coming out on August 19th


Todd Snider is coming out of the closet as a flaming “Peace Queer” on August 19th. He’s loud, he’s proud, he’s here and he’s a “Peace Queer.” Normally when musicians get too political it annoys me. I just want to scream “Shut Up and Sing.” However, somehow Todd Snider pulls it off using his humor and wit as a weapon. It just goes to show that there is no need to stand on a soapbox and pontificate to get a message across. Snider seems to understand that he can deliver the same message with subtlety and still make his point. In fact, sometimes a paper cut hurts worse and lingers more than a deeper wound. With Snider whether you agree or disagree with the message, you can appreciate the delivery. Peace Queer is no exception.

This EP is a brief statement. In fact, it is sort of a side project while he is working on a full length project with producer by Don Was. It starts out with a song of victory albeit a hollow one, “Mission Accomplished.” On this song Snider wonders aloud about Will Rogers famous quote, “He may have liked every man he met that’s true; but he never said he liked every man that he knew.” The album also includes a minimalist cover of CCR’s “Fortunate Son.” The most poignant song is a spoken word song, “Is This Thing Working,” in which a bully is cast as the central character in a parable with obvious implications. The song also has a sung version titled “Is This Thing On” that closes the album. However, it is the spoken word version that proves to be more moving. Snider is joined by guests, Patty Griffin, Kevin Kinney and Will Kimbrough. Snider predicts big things for this project. In an interview with NPR’s Cokie Roberts he feels the album, “will outsell Thriller,” and estimates sales at 6.8 Billion copies. He also said, “(O)n the day that happens, I guarantee America and parts of Canada world Peace.” That should make him bigger than Elvis, The Beatles and even Zam Fir, master of the pan flute.

Catch a Preview of Todd’s Upcoming Full Length:


This review also appears on Twangville

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Signposts: Along the Information Super Highway

Cold War Kids - "Something Is Not Right With Me", the first single off the second album, Loyalty to Loyalty, is streaming now on
MySpace The song will be available as a free download on RCRDLBL.com starting Thursday July 24.

Teddy Thompson, who released his 4th studio album, A Piece Of What You Need, last month, has a new video for his single "In My Arms." Teddy is the son of British folk icons Richard and Linda Thompson. This is a great song!

Check out more songs from the Album on MySpace

The Hold Steady's Craig Finn's Top 10 Pet Peeves on The DL

The Old 97's on The DL

WIDESPREAD PANIC TO BE INDUCTED INTO THE GEORGIA MUSIC HALL OF FAME

Frrom their publicist:
Athens, Ga. , July 18, 2008 - Widespread Panic will be inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame at the 30th Georgia Music Hall of Fame Awards Show on Saturday, September 20th in Atlanta , GA. The show will broadcast live on Georgia Public Broadcasting and will include a special performance from the b and . Past inductees include Georgia musicians including Ray Charles, Gladys Knight, R.E.M., and the Allman Brothers B and as well as industry professionals such as music attorney Joel Katz and record label owner Antonio “L.A.” Reid. "Sharing this honor... with so many of our greatest musical influences, is something I'm sure none of the B and members imagined when we first started making music together. September 20th is going to be a truly special day for the entire Widespread Panic Family," says John Bell, vocalist and founding member of Widespread Panic.


Kelly gives us 2 new genres on Twangville/Gobblers Knob and while you are there check out Tom's Mixtape

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Settin'' the Woods on Fire: This Week's Charts

This is a periodic feature in which I post on AWT the top albums and debuts in the airplay charts from Americana Music Assoc., XM Cross Country and FMQB Non-Commercial Adult Alternative chart. I haven't posted the charts in six weeks because there was not a ton of movement for a while. Now that here have been a rash of Spring releases things are shaken up a bit. Links to all of these charts are found to the right in the AWT favorite links list.

Americana Music Association - Airplay Week of July 7th
1) John Hiatt- Same Old Man
2) Hayes Carll - Trouble in Mind
3) Alejandro Escovedo - Real Animal
4) Band of Heathens - Self Titled
5) James McMurtry - Just us Kids
6) Reckless Kelly - Bulletproo
7) Emmylou Harris - All I Intended to Be
8) Old 97's - Blame it on Gravity
9) Eleven Hundred Springs - Country Jam
10) John Mellancamp - Life Death Love and Freedom

Debuts
29) Hacienda Brothers - Arizona Motel
30) Honeybrowne - Mile by Mile

XM Ch.12 Cross Country - Cross Checking week of July 7th

1) James McMurtry - Just Us Kids
2) Reckless Kelly - Bulletproof
3) Hayes Carll - Trouble In Mind
4) Brendon James Wright & The Wrongs - Self-Titled
5) Band Of Heathens - Self-Titled
6) Pear Ratz - Holier Than Thou
7) Shurman - Waiting For The Sunset
8) Stone Coyotes - VIII
9) Van Morrison - Keep It Simple
10 Jason Ringenberg - Best Tracks & Side Tracks

Debuts
44) Alejandro Escovedo - Real Animal

FMQB AAA Non-Commercial - Airplay Week of July 7th

1 MY MORNING JACKET -Evil Urges
2 COLDPLAY - Viva La Vida
3 ALEJANDRO ESCOVEDO - Real Animal
4 ELVIS COSTELLO - Momofuku
5 BIG BLUE BALL - Big Blue Ball
6 AIMEE MANN - Smilers
7 AMOS LEE - Last Days At The Lodge
8 DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE - Narrow Stairs
9 FLEET FOXES - Self-Titled
10 R.E.M. - Accelerate

Debuts:
29) Adele - 19

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Ralston Bowles - Rally at the Texas Hotel


Ralston Bowles is a songwriters songwriter. His songs have depth and transcendence in the vein of a Bruce Cockburn or Bill Mallonee. His newest album is Rally at the Texas Hotel. After I heard the album I did some internet research on him and found that he has been profoundly influenced by author Phillip Yancey, who is one of my favorite authors. In fact Yancey's book "What's So Amazing about Grace" was the inspriation of his song "Grace" from a previous album (incidentally that book was also an inspiration for a U2 song by the same.) In other words, it is no wonder that I have such a personal connection with this recording.

On Rally he comments on our culture by employing cultural icons in a humorous way. First there is the song "I Saw John Kennedy Today" in which he uses revisionist history by encountering John Kennedy, who is on a permanent road trip after leaving it all behind when his double was shot in Dallas. Hey if you are going to use JFK why stop there. On the song "Velvet Elvis" he inquires "When did he cross that line from a person to a textile shrine." He reflects on modern religion on "Begging the Question." However, unlike most post-modern singers he doesn't end with cynicism. He proposes an answer on the song "Friend of God," which is a call to simplicity and relationship. He also covers the Mark Heard song "Satellite Sky." The songs are well crafted. At times they are humorous and entertaining at others they are thought provoking and inspiring. The album is on Judy Collins' Wildflower Records. The same label that produced Wes Charlton, who I have posted on previously.
The album was produced by Mark Eitzoni (Counting Crows) and he is joined on the album by Gurf Morlix and Charlie Sexton.

Check out his
MySpace page.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Willie Nelson & Wynton Marsalis - Two Men with the Blues

It has always amazed me that Willie Nelson will record with anyone no matter their background. This eclecticism is one of Willie's strengths but he has occasionally made questionable partnerships. However, the idea to combine Nelson with Wynton Marsalis was one of genius. These two men are living icons in their respective genres Country and Jazz. However, Willie is no stranger to singing the standards. His recently re-released "Stardust" which was originally recorded in 1978, shocked the Outlaw world when Willie recorded Ballads from the 30s and 40s. As for Marsalis he is a walking encyclopedia of music history, not just Jazz. So this pairing makes perfect sense. Two Men with the Blues was recorded in January of 2007 as part of a special series sponsored by Jazz at the Lincoln Center. It was recorded at the Allen Room on New York's Upper East Side. Joining the two legends were Marsalis' Quartet and Nelson's harmonica player, Mickey Raphael.

The results of the evening are best described in technical terms, un-freakin'-believable! In fact, technically I should probably add two or three more freakin's to aptly describe it. The album starts off with a Swing style rendition of "Bright Lights Big City." Swing Jazz and Blues are the base of most of the songs but the Harmonica gives the album a bit of country soul as well. However, the harmonica sounds natural with Jazz quartet as if it belongs permanently. Not that I think that Harmonica will replace the trumpet or saxophone anytime soon but in this case it adds a cool vibe. Willie's voice sounds great with these songs also. In fact, two of the songs "Stardust" and "Georgia on My Mind" were recorded by Willie on the above mentioned Stardust album. The album does have a bit of twang in it on the lighthearted cover of Hank Williams, "My Bucket's Got a Hole in It." The fact that these two Icons are able to be lighthearted and not tale themselves too seriously is one of the most endearing qualities about this project. For example, the vocal interplay between the two on "Ain't Nobody's Business" is classic. I am certainly glad they decided to release this project as a CD so I can get a feel for what the lucky few who were there got to experience. I suggest you do the same.





This Review also appears on Twangville

Thursday, July 10, 2008

RIYL Reckles Kelly - Try John D. Hale and Austin Collins

For those of you who like their new album as much as I do, read the Austin Chronicle article on Reckless Kelly and the The 9513 review of Bulletproof. However, if you like the new Reckless Kelly I think you will also like two other artists starting to make some noise on the Texas scene. One is Austin Collins out of his Namesake city in the Lone Star State and The other is The John D. Hale band.

The John D. Hale Band is from Iowa but they are gaining notoriety on the Texas and Southwest circuit. In fact Ray Randall says they are practically the House Band at Americana Roots which is high praise indeed. Their album Lost will appeal to fans of the more Rocking side of Reckless Kelly. Although they have more country undertones than Reckless Kelly. John D. Hale's musical pedigree was formed early when his older brother gave him a Robert Earl Keen album when he was just 10 years old. He subsequently immersed himself in REK and his kindred spirits and the rest as they say, is history. He especially took after Keens ability to spin an outlaw tale. On "Pistol in Each Hand," a drug deal gone wrong song he sings "He rolled one while he waited for them to gun him down." Two other songs in this mold involve jealous lovers, "Love Pulled the Trigger" and "LA County." "Stake our Claim Again" (See video below.) is a lament song in the vain of Chris Knight that addresses the plight of the rural farmer, "Should we cash the farm on in. Just move on down the line. Tell 'em all to go to hell and buy us a little more time." The album also has a hilarious hidden track called "The Local First Assembly Church of Crystal Methodists." A church that reads from the Book of Jerry Jeff and has commandment like "Don't covet your neighbors weed and pass it to the left."



Austin Collins will appeal to those who like Reckless Kelly's more country singer-songwriter tunes, of which there aren't many on Bulletproof. Collins has always been interested in songwriting but upon graduation from college he tried to be practical an d became a financial analyst for a while. Being in the Corporate Finance and Accounting field myself, I was glad to here that we all aren't complete bean counter nerds. (Collins had the good sense to get out though.) Collins songwriting is powerful and engaging, and primarily addresses the complexities of relationship on Roses are Black. This songwriter certainly has staying power.




Thursday, July 3, 2008

Alejandro Escovedo - Real Animal


Alejandro Escovedo may finally be getting his due on his new album Real Animal. He is touring this Summer with Dave Matthews, he recently shared the stage in Houston with "The Boss" (see video below) and he has a Letterman appearance scheduled for early August. Considering he has been one of the most respected musicians among his peers, he has been in influential bands like Rank & File and True Believers, No Depression named him artist of the decade for the 90's and let's not forget the fact that he almost died a couple of years ago from complications from Hepatitis, it is about damn time. In 2006 he released Boxing Mirror which was a dark reflection on his life and near death experience. On Real Animal he has a new lease on life and is ready to Rock again.

Escovedo's latest release is as reflective as Boxing Mirror but is less dark and celebrates life. In fact, he addresses the subject of enjoying life in "People." However, he does not deny the harsh realities of his past and follows that song up with "Golden Bear" in which he seems to be addressing his recent health issues. The album is a career retrospective covering all of the genres he has crossed in the past. That is a daunting task when your consider that his career covers over 30 years and includes diverse genres like Punk, Post-Punk, Alt-Country, singer-songwriter and string quartet music. To pull this off he enlists the help of former David Bowie producer Tony Visconti. He is also joined on a few tracks by his friend Chick Prophet. Real Animal totally succeeds and even has a potential radio hit in "Always a Friend." It seems Escovedo has been reborn at age 57 and I bet he has a few more great albums in him.

Alejandro and the Boss:

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Waifs and Drew Emmit

Compass Records is on a roll. Earlier this year they put out The Waybacks new release Loaded. More recently, They released The Waifs Sundirtwater. Just so things don't get stale they will be releasing Drew Emmitt's Long Road on July 15th. I have previously posted on The Waybacks. However, equally deserving of praise are The Waifs and Drew Emmitt. Both albums were co-produced by Compass Co-Founder Garry West

The Waifs release is a new direction from their earlier album Up all Night. The new record for this Australian band is more eclectic. From the electric blues of the opener "Pony" to the Jazzy title cut "Sun, Dirt, Water" to the alt-country of "How Many Miles" or even the power-pop of "Goodbye," it seems no stone is left unturned. They seem to be comfortable in so many settings that they should avoid being type cast by industry marketing execs. Sundirtwater is a diverse platform from which to launch future projects. It is also a lot of fun.



Drew Emmitt's solo projects are always all-star affairs and Long Road certainly is no exception. Collaborators include Tim O'brien, John Cowan, Stuart Duncan, Reese Wynans, Darrell Scott, Ronnie McCoury and Billy Nershi of String Cheese Incident. The album will appeal to the New Grass crowd, The Jam Band hula hoop dancers and even traditionalists. Emmitt co-wrote most of the songs on the album, including the title cut co-written with John Cowan. However, there is also one stand out cover of Supertramp's "Take the Long Way Home." On his first solo release , Freedom Ride, Emmitt did the best cover of a Bob Dylan song I have ever heard, "Tangled Up in Blue." The Supertramp cover may not beat that but it is still a great cover. There is a positive energy on this album that really cuts loose at times. The musicianship is amazing and Long Road is extremely well crafted and produced. All of which makes it Drew Emmitt's best solo project.



This review also appears on Twangville