Saturday, August 30, 2008
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Why are so many Folk Singers sad? They have broken hearts, come from broken homes and live broken lives. To be sure such angst provides the motivation for a lot of great songs but a little happiness is good for the soul too. Modern movies aren’t much different either. How many critically acclaimed movies end with happily ever after? Not many, but not many real lives involve happily ever after either. Then again an escape from reality is a good thing from time to time. So a happy ending wouldn’t hurt every now and then. Well put up your razor blades, untie the noose and please don’t throw yourself in front of the oncoming traffic, Catie Curtis is here with Sweet Life. On this album even in heartbreak Curttis finds reason for optimism. She espouses realism with hope but without being overly sentimental or Cheesy.
Now that you have come in off the ledge, let’s start your therapy. Not the Tony Robbins fake optimism variety, but the Catie Curtis realistic glass is half full variety. First, listen to the the title cut “Sweet Life” and then “Happy.” The titles alone make you feel better and the music will get you tapping your toes. The thing about this album is the lyrics and the music are both encouraging. As you listen to the songs on the album you will often find characters who encounter the same problems you do or worse, but they are still hopeful. Now listen to ”Sing.” I bet you are already starting to feel better. This song is the album’s lynch pin to me. The instrumentation and musicianship go right along with the hopeful upbeat song. In fact, that can be said for the entire album. Now for a lullaby and some much needed rest. The soothing tune “For Now” will take you into dreamspace and you won’t even need to take the Ambien.
Sweet Life is truly an enjoyable album in every way. Plus sometimes a little hope is the perfect prescription.
Pre-Order and sample at Compass Records
Monday, August 25, 2008
American/Columbia Records has signed The Avett Brothers. Their first album for Columbia, produced by Rick Rubin, will be released in 2009. Obviously, the success of Emotionalism and the rave reviews of The Second Gleam got them noticed. It will be interesting to see what Rick Rubin does with them. Considering what he did with Johnny Cash I think this will be a good Marriage. I hope Rubin blends the raw edge of the bands' early work with their more recent pop sound. That is not a criticism of The Avetts. I just think they would do well to recapture their earlier edginess.
Friday, August 22, 2008
A sneak preview to an interesting article to appear in the September Issue of Paste
Paste magazine’s “The Best of What’s Next”…
Bon Iver – Eau Claire , WI
Islands – Montreal , Canada
Janelle Monáe – Atlanta , GA
Johnny Flynn – London , England
The Bridges – Oxford , AL
Ben Sollee – Louisville , KY
Jamie Lidell – Berlin , Germany
Wild Sweet Orange – Birmingham , AL
Mugison – Ísafjörur , Iceland
Right Away, Great Captain! – Atlanta , GA
Katie Herzig – Nashville , TN
Brooke Waggoner – Nashville , TN
The Dodos – San Francisco , CA
The Everybodyfields – Knoxville , TN
Amy Macdonald – Glasgow , Scotland
Los Campesinos! – Cardiff , Wales
Slow Runner – Charleston , SC
Black Kids – Jacksonville , FL
White Rabbits – New York (via St. Louis )
Samantha Crain – Shawnee , OK
Langhorne Slim – Langhorne , PA
Joshua James – Provo , UT (via Lincoln , NE )
Liam Finn – Auckland , New Zealand
Wale – Washington , DC
Alela Diane – Portland , OR (via Nevada City , CA )
Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele – Taylor , MS
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Suffice it to say that Chris Knight knows what Nashville has forgotten, that country music is the original narrative of the common man. It grew out of the Great Depression and forged a transcendent bond with its' fans. Country music turned the struggles of rural America into poetry that helped ease the pain of fans for decades. Knight hasn't forgotten the ability of music to sing to the soul of listeners. Probably because he is from coal mining country in Kentucky, which has been in economic upheaval as the rest of America has prospered. Dr. Phil and Deepak Chopkra do not resonate with someone who loses their job or their land or perhaps both. However, the songs on Heart of Stone will speak to them.
There is a certain moral code on this album. Even when times are hard Knight does not glorify people who lose their perspective. Hard times are no excuse to cook meth in your basement ("Hell Ain't Half Full"), or abandon your family ("Heart of Stone"). Conversly he also sings about hope on "Something to Keep Me Going." The power of faith and the fight to keep it is at the heart of "Crooked Road." The latter song is gut wrenching and powerful. In this one song, Knight goes through a lifetime of complex emotions with the central character, who is emerging from the depths with an eye on the future but carrying the scars of the past.
This record also rocks. Knight returned to work with Dan Baird of Georgia Satellites, who produced Pretty Good Guy and The Jealous Kind. In fact, the album comes out of the gate rocking on "Homesick Gypsy." Another great rocker is the song "Another Dollar" that addresses the greed in our society. When people talk about the great songwriters they need to include Chris knight in the conversation. His body of work has earned him that distinction. He certainly sings to the common man in the manner of Cash and Haggard. The album releases on August 19th.
This review also appears on Twangville
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
I got a promo of the Johnny Cash Remixed project. I must admit I was skeptical. However, it is really cool. The Man in Black didn't believe in labels and without fear crossed genres and broke down barriers. Hell, he spent then end of his career working with Rick Rubin. So I think he would approve. Besides his son is an executive producer.
Check out this MP3 of Big River (Count Da Money Remix)
Also watch the making of remixed:
CMT.com and Comcast have partnered to bring live local auditions throughout the month August to the cities of Atlanta, Nashville , Pittsburgh and Knoxville as the network searches for the next breakout country music act in the third annual Music City Madnes. Undiscovered singer/songwriters will have a chance to video tape an original song and submit it to CMT.com’s national on-line competition. The local auditions will be held in August, and grand prize winner from each city will be guaranteed a spot in the top 64 finalists and receive a Comcast/CMT-sponsored showcase in their hometown, along with $5,000 in prizes. In addition, the auditions will be taped and packaged for Comcast’s local video on demand channels.
Here is the local schedule:
Saturday, August 16 from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Fountainhead College of Technology
3203 Tazewell Pike, Knoxville, TN
Saturday, August 23 from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
1000 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA
Saturday, August 23 from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Cobb Centre Galleria
Two Galleria Parkway, Atlanta, GA
Wednesday, August 27 from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
1200 17th Avenue South, Nashville, TN
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Chelsea's had to be one of the smaller venues they played on this tour. This intimate college bar located not too far away from the LSU campus proved to have great acoustics and provided a perfect environment. Speaking of the environment, it would not be Louisiana without the humidity, which created another important ingredient to a live Rock N' Roll show, sweat. In fact, Craig Finn paid homage to Louisiana's French heritage by declaring it, "Hotter than a French whorehouse in here." The crowd on hand was dominated by Hold Steady fans who seemed to know the lyrics to every song. They opened with the song "Constructive Summer" from the new album Stay Positive On this song when Finn sang, "Raise a toast to old Joe Strummer. I think he was our only decent teacher." The crowd (myself included) instinctively raised our bottles and toasted along. Which confirmed another statement in that song which declares "our songs are sing-along songs."
Craig Finn interacted well with the audience. Dancing around on stage, he looked like a cross between Steve Martin dancing on the front porch in The Jerk and Pee Wee Herman's "Tequila" dance. It was so quirky and lacking in Rhythm it was cool. The coolest member of the band though was keyboardist Franz Nicolay. He was wearing a fedora and black suit that made him look like a mafia don. His stage presence and facial expression give the band its' panache. Not to mention Franz is an accomplished keyboardist. Just as impressive was Tad Kubler on lead guitar. At one point he played a solo on the 12-string neck of a bad-ass double neck guitar. His guitar solos were an unexpected surprise.
The song that came off the best live was surprisingly "Stay Positive" the title cut off the new record. The set was composed mainly if material off of the new record and Boys and Girls in America. "Massive Nights" from that release really stood out. Not surprisingly, they saved "Stuck Between Stations" for the encore. This crowd pleaser had everyone singing so loud Craig Finn could have let the crowd take over. In my opinion, The Hold Steady represent everything that makes Rock great and their live show only enhanced that opinion.
This cut from Letterman will give you a feel:
This review also appears on Twangville
Friday, August 8, 2008
Anyway look for me to be back in the saddle with my poison pen in the holster for the Fall.