Friday, January 30, 2009

The Gourds - Live at Visulite Charlotte January 22nd

Some things never change. The sun rises and sets every day, The Earth spins on its’ axis, Amy Winehouse gets wasted, Britney parties with no panties, Congress pisses away taxpayer dollars and The Gourds rock. From the first time I saw them years ago at SXSW until I saw them on January 22nd at Visulite in Charlotte they still freakin’ rock! They are older and a few miles have been put on the tour bus but a Gourds show is still about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on. They started off with “Country Lovin’” from the new album Haymaker then went into “Cranky Mulatto” off of Noble Creatures. The first half of the show focused on new and recent releases. The band is a group of multi-instrumentalists and has three members that sing. Over the years they have become more electric which I think has enhanced their studio albums. Also, it has made their live shows even more eclectic, and they were already the musical definition of eclectic.

In the middle of the show local Charlotte Americana musician David Childers joined the band on stage and sang a few of his own songs. At this point the band began to play more of their older songs. It is amazing to witness them move from irreverent acoustic songs to more electric jams so seamlessly. Also, I am happy to report that Accordion player Claude Bernard pronounced Burger King’s new “Angry Whopper” a success. They opened the encore with the classic “Magnolia” and followed it up with “Kicks in the Sun” which seems to have become a new classic. Some in the crowd were a little disappointed that they didn’t play “Gin and Juice” but I can imagine they need a break from that song now and then. Ausitn Singer-Songwriter Ramsay Midwood opened the show and with a little help at various times from The Gourds played a very entertaining set.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Mark Olson & Gary Louris - Ready for the Flood

Some songwriting teams are made to be together. No doubt Mark Olson and Gary Louris established themselves as such a team with the early Jayhawks albums Hollywood Town Hall and Tomorrow the Green Grass. They established themselves along with Farrar and Tweedy of Uncle Tupelo as leaders in the Alt- Country phenomenon of the 90s. The problem with songwriting partnerships is that egos and creative differences more often than not create tensions that can not be overcome (see Lennon and McCartney for example). The Jayhawks lost Olson and Uncle Tupelo could not overcome the clash of egos. It is highly doubtful we will ever see a reunion of Farrar and Tweedy. Thankfully time seems to have healed wounds for Olson and Louris. As a result they have provided us with a memorable reunion.

Ready for the Flood shows us what we have missed, and what a sweet reminder it is. The album is a decidedly mellow and subdued reunion that showcases the duo’s harmonizing formula. The natural fusion of their voices has not been diminished by time or absence. In fact, songs like “Bicycle” will stop you dead in your tracks They have written and toured together recently and that certainly helped, but there is something organic that happens musically with these two on songs like “Doves and Stones,” and the most upbeat tune on the album “Chamberlain, SD.” Though the album is a bit melancholy it is a pure joy for listening. The album was produced by Chris Robinson of Black Crowes and will be released on January 27th. Welcome Back!


This review also appears on Twangville

Mary Kate O'neil Video - Nashville

I ran across this video released in advance of Mary Kate O'Neil's forthcoming Nettwerk release Underground. I am not familiar with any of her previous work but this is a catchy Indie - Pop song. The album was co-produced by Jill Sobule and has a cadre if indie rock veterans as guests. Check it out.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Donna Ulisse - Walk the Mountain Down

Donne Ulisse Will be releasing a star studded Bluegrass album, Walk the Mountain Down on January 20th. The album is her second traditional Bluegrass album. She wrote or co-wrote all of the songs on the album. Produced by Keith Sewell it also includes an all-star cast of players including, Andy Leftwitch, Byron House and Rob Ickes. Ulisse has been singing all of her life but in Nashville she is better known as a songwriter (Although she did have a brief record deal with Atlantic in the early nineties). Walk the Mountain Down establishes Ulisse as an accomplished voice in the Bluegrass world. It is a world she is very familiar with being married to Rick Stanley, a close relative of Ralph Stanley. In fact, The Clinch Mountain Boys played at her wedding.

The new album is full of well written and arranged Bluegrass and Gospel gems that also reflect her Country influences. "Trouble With You" and "In My Wildest Dreams" are infectious tunes. "Levi Stone" is a moving although dark story song. The title cut and "Everything Has Changed" are very good Gospel influenced tunes. There is a lot of good Bluegrass being produced these days, but Donna Ulisse will not get lost in the shuffle. She will be noticed.

Sample on CDBaby

This review also appears on Twangville