Sunday, May 18, 2008

Steve and Herbie Accelerate with Van, plus plus...

I flipped through my latest copy of the magazine No Depression (#75 May - June 2008) with a heavy heart. This is the last print issue. From now on if you want to read their coverage of the alternative country music scene you’ll have to go to
I must confess that I was late to sign up for a subscription. Sure I took the complimentary copies from the table at the Backyard Stage at Bumbershoot (where I heard some of the best music of the festival, year after year) but I didn’t commit until two years ago. Kyla, Peter & Grant, I’m sorry I delayed.
I’m told that advertising revenue wasn’t enough to keep the print copy afloat and yet I couldn’t help but notice that issue #75 is substantially thicker than previous releases due to, you guessed it, advertising. A day late and a dollar short…anyway.
If you like traditional Country music, alternative Country music, Bluegrass, Blues or Folk music or anything that falls under the banner of American Roots music then this is your resource.
As Dean Mayhew was fond of saying, “Onward through the fog,”

After many weeks of nary a thing to discuss musically I have been inundated with Esion-worthy CDs.
First, some new releases from some very heavy hitters:

REM – Accelerate (Warner Brothers, 1 Apr 08) Remember when only you and few of your friends were listening to REM? They finally got back to that place, musically speaking.

Steve Winwood – Nine Lives (Sony, 29 Apr08) OK, so it’s not About Time, but a solid effort nonetheless. Opens with a great bluesy number I’m Not Drowning.

Van Morrison – Keep It Simple (Lost Highway, 1 Apr08) Blues based 763rd album by Van. It’s good, but a long way from Tupelo Honey.

Herbie Hancock – River: The Joni Letters (Verve, 25 Sept 07) Joni Mitchell’s songs in the hands of a different master. Nora Jones is amazing! Witness a rare moment where the Grammys got it right. Buy this disc now!!!!

And now for some up-and-coming acts:

Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend (Xl Recordings, 29 Jan 08) The band that’s taking the nation by storm. World influenced, poppy, bright beats and infectious rhythms. It’s very dance-around-the-house-in-your-undies kind of stuff.

Grand Archives – Grand Archives (Sub Pop, 19 Feb 08) Melodic, Pop harmonies, nice.

Throw Me the Statue – Moonbeams (Secretly Canadian, 19 Feb 08) Up-beat, Pop Rock melodies

The Weepies
Hideaway (Nettwerk Productions, 2008)
Say I Am You (Nettwerk Productions, 2006)
Classic guy/girl Folk, clever lyrics and oh-so-nice harmonies

Kate Tucker and the Sons of Sweden – Kate Tucker and the Sons of Sweden (Red Valise Recordings, 2007) Folk Rock, a little on the somber side, but great stuff

Crooked Still
Hop High (Signature Sounds, 2007)
Shaken By A Low Sound (Signature Sounds, 2006)
Traditional Bluegrass tunes with a Newgrass treatment from a quartet of Yankees.

Check out these bands. You’ll be glad that you did!
Moondoggies – Country Rock, Punk-a-billy, nice harmonies
Physics – Hip-hop, tasty grooves
Sleepy Eyes of Death – Electronica from a group named for a martial arts movie, but don’t let that stop ya
Pocket Change – Jazzy, Funky, not to be confused with the hip-hop group of the same name.
Black Whales – Stripped-down-to-the-primer Rock with undertones of surf music Boss Martians – Rock’N’Roll baby
Sera Cahoone – “Alt Country, whatever that is…”
Femurs – Acoustic Punk, if you can believe that.
Fleet Foxes – Folk with multi-part, super-smooth harmonies
Trespassers William – Folk Rock, a bit on the somber side but excellent (check out lie in the sound)
Blue Mountain – Been around for a decade or so, but new to me, “Alt Country, whatever that is…”
Ashleigh Flynn – Oh Gawd, not another singer-songwriter sharing tunes about their garden and cat! Actually this one does some rhythmically pleasing, melodic Folk songs
Love As Laughter – Brooklyn-based rockers on a Seattle label, they sound a lot like The Kinks.
Colour Revolt – The next generation of Southern Rock. I love this band!
Hilary McRae – Remember when Pop music was good? You know, way back before Simon, Randy and Paula ruined it for everyone? This girl gives me hope.
Sinem Saniye – Poppy sounds with a World music influence. Who can resist singing along with, “Boom sheke nana?”