My apologies to those of you in need of music recommendations from a trusted source. Unfortunately my absence was necessitated by a desire to improve my lot in life through education. With the work-load something had to give and it was the blog.
To make up for it I have three gems that you will no doubt want to purchase as Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza or Solstice gifts.
Horse Feathers - House With No Home (Kill Rock Stars, 9 Dec 08)
Out of a stack of new music that I received over the past few days this is the disc that has been played over and over. Sometimes somber, sometimes upbeat, always Folk and always easy to listen to, I like it. Justin Ringle’s compositions are good and this Portland duo presents them well featuring richly layered harmonies, reminiscent of CSN, anchored mostly by a finger-picked guitar, complimented by the occasional mandolin, banjo or whatever else former Norfolk & Western member Peter Broderick wants to add (apparently the man can play anything.) The melodies are very pleasant and the spare arrangements actually contribute to the sound in a Zen-like way. Think of Sam Bush’s Iron & Wine or a slightly less suicidal Bon Iver. My favorite track; Working Poor.
The Moondoggies - Don’t Be a Stranger (Hardly Art, 19 Aug 08)
When attempting to describe the Moondoggies I’ve read references to The Grateful Dead, Moby Grape, The Byrds and some of the other great Rock/Country/Folk groups of the 60s & 70s. No doubt the Moondoggies are worthy of the comparisons, but the only group I think of when listening to Seattle’s Moondoggies is The Band. Like The Band, they have that unrehearsed, casual sound that is very difficult to produce and yet they do it so well. The quartet has been playing together since high school and they have a tight crisp sound. Good songwriting, great harmonies, accomplished musicianship all captured in their fine arrangements. My Favorite track; Ain’t No Lord.
50 Years of Dave Brubeck: Live at the Monterey Jazz Festival 1958-2007 (Monterey Jazz Fest, 5 Aug 08)
So some of the earlier recordings may be limited by the available technology, it’s still a great disc. The only negative comment I can make is out of 50 years of Brubeck performances at the Monterey Jazz Festival they could find only 10 tracks to share? This should have been a box set.
Other artists worth mentioning:
Cheb I. Sabbah – Traditional Central Asian music lots of bass, percussion & Techno effects.
Orgone – If Aretha Franklin, Sly Stone & James Brown went in thirds on a passel of kids this is what their band would sound like.
Hayes Carll – Country with just enough irreverence to make you overlook the clichés.