Showing posts from September, 2004

Keane - Tower Records, Philadelphia, 9/27/04

Keane did an in-store performance at Tower last night and I am even more impressed by their musicality than I was when I first heard the record. I had no clue that all that music is produced by a trio of keyboardist, drummer and vocalist; no bass, no guitar. The keyboard player takes care of the bass with his left hand, the melody with his right. The vocalist is such a strong singer that his melodic vocals carry every song and play off the melodic keyboard work perfectly. After their four or five song set, they signed CDs, and all three seemed totally polite, friendly and British. My only miscalculation was in not getting a ticket to their TLA show last night which was sold out.

Music for a Week at the Beach

In my top ten discussion below I touched on the fact that Chris Rea's On the Beach and King of the Beach still sound great in the car on a beach trek. Although I brought a good pile of discs to listen to in the rental apartment, we didn't get to very many because most of the time was spent listening to WWFM, the classical station that broadcasts from Mercer County Community College in Trenton, NJ. No, the signal doesn't reach all the way down to the shore, but WWFM has an extensive network of repeater stations, including one located right in Cape May. I'll freely admit that my interest in listening to classical music comes and goes, but I always do enjoy it, especially the chamber music as played on original instruments as produced by Christopher Hogwood and the Academy of Ancient Music. My range has increased over the years to the point that I'll even enjoy vocal classics sometimes, except for operatic sopranos. WWFM plays the most enjoyable mix of classics I'

Kasey Chambers - Wayward Angel (WB, 2004)

On first listen I am totally knocked out by the sound and production quality of Kasey Chambers' third album, Wayward Angel . This should really have come as no surprise, being her first two albums also featured great sound and production by her brother Nash, but even still from the first note on this CD, the instruments virtually leap from the speakers with the most amazing recording quality imaginable. The mix is spacious as well, allowing all players room to breathe and to be heard. The guitars both acoustic and electric are muscular, well textured, and exquisitely played. You might expect great production from a famous name producer, but Nash Chambers shares the same childhood backstory as Kasey, with the family spending a good portion of their childhood living in the Australian outback, then getting started in the music business with a family band consisting of parents Bill & Diane Chambers and kids, Kasey and Nash. The All Music Guide describes the Dead Ringer Band

Julia Fordham - That's Life (Vanguard, 2004)

Julia Fordham is totally in the zone. Two years ago Concrete Love was remarkable in that it represented the second masterpiece of her career, following her earlier gem Porcelain by more than a dozen years. The better an album is, the greater the odds that the follow-up will disappoint, thus it was hard to approach her new album without some trepidation. Happily, such worries proved needless because That's Life makes it two in a row, continuing the magic of Concrete Love with a set of ten wonderful new originals. All eight Julia Fordham albums are special but what elevates these three is the consistent combination of memorable melodies, compelling lyrics (usually about love), her unique vocal ability, and perfectly conceived and executed production. The latest two albums reflect the fine work of producer Larry Klein who not only has a firm grip on how to make these songs sound their best, but selected a stellar combination of studio talent with many of the same players from

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004)

Ten years in the making, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow brings computer generated imagery to new levels of artistic achievement. It's equal parts Indiana Jones and James Bond , reborn in an art deco noir fantasy. Looking exactly like a vintage deco postcard come to life, the muted colors reminiscent of tinted black and white, director and writer Kerry Conran's artistic vision is the real triumph of this movie. The plot is decent, although I think it may require another viewing to sort out whether this is simply innocent storytelling or intentional camp aimed at the Rocky Horror crowd; at times it cuts both ways. Basically, it's a detective/adventure story set in the 1930's with Jules Verne style futuristic science fiction elements. New York's deco archtecture is a perfect fit, especially the opening scene of the Hindenberg III docking at the top of the Empire State Building, followed by a movie theater scene in which Radio City Music Hall never looked b

Julia Fordham - Tin Angel, Philadelphia, 9/11/04

Given a choice, I think I would always automatically prefer to hear any artist perform with full band as opposed to solo acoustic, but having seen Julia with band at Joe's Pub, seeing her "acoustic" performance at Philadelphia's Tin Angel on Saturday night was completely amazing in its own way. Accompanied only by Mark Goldenberg on mellow electric guitar, Julia performed a set that was stunning in its intensity. Goldenberg's guitar backing on many of the songs veered toward the sort of jazz style that characterized the new jazz song that she's doing as the encore this tour. Julia reminisced about the "Philly Clickers" from the show at the same venue two years ago, and she also invited the same saxophone guy from two years ago to come up and play again on two songs. Here's the setlist: Falling Forward Girlfriend (sung with emotion like it was written yesterday) Connecting Downhill Sunday (incredibly intense) Concrete Love (talked about Ind

Julia Fordham - Joe's Pub, New York City, 9/07/04

This quick run-down of the show was posted on the Julia discussion board, That's Life. Julia was brilliant Tuesday night at Joe's Pub in NYC with full band, Mark Goldenberg on guitar, Jennifer Condos on bass, Kevin McKeever on keyboards and Mauricio "Fritz" Lewack on drums. It seemed like the majority of the audience stuck around backstage after, and it was indeed a pleasure to meet Julia's mum, dad, sister Claire, her awesome manager Lori Leve, and her excellent band. Julia was glowing in an orange top with a black flowing floor-length skirt. She credited the New York water for giving her "perfect hair" which it most certainly was, and threated to move east because of it. I'll post again after tonight's Philadelphia show which is acoustic with just Julia and Mark. Here's the set list (Perfect Me had to be scratched from the encore due to time considerations - Joe's Pub had to clear for the next event). Falling Forward Connecting

All Time Top Ten - The Final Cut

Thanks WXPN - First, a giant thank you to Bruce Warren and everyone at WXPN for a truly great promotion. This all time top ten business has focused their radio community on the music like never before and it's a thing of beauty. As the XPN hosts consider this subject on air, many songs are being played that wouldn't normally fit the playlist which is another giant plus. So, on to my list. The Top Ten - After compiling a list of at least a hundred songs that could each totally qualify for my all time top ten, actually choosing ten seemed somewhat arbitrary. I could throw darts at my list and randomly pick ten and the list would be every bit as valid as any other means of choosing. WXPN's assignment was to come up with a list of your all time top ten favorite songs. So, the only way I could think to logically narrow it down to ten was to follow my own musical history. At any point in time I have a number of artists that are favorites, but usually there is one primary fav

Fleetwood Mac - Live in Boston (Warner Brothers, 2004)

I semi-reluctantly picked this up based on Lindsay Buckingham's rejoining the current incarnation, ignoring I suppose their potential irrelevance, finally being won over by the lure of a two DVD plus one CD set for $19.99. At less than half the price of a concert ticket these days, this would be a deal just for the complete two hour PBS Soundstage concert on DVD, the audio CD highlights disc is like a free bonus. Although I have nothing against Christine McVie and have liked some of her contributions, her absence from this current reunion really allows Lindsay Buckingham's guitar to dominate, and being that I always felt he was the true musical genius of Fleetwood Mac, the result for me is an absolutely stellar performance. For most of this concert, Fleetwood Mac is a quartet, with Buckingham on guitar, backed by the always solid rhythm section of Mick Fleetwood and John McVie on drums and bass respectively, and Stevie Nicks on vocals. Other backup musicians and vocalists ap

Pet Sounds Revisited (4/12/04)

Charlie saved this email from last April and suggested I might want to put it up on the blog, so here goes, blasphemy and all. From: William Kates To: Charlie Ricci Subject: Pet Sounds Date: Mon, 12 Apr 2004 This may be sacrilege, but on this weekend's road trip to Earlham, I had the chance to reassess Pet Sounds. After spending what seemed like hours reading the copious liner note descriptions, then listening to the CD, I can honestly say that this is one of the most over-rated albums of all time. I can buy that Rubber Soul may have motivated Brian Wilson to record Pet Sounds, but I have a bit more trouble believing Paul McCartney when he says that Pet Sounds inspired the Beatles to record Sgt. Pepper. Yes, Brian Wilson was (is) the tortured genius, yes he extracted more sonic capability from the studio than the technology would normally have yielded at the time, yes his lyrics developed a greater maturity level than Fun Fun Fun or Surfin' USA. Given all that, th

All Time Top Ten - Damn You XPN!

As posted to the XPN discussion board regarding their quest to compile the 885 best songs of all time (picking 885 would be easier than compiling a top ten). Yikes. This is way too hard, too many great songs you must ignore to pick ten. Oh, the humanity! My list so far (will change before deadline): Bob Dylan - Can't decide between Positively 4th Street or Tangled Up in Blue Beatles - In My Life or Norweigian Wood or others (how do you pick one Bealtes song?) Rolling Stones - Gimme Shelter or You Can't Always Get What You Want Bruce Springsteen - Thunder Road or Rosalita or New York City Serenade Jackson Browne - For a Dancer or Sing My Songs to Me/For Everyman or The Load Out/Stay Genesis - Dancing With the Moonlit Knight or Cinema Show Yes - Close to the Edge or Yours is No Disgrace or America Chris Rea - Fool (if you think it's over) or On the Beach Average White Band - Work to Do or Pick Up the Pieces or If I Ever Lose This Heaven Joni Mitchell - Urge fo