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Showing posts from July, 2005

Tina Dico - In the Red (Finest Grammophone, 2005)

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This has been a banner week, musically, with two of the best albums of the year so far dropping into my player. Tina Dico's In the Red is threatening not to relinquish the player anytime soon as it's been spinning almost continuously since Wednesday. Thanks again to Dave for acquiring two copies of this from Tina's manager; so far it has only seen release in Dico's native Denmark. Dico's previous work available here has been limited to Far , a six song ep released in 2004, and Zero 7's second album, When It Falls , also 2004, which she joined as the fourth vocalist in a band already awash in vocal talent. In Denmark where her name is correctly spelled Dickow, she's also got two previous solo albums including her debut Fuel (2001), and the ambient acoustic Notes (2003) for which she won the Danish Grammy award. Based on her work with Zero 7, her ep, and her occasional solo acoustic performances last year, expectations for a proper solo album were high

Joe Cocker - Heart & Soul (NewDoor, 2005)

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Dropping unexpectedly straight out of left field and right onto my list of the year's best albums thus far is this new set from Joe Cocker (thanks to Dave and Ellen for the tip). Now Cocker's career has certainly had its moments over the years but the last time I can remember specifically setting out to buy a Joe Cocker album, it had songs on it like "Delta Lady" and "With a Little Help From My Friends" and the year was 1969. I know I'm not the only one who tends to think of Cocker more in terms of John Belushi's spastic Woodstock impression (peformed onstage while Cocker sang on SNL) than Cocker's real talent as a vocalist. Thirty-six years later, Heart & Soul finds Cocker at the top of his vocal form, in total control of the gruffness factor, dispensing it when needed to best effect. Not only does Cocker prove that he's most definitely still got it as a singer, but somehow he became the recipient of one of the best jobs of album pro

Here We Go Again - The WXPN 885 Greatest Albums

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Last year's 885 greatest songs of all time was so much fun, it seems that xpn is turning the 885 survey and countdown into an annual affair. This time it's the 885 greatest albums of all time. Details with staff and artist top ten lists can all be found at the xpn website .

Howie Day & Anna Nalick, Town Hall, NYC, 7/26/05

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. Howie Day (fan posted photo) Despite an unfortunate choice of hairstyle, Howie Day and his band sounded great tonight at Town Hall in NYC, headlining an all-Sony/BMG show (thanks to Dave once again for the invite). Unlike the rest of the audience who knew every song at first note and could sing along when needed, I had only just heard Howie Day for the first time on the way to New York, checking out his latest, Stop All the World Now (2004). It's in singer-songwriter territory, but a little more lush with instrumentation than someone like John Mayer with whom he apparently shares a large following among teenage girls. The band was excellent and had the benefit of a good mix and a good sound system. Day was in good voice and good spirits as well, seemingly impressed that the New York crowd was friendlier than advertised. A little too friendly as it turned out when a fan either too enthusiastic or intoxicated or both, attempted to join Howie on stage. Day responded to the fan

Falcon Ridge 2005 - The Road Not Taken

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Falcon Ridge Folk Festival After several months of flip-flopping, a number of conflicting schedule priorities caused me to skip Falcon Ridge this year, but not without a good deal of second thought; and not a day went by this weekend that I didn't pause for a moment to think about what would be happening just then at the festival. Even if the performer list didn't quite pack the punch it did last year, that in and of itself would not have held me back. The prospect of spending four days on a hillside of a beautiful farm near the New York-Massachussets border doing nothing but listening to music, catching up on some reading (but not too much sleep as memory serves) is enough to warrant attendance no matter the exact lineup. For the record though, I would not have missed sets by any of the following from this year's festival (in order of appearance on the main stage): Chris Smither Acoustic Hot Tuna Emerging Artist Showcase - What a great way to spend a Friday afternoon (e

Shelby Lynne & Raul Midon - North Star Bar, Philadelphia, 7/16/05

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Shelby Lynne's Suit Yourself Tour stopped at Philadelphia's North Star Bar on Saturday July 16th. In the course of nine albums over a sixteen year career that includes any number of musical styles (not to mention hairdos), Shelby Lynne has finally found just the right mix of music on which to exercise her prodigious talent, and the ideal band of musicians to play it. Shelby produced the aptly titled Suit Yourself, herself, recording in intimate surroundings, achieving a cohesive set of tunes that are loose yet tight, relaxed yet intense, soulful, bluesy, rocking, and sensitive. In making the music that she personally wanted to do, Lynne has been re-energized creatively and come up with what may be her best record yet. Her touring band proved even better than on record, with the addition of guitarist Ben Peeler who excelled on every song. As on the record, Bryan Owings held down the drum kit, and Brian "Brain" Harrison played bass and served as Shelby's primar

Me and You and Everyone We Know (IFC Films, 2005)***

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................ John Hawkes & Miranda July One part Garden State and two parts Ghost World , this refreshingly unguarded first film by performance artist Miranda July not only won awards at every major film festival including Cannes and Sundance, but has been getting universally good reviews. Even after viewing the trailer in advance of tonight's WXPN sponsored screening, I couldn't tell exactly what it was about. There is a good reason for this, as the film is not so much a traditional linear story; it's more like a glimpse into a moment in the lives of some slightly flawed, occasionally damaged, and basically unusual characters whose efforts to fight the basic entropy of life and find some basis for happiness is chronicled by July's unobtrusive camera. The first thing you notice about these characters is that they don't say or do any of the things that you expect movie characters to do. As in Zach Braff's Garden State , July in her multiple filmmakin

Live 8 - Almost Heaven, MTV Tries for a Redeemer, 7/09/05

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After detailed anyalysis of yesterday's rebroadcast of the Live 8 concerts on VH-1 and MTV, I can safely conclude two things: (1) MTV only utilized 75% of this rare chance for a do-over to redeem their abominable coverage of the live event, and (2) I've been way too consumed by all this, as you'll soon see. MTV billed yesterday's rebroadcast as "complete sets, uncut with no commercials" which was only partially true. Yes, the ten hours of music were presented commercial free, and yes, many of the sets were run uncut, but many sets were edited or not shown at all, while some sets ran twice. In the most inexplicable programming decision since the original genius concept that people would care more about hearing the MTV veejays than the music, MTV ran many of the rebroadcast sets on both VH-1 and MTV. VH-1 aired the rebroadcast from 10am to 3pm and then it switched over to MTV from 3pm to 8pm. Both five hour shows were begun with a solemn speech by MTV News (M

Live 8 Done Right (MTV & VH-1, 7/09/05)

The VH-1 portion of today's rebroadcast is on now and initial indications are that they are doing everything right today that they did wrong last Saturday. Annie Lennox, whose face was not even seen in last Saturday's telecast was just shown doing her set from London, followed by Keane who last Saturday only had an excerpt of their hit make the show; today we got the full Keane set, with no interruptions, no hosts, and no commercials. After reviewing today's broadcast in full, I'll summarize it in detail. Sincere thanks to MTV & VH-1 for deciding to do this; it will be great to have these performances in full broadcast quality as opposed to the more limited video stream on the computer. With Bono and Bob Geldof proclaiming last Saturday's concerts successful in their purpose to influence the G-8 conference, this presentation of the music provides a nice celebratory closure for the event.

Listening To Old Voices - Steve Goodman, Paste Magazine #16, June/July 2005

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Andy Whitman wrote the following appreciation of folk singer, songwriter, humorist, and Chicago Cubs fan Steve Goodman in the current issue of Paste . I'm not sure how long these articles remain available to read online, so rather than post just a link, I am pleased to present the piece below. If you enjoy reading it, please check out Paste . Each issue is packed with articles, interviews, reviews, and ads for music that more often than not coincides with the WXPN playlist. If you subscribe, you also get an excellent sampler CD bound into every issue with twenty plus tracks from the new albums discussed in the magazine. In the past year they've recently added a DVD which is also bound into each issue that contains relevant music videos, more music tracks, clips from TV and movies, and the occasional short film. At $4.00 per issue for a two year subscription, it's a great deal. Thanks to Andy Whitman for a great piece of writing and thanks to Paste for permission to reprin

Live 8 to be Rebroadcast on MTV & VH-1

MTV has just announced, in response to the firestorm of criticism they received for their Live 8 coverage, that tomorrow they will rebroadcast ten hours worth of complete sets from Live 8 with no commercial interruption. It is unknown exactly what format they will use for this but they are already indicating that there will be some artist duplication between the five hours shown on MTV and the five hours shown on VH-1. In any case it couldn't be any worse than the butchering they did of the live feeds on July 2nd. The rebroadcasts will run tomorrow from 10am to 3pm on VH-1 and from 3pm to 8pm on MTV, the logic of which is likely known only to the powers at Viacom. May they not screw it up, this time.

Coldplay - X&Y (Capitol, 2005), First Listen

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Having never paid much attention to Coldplay previously, I sort of liked "Yellow" but never heard enough of A Rush of Blood to the Head to know it. So why X&Y now? Beyond the hype and media hubbub that surrounded its release, and beyond the $8.99 sale price, it was really Keane that brought me to the Coldplay tent; almost every review of Keane's excellent 2004 debut referenced Coldplay, but I think Keane has already surpassed Coldplay with a facility for writing hook-laden melodies. And with all due respect to Chris Martin, Tom Chaplin of Keane has a falsetto that soars like virtually no one since Jon Anderson's stratospheric vocals defined the sound of Yes. Much has already been made of Coldplay pumping up the guitar on this record in an attempt to power the album into grand statement territory. I can hear that, but I can also sense that Jon Buckland's guitar ability runs much deeper than the repeating note style that seems to be employed here in an attem

Kyle Riabko - Before I Speak (Aware/Columbia, 2005)

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It's not much of a stretch to imagine the execs at Sony BMG reviewing sales figures for John Mayer (through the roof) and ringing up the folks at Aware with a directive to go find the next John Mayer. It's doubtful though that the majors are signing artists at high school talent shows, much less in the wilds of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. After listening to Before I Speak it was somewhat of a shock to learn that this fully realized, full length major label debut cd was released this past April while Kyle Riabko was still finishing his senior year of high school in Saskatoon. Riabko wrote all the songs, played most of the instruments and even co-produced the record which features a guest appearance by Robert Randolph. There's also a great sounding duet with Liz Phair, "Chemistry" and while the song is quite obviously about a relationship, he might just as well have been thinking about that fifth period science class when he wrote this. Word is that Riabko's ju

Top Five at the Half

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Charlie Ricci, whose Milennium Music Magazine has morphed into Bloggerhythms , suggested this mid-year reality check some years ago, and in keeping with that tradition, I offer my top five albums of the year so far. Swing Out Sister – Where Our Love Grows (Shanachie) I've enjoyed this band's work for the past eighteen years, however the opportunity to finally see them live this year has given this, their latest release, a lock on my number one spot. Corinne Drewery has got the same sort of vocal gift that Karen Carpenter did, however Swing Out Sister does much better music; no knock on the Carpenters, but this is the real deal. Tanita Tikaram – Sentimental (Naive) After a seven year absence I had almost given up on Tanita and the release of this album in the U.K. caught me by happy surprise just a few weeks ago. I've only had the chance to hear it through a few times, but it is a fine piece of work with an uncluttered, and intitmate production style that suits her voic

LAME-TV: Live 8 Coverage by MTV & VH-1, So Much for "Saving the Music"

Yesterday's broadcast of the Live 8 concerts by MTV and VH-1 proves conclusively that MTV is no longer about the music (was it ever?). No artist's set was shown in its entirety (and most were only 10-20 minutes long); very few songs were even aired without interruption. The set that came closest was the Pink Floyd reunion, where we actually got to see the first three songs complete, then at the height of some intense lead guitar work during "Comfortably Numb" some genius at MTV decided that it was a good time for the veejays to break in with inane chatter, then they broke away for commercials as the song was peaking. And this was as good as the coverage got, which is an indication of how offensively and outrageously ill-conceived the broadcast format was. After cutting in and out of Stevie Wonder's finale in Philadelphia which was happening at the same time as Paul McCartney's finale in London, neither one getting nearly the airtime it deserved, it seemed lik

Live 8 on AOL - 7/02/05

Ironic that with broadcast, cable, and satellite tv capability, the best and only way to see any of the music performed at today's concerts around the world is through a three inch window in my computer screen on aol.com. As feared, MTV is wasting their bandwidth by carrying the same program on both MTV and VH-1 (why?) and what they are showing is chopped up highlights with interviews. I doubt any artist's set has been aired it it's entirety, and we're talking 10-20 minute sets. The performances are said to be available on demand on aol.com over the summer, which is nice, but the quality of a video stream has yet to match that of a television signal. In any case, it's nice to see the worldwide music audience support the music and by default the cause gets helped too I suppose. Here's a few highlights so far, all times edt (thank you aol.com). Sir Paul McCartney with U2, London, 9:00am U2 w/Paul sounded great opening the show with "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely