Friday, August 10, 2012

Jesse Harris | Sub Rosa

As I was listening to the new Jesse Harris, I went to his website to see what he was up to and what he was saying about his new album.  He has posted several videos of his new songs, all filmed with an iPhone.  The videos are simple and beautiful and they really enhanced my experience of the songs so I thought I'd post a couple here.

This is Jesse's 11th album and most of it has a Brazilian feel.  There are strings, horns, and guest appearances from Norah Jones (he'll join Norah on her tour of South America in November and December), Conor Oberst, Richard Julian, Melody Gardot and more.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Tallest Man On Earth | There's No Leaving Now

Kristian Mattson has the rare talent that allows him to create and hold a space in which all of us on the other side of his guitar can come in direct contact, face to face, heart to heart with his thoughtful and passionate art.

Mattson, who records and performs as The Tallest Man On Earth, recorded his third full length album "There's No Leaving Now", in his home studio in Darlana, Sweden with his signature minimal accompaniment.  He added Matts Winkvist on bass on several tracks and Niclas Nordin on drums on a couple. It's subtle, but there's a little lift with this support.

Mattson's guitar playing is distinctive whether he's strumming or picking and the well placed reverb on his voice augments the emotional waves that roll through each track. The Tallest Man On Earth is a Romantic, like the musical, visual and literary artists of the 1800's who placed emotion and connection at the center of their work.

The album will be released on June 12th. Just after the release, he returns to Town Hall in New York City to play a couple of sold-out shows. It was there that The Tallest Man On Earth opened for Bon Iver in 2008 and the reaction of the audience led to a buzz that started to propel Mattson to a new status.

The space around Kristian Mattson is rarefied and pure. It just occurred to me, maybe that's why he calls himself The Tallest Man On Earth.

Friday, May 18, 2012

JD McPherson | Signs & Signifiers

Oklahoma born vocalist and guitarist JD McPherson gets deep inside the music on his debut album Signs & Signifiers. R&B, Blues, Rockabilly and Hip-hop have influenced his sound and he goes way beyond a mere retro trip back through these styles. He cuts a new path with his sharp eye and ear. Recorded in the Chicago attic studio of producer/bassist Jimmy Sutton, it's "100% analog". Alex Hall is on drums, piano and organ. You'll get the idea with these videos. Great groove, honest(leads)to goodness.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Cold Specks

The debut album from Canada's Cold Specks, "I Predict A Graceful Expulsion" is due on May 22nd. We received an advance copy. I have been listening and wanted to share this video...

Friday, April 6, 2012

Julia Stone | It's All Okay

I just played the new Julia Stone on mvy's What's New For Lunch-love it!! Check out the video...dark night, vintage Thunderbird, steering wheel on the right, blond and eventually barefoot Julia.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Joe Pug | The Great Despiser

Joe Pug has done a clever thing in using Shawn Stuckey's artwork on his CD covers and his website. Not only is it beautiful, but when we received his new album this week and I saw that familiar style on the cover drawing, I knew Joe was back in town.

"The Great Despiser", which will be released April 24th, is the follow-up to 2010's "Messenger". Here's Joe baring his soul once again with his resonant, somewhat mournful vocal delivery and beautifully straightforward guitar finger-picking and strumming. He communicates the importance of the songs he's written through his unwavering commitment to every note. About half of the songs have full band arrangements and it's great to hear Joe rock out. He keeps a balance, though, and doesn't forsake the winning simplicity of just his voice and guitar.

I listened back to an interview I did with Joe backstage at Newport Folk 2009 and his performance from that same year. Something to keep you going until the album is released in April...

Click here for the interview

Click here for the Newport Folk performance

Friday, March 2, 2012

Adam Cohen | Like A Man

When it was finished, Adam Cohen brought his new album to his father. "Listen Dad, don't play the record while I'm here," he said. Leonard Cohen called his son the next day and told him he had listened to the record. "It took me to a place where nothing else matters," the elder Cohen said, "I'm so proud of you, and you're record should be called 'Like A Man'." And it is.

Adam released two solo albums, his self-titled solo debut in 1998 and "Melancolista", sung almost entirely in French, in 2004. His band Low Millions released "Ex-Girlfriends" late in 2004.

With this new release, Adam Cohen comes of age and embraces his legacy. He calls it a homage to his father and a recognition that he is indeed in the "family business." Adam "consulted" his father through his music and wants his son, Cassius (pictured above with Leonard and Adam), to be able to do the same.

***Side note--I met Adam around the time of the release of "Ex-Girlfriends" in Boulder, CO. We sat down for an interview under a small shelter outside a hotel in a rainstorm. And after his performance that night at The Fox, I ran into him in the theater lobby and he told me he was starving. He didn't seem to know where the closest source of food was, but I did. So went across the street to bought him a slice of pizza.

I've always remembered these two "meetings", because he was so warm and completely present. The setting of that interview (rain falling, just the two of us under that shelter) took me to a place where nothing else mattered. He seems to have this effect on people. And I've never seen anyone so happy to be offered a slice of pizza.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Paul McCartney | Kisses On The Bottom

Mary McCartney took the photograph on the cover of McCartney's new album, "Kisses On The Bottom", capturing her dad leaning forward and around a gigantic bouquet of flowers. Typically, McCartney is in motion, kind of clowning and looking almost as young as he did in the album back cover photo of his first solo record. Mary's mother and Paul's first wife, the late Linda McCartney took that early photo. Remember the baby peeking out from underneath Paul's leather jacket? That's Mary. How's that for full circle?

Unlike that 1970 release on which Paul played most of the instruments, he doesn't lift a finger on this one, he just wraps his warm and mellow vocal tones (using Nat King Cole's microphone on the Capitol Studios sessions) around 12 popular standards and 2 new original songs. However, it is a back-to-basics record like "McCartney" was, but there is no trying to move on from The Beatles, back to a simpler time and approach. Now it's a move deeper into his golden years, working simply and honestly with what's left.

Many of the songs like "Bye Bye Blackbird", on which he sings the seldom heard, opening verse, were ones that he and his family did in "sing-songs". Others are from the same era-the 30's and 40's mostly. Music industry veteran Tommy LiPuma produced and assembled an A-list of players, including Diana Krall on piano, Bucky and John Pizzarelli and Eric Clapton on guitar, and The London Symphony Orchestra.

There is a sweet peacefulness, a hushed quality to the playing, with Paul's voice riding gently on top. His vocal approach is casual, faithful to the crooner tradition. On a few of the songs, his voice is light at the top of his register; on a couple of others, it sounds forced stylistically. But this is just quibbling. Paul McCartney lives up to his legendary status, working in the midst of some of the best players around, brave, vulnerable and after all these years still generously offering his musical talents.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Dr. Dog | Be The Void

"That's right! You start with 7 guys in a room staring at one another, and then 5 months later you've got a record." So says Dr. Dog and today is the day that fans of Philadelphia based band can pick up "Be The Void".

Ten years of making music together has produced one of best indie bands working today. Loose in vibe and feeling, tight and intricate in arrangements, Beatlesque, Kinksesque, Bowiesque. Have you thought about Donovan's "Hurdy Gurdy Man" recently? Could this be part of the inspiration for "Warrior Man"? Song I love--"Get Away."

Monday, January 16, 2012

Bhi Bhiman

Check out this video and the great big and clear voice of Bhi Bhiman (pronounced "Bee Beeman")! Bhiman is opening for Martin Sexton on a string of dates in the Midwest starting on Thursday 1/19 in Ann Arbor, MI.

Bhi Bhiman "Guttersnipe" from Bhi Bhiman on Vimeo.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Alabama Shakes | Hold On

I'm in Florida on vacation and the other night I had dinner with my brother Ralph, his wife Corinne, their kids Lizzy and Ralph, and Anne, Ralph's girlfriend. Just before dinner, my nephew Ralph fired up Spotify on his computer and we went for it, both of us throwing out names of bands we liked and listening to their music in a matter of seconds. "Have you heard the Alabama Shakes?", Ralph says. "No", I say. A quick click...and "Hold On" came streaming out of his computer speakers.

Lead singer Brittany Howard's voice commands the space immediately and the band lays down a soulful, spare and tempting groove. They are from Athens, Alabama and over the last six months have started to capture some ears and attention. They recorded a four song EP in East Nashville, have opened for the Drive-By-Truckers and are due to release a full-length record this year on ATO.