Friday, October 05, 2007

Tony Lucca & Friday Night Lights

In preparation for the season premiere of the best show on TV that is critically acclaimed and (hopefully up until now) rarely watched, Tony Lucca's "Devil Town" is posted below. The show in question is none other than Friday Night Lights. Not only is Tony Lucca a somewhat obscure artist but his song "Devil Town" which is featured in FNL is perfectly befitting of the show. It's ambling southwestern rock sensibilities relate perfectly to the fictional town of Dillon, TX. FNL is fabulously written, and gives some of the most accurate depiction of real human emotion seen on TV. Every reaction, emotion, insult, kiss, touchdown and pickup truck is felt as real. The characters are fully developed people that feel incredibly real. When people question whether high school football is that big of a deal in Texas, they probably just don't understand there are places in state that are probably even more extreme than the town of Dillon. High School football is no joke. It brings the town together and binds them. The characters that shun the social ramification of football often have other things they despise about the town and its psychology. While the season premiere is getting good reviews, there is some plot twist that is supposedly out of character, and hopefully the do-it-all Peter Berg knows what he's doing. Catch the reviews at Variety and ESPN. Until shown enjoy a familiar sound to FNL

Bloc Party - Flux

In case you missed it, the ever evolving Bloc Party were on Conan O'Brien last night (10.04.07) debuting their brand new song 'Flux'. While the video below isn't pristine quality, I thought it's better than nothing. Hope you enjoy. Love these guys.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Patrick Watson - Close to Paradise

California born, Canadian bred, and newly anointed 2007 Polaris Music Prize winner Patrick Watson resembles an eclectic mix of M. Ward's hushed tones and melodic sensibilities, Jeff Buckley's symphonic feel, and Coldplay's (X&Y version) electronica tinged pop. If this all sounds like too much at once, well, it isn't. On the newest effort Close to Paradise, Patrick Watson and his band are able to meld the various musical forms he explored when he was younger going through school to create a clean indie pop record. Certain songs tend to swirl around in atmospheric ways but never drift out of touch with reality, and that restraint is something to be commended. Guitar lines pull back simple chord changes riffed on the piano at the perfect times. The entire album plays out as if it has a story to tell, much in the same way a great soundtrack to a movie carries a narrative. Some were incredibly surprised this album took home the honor of the Polaris, considering it was up against stiff competition with the likes of The Arcade Fire, the darling Feist, and Junior Boys. Instead the committee chose to help out an underdog with its $20,000 prize. In this case it was a great decision, since upcoming music deserves to have a spotlight shed on it from time to time. There's a video for the song below, here.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Liam Finn - I'll Be Lightning

Following in the recent tradition of New Zealand artists, it's Liam Finn's turn to shine. The Kiwi comes from a rock pedigree thanks to his father Neil who is a member of Crowded House and therefore, at age 23, is further along in his musical career than most can say at the same age. In his home country, he is most known for being the frontman of Bectchadupa, but his debut solo album I'll Be Lightning came out there this summer. The U.S. won't see it released on Yep Roc till 1/22/08, but thankfully there are ways and means around that seeming snafu. He graced the stage at Coachella this year with his father and Crowded House without much fanfare. This would have certainly been different had the masses heard this debut release.

I'll Be Lightning is a spur of the moment album that was recorded and produced entirely by Mr. Finn over the course of two months at his father's recording studio named Roundhead Studios in Auckland. After gathering and cultivating musical ideas over a period of time Mr. Finn thought it was time to get everything recorded and out of his brain. On his website he says he took the entire project upon himself because he "didn't want to compromise or collaborate." This is totally fair considering his artistic vision as he explains, "I wanted to record these songs the way I heard them in my head. And I had a very clear idea of how I wanted them recorded." Usually this could spell trouble without any experience, but with his pedigree Mr. Finn was clearly up to the task. In addition, he wanted the songs to sound a bit more raw and authentic so he recorded entirely on old fashioned analog gear. This choice was made since, "It's like the difference between digital video and film...there's just something you can't capture on computers." This album is definitely a breath of fresh air, and unlike most solo albums currently out there. Some elements are familiar and others are not which makes for an interesting and unique listening experience. Every instrument track is played by Liam, which is impressive in and of itself. During his live shows he accomplishes this through guitar loops and lots of quick movements back and forth between guitar and drums, which can be seen here. Otherwise, enjoy the track below entitled "Wise Man".

Note on Radiohead

Strangely enough, I didn't like Radiohead early on. I was admittedly scared of diving in to the same pool as some old friends with questionable musical taste. But after a couple years of procrastination I dove in head first. Now, Radiohead is one of my favorite bands of all time. Their creativity and consistency is rarely seen at any point in the last 50 years of popular music. Ever changing, adapting, and blazing new trails others don't dare to begin. Without much ado they are doing it again. Only this time they mean business...the music business, that is. Time to shake things up. No label. No huge advertisements. No promotion except for a simple blog post saying their album (titled In Rainbows) would be released in 10 days (Oct. 10). When saying this is unprecedented, it's not an overstatement. If it was just about the lack of a label and marketing that would be minor compared to the announcement the music industry is buzzing about. They're letting fans download the release on the day it comes out for as little as they see fit to pay (+ credit card fee...about $0.90). This new model flies in the face of everything big whigs have been thinking about doing to save the music industry. The fact of the matter is, heads of labels need to take a step back and realize it's no longer the age of a million+ album sales in a debut week. It's just not going to happen. Kanye West, the self-proclaimed master of all things, got to 950,000+ which is a staggering number in the new age of music. The music industry needs to embrace the fact they're in the middle of a enormous paradigm shift. It's just a matter of figuring out the best way to go and accepting that expense accounts are going to shrink, and they may have to downgrade from a Bentley to a Porsche. Why not go back to focusing on the music.

Focus on artists that can produce full albums rather than one or two singles. If they keep snatching artists for one of two songs all they're doing is exploiting the artists and using them for a summer hit and throwing them back into anonymity. There's little commitment to grooming artists, and nurturing them into actual careers. Wouldn't people rather purchase an entire album of songs rather than an album with one or two good songs? Of course. I know that's one of the reasons I stopped buying actual cds. I just wanted the hits. Everyone wants to make mix cds, which is made much easier when there is only A hit on an album. The iTunes music store is bringing this 'singles rule' mentality back to the music industry in a big way that has always been there, but before the iTunes you still had to buy the whole album to get those few goodies. Now, with little tech savy you can get those singles from iTunes or the newly launched DRM-free AmazonMP3 store. Now it's time to see what will happen with another daring Radiohead experiment (no doubt the actual music will be fantastic). My guess is that the site/server to download will be excruciatingly slow and/or crash. But only time will tell on Oct. 10th.
LA Times
Radiohead - In Rainbows

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Bruce Springsteen - Magic

Bruce Springsteen is quite a polarizing figure in American rock music. The Boss is either adored and praised as one of the greatest ever, or loathed and ridiculed as a phony purveyor of Americana due to the guiding hand of longtime manager Jon Landau. It's hard to fall in the middle or not understand the valid argument for the latter after reading something like this. It's hard not to buy into his message and themes of the heartland, cars, the open road, sweeping girls of porch swings, the Man, and bitter relationships. He has been singing mostly about the same things for the better part of 25+ years. There is also no doubt when coupled with his E Street Band he takes on a distinctive sound and songwriting format.

Magic is the newest offering with both the Boss and E Street Band in tow that comes out today October 2nd. The entire album is classic Bruce with his familiar band. Many of the song sound like they could be off any number of older albums. One of which ("Livin' In The Future"), in fact, sounds exactly like "Hungry Heart" from The River in 1980 right down to the wailing Clarence Clemons saxophone. This album almost doesn't feel like new material. It feels recycled. It feels reworked. It feels revised. The Boss is not blazing any new trails here. It's kind of sad in a way. You know exactly what you're going to get, and he delivers. Not that the music is terrible, because it's much better than most, but there is no element of surprise or discovery. This is the real drawback of Bruce Springsteen in the 21st century; he's going to hit the same note every time with the E Street Band, and you have to pray for a diamond in the rough. On the other hand, Magic is a high energy American Rock 'n Roll album that others still dream of creating.

DMB - Hollywood Bowl 10.01.07

Last night I got to go see Dave Matthews Band at the Hollywood Bowl. I've seen him a few times before, and always have great luck with him and the band. I have friends that have seen him on both great nights and sub-par nights. Luckily, the few times I've seen him it's like he knows I'm there because he has either brought out new songs or songs they haven't played in years for the first time at the show. In addition, I had the most amazing seats in the center front row of the terrace boxes almost directly behind the soundboard. Easily some of the best tickets to a concert I've ever had the privilege of having. That could not have been without an amazing favor from a very close friend. Last night at the Bowl my string of DMB luck was no different. When you talk to die hard DMB fans they always want to compare setlists, and what was the best they've seen or certain versions they've seen. It's all done in a pissing contest type way. It can be somewhat annoying. Either way, the clear highlights of the show last night were "The Stone", "Bartender", "Jimi Thing", and "So Much --> Too Much".

One Sweet World *
Pantala Naga Pampa *

Rapunzel *
Dream Girl *
#27 *
Everyday *
Ants Marching *
The Stone *+
Satellite *+
Corn Bread *+
Eh Hee *+
Bartender *+
Louisiana Bayou *
Jimi Thing *
Stand Up [For It] *~
So Much To Say *

Anyone Seen The Bridge *

Too Much *


Grace Is Gone *

(Black Water) *
Tripping Billies *

Show Notes:
* Rashawn Ross
+ Danny Barnes
~ Joe Lawlor

Monday, October 01, 2007

Ryan Bingham - Mescalito

Ryan Bingham deserves an introduction as gritty as his indie country rock music. The 25 year old Texan comes from a difficult upbringing that saw him move with his parents back and forth from California to Texas and a few places in between. Due to certain circumstances he was forced to live by himself starting in his mid-teens. He traveled between Southwestern boarder towns and relatives' homes, and was no stranger to sleeping in his truck after small rodeo gigs. Mr. Bingham learned guitar at 17 from a mariachi neighbor and began entertaining friends with his songs. His rustic influences range from Bob Dylan and Marshall Tucker to Bob Wills. These greats were heard by Bingham in the jukebox while frequenting his uncle's roadhouse saloon named the Halfway Bar. His genre-bending mix of blues, mariachi, zydeco, and alt-country give his music a unique sound even if his lyrical content is occasionally predictable for those familiar with this type of music. Luckily, Mr. Bingham's personal history is infused into both his music and lyrics to give the songs an unmistakable verisimilitude. This realness is one of the things that separates his debut album Mescalito from other aspiring alt-country artists. He's not singing about certain things just because they're musical stereotypes, but rather as life-altering personal experiences.

Mescalito is generally engaging and a pleasure to listen to. Upon hearing the first words out of Mr. Bingham's mouth you get a sense of his utterly unique voice. It's as if he has medium-grit sandpaper lining his vocal chords. His voice isn't raspy or weak, but rather exhibits characteristics of age and miles ahead of his 25 years. The whole album feels like it was recorded in a studio with a sandy dirt floor with a sign saying "No Shoes Required / Beware Rattlesnakes" on a fencepost outside the door. The best tunes see Mr. Bingham and his band the Dead Horses dig their heels into grooves and really jam with a mix of slide guitar, banjo, bass, and fiddle. While most are of the medium tempo variety, there are a few heartfelt ballads sprinkled throughout. Maybe the album as a whole isn't laser-focused, but it gives an incredible introduction to a burgeoning alt-country artist bursting with talent who is already wise beyond his years.