Thursday, November 08, 2007

Lyle Lovett - It's Not Big It's Large

Lyle Lovett has been around making music since before I really knew what music was. While not extremely familiar with his music throughout the last 20+ years, I've heard him here and there and always had a respect for him as a talented songwriter. He was born in the rural town of Klein, TX that was named after his great-grandfather who was a Bavarian weaver. He didn't become interested in music until he was in college at Texas A&M where he performed covers and folk tunes in small venues and festivals. Soon after Nanci Griffith performed a song he wrote on an album of hers Mr. Lovett signed a record contract with MCA/Curb in 1986. His self-titled debut was an instant hit on the Country charts. But from the outset Lovett wasn't content to be labeled as strictly a "Country" artists. His musical influences ranged from jazz, to pop, to blues, to folk. All of these genres found their way into songs where Lovett created his own personal musical melting pot. With each successive release Lovett moved away from his country roots, and lost country fans but gained more mainstream approval. His brief (1993-1995) marriage to Julia Roberts catapulted him to being more of a household name than he had ever experienced before. Between then and now he focused on touring and writing when he wasn't making movie cameos. All in all, It's Not Big It's Large marks his 11th release and is probably one of his most eclectic sounding records to date.

It's Not Big It's Large begins by showcasing none other than: the band. It's an instrumental big band number that sounds more like Count Basie than Hank Williams. You know why? Because "Tickle Toe" was written by the great jazz tenor saxophonist Lester Young who was a member of both Count Basie's band and later Fletcher Henderson's orchestra. The album has tunes that cover various influences from blues to country with both up-tempo and slower ballads. The catchiest song is "Up In Indiana" which is posted below. Overall, the album gives a good cross section of where Lyle Lovett comes from and where his influences have placed him today. It's not outstanding, but is well worth a few spins.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Born Ruffians - Hummingbird EP

Well, after a too long hiatus, ongoing writers strike, and just lack of inspiration I'm back. Sorry to the 8-15 people who read this for the delay.

Born Ruffians are another Canadian indie rock band trying to find their niche in the mainstreaming indie scene. The trio is comprised of Luke Lalonde (guitar/vocals), Mitch Derosier (bass), and Steven Hamelin (drums). Their Hummingbird EP was released in October on their new label WARP and showcases an evolving sound. While the release contains only 3 songs, they each demonstrate where the band is likely going with their release Red, Yellow and Blue, which is scheduled for release worldwide on WARP records in February 2008.

Born Ruffians have a "jaunty mix of shifty guitar riffs and hyper-chic vocals for a Pixies-esque shredded kind of sweetness" according to AMG. This is only a snippet of what Born Ruffians are about. Their sound is kind of like Vampire Weekend in it's playfulness, sing-song lyrics, and fresh eclectic sound. Not to mention their lead singer sounds similar with his higher-pitched voice and vocal style. They've opened for the likes of Caribou, Hot Chip, and Peter Bjorn & John. This EP will only make the full-length release more anticipated, and if they can assemble ~10 songs that are as good as these three they'll have others opening for them in no time.