Archive for the 'Music' Category

(Upcoming Show) Pieta Brown Wraps Up The Year Bringing Sawdust Collective to CSPS, Friday 12/1

Friday night (12/1) Pieta Brown is returning to CSPS in Cedar Rapids. It’s her last live show of the year and she’s bringing Bo Ramsey and Marty Christensen as “Sawdust Collective.” Pieta’s shows at CSPS are a rare magical combination of artist, audience and venue and are some of the best shows I’ve seen of hers.

Her latest album, Postcards is a collection of long distance collaborations with artists like Mark Knopfler, Calexico, David Lindley, The Pines, and others– “musical postcards.” In my interview with her for Little Village Magazine earlier this year, she said this about it:

It just came together really seamlessly and it just happened. I started reaching out to some people — kind of wishful thinking people I would want to record with. You know I was really touched and honestly really inspired and kind of encouraged by getting the energy and the super-willingness right back at a time when I was struggling to figure out how to even afford to move forward and make another album. So, it was cool timing. And, it was really neat to do it here and I had never really recorded like that either. Which is to say that all of my other recordings have been recorded in a few days in a row with a live band, with everybody playing together. Maybe rehearse the songs one at a time or maybe have a day of rehearsal and then go in and cut the songs. Very experimental and not a lot of room for getting it exactly right so to speak. [laughs] One thing that was cool was just singing by myself with my guitar — I just have never really recorded that way except for a track here or there.

Pieta and Bo did a Daytrotter session earlier this year focusing on songs from Postcards.

Pieta Brown with Sawdust Collective will be at CSPS tonight. Doors will be at 7PM and the show will be at 8PM. Tickets are $17 in advance and $21 at the door.

Tickets and information are at the Legion Arts website HERE.

(Upcoming Show) River Glen and Band with DICKIE and Beth Bombara at Dick’s Tap & Shake Room 11/17

River Glen

We’re in the days of indecisive weather and confused clocks. It feels deceptively like fall in the daylight but nighttime’s dark, cold fingers close around the plants from summer extinguishing what optimistic reaching for the sun they had left. The days are shorter and even if you race home from a day at work, the dark is nipping at your heels reminding you that before long it will be settled in around you. A long winter’s guest. As you pull the last of summer’s shorts and tees from the wash– only to be banished to a drawer until the earth is warm– you wonder what you can do to stall the inevitable.

River Glen Breitbach is a member of the extensive and musical Breitbach clan from Dubuque. Performing simply as River Glen, he is a multi-instrumentalist that mixes a blend of  Folk, Pop, Rock, and Hip-Hop and Friday night he’s bringing a full band to Dick’s Tap & Shake Room promising a sunny and warm respite from the impending weather. What I’ve listened to so far fits pretty well with artists like Keller Williams or Jack Johnson.

If that wasn’t enough, two of my favorite artists are opening the show.

Beth Bombara

I’ve been following St. Louis singer/songwriter Beth Bombara‘s career since the beginning and three albums and one EP’s worth of rustic and yearning Americana prove that she’s in it for the long haul and a songwriter to keep an eye on. I was excited to hear her on SiriusXM’s The Loft this summer! Her latest album Map and No Direction is a more rock-leaning record than the previous two, but shows how her songwriting fits pretty much any mold. She draws easy comparisons to Natalie Merchant, I think. I love the George Harrison-ish slide hooks in “I Tried.”

DICKIE

Also opening the show is Dick Prall– daytime proprietor of Dick’s Tap & Shake Room and nighttime purveyor of pristine pop as DICKIE. After a few albums as Dick Prall and The Dick Prall Band and Starch Martins, he relaunched with a new name and a self-titled biographical song cycle in 2015 which I said in my review for Little Village Magazine, “…has the introspective pop we’re used to from Prall-—the head-hanging desperation, the wistful turn-of-phrase, the hopeful wishes all delivered in a brigade of earworm-wrangling hooks.”

Maybe we can’t completely avoid the cold, but with this line up on Friday night, we can stall it a bit as we listen to three really amazing musicians bringing their art to the stage at Dick’s.

There is no cover, but it starts at 9PM.

Here is the Facebook event, so you don’t forget.

(Upcoming Releases) Colemine Releases First Cassettes : Sole Slabs Comp and Orgone Mixtape

Our friends at Colemine Records are dipping their toes in the audio cassette revival  with two releases set to drop 10/14/17 aka Cassette Store Day. For their first releases they picked a couple of real ringers!

One is a cassette reissue of their fantastic and essential singles compilation Sole Slabs Vol. 1 which was originally an RSD release in colored vinyl. It has recently been reissued in black vinyl as well.

The other release is a teaser of an upcoming Orgone release in January. Colemine is going to do a vinyl/CD release of a really great “mixtape” download of covers that Orgone did earlier this year called Underground Mixtape Vol. 1 that includes covers of choice funk and R&B from the likes of The Meters, Otis Redding, P-Funk, Booker T & the MG’s, Aretha Franklin and more.

You can download it from the link above, or you can listen to it here:

Either tape is a reasonable $8.99 from Colemine: Sole Slabs Vol. 1 or Orgone Undercover Mixtape Vol 1.

(Upcoming Release) Friends Gather to Finish Last Game Theory Album – Supercalifragile Out 8/24/17

At the time of his death in 2013, Scott Miller of seminal power pop bands Game Theory and The Loud Family was working on a new record. He was in varying degrees of completed on a bunch of songs– some songs had vocals and guitar, some of them had detailed notes. His wife Kristine reached out to Ken Stringfellow of The Posies to help coordinate finishing this record titled Supercalifragile based on conversations she had with Miller about the album (which, incidentally always included collaborations of singers and co-writers). In May of  2016, a Kickstarter was established to help fund the completion of the record. By July 4th it was 161% funded! At the time of the launch of the Kickstarter, they had already been recording for over a year, so the fundraising was primarily to wrap up some of the sessions, get mastering done and the rest of the process to get physical and digital product completed and distributed.

The list of contributors to Supercalifragile include former members of Game Theory (Jozef Becker, Nan Becker, Dave Gill, Shelley LaFreniere, Gil Ray, Donnette Thayer, and Suzi Ziegler) and notable guests including (of course) Ken Stringfellow (The Posies, R.E.M., Big Star), Jon Auer (The Posies, Big Star), Aimee Mann, Ted Leo, Peter Buck (R.E.M.), Will Sheff (Okkervil River), Doug Gillard (Guided By Voices, Nada Surf), Mitch Easter, Alison Faith Levy (The Loud Family), Anton Barbeau, Jonathan Segel (Camper Van Beethoven), Allen Clapp (The Orange Peels), John Moremen, Stephane Schuck, Chris Xefos, Dan Vallor (GT Reissue producer for Omnivore),  The inclusion of the former Game Theory members helps add continuity of this release to the Game Theory catalog, which has enjoyed renewed focus in the Omnivore Recordings reissues.

In a post to the Facebook group dedicated to Scott Miller, his wife has posted a lot of wonderful insight into how she and Stringfellow curated the release.

“This album is as close to what Scott would have created as is possible. I knew the artists he wanted to work with (he had even contacted a couple himself before he died as the artists confirmed this with me), and in a few cases which instruments he wanted them to play or which songs he wanted them to sing. Yes, he wanted guest vocalists and cowriters all over the record. Scott and I talked about his ideas and as he had worked with (and socialized and played tennis with) Ken Stringfellow, he proposed Ken help him organize and help produce this project. Scott spoke of having various artists bring their “arcs of influence” to the record. He said he would ultimately have veto power if anything got too out of hand (😉), but he was looking forward to having lots of great artists he admired and/or worked with to participate. (Scott even considered making track breaks mid-song when a new artist was introduced to the album. This was an idea we went with in the traditional sense by bringing on artists for entire songs. Not sure Scott would have brought this unusual idea to fruition or not.) So, in this case, with this record, completed without Scott’s final “veto,” no, we can’t possibly make the exact record Scott would have made. (And in fact, even Scott wouldn’t know what it would become until after working with everyone and it was done!) But with so much overwhelming respect for Scott’s work and in honor of his life, we all kept as much of it “Scott” as we could. All his ideas, all his lyrics, all his riffs, all his ideas for bridges and choruses…everything preserved and used as much as musically possible. In some ways, it might in fact be more “Scott” than the record Scott would have made. ❤️ And that’s why I think we all love it so much.”

In August of 2017 the finished product was shipped out to everyone who contributed to the Kickstarter and early reviews and posts to the Facebook group have been glowing. Now that the Kickstarters have been shipped out the team is ready to make the release generally available. In an email sent to people who signed up from the website, the album will be available on Bandcamp (the link isn’t available yet) this week: August 24th in download, CD and vinyl.

Click Here to Order

Tidal featured the first song from the album, a duet with Aimee Mann called “No Love” and it is striking how Mann’s vocals compliment Miller’s.

Here is a video of a rough take of “I Still Dream of Getting Back to Paris” shot at Abbey Road Studios in London during the recording sessions with Anton Barbeau on vocals. Miller (credited as The Loud Family) and Barbeau put out a kind of split release in 2006 titled What If It Works?

As a long-time fan of Scott Miller’s work, I’m really looking forward to getting this release. Like many, Miller’s sudden and unexpected loss was painful; too early in a career arc that certainly would have generated more significant releases. Supercalifragile brings some closure with this release in that regard and should provide influence for future artists the way the Big Star catalog has.

Order CD, LP or digital at Bandcamp:

(Upcoming Release) Charlie Parr Returns With Another Full-Band Album “Dog” Out September 8th

Red House Records‘ recent signing of Duluth, MN blues and folk master Charlie Parr yielded what I think was the most fleshed-out and imagined album in his catalog Stumpjumper. It made my Best of 2015 year end list. Most of Parr’s catalog has focused on solo or very stripped-down arrangements, so Stumpjumper was a departure, and with help from Phil Cook the album was a winner from beginning to end.

This week Red House announced that Parr is back with another album, and this one is also with a band. Titled Dog, it was supposed to be a solo record, but he changed his mind and brought in experimental folk artist Jeff Mitchell, percussionist Mikkel Beckman, harmonica player Dave Hundreiser, and bassist Liz Draper (who according to the Red House PR was asked by Parr to play electric bass instead of her normal upright bass). Parr explains:

“I was going to do it completely solo,” Charlie says. “I was going to go to this barn in Wisconsin, sit there and play my songs. And I was practicing them and I thought, this is devastating. These songs are hard to hear in this format. I would never be able to listen to them again. And then my friend Tom Herbers, he saw something was wrong. We talked, booked time at Creation” Audio, and made a plan to flesh out the album with a backing band.”

The first track we get to hear is the title track which reminds me of a more contemplative version of “Over The Red Cedar.” It’s a real heart-tugger for anyone who ever loved a dog since it questions whether dogs have souls. “How do you know that I don’t have a soul? How can you look me in the eye and tell me ‘no?’ A soul is a soul is a soul is a soul.”

The album shares a couple of songs with the 2016 Record Store Day 10″ EP release I Ain’t Dead Yet. The tracks “Hobo” and “I Ain’t Dead Yet” get a new life on Dog. BTW: copies of the RSD EP are still available from Red House Records for $15.

You can listen to samples of the tracks at the Red House Records page for Dog. Dog comes out September 8th on CD, vinyl and mp3.

Here is the tracklisting:

TRACK LISTING:
1. Hobo
2. Dog
3. Salt Water
4. LowDown
5. Sometime’s I’m Alright
6. Rich Food and Easy Living
7. I Ain’t Dead Yet
8. Boiling Down Silas
9. Another Dog
10. Peaceful Valley

The Right Now Debuts “Nice Boogie” Remix of “Up All Night” By Buscrates x Nice Recs – Up All Night Mixtape

photo credit Seth Thompson Epiglotic Photographic

It’s pretty exciting to see the momentum of a band building in support of a new album– the renewed energy and mission to get the new music out to the fans. One of the hardest working bands around is Chicago’s R&B and Funk powerhouse The Right Now and on the heels of their latest release Starlight they’re already beating the pavement with hit-and-run shows through the Midwest and making appearances on Chicago TV and radio.

For the last album, the band worked with some Chicago remixers which resulted in some of my favorite dance remixes in recent history. Now for Starlight, we have the first remix of the anthemic “Up All Night” by Buscrates and Nice Recs from Pittsburgh Electro Funk group East Liberty Quarters. The remix largely leaves lead singer Stefani Berecz’s vocals intact while providing a subtle bubbling-under synth beat that would sit comfortably in a mix with Eighties divas Chaka and anything Jam and Lewis produced including Janet’s best work.

When I asked Brendan O’Connell about how he got hooked up with these guys he said, “We’ve known Buscrates since 2010 or 2011 when we used to play Shadow Lounge in Pittsburgh. We reconnected in Pittsburgh when we played there in March. We’ve all kept up with his remix and production stuff online in the interim. He’s great. Heavy shit!”

Heavy shit indeed. I’ve already spun this track a dozen times. Get it in your ears. If you’re a DJ who’d like to include it in your set, hit the band up at their website.

When I asked him for a list of songs that influenced “Up All Night” O’Connell said, “I’ve been to listening to a fair amount of disco and 70s R&B over the past few years and it directly inspired me to write “Up All Night” (and seek out Buscrates to remix it).  Here’s some tunes I can’t get enough of.

“Betcha Wouldn’t Hurt Me” by Quincy Jones

“Haven’t You Heard” by Patrice Rushen

“(Funny) Bone” by Chic

“Runaway Love” by Linda Clifford

“You Gonna Make Me Love Somebody Else” by The Jones Girls

“Hold Tight” by Change

“I’m In Love” by Evelyn Champagne King

“Keep On” D-Train

“Light Up The Night” by The Brothers Johnson

I put together a mixtape of these songs and included the Buscrates remix picking some choice remixes and adding some edits resulting in a shimmering, thumping throwback Disco/Funk mix. Enjoy!

 

(Upcoming Release) RSD Exclusive 2 LP Colemine Records Singles Compilation Soul Slabs Vol. 1 Collects the 7″ Gems

I usually try to post about the nuggets in the Record Store Day releases. When this year’s Record Store Day list posted yesterday, I was admittedly underwhelmed by the releases. I saw some compelling ones, like the third part of the Complete Big Star Third collection, the 2nd release of the CSC Funk Band on Electric Cowbell (their first release Funkincense came out as an RSD exclusive, which I have and love). The Fleetwood Mac Alternate Mirage is interesting, if ultimately non-essential as a vinyl release.

But, deeper in the list, down in the compilations was the new RSD exclusive Soul Slabs Vol. 1 compilation of the legendary 7″ R&B/Soul/Funk releases from the Ohio-based Colemine Records. In 2014 Colemine released a compact disc compilation of singles called 20/45 in celebration of their seventh birthday. Soul Slabs is an update of that compilation, bringing the collection up to 2016. There is a pretty big overlap of the two releases, but since this is on vinyl and updated, it really is the more essential release in my opinion. It doesn’t miss the big cuts: Ikebe Shakedown’s “Hard Steppin'” is pretty much an R&B classic at this point– Colemine reissued the single for RSD a couple of years ago and reissued the Hard Steppin’ EP on vinyl. Orgone has been a force for a few years, and the releases on Colemine are an essential addition to their catalog– their release Beyond the Sun is positively breathtaking and should be in everyone’s soul collection. That goes for Durand Jones and the Indications new LP as well. Damn. Colemine started a subscription service of sorts where they email you about new exclusive releases and they give you a chance to buy it before it goes totally public. A lot of those releases are on this comp too: Soul Scratch, The Ephemerals, Kris Lager, Gene Washington & The Ironsides.

TRACKLISTING:
1. Jungle Fire – Comencemos
2. The Droptones – Don’t Get Caught
3. The Rugged Nuggets – Yo Todo Tu Yo
4. Dojo Cuts – You Make Lovin’ Real Easy
5. Ikebe Shakedown – Hard Steppin’
6. On The Spot Trio – Suction
7. Monophonics – Like Yesterday
8. Los Sospechos – Jano’s Revenge
9. The Jive Turkeys – The Reggie
10. Fat Night – Things You Do
11. Alan Evans Trio – Authoritay
12. The Grease Traps – Street Sweeper
13. Gene Washington & The Ironsides – Next To You
14. The Sure Fire Soul Ensemble – City Heights
15. Kris Lager Band – Money & Loneliness
16. In Motion Collective – Jesse’s Jing
17. Orgone – Do What You Came To Do
18. Durand Jones & The Indications – Smile
19. Leroi Conroy – Remember When?
20. Soul Scratch – Pacified
21. Ephemerals – Things
22. The Gripsweats – Ziggy’s Walk

Here is a YouTube Playlist of all of the tracks. ENJOY!!!

Anyway. Go get this. Seriously.

(Upcoming Release) Chicago R&B Powerhouse The Right Now Return With a Pop Twinkle in Starlight (out 2/24)

Never content with staying in one particular sound, Chicago R&B band The Right Now, has embraced a classic R&B sound over the years, but has also included more updated R&B elements. Even on their debut album Carry Me Home, there were stabs of synths and electronic percussion over the proceedings. Their following 7″ “If I Wanted To“/”I Am Who I Say I Am” we get a gritty and even distortion laden track maybe akin to a more soulful Black Keys. When they returned in 2012 with Gets Over You, most of the tracks had a distinct later-period Motown and Stax bent to them, but outlying track “Call Girl” was straight up late 70’s disco and even got the remix treatment from the Deep and Disco crew.

The Right Now returns in 2017 with a new album Starlight with a renewed sense of direction and passion. While the band still hangs on to the horns and brings the funk, they also are approaching the new album with an “all-killer, no-filler” album with an eye towards a modern R&B sound. CFO (Chief Funk Officer) Brendan O’Connell explains,

“Our goal was to fine-tune the songs and production to make every note count, every chorus big and memorable, and craft something really special,” says keyboardist/guitarist/bandleader Brendan O’Connell. “While I love what we achieved on the last album, I felt it was important to try to transcend the ‘retro soul’ genre and concentrate on writing the best songs I could for (lead singer Stefanie Berecz)’s voice.”

The album is available for pre-order from the band’s website, and includes a limited edition transparent blue vinyl pressing! While you’re there order the last two albums and the 7″es!

(Upcoming Release) Electronic Duo Loess is Back! New Album Pocosin Out 2/17

I think the heyday of bands like Boards of Canada, Autechre, FourTet and Aphex Twin was in the early 2000’s. To be fair, all of these acts are still recording today, but I know I was listening to a lot more of bands that sounded like this back then. One band I discovered back then, through a friend of mine was a duo out of Philly/New Jersey called Loess. Something about Clay Emerson and Ian Pullman’s particular approach to this music really spoke to me, and to this day I still add songs from their catalog to my rotation. There is a loneliness or desolation to their music. Spare beats and distant melodies form the structure for loops of distressed samples. To me, it’s the audio equivalent of a Quay Brothers film.

The last release of all new songs from Loess was 2006’s Wind and Water, its sounds inspired by a relocation to a woodsier southern New Jersey. After a compilation release in 2009 that had some new songs and some rarities titled Burrows, we’ve had radio silence.

Until now. Seemingly out of the blue, we have the announcement of a new album from Loess titled Pocosin, and from the two tracks we’ve heard already it has the sound I’ve come to love over the years. Also, the album art is the trademark desolate and manipulated black and white photos that always fit the mood. The album is on n5MD, the label that also released Wind and Water.

Coming out on February 17th, we have a few different formats– digital download and CD, but also two different versions on vinyl. One is transparent and the other is a white with black splatter. You can listen to “Petrel” and “Striae” from the n5MD Bandcamp page, where you can order it. You can also order it from n5MD directly.

Pocosin Clear Vinyl

Pocosin white and black vinyl.

We Talk to Mysterious Viral Dreampop Band Idle Hands from Mexico City

Love it or hate it, social media is the vehicle for finding out about “new stuff.” Sometimes we find out about really great stuff– like this week when David McClymont formerly of Scottish post-punk pop band Orange Juice shared out a video of an obscure Mexico City band Idle Hands practicing a song from an upcoming debut EP with the comment, “No, this isn’t a Glasgow bedroom circa 1980, it’s a Mexico City bedroom now.”

The song, titled “Carolina St.” is a glorious bright and chiming guitar instrumental reminiscent of, well, Orange Juice. This song has gained thousands of views in a couple of days– over 6,000 at the time I’m writing this! So, who are these guys? I reached out to them to see what’s going on.

From their bio: “Idle Hands is a south of Mexico City-based musical project formed by Fernando Torres and Diego Figueroa with the objective of creating sincere, smart and dreamy pop music.”

They also have a mission statement:

“We started to write music in the fall of 2015, responding to the need of obtaining an emotional and artistic expression away from the established scenes in our country. We take inspiration from the experiences, people, music and situations we love and hate. We try to tie together the good with the bad aspects of life while being aware of who we are and where we are heading, with the aim of avoiding stagnation, apathy, resentment and desensitization. These things are making Mexico a dangerous place for the people who live here and a terrible environment for art to bloom.
With our work we’d like to bring back ideas from the music we find profound and constructive, to inspire and share with our contemporaries.

Idle Hands music is written, played, recorded, produced and mixed by us.”

It’s Time to Play B-Sides: Hi! Thanks for taking the time to talk to me today. “Carolina St.” is a great track– I can’t wait to hear more! Will you be singing on some of the tracks, or will this be an instrumental effort?

Idle Hands: Yes, almost all of our songs have lyrics 🙂

Will “Carolina St.” have lyrics or will stay an instrumental?

Yes, it’ll have singing. It’s a love song, haha.

I read in your comments that you are looking for distribution for your EP. Will you release it digitally first or wait until someone signs you?

We will make a digital release first, but we are looking for a label to release a nice physical release.

Are you close to finished recording it?

Yes, sort of… we are quite perfectionists haha. We are finishing the recording process. The art and mixing are still on planning.

It’s amazing to see all of the shares on that video. When I saw it yesterday there was only a few hundred!

Yes, we are very impressed and grateful with everyone. We didn’t think that a rehearsal video would be so warmly received 😮

David McClymont from Orange Juice wrote a fantastic quote about us…

Actually, that is how I found out about you. One of my friends on FB shared the video with McClymont’s quote.

It’s incredible to see how the Young Sound of Scotland is alive and kicking. And the best thing: crossing seas and breaking walls!

Will the EP lyrics be in Spanish or English?

No, the lyrics are in English. It’s quite a political thing… haha. We feel quite rebellious against the musical scene of Latin America.

I’m not too familiar with the Latin music scene other than some of the bigger exports.

We don’t feel identified with much of the local stuff. Almost always the people who succeed in music in Mexico are from wealthy families and they don’t have struggles to get a record deal, gear or education.

I see. Speaking of gear, I’m impressed with the sound of that Starcaster [a budget Fender guitar line below the Squier brand]– sounds better than I thought it might.

We are condemned to play with the cheapest we can get haha. But we have the habit of improving our instruments.

I was wondering about that. Must be different pickups in there?

No way! Pickups are expensive as our guitars in México.
The secret is in the strings.

We use D’Addario Flatwounds to achieve a cleaner and smoother tone

Interesting. You use flatwounds on the Jag, too?

Yes, we have all of our guitars and basses with flatwounds

Wow. I have to say I’m pretty surprised! I would never have guessed that. The clean tone coming from those single coils sounds really nice in that video.

Yes, Squier guitars are the most trusty axes we had throughout the years.

Any effects pedals?

No, we used to had a few, but we had to sell them. And now with the “peso” devaluation we are struggling harder to get gear.
But we made our minds up. We’re trying to make the most of the cheapest things.

Well, maybe this video going viral will help sell a lot of your EP!

Haha thanks, idleness made us… We would rather make a crowdfunding for a vinyl release than selling digital music.

Well, as a vinyl junkie I would love to see that!!

Thanks a lot!

When first I saw your video I thought it sounded like Manchester scene– The Smiths, Echo and the Bunnymen, etc. Though, the Orange Juice and Aztec Camera sound people are mentioning isn’t far from that.

Yes could be. Haha, we have a lot of influence of UK and Scottish bands. From the 60’s to the 80’s.
We also love soul, disco and Afrobeat.

That should make for some interesting future releases!

Yes, actually we have a lot of unreleased demos of experiments with other genres… You’ll listen to them eventually haha.

Thanks for taking the time to talk to me today– it’s been a lot of fun!

Thanks to you Michael, it’s been a pleasure. Love from México – Fernando & Diego ❤

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