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!
The month of January was named after the Roman goddess Janus who had two faces. Like the goddess, January is the month of the year when we both look back on the previous year that is over as well as ahead to the year coming up. I just posted my favorite releases for 2012— here is a list of releases that I’m looking forward to in 2013.
Mountains – Centralia(January 22) The Brooklyn duo of Brendon Anderegg and Koen Holtkamp is back with another couple of slabs of acoustic/electronic experimental ambient music (a couple of slabs in the vinyl version anyway). I’ve been a big fan since Choraland can’t wait to get this on the turntable.
Camper Van Beethoven – La Costa Perdida (January 22) David Lowery’s non-Cracker concern is back with its first release since New Roman Times in 2004.
Arbouretum – Coming Out of the Fog(January 22) David Heumann is back with another slab of his folk-inspired distortion. If you are one of the early orders at Thrill Jockey, the vinyl comes in “Fog White” – I have one and it is beautiful.
Brokeback – Brokeback and the Black Rock (January 22) – Doug McCombs of Tortoise and Eleventh Dream Day returns with his solo project, Brokeback. Started in 1997, Brokeback had two 7″es and three albums, with the last one out in 2003. Ten years later, Brokeback is resurrected in a new lineup which includes Pete Croke and Chris Hansen of Head of Skulls! (emphasis theirs) and James Elkington of The Zincs, The Horses Ha and Freakwater. The album is typical atmospheric reverbby guitar instrumentals.
Local Natives – Hummingbird (January 29) – The Local Natives are back with their sophomore release. I loved their first album Gorilla Manor, and got to see them during the first Daytrotter Barnstormer tour. They managed to tour for two years on that album. If the first track “Breakers” is any indication, Hummingbird is a strong followup.
Jacob Jones – Good Timin’ In Waynetown (January 29) – Just in time for the hubbub over Nashville due to the ABC TV series of the same name, Jacob Jones is releasing his first album in two years. Instead of his typical roadworn acoustic folk country, he hit the studio with an album inspired by the classic R&B of Ray Charles and the “Keep On Movin'” parties on Monday nights at The 5 Spot.
Hiss Golden Messenger – Haw (April 2) – MC Taylor and Scott Hirsch are on a roll. After a very polished release of Poor Moon in 2011 which was followed by a collection of odds and sods in 2012 called Lord, I Love the Rain they are done with another release Haw, which is due to come out on April 2nd and has members of Megafaun on it. Look for a review by me soon.
Golden Gunn – TBD (April) – As if a Hiss Golden Messenger release isn’t enough, Scott and MC are collaborating with Steve Gunn on an album which, from the sounds of the little bit I heard, will be more jamming and more stripped down (if that is possible).
Dawes – Stories Don’t End (April 9)- The mighty Dawes return for a third album. This time they are releasing the album themselves through their management Q Prime— their first two albums were released by Dave Matthews’ label ATO. I’ve heard a couple songs from the new album live already, and it’s sounding like a great one. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Taylor Goldsmith said, “Obviously we have our influences, and I know that some of what we do as a band is of another time, even simple aspects like guitar solos. So I get it, I’m not mad at it, but at the same time, we just wanted to make sure people saw us as a modern band as well. With this album, thanks to what [producer] Jacquire [King] is really good at, we’re able to stay a rock & roll band and maintain classic qualities, but at the same time, it makes sense that this record is coming out in 2013.”
Jack Logan & Scott Baxendale – Bones in the Desert (TBD) – Jack Logan is back with his first release since 2006 or so. This time he’s partnered up with Athens, GA master guitar luthier Scott Baxendale. Joining them on the record are members of Drive By Truckers.
The Right Now – EP (First Half of 2013) In an interview with Chicagoverse, Brendan O’Connell says that the Chicago R&B band has demos collected that they can draw from to make an EP!
Dick Prall – Dick is releasing a song-per month, which he kicked off in October of 2012. The plan is to make the songs freely downloadable with a full-album of the tracks plus some bonuses available at the end of 2013.
Horses Ha – TBD – Carried over from last year’s list. The album is pretty much complete and a continuation of the first album Of The Cathmawr Yards. Here’s hoping that Janet and James, coming off the recent Freakwater tour will be energized and ready to release this.
History – (First half of 2013) The remains of the Iowa City band The Wandering Bears have formed a new band called History.
Har-di-Har – Third EP/LP – I loved the first two EP’s released by the Cedar Falls husband/wife duo Har-di-Har. The third EP in the series is supposed to come out pretty soon. Andrew Thoreen told me that the plan is to bundle the three EP’s together into a physical release (possibly vinyl!).
The month of January was named after the Roman goddess Janus who had two faces. Like the goddess, January is the month of the year when we both look back on the previous year that is over as well as ahead to the year coming up. I just posted my favorite releases for 2011— here is a list of releases that I’m looking forward to in 2012.
The Right Now – sophomore release (April 21st) – The Chicago R&B group The Right Now has had a pretty great run since their first album Carry Me Home came out in 2010 (which I was the Executive Producer on). They’ve played some pretty great headlining shows as well as opening for many of the bigger R&B acts touring. They flew out to L.A. in 2011 to work with Sergio Rios of Orgone at his studio for their 2nd album. Most of songs for this album have had their fair share of live workout and it shows– as someone who has seen the band a lot over the last year, the new songs have already become standards. The album will be released on Record Store Day.
Jeff Parker – Bright Light In Winter (February 2012) – The guitar-slinger for post rock fountainhead Tortoise is releasing his third solo album on Chicago Blues/Jazz label Delmark. Jeff Parker’s first solo record Like Coping was released on Delmark, with his second solo record The Relatives on Thrill Jockey. Credited as the Jeff Parker Trio, the album will feature Chris Lopes on bass and Chad Taylor on drums.
BTW: Don’t get me wrong– I’m a Thrill Jockey fanboy of the first order, but when was the last Jazz release from Thrill Jockey? (It was Chicago Underground Duo…) Thank goodness for Delmark, or we wouldn’t get these crucial releases from Chicago’s Jazz scene!
Garbage – title TBD (March or April 2012) – I reported on this previously. The new fifth album from Garbage is apparently in the can and mastered. There have been reports of an extensive tour in 2012 as well.
Snow Patrol – Fallen Empires (January 10) – After developing a big crush on the Tired Pony record, I was waiting expectantly for this album as it was produced by Jacknife Lee who also produced R.E.M.’s album Collapse Into Now, and with all of the ties to R.E.M.– Pete Buck was in Tired Pony, Michael Stipe helped Gary Lightbody get through some writer’s block– I was hoping for something great. The first song from Fallen Empires was “Called Out in the Dark” which has an unstoppable beat and build to it. I think that the promise of Tired Pony delivers on Fallen Empires.
Poliça – Give You The Ghost(February 14) – Technically, this album is already out as it is available as digital download from iTunes and Amazon. But, the debut album from GAYNGS lead vocalist Channy Leaneagh’s (formerly Channy Moon Casselle) new band Poliça will be officially released on CD and vinyl on producer Ryan Olson’s record label Totally Gross National Product on Valentine’s Day 2012, complete with sold-out shows at First Avenue. If you are a fan of the vocoder-laiden production of GAYNGS and Bon Iver (Mike Noyce from Bon Iver helps out on vocals on a couple of tracks, too), then you’ll love this album as much as I do! The lineup of two drummers, bass, vocals and keyboards gives the band a very unique sound, but also pretty reminiscent of 90’s trip hop from bands like Morcheeba, Sneaker Pimps and Portishead.
The Pines – Dark So Gold– (January 31) – The third album from The Pines on Red House Records find principal members Benson Ramsey and David Huckfelt living in two different cities. This doesn’t prevent them from turning out their best collaboration, yet. I caught three of their shows back in May and their stop at CSPS in September and got to hear songs destined for Dark So Gold, so I was already looking forward to hearing the studio versions of “Cry Cry Crow” and “If By Morning.” Produced again by Benson’s dad, Bo Ramsey. The Pines are kicking off a tour at the beginning of February in support of the new album and will be making stops at CSPS again as well as The Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis.
Jacob Jones – Good Timin’ in Waynestown– (August?) –Jacob Jones is someone my wife and I met in Nashville during an overnight stop on a Monday night with Brendan of The Right Now. We were on a marathon road trip getting the mastering done and dropped off for the vinyl version of Carry Me Home. Brendan insisted we needed to hit this local-yokel bar called the 5 Spot where they have this over-the-top dance party on Monday nights. This dance party called “Keep on Movin'” is hosted by Jacob Jones and his label partner Reno Bo and consists of mostly 50’s and 60’s country, R&B, garage rock and blues– typically spun on a turntable (though sometimes from a MacBook). The drinks are cheap, the folks are friendly and the floor is packed. Suffice it to say, it was one of the most memorable events we’ve been to, and certainly one of the high-points of the trip.
In addition to purveying this party, Jacob is also a singer/songwriter with a couple of pretty great Americana records under his belt. I introduced blogger Amber Valentine to his music and she wrote this really great review of his last release, which is a free download. When I was pinging folks for releases I reached out to Jacob and he told me about his 2012 release, Good Timin’ in Waynestown which is inspired by the 5 Spot Monday nights! “Good Timin’ In Waynetown” is about the good times. plain and simple,” Jacob told me in a recent conversation, “The songs are for dancing. drop the needle and get to work. The songs are filled with huge sounds of New Orleans and Nashville, Memphis and Mussel Sholes. They are about the finer things in this world like love and having good friends, that’s it, plain and simple.” Indeed, based on the couple of rough mixes he sent, this album has a big sound somewhere between Ray Charles, Chris Isaak, and Lyle Lovett. This release is going to come out on vinyl, too, so that is really exciting! A sure bet for my best of 2012.
The Diplomats of Solid Sound – TBD – I don’t have any details about the third release of Iowa City-Chicago-Austin band The Diplomats of Solid Sound with the Diplomettes other than it was recorded in Iowa City in 2011 and that they played some of the new songs at their gigs leading up to and on New Year’s Eve. I loved their last two albums, so there should be no reason to believe I won’t love this one, too!
Camper Van Beethoven – TBD – News of this release– their follow-up to 2004’s New Roman Times— was delivered with a run of tour dates starting this week. No other details other than this run of winter dates will include some of the songs from the forthcoming record.
Hiss Golden Messenger – TBD – As if releasing the amazing 1-2 punch of Bad Debt and Poor Moon over the last two years wasn’t enough, M.C. Taylor is planning to come back in 2012 with another album! As part of one of the Poor Moon pre-order bundle he included a bonus digital EP called Lord I Love The Rain that included outtakes and demos, but also had early versions of tracks that will be on the next album. Though we’ll see if this is the next album or maybe another project he hinted at in a recent conversation!
The Horses Ha -TBD – In a recent conversation with Janet Beveridge Bean she told me that James Elkington and she were done recording the follow-up to the debut Horses Ha release The Cathmawr Yards which came out in 2009. I absolutely loved the jazzy folk harmonies from The Horses Ha. You can read my review of The Cathmawr Yardshere. Watch my site for updates as I get them!
Stefanie Berecz of the Right Now sings to her daughter in "Before I Know Your Name"
In my opinion some of the best songwriting produces songs that can work on multiple levels or interpretation. Today, in recognition of Mother’s Day and mothers everywhere, I propose that the “Official Mother’s Day Anthem” (if I don’t end up in some legal dispute with Hallmark Cards who may own the trademark on Mother’s Day) is “Before I Know Your Name” by Chicago R&B band The Right Now from their 2010 album Carry Me Home. I’ve mentioned this song before when I wrote about the band. The song is typically interpreted by the casual listener as being sung by someone pining for a future love that she hasn’t met yet– the real meaning of this is still true, but that future love is Stefanie’s daughter! Lyrics like “I can feel you in me all the time” and “You’re the reason it’s so hard to sleep” take on such a clever turn of phrase, even the cynics in the crowd can’t help but smile.
Before I Know Your Name (written by Berecz/O’Connell)
Part of me pictured you this whole time
Never could believe that you could be mine
Saw a new life in your eyes
It never felt so real, it all feels different this time
You’re the truth behind what lies in me
You’re the reason it’s been so hard to sleep
I can feel you with me all the time
In the smallest ways and subtle signs
You give me feelings that I can’t deny
I feel us growing and it’s only time
Before I know your name
Child I must be glowing from head to toe
But if they only knew you’re the star of my show
I can’t wait ’til I can see you again
I’m counting down the days, so much inside my head
You’re the truth behind what lies in me
You’re the reason it’s been so hard to sleep
I can feel you with me all the time
In the smallest ways and subtle signs
You give me feelings that I can’t deny
I feel us growing and it’s only time
Before I know your name
So, Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers and future mothers. We’re all here because of them. Play this song in tribute!
In addition to having a pretty cute band name, Fitz and the Tantrumsseem to have really taken the scene by storm in their relatively short existence. The story goes that frontman Michael “Fitz” Fitzpatrick rescued a vintage keyboard from someone who needed to leave town quickly. The keyboard was the inspriation that Fitz needed to start writing the keyboard-fueled R&B that is the signature of Fitz and the Tantrums. A chance hearing by Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine gained them a gig opening for his band on tour. Another opportunity performing on Daryl Hall’s “Live From Daryl’s House” online video series, a spot on Carson Daily and some choice placement of songs on a couple of TV shows and you have a formula for a band that is enjoying a meteoric rise. Having a shit-hot single and stylish video in “Moneygrabber” doesn’t hurt any either!
As luck would have it, the L.A. band is going to be visiting the tundra-like Midwest at the beginning of February with some Play B-Sides connections in the mix.
On Saturday, February 5th Fitz and Co. will be headlining a gig in Chicago at The Metro with JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound and Play B-Sides extended familyThe Right Now! That is a powerhouse lineup of Soul and R&B and my pick for a not-to-be-missed show on the Windy City’s calendar. This is a rare show for a while for The Right Now as they are holed up in their secret hideaway writing songs for their sophomore release. The few songs they’ve already trotted out on tour last year show promise for a suitable follow-up to Carry Me Home— a Play B-Sides Top 20 of 2010.
On the following Monday they will make the trip to Iowa, and play a gig at the Redstone Room with opening actBermuda Report which features the vocals of former Diplomette Abby Sawyer. Bermuda Report snagged a spot in my Top 10 releases I’m looking forward to in 2011 with their upcoming full-length due this year.
If that wasn’t enough, they are going to do an all-ages show in Iowa City on Tuesday, 2/3 at The Blue Moose Tap House for a measley $3! WTF? FTW!
So, with all of these opportunities to see Fitz and the Tantrums, get out to see them! Then you can say you “saw them when!”
Here is the video for the fantastic “Moneygrabber”
Welcome to the first Top List for It’s Time to Play B-Sides. I’ve considered doing one of these lists every year since 2006, but never before have I had a year filled with as many really great albums that have compelled me to compile a year-end list. 2010 has been a pretty busy year for me as far as music has been concerned. Some fantastic concerts and events and some really interesting local (Eastern Iowa) releases have come out. This list represents releases that spent the most time on my playlist– in some cases I have had direct working relationships with the bands and that certainly was a factor in their appearance in the list, but nothing appears on this list that I didn’t feel very strongly about and in almost every case these were releases I was recommending to others either verbally or in print whether it was here at Play B-Sides or at Radio Free Chicago, or The Little Village.
One thing I’d like to point out is the number of strong releases from Iowa artists this year– this list doesn’t include a comprehensive list of Iowa releases, but I’m proud to include some music from my back yard.
This list is roughly in order of rank– rather than reverse order, I’m listing top to bottom. Truthfully, though narrowing this list to 20 was a tough act, and I left some albums off that I really enjoyed, but these are the albums that I think really struck me this year.
1. Tired Pony – The Place We Ran From – No album this year has moved me as much as this one has. Brilliant work by Peter Buck and Gary Lightbody who are the core members of Tired Pony. Sounds the way I hope the new R.E.M. album will. “Dead American Writers” is easily one of my favorite songs from this year as well (even if it has a confoundingly bland video). Here is my review at Radio Free Chicago on The Place We Ran From.
2. Hiss Golden Messenger – Bad Debt – MC Taylor released what is the second album for Hiss Golden Messenger this year. Titled Bad Debt, it is a collection of “spirituals” in as much as it deals with the matters of faith. It was recorded during the dead of last winter in his kitchen to a cassette recorder– just Taylor and his acoustic. The results are a stark and chilling introspection and really one of my favorite albums this year. The simple approach of this recording lays bare the amazing singer and songwriter that Taylor is. Here is my article on Bad Debt.
3. Death Ships – Maybe Arkansas EP – Although I’m convinced that Dan Maloney– constant frontman for former Iowa City band Death Ships— doesn’t like the songs on this EP based on the fact that he didn’t play any of them the last two times I saw him perform live at The Mill– this is still one of the strongest releases from this year. It’s a little unfair to call this a 2010 release for a number of reasons– first the songs were recorded some time back in 2006, I think and have kind of lingered in Dan’s archives until last year when he was planning to release an EP of them. The EP was finally released this year. To be fair, I guess Dan has moved on to writing songs for the followup to his last full album, so I’m sure he’s less excited about these songs than the prospect of newer songs. Still, this is a fantastic collection of songs and it would be a shame to let these songs die without people hearing them, in my opinion. Read my review of Maybe Arkansas.
4. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs – I’ll come right out and say it– I was not really a fan of Arcade Fire’s first album Funeral. I have friends who really loved it, but it didn’t really move me. Neon Bible was interesting to me mostly because Calexico covered “Ocean of Noise” on an import 7″ and I really liked “Keep the Car Running.” When the buzz started around The Suburbs, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The first “leaked” track was “Month of May” which showed a distinctive change in sound for the band, but I was still skeptical. In what proved to be a genius move by the band and the label, they made the album $3.99 at amazon.com the day of release– so I downloaded it. It quickly took over my playlist and even today, I’ll listen to this album a couple of times a week. Significant holding power for me. On my short list for acquiring on vinyl.
6. The Right Now – Carry Me Home – A bit of a disclaimer first– I’m the executive producer on the vinyl pressing of Carry Me Home by Chicago R&B band The Right Now, which came out in September. While this might disqualify me from being an unbiased perspective on the album, the fact of the matter is that I loved Carry Me Home from the first time I heard it on CD when it came out in March. I guess, much as Victor Kiam liked Remington razors so much he bought the company, I guess I liked the CD so much I invested in the vinyl! The Right Now is part of a what appears to be a pretty substantial revival in R&B music right now, but in my mind provides a unique spin on the genre in that it draws as much influence from the classic Motown, Stax and Bell sides as it does from more contemporary R&B and funk. In fact, the band might have more in common with The Roots than it does with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings even though all three bands could be considered to fit in this space. A great record from beginning to end and the band’s live shows are not to be missed. The band is planning to hit the studio in 2011 to start recording the follow up and the songs I’ve heard so far are great as well. Here is an article by the band about the vinyl…
7. Backyard Tire Fire – Good To Be – I loved BTF’s last album and their live shows are high-energy straightforward blues-leaning rock. Good To Be marked the move to a new record label for BTF and Ed Anderson’s blue-collar sensibilities and humor (and production by Steve Berlin of Los Lobos) makes for a great and rocking album from beginning to end. Here’s an article I wrote about the album.
8. Pezzettino – LubDub – Brooklyn-via-Milwaukee singer-songwriter and Accordion Girl Wonder Margaret Stutt, who performs as Pezzettino released her third album LubDub this year which was co-produced and created with Milwaukee HipHop producer Jerry Gruvis aka LMNtlyst. Much as her music and art influences before her, Pezzettino draws inspiration from her own life and each of her albums to date have been autobiographical in nature and LubDub is no different. Although we don’t know who the romantic suitors were in songs like “Cold Hard Chick,” “You and Your Headaches,” and “Only One” we know that they may have been star-crossed. The album, taken in whole, can be seen as a progression of sorts in one woman’s journey in love and loss of it. The album started as a tentative collaboration between Stutt and Gruvis who met at a show in Milwaukee last year. As the songs came together it became apparent that this was to be her follow on to Lion. The album is fun, funky and has a sense of humor along with the pain. LubDub was done as a Kickstarter-funded project to wild success which yielded a wonderful CD+vinyl package with the record itself a brilliant transparent yellow. Here is my article about LubDub.
9. Pieta Brown – One and All – The news of Pieta Brown moving to Red House Records was one that I felt was going to be the beginning of a fruitful relationship. Her one foray into major label land was 2007’s Remember the Sun on One Little Indian Records that ended after one release. None worse for the wear, she packed up her guitar and moved home– home being the record label her father Greg Brown was very instrumental in forming in 1983 and continues to be his label today. One and All is Pieta’s seventh release of her very distinctive lazy soprano floating on the Eastern Iowa sound started largely by constant partner Bo Ramsey– but it seems to me like she’s just getting started– maybe it feels like that to her, too. One and All just came out on 180g vinyl, too! Here is my review of One and All.
12. John Legend and the Roots – Wake Up! – I’ve always respected John Legend although I wasn’t really a fan. The prospects of an album with his Philly brethren The Roots seemed like it could be magic. It was. I hope that this is not the last we’ll hear from this pairing. The 2 LP version of this album is the way it is supposed to be enjoyed.
14. The Wandering Bears – self-titled EP – This album came crashing onto my Top List in the last couple of weeks. I was doing research for my review of the Pieta Brown “This Land is Your Music” show. The opening act was a trio from Iowa City known as The Vagabonds. Two of the Vagabonds are also in The Wandering Bears which released an EP earlier this year that really took me by surprise! The sound comes off as a combination of maybe Rilo Kiley and Throwing Muses. Free download, so just go get it.
15. Beth Bombara – Wish I Were You – Around the same time that Pezzettino kicked off her Kickstarter campaign for LubDub, St. Louis musician Beth Bombara kicked off one for Wish I Were You. In fact, before I ever heard any songs for this album I offered up a video of me talking about why I love vinyl to help promote her campaign. I found out about Beth through Arial Hyatt’s publicity website– back when there were fewer artists on it and the odds of finding very talented artists was much greater (my opinion). Her CD Robotic Foundation, was a mainstay in my listening rotation for over a year. Robotic Foundation was an edgy indie rock. Wish I Were You has its edgy moments- particular “Lately”, but the album seems to explore a few different styles drifting between blues, folk and country. I love the album ending track “Don’t You Know” with it’s strings, banjo and harmony. Beth seemingly is part of like 16 bands in St. Louis, but she really shines as a solo artist here. Click Here to read my article about Beth.
16. Wolfgang Schaefer – self-titled EP – Wolfgang Schaefer is a relatively new musician on the scene and this is his first release. I met him during the tour this fall where he opened up for Pezzettino and both of them shared his very talented brother Ben on percussion and electronic wizardry. Margaret had been praising Wolfgang’s music, but I foolishly hadn’t followed up on it. Then I saw him perform live and was very impressed with his command of an audience. His music is VERY dynamic, so it’s a trick to keep your typical bar crowd in sway. Finger-picked acoustic guitars propel his hoarse vocals delivering pained recounts of love and loss. My friend Amber wrote a really great review of this EP.
17. The Diplomats of Solid Sound – What Goes Around Comes Around – The Diplomats are back with their second release on Italian soul label Record Kicks. Like last time, the Diplomats are fronted by the female vocals of the Diplomettes who have by name apparently been absorbed into the band since they are not singled out in credit. Name detail aside, the band came back with a really strong release filled with the sounds influenced by the 60’s R&B bands. I feel like the band has grown a bit in their songwriting with this release, too. Read my review at Little Village.
18. Drive By Truckers – The Big To Do – Love this album front to back– great party music with typical tongue-in-cheek lyricism from Patterson Hood and Co. It’s cool to see this band blowing up a bit. I finally got to see them live this year when they opened for Tom Petty in Chicago. “The Fourth Night of My Drinking,” “Birthday Boy,” “Drag the Lake Charlie,” “This F*cking Job,” and “After the Scene Dies” are all instant classics for me. I never got around to writing anything about this release, although I listened to this album a lot in 2010. Here is the fantastic Daytrotter session for Drive By Truckers.
19. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Mojo– This might be some of my “old guy” coming out a bit. I have been a constant fan of Tom Petty since the 80’s. That said, his last two efforts– The Last DJ and Highway Companion (one a Heartbreakers release and one a solo release) were not as strong or consistent as some of his previous efforts in my opinion. When I started hearing the tracks that “leaked” via videos on line, Saturday Night Live appearances and his XM radio show “Buried Treasures” really started the interest in this release early. Petty stated that for this album they went to the studio loose and welcomed a more jamming approach and this, I feel, really makes for one of the most consistent albums from Petty in a long time. For an artist that could reasonably rest on his back catalog, it is great to see that he’s trying to push the creative envelope.
20. The Budos Band – III – Any release from Daptone Records is worthy of note, but I really love the Afro-Rhythms guitars and Farfisa organ of The Budos Band. The band said that they went into the studio trying to break new ground for the band by braving psychedelic rock and ended up recording an album that sounding like a Budos Band album. After four releases, I feel like this album really shows the band in its element and this album is darker, I feel than the previous releases. Some recent tweets from the band had them soliciting ideas for a new album of psychedelic rock covers for them to tackle which should be interesting. Here is an article I wrote about the album.
Last weekend Sherry attended America’s Beauty Show for the third year running and I got the opportunity to have some quality time with Chicago’s record stores. Friday night we went down to a bar called This Must Be The Place in Lemont, IL to see Chicago R&B phenom The Right Now. We got into town late, so we needed to scoot to try and get there in time to get something to eat. Thankfully the folks there were very accommodating and the food was excellent!
The show was a lot of fun– it was the first time I’d seen the band since they played Mahoney’s in Cedar Rapids in 2008 as Eli Jones. The band has come a long way in their stage show. Now the guys in the band all wear matching suits and Steph looked great in a sequined dress and heels. This was the first time the band had played This Must Be The Place and there was a pretty low turnout. Some of the dinner crowd stuck around through the first set but by the second set the audience was made up of Sherry and I and the employees of the bar. The band followed a setlist for the first set, but after the break they decided to loosen up a bit and played some older songs like “Candlelight and Satin Sheets” and “Disco Smooth” and a couple of newly-written songs.
I talked to the soundguy at the break a bit, and he said that the owner of the bar is trying to establish This Must Be The Place as a place for musicians to meet– sort of like The Green Mill or the Empty Bottle downtown. It is a lofty goal for sure as Lemont is about 45 minutes south of the Loop on I-55, and I think that getting the bands to come out of the Loop is a tough proposition. That said, the Metra runs down there so it isn’t an impossibility. It is a really nice venue with a great soundsystem and stage and the food and drinks are good. I’d come back if there was a good band there.
We got to hang out and talk to the band after the show– I was happy that Sherry got to meet them, and we talked a bit about the upcoming Iowa shows the weekend of 4/16 (Iowa City, Davenport and Cedar Rapids).
On Saturday, Sherry attended the first day of the conference at McCormick which started around Noon and I parked in the first floor lobby and worked on blog stuff. On Sunday she went to the second day of the conference and I decided I wanted to hit a Half-Price Books as I had the 50% Off One Item coupon. There are a few Half-Price Books in the Chicagoland area, but all of them are way out in the burbs. The closest one to McCormick Place was down in Countryside, IL off I-55 (pretty close to Lemont, really). So, I dropped Sherry off and hit I-55– it’s exit is right near McCormick Place.
The Countryside HPB has a pretty substantial collection of vinyl as it turns out– and a decent selection of obscure and Chicago-local bands. Unfortunately, I didn’t find a lot of stuff I was looking for. They had a Japanese pressing of the Blind Faithalbum for $30 that I was really interested in. It had the alternate cover featuring the band instead of the topless underaged-girl photo. It had a pretty deep scratch on it otherwise I would have bought it with my 50% coupon. They had two copies of Dave Brubeck’s Time Out— both appeared to be original pressings and one of them was a very worn Mono. I almost bought the Mono, but the wear and the seam-split cover had me passing on it. Plus, I have a very mint Stereo Columbia 6-eye I cherish, so I don’t need another copy, really. They also had Marti Jones’s second album Match Game on LP. Match Game was produced by Marti’s husband Don “Praying Mantis” Dixon. I have this on cassette, and would have liked to have this on vinyl, but it was missing an inner sleeve and was pretty worn. Here’s what I picked up:
Men At Work – Business As Usual (LP, CBS Records, FC 37978, 1982)($0.50) This was clearance-priced, and has a VG cover and vinyl. Fairly quiet on the turntable after I cleaned it. I listened to this and Cargoa lot in junior high school. Three pretty big singles in “Who Can It Be Now?”, “Down Under,” and “Be Good Johnny.” It was their appearance at the US Festival on “New Wave Day” that really helped establish the band and make them the MTV darlings. This album is strong all the way through– the singles are scattered throughout the record and serve as familiar landmarks through the rest of the songs. Men at Work were often considered a band that copied The Police– and quite a bit of this album with it’s bouncy ska rhythms and jazz influences certainly supports that idea. One of my favorite non-single tracks is “Helpless Automation” which recalls a new-wavy Devo. I included this song in a mixtape that I played all the time in High School. I need to get Cargo, next.
The Time – Ice Cream Castles (LP, Warner Bros. Records, 25109-1, 1984)($2.98) This is a title I don’t see very often (though, coincidentally would see again on Monday…). The story goes that Prince was trying to transition from the pop-funk sound that he established leading up to Controversyand apparently had a lot of music he still wanted to release in that vein. He puts his childhood friend Morris Day in front of a Minneapolis funk band called Flyte Time and creates The Time– on record, at least was mostly Prince and Day. By the time Ice Cream Castles is released in 1984, Terry Lewis and Jimmy Jam had been fired by Prince for missing a show and Morris Day quit to pursue an acting career propelled by his appearance in Purple Rain. Although the album cover shows the post-Lewis and Jam version of the band– which has a shockingly-young St. Paul Peterson on the cover. If his birthdate in October of 1964 is correct, St. Paul was 18 when he played in the Time. He wasn’t on the album, however and only apparently played two live gigs in the Twin Cities and he appears in the movie Purple Rain. After Morris Day leaves The Time, Prince gathers the remaining members and his then-girlfriend Susannah Melvoin and creates The Family. The Family are re-united as F Deluxe (Prince denies them the use of the name The Family– apparently still bitter about St. Paul leaving the group). Ice Cream Castles has what amounts to the biggest songs from The Time– “The Bird” and “Jungleland” which are both featured prominently in the Purple Rain movie. The production is credited to “The Starr Company” which is effectively Prince, who sometimes used the alias “Jamie Starr.” The original album inner sleeve is black plastic, interestingly.
My plan was to hit another Half Price Books and spend my 50% coupon, but the next closest one was another 35 miles away. I did a quick Google Maps search for nearby record stores and found one called The Record Dugout(6055 West 63rd Street, Chicago, IL 60638-4317). The Record Dugout is technically in Chicago– although really far south in Chicago. It’s a moderately-sized store that specializes in vinyl LP’s dating up to the 80’s, comic books and sports cards. The day I was there, the guy who handles the vinyl part of the store was working. His name is Bob Miner and he hosts an acapella radio show on The University of Chicago radio station WHPK which airs on Sunday evenings and is called “From the Subway to the Streetcorner.” The store was literally packed with vinyl. There was one row of sorted Rock in record bins, another shorter row for Jazz and folk/country, another “discount bin” with $1-$2 records, and a meticulously-organized bin with 7″ records– the majority of which was R&B from the 50’s/60’s/70’s. Other areas included a “Wall of Shame” as Bob called it, which showcased the more expensive records– rare 7″es with sleeves, etc., a table which had unsorted piles of cheap records in varying degrees of shape– most of which had damaged sleeves, but had serviceable records in them, and two areas on the floor which had $1 and $2 records piled up.
I found most of the haul below in the sorted bins, but the ones for $1 and $2 I found by digging. Bob buys whole collections of records from people looking to get rid of them, so if he hasn’t gotten through them, the good stuff might not be in the bins. Everything seemed to have prices, however. It’s important to note that The Record Dugout only takes cash and the nearest ATMs charge fees, so bring cash. Also, if you buy a lot of stuff, Bob will work with you on price. I spent about three hours here, and probably could have spent more time. I’ll certainly come back!
R.E.M. – Lifes Rich Pageant(LP, IRS Records, IRS-5783, 1986) ($4.00) I might have paid a bit too much for this one. The sleeve was not split, but kind of rough on the corners and the paper sleeve was replaced with another sleeve. The record is pretty clean, and after I gave it a thorough wipe with 91% Isopropyl Alcohol to get it cleaned, it sounds really good– the surface is a bit hazy, however. R.E.M. is tough to find in the bins, so I’ll pick these up when I find them. Lifes Rich Pageant was the follow-up to Fables of the Reconstruction, which was the album that pretty much changed my music listening. R.E.M. called this their “John Cougar Mellencamp album” because it was produced by Don Gehman at Mellencamp’s studio in Indiana. Classic R.E.M. sound on this one– “Begin the Begin,” “Hyena,” “Fall on Me,” “Superman,” “I Believe” are all strong tracks in the R.E.M. canon. The song “Just a Touch” was a song resurrected from the early days of the band and a number of bootleg recordings from the early 80’s have this song.
Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band – Nine Tonight(2 LP, Capitol Records, STBK-12182, 1981)($2.00) I found this one in one of the piles on the floor– hence its $2 price. Fabulously clean cover and LP’s! My dad bought this cassette when it was new and we used to listen to this a lot riding around in the car. A live album comprised of songs recorded in Detroit and Boston in 1980. All of his classic tracks are here– “Hollywood Nights,” “Tryin’ to Live My Life Without You,” “Night Moves,” “You’ll Accomp’ny Me,” “Old Time Rock ‘n’ Roll,” “Mainstreet,” “Fire Lake,” “Fire Down Below.” Probably the only album of Bob’s I would care to own, although I’d need Live Bullet to get “Turn the Page.”
Various – The Breakfast Club– The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack(LP, A&M Records, SP 5045, 1985)($2.00) Another one from the floor. Cover is in good condition and the record looks decent, but there seems to be a lot of groove wear on this one– particularly on “(Don’t You) Forget About Me” by Simple Minds. This was a soundtrack that my brother Steve and I listened to a lot– in fact, I think the cassette was actually his. My band in high school with Steve used to cover “(Don’t You) Forget About Me.” Fantastic drum beat in that song, which is why it is so timeless. It’s a kind of well-known story that Simple Minds didn’t write the song– it was penned by Keith Forsey who also wrote “Flashdance… What a Feeling” for Irene Kara. After being turned down by Billy Idol, Bryan Ferry and Simple Minds– it was encouraged by A&M that Simple Minds record the song. It becomes their biggest hit which help propel their career for a couple of albums. This soundtrack always struck me in how different it was to other John Hughes soundtracks in that while it had a huge single in “(Don’t You) Forget About Me,” it was really lacking in every other respect. I became familiar with the other songs by Wang Chung, E.G. Daily, Jesse Johnson, and Karla DeVito but aside from “Fire in the Twilight” from Wang Chung, which frankly sounds like an outtake from Points on the Curve, everything else seems like bargain-basement licensing– particularly if you compare it to the powerhouse soundtrack to Pretty in Pink, for example. The instrumentals by Forsey, while largely forgettable, work really well in the context of the movie.
In the 80’s it really seemed like you couldn’t have a soundtrack to a teen movie that didn’t include songs by E.G. Daily. She contributed her unique vocals to movies like Better off Dead — where she performs her two songs in the movie, Summer School, Thief of Hearts as well as The Breakfast Club. She’s a pretty talented lady, and is a regular for voiceovers. It is she who voices Tommy Pickles in Rugrats, for example.
Talking Heads – Speaking In Tongues (LP, Sire Records, 23883-1, 1983) ($2.00) Another one from the floor piles. The cover and inner sleeve are in tact, if a bit beat up. I have no Talking Heads on vinyl– well except for a bootleg called humorously enough Gimme Heads which has some studio outtakes and live tracks on it and a 12″ to “Blind.” After cleaning this one up, it plays pretty well, but I’ll be on the lookout for better copies. Last year’s Record Store Day had a Rhino reissue for 77— so I was hoping for some other reissues on vinyl. The Dugout also had True Stories on vinyl, but it was in pretty rough shape so I passed on it. Speaking In Tongues is pretty much the Talking Heads pinnacle release with the massive “Burning Down The House” single as well as secondary hits of “Girlfriend is Better,” and “Naive Melody.” Of course, these songs would show up in a bunch of movie soundtracks. I remember “Naive Melody” standing out in the soundtrack to Wall Street, and “Swamp” shows up in Risky Business. These tracks are featured prominently in the Talking Heads concert movie Stop Making Sensewhich was directed by Jonathan Demme.
Fleetwood Mac – Mirage (LP, Warner Bros. Records, W1 23607, 1982)($3.00) Very clean vinyl– cover has a suspicious wear spot, like someone used water to take adhesive off the cover. Also a Columbia House pressing. Clearly I didn’t look very closely at this one. I don’t like to take Columbia House pressings normally due to the uncertain nature of what they used for masters. That said, it is very clean and plays well, and is one of the better copies of Mirage I’ve seen, even with those flaws. The Mac tries to come back from the Titanic expensive failure that was Tusk (still my favorite, however). I really like Mirage— the band comes back to the style and sound of Rumours. The album had six singles released worldwide, but the biggest singles were “Hold Me” and “Gypsy.” The album makes it to #1 on the US charts, so it is clear that their audience wanted another album, but in the canon of Fleetwood Mac, Mirage is not one that people remember.
My first Fleetwood Mac concert was for the Miragetour in 1982. My family saw them in Cedar Falls with Glenn Frey of the Eagles opening on his first solo tour. I’ve seen Fleetwood Mac three more times since then– once during the very sad Time tour with Dave Mason and Bekka Bramlett on guitars and vocals in Dubuque, once for The Dance tour and once for the Say You Will Tour.
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – Live/1975-85(5 LP, Columbia Records 40558 LP, 1986)($15.00) This one was a cool find. I bought this new on cassette back in 1986– and still have it. I’ve seen it on CD over the years used, but never on LP. A great collection of Bruce live goodness from what most people would consider the high-point of his career. I think that they should do an official release of the legendary Winterland 1978 show. The version of “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” heard at Christmas time is from that show. This box set does, however, include the version of “Fire” from that show. The Winterland 1978 show had been bootlegged many times over the years– since it was aired live on the radio, lots of folks taped it. Wolfgang’s Vault helpfully has the show in their archives, but it is not one that is purchasable. Listen here.
The vinyl on this box is pretty much pristine, even if the box itself isn’t. One I’ll want to kick back and listen to with a glass of wine some night.
Booker T. & The MG’s – “Hip Hug-Her” b/w “Summertime”(7″ Stax 45-211, 1965)($4.00) I hadn’t really planned to pick up any 45’s, but they had a dedicated section just for Stax! So, I flipped through it and they had a few Booker T. & The MG’s singles. I picked this one because it was on the massively cool light blue Stax label. The record is in great shape for being 45 years old!
Wilson Pickett – “Funky Broadway” b/w “I’m Sorry About That” (7″, Atlantic Records, 45-2430, 1967)($3.00) This one is one of the singles I really dig from Wilson Pickett– on the red Atlantic label. Super-clean and in an Atlantic paper sleeve.
The Dangtrippers – “The Masquerade” b/w “Lover’s Again”(7″, Dog Gone Records, DOG 0005-7″, 1989)($3.50) Why is it that if I want to find rare Iowa bands in the bins I need to leave Iowa? The Dangtrippers were Doug Roberson of The Diplomats of Solid Sound’s 90’s band. I still remember seeing The Dangtrippers playing the Loras College gym when I went to school there. The band got signed to Dog Gone records which was the record label started by Jefferson Holt who was the manager for R.E.M. This is the single to the only album released for The Dangtrippers on Dog Gone before it went under (see below). “Lover’s Again” is a non-album b-side!
Prince and the Revolution – Around the World in a Day(LP, Paisley Park W1-25286, 1985)($3.00) A Columbia House pressing, but in superb shape! I’ve never seen this on LP before! I have this in this crazy longbox trifold CD I picked up at a Discount Records in the early 90’s in Chicago. The LP cover is sort of a trifold with a short flap that folds over. The cover art is a painted scene which has in it representations of each of the songs– a tambourine, a ladder, an American flag, a raspberry beret– the ones I found anyway… A pretty progressive album– lots of psychedelica and strangeness– Prince at his most experimental. “Pop Life” and “Raspberry Beret” were the big singles off this album, but I think that most people ignore this album. I liked it back when it came out, but admittedly haven’t listened to it much since the 80’s. Giving it a spin the other night, I’m struck by some of the songs. In fact, I like all of the album other than the track “Temptation.”
The next day I dropped Sherry off at the conference again and I headed up to Lincoln Square to hit Laurie’s Planet of Sound, which I had hit back in October of 2007. The store was pretty quiet when I got there. They changed the parking meters to be able to take credit cards, which is convenient, but still really expensive. I blew $3 to get a couple of hours of parking. Laurie’s has a new arrivals section for their CD’s and LP’s and has a section dedicated to new vinyl as well. Their vinyl prices are higher than places like the dugout, but comparable to places like HPB which is attempting to charge market prices for some.
Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals – Burn to Shine(2 LP, Virgin Records America, 7243 8 48151 1 0, 1999)($9.99) This was in the new arrivals section and appears to be a cutout of sorts as the barcode is crossed out. Probably a promo or a giveaway, but is in great shape. I hadn’t really paid much attention to Ben Harper until I saw him as part of that 3D concert movie “Larger Than Life” back in December. I was impressed enough to pick up Harper’s new record White Lies for Dark Times on vinyl. Burn to Shine is considered to be one of his good releases so I thought it might be a good gamble. I gave it a spin when I got home, and it’s a good one for the collection.
Bumps (2 LP, Stones Throw Records, STH2157, 2007)($12.99) This was a new purchase. Bumps is the side project of the Tortoise rhythm section of Bitney, McEntire & Herndon. This is a record of beats, essentially. This is a really cool 2 LP version that was price cut from $15.99 to $12.99. This is mostly as a completion for my Tortoise vinyl collection, I don’t see myself playing this often.
Cougar – Law (LP, Layered Music/Play It Again Sam, LR013, 2007/2008)($4.99) Although it isn’t really listed anywhere on the artwork and the LP itself only lists 4 tracks, this appears to be the full Lawalbum that was released in 2007 in the UK by Layered Music. Madison, WI band Cougar is classified as “emergency” music although I think they fit under the “post rock” area. Having your debut album mixed by John McEntire of Tortoise doesn’t hurt this classification either.
The Dangtrippers – Days Between Stations (LP, Dog Gone, DOG 0005, 1989)($2.99) Wow! Another Dangtrippers find? The cover is a bit trashed on this one, but I didn’t know that this was even available on LP! I see on eBay there are a couple of LPs– one for $14.99 and one for $19.99, so $2.99 is a good deal. The vinyl is very clean. As I stated above, The Dangtrippers were a band from Iowa City from the 80’s and early 90’s that got signed to Dog Gone Records. They had this album out on Dog Gone before the label went under. Their second album Transparent Blue Illusionwhich came out in 1991 was only available on the Australian label Zero Hour. The Dangtrippers had a 60’s jangly rock sound that owed a lot to bands like The dB’s. In fact, the song “Talk About Love” on Days Between Stations sounds a lot like The dB’s and it’s pretty much my favorite track on the album.
That song reminds me of a very bad trip to Florida in the early 90’s with my then-girlfriend to visit some friends of hers. The trip started out okay– it was Florida in late December and her friends had a gorgeous house with a pool and a Porsche 928 that was ours for the borrowing. We visited a mall that had a discount book store or something and I found Days Between Stations on CD there in the bins!
The trip took a turn for the worst as she started giving me the silent treatment and wouldn’t talk about why she was upset. So, I was stuck in Florida with someone who clearly didn’t want to be there with me. We had a painful trip to Disney World followed by a really uncomfortable New Year’s Eve get together. By the time we flew back to Chicago to drive back to Dubuque I had enough of this ridiculous situation where she wasn’t talking to me about why she was upset. So, she was rewarded with four hours of “Talk About Love” on repeat in full volume. The relationship didn’t last much longer– she didn’t like not being the center of attention with her friends and I apparently drew some attention from her. I still dig the frustrated energy of that song.
Click Here to hear “Talk About Love” from Days Between Stationsby The Dangtrippers.
Love Tractor – Around the Bend (LP, DB Recs, DB67, 1983)($4.99) This was another very cool find! Of course, this is where I’ll alienate some of the readers. I found out about Love Tractor due to the documentary Athens, GA Inside/Outabout the music scene in Athens leading up to 1987– R.E.M. is just getting to be a big deal in college rock– it was released before Document with “The One I Love” on it– so the movie happens at an opportune time. Included in the movie is Love Tractor who perform a live version of “Pretty” from Around the Bend. The album is largely instrumental with some sparse vocals. I had Around the Bend on a double-cassette which included their debut self-titled album and the follow-up Until the Cows Come Home. I find their unique style to be pretty similar to Athens contemporaries Pylon.
I actually owned the soundtrack for Athens, GA Inside/Outfor a long time before I ever saw the movie. The soundtrack included two acoustic tracks from R.E.M. “Swan Swan H” and a cover of the Everly Brothers song “All I Have To Do is Dream” so I had to get it. By the time the movie came out on VHS, I was very familiar with a lot of the songs in it, including “Pretty.”
Click Here to listen to “Pretty” from Around the Bend by Love Tractor.
I also bought a bag of 100 mylar LP bags for $20. I never seem to have enough of those. I could get these cheaper online from Bags Unlimited, but since I was thinking of it, I thought I’d buy them.
As I was walking back to my car I happened to catch someone out of the corner of my eye– it was Chris Corsale from The Right Now sitting in a window of a sandwich shop playing acoustic guitar and singing! He was suprised to see me as well! So, I moved my car to a side street– which is free and doesn’t require a permit after 11AM. Then I came back to the restaurant and ate lunch hanging out with him in between sets. It was pretty cool– Chris has a pretty wide selection of covers he does and made for good lunchtime entertainment. A great coincidence that sort of made for a good wrap-up of the weekend.
After lunch I made my way back to McCormick Place to pick Sherry up and head home.
I’m always concerned when an established band decides to change their name.
Chicago bandThe Right Now started life back in 2005 as R&B/Funk band Eli Jones and the Bare Bones by Brendan O’Connell. A live EP was recorded by this band in 2006. A few lineup changes and the addition of Stefanie Berecz as lead vocals prompted the truncating of the name to just Eli Jones. The album Make It Right was released in 2007 under this moniker while still continuing to hold true to the band’s R&B and Funk influences.
History shows that bands with names that seem like they would belong to one person tend to be confusing– just look at Jethro Tull, for example. Add in the fact that Eli Jones didn’t have the domain name for the band and the name was becoming somewhat cumbersome. So, it was the switch in name to The Right Now in 2009 that allowed the band to kind of re-invent itself. All of the fans of Eli Jones who had seen the high-energy shows in the small bars across Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa were going to follow the band even after the name change.
When I saw the band in December of 2008 at Mahoney’s in Cedar Rapids, they were still called Eli Jones, but had already incorporated a lot of the songs that would make up their new album which they had planned to release in 2009 into their live sets. Carry Me Home is the first release by the band under it’s new name, and listening to the CD, I was taken back to that show with its memorable performances of “Ain’t Going Back,” “I Could Really Hold On,” “Doing Nothing,” “Carry Me Home,” “Nobody,” and “Before I Know Your Name.”
Getting ready for this review, I pulled out my copy of the Eli Jones album Make It Right for comparison. It’s an album I listened to quite a bit back when the band was rolling through the area. I thought it was really good– certainly the work of a band accomplished in R&B and Jazz, but felt ultimately it didn’t capture the energy of their live set. Make It Right really seems to be the sound of a band in a transition– some of the tracks have the familiar throwback R&B strut, while other tracks evoke a more jazzy step.
Carry Me Home is the result of a very focused effort in the studio, apparently. The whole CD sounds like it was recorded in one marathon session– a balanced, almost live-to-tape sound. It has a polished production for certain, but not at the risk of the continuity. I find myself listening to the whole album when I put it on– I anticipate the next track at each song.
In some respects Carry Me Home is an album out-of-time– at once holding true to a retro R&B sound with its horns, stomps and claps and sneaking in a more current R&B edge in the form of lead singer Stefanie Berecz powerful lead vocals.
The album runs the gamut of emotion and energy from bright, sunny Tower-of-Powerish horn-driven songs like “You Will Know,” to the Motown harmony-mixed with clean funk picking “Before I Know Your Name” to the distinctly Southern R&B swing of “Doing Nothing” to the slow burner “Carry Me Home.” “Before I Know Your Name” was co-written by Stefanie and Brendan O’Connell (the conductor of this Soul Train) to her then-unborn child– the idea of which makes me smile when I listen to the lyrics.
It seems there are a lot of notable acts delivering the Stax/Motown-influenced sound today– Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings seems to be leading this front, certainly the last Amy Winehouse album (which uses members of the Dap-Kings), Joss Stone— so it takes a strong but distinguishable effort for a band to not get lost in the comparisons. It’s clear that The Right Now shows respect for the legacy of R&B, Soul and Funk that came before it, but in my opinion the band is building from that tradition.
One can consider the new band name as the answer to the question of what period of popular music they might draw from– no specific period, but obviously writing and performing in The Right Now.
The band just kicked off a run of shows which will bring them back to Eastern Iowa in April. On Friday, 4/16 they will be taping a second Java Blend show (the first as The Right Now), doing an on-air on IPR and hitting The Blue Moose Tap House. On Saturday, they’ll be performing at The Redstone Room in Davenport opening for Daphne Willis and hitting their favorite Iowa stop, Mahoney’s in Cedar Rapids on Sunday, 4/18.
Click Here to visit The Right Now iLike page with videos and mp3’s.
Upcoming Shows (from MySpace):
Mar 8 2010 Bullfrog Brewery – CD Release Show! Williamsport, Pennsylvania
Mar 10 2010 Puck Live – CD Release Show! Doylestown, Pennsylvania
Mar 11 2010 Groove – CD Release Show! New York, New York
Mar 12 2010 The Saint Asbury Park, New Jersey
Mar 13 2010 Shadow Lounge – CD RELEASE SHOW! Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Mar 18 2010 Vocalo 89.5FM – In-studio Chicago, Illinois
Mar 18 2010 Fearless Radio – Live In-Studio Chicago, Illinois
Mar 18 2010 WLUW – Radio Free Chicago (Interview) Chicago, Illinois
Mar 19 2010 WGN Television Chicago, Illinois
Mar 19 2010 Lincoln Hall – CD RELEASE SHOW! Chicago, Illinois
Mar 26 2010 This Must Be The Place Lemont, Illinois
Apr 9 2010 KSDK – Show Me St. Louis Saint Louis, Missouri
Apr 9 2010 The Gramophone – CD Release Show! St. Louis, Missouri
Apr 15 2010 The Frequency w/ Unicycle Loves You Madison, Wisconsin
Apr 16 2010 Java Blend Iowa City, Iowa
Apr 16 2010 KRUI 89.7 FM – In-studio Iowa City, Iowa
Apr 16 2010 The Blue Moose Taphouse – CD Release Show! Iowa City, Iowa
Apr 17 2010 Redstone Room Davenport, Iowa
Apr 18 2010 Mahoney’s Pub Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Apr 24 2010 Downtown Holland Groovewalk Holland, Michigan
Apr 30 2010 Marly’s Pub – CD Release Show! Springfield, Illinois
Apr 30 2010 Alice at 97.7 – Studio A Sessions Springfield, Illinois
May 17 2010 Cosmic Charlies lexington, Kentucky
May 20 2010 Rogue Tavern w/ Deep Fried 5 Birmingham, Alabama
Jun 4 2010 Upfront & Company Marquette, Michigan
Jun 5 2010 Upfront & Company Marquette, Michigan