The It’s Time to Play B-Sides Top 20 Albums of 2020

The year-end lists are upon us again. Time for me to list out the ways I’m getting further away from the beaten path of popular music.

The worldwide pandemic of 2020 had a gigantic impact on the music industry. The most obvious of which was the cancelation of most tours. Artists were forced to figure out new revenue streams or at least better utilize the revenue streams they had. Many artists embraced live streaming to varying degrees of success. The ones who did it right were the ones who either partnered with someone to provide the streaming, or if they did it themselves made sure the quality was up to the standards of produced live content. A significant upswing of Patreon use helped many artists weather the lack of income storm and Bandcamp’s “Bandcamp Friday” once-a-month event where they waived their own fees had the double effect of raising awareness of bands who had merch as well as the long-tail effect of encouraging more regular use of Bandcamp. I was a fairly avid shopper at Bandcamp, but in 2020, I was buying multiple releases per month as acts I follow released Bandcamp-only albums or songs. As a result, my Best of 2020 includes some digital-only releases for the first time that I can remember.

From a vinyl perspective, 2020 was as screwed up as everything else due to COVID-19. Just ahead of the widespread lockdown one of the two plants that manufacture the lacquer plates required to start the process of creating the physical stampers burned down taking out about 70-80% of the lacquer plate availability. Add to that the fact that manufacturing in general was impacted either by the infection rate of employees interacting, or by limiting the number of employees when they could work, pretty much all release dates for vinyl were pushed way out. Add to that the fact that the US Postal Service suffered losses due to sorting facilities being limited as a kind of way to prevent mail in ballots for the 2020 primaries and the impact of COVID-19 cases with the employees, it’s a miracle any titles were released this year.

Record Store Day in April was delayed to June and then eventually re-tooled as three “RSD Drops” in August, September and October. Most of the titles for RSD in April were manufactured in 2019 in anticipation for the usual vinyl manufacturing delays surrounding the April event. As such, most of the big titles for that event came out as planned, with some titles being pulled out and released outside of the drops and some delayed to later Drop dates or Black Friday RSD (which happened as planned). RSD 2021 is slated for June 12th, presumably so that manufacturing can better deal with these restrictions. The other obvious reason for pushing the date out is that it is predicted that general availability of vaccines for COVID-19 should be out by then and the risk of going to a store would be lessened and as such, the stores can have a regular “big” event. The downside of it being in June is the temperatures are starting to get warmer and will increase the risk of warping the records both in shipping to the stores as well as any shipping for online purchases.

Here are my Top 20 releases from 2020 (in no particular order):

Jeff Parker – Suite for Max Brown Parker’s follow up to his brilliant 2016 album The New Breed finds him continuing the very contemporary blending of jazz and electronic elements. Fans of his work in Chicago Post Rock outfit Tortoise will find a lot to enjoy with this release and maybe will enjoy it more than the odd sidestep of 2016’s Catastrophist. Get Suite For Max Brown from Bandcamp.

Chicago Underground Quartet – Good Days – Speaking of Jeff Parker, the reunion of one of Rob Mazurek’s more notorious projects Chicago Underground Quartet– an expansion of his Chicago Underground Duo with drummer Chad Taylor whose last album was the self-titled release on Thrill Jockey back in 2001 (way out of print and copies go for over $75 when they show up…). This session was an unplanned reunion in that producer Chris Schlarb instigated by getting the individual musicians to come to L.A. to work on another project and then offered to produce a Chicago Underground Quartet record. The album was recorded in one day, but doesn’t sound thrown together due to the fact that most of the songs were actually composed for the other members prior to the recording.

Exploding Star Orchestra – Dimensional Stardust A third album with Jeff Parker on it and a second album from Rob Mazurek. I loved the 2010 release Stars Have Shapes on Chicago Blues and Jazz label Delmark. (Still in print!) Exploding Star Orchestra is an expansive interpretation of Mazurek’s experiments in abstract jazz. To me the best parts of Dimensional Stardust are when the band hits a groove, like on track 2, “A Wrinkle in Time Sets Concentric Circles Reeling”

Parker’s clean guitar runs run counterpoint to the horns on this track which lends a lot of complexity for the listener to follow through the various musical strands of the work. The flute from Nicole Mitchell is fantastic and adds a fluttering beauty to the proceedings. Very much recommended for fans of Thrill Jockey bands.

Tame Impala – The Slow Rush – I honestly kind of forgot that this was a 2020 release! Some of that might be that it came out in early February, but also that a couple of tracks had been floating around for a while. “Borderline” came out in April of 2019! I picked up the indie exclusive green vinyl version of this from Ragged Records in Rock Island, IL. The kind of pissy thing about this vinyl release was they didn’t provide a download with it and there wasn’t a good way to get a download of it. Now, you can either buy it from Amazon, or if you buy the vinyl release from Amazon, you can do the “Auto Rip” download, so that is a good option, now.

My solution to this back in February was to buy a new CD of it on eBay from a seller who seemed to have a grey market source for a lot of new titles. These shipped from Asia even though the seller was from Massachusetts. Because the shipping took so long, the seller provided a download of the CD as well! I doubt any part of this was legal, strictly speaking. But, the CD I got was in shrink and included all of the CD artwork which was a calendar due to the theme of the album of being a year. That calendar artwork is not part of the vinyl release, incidentally.

Matt Wilson Orchestra – When I Was A WriterMatt Wilson was part of the seminal Minneapolis band Trip Shakespeare along with his brother Dan Wilson. Trip Shakespeare made the leap to a major label in the early 90’s where they ultimately ended breaking up. Dan Wilson and John Munson formed Semisonic of “Closing Time” fame. Dan would go on to pen songs for the likes of Adele, and Semisonic has reformed in 2020. Matt Wilson joined Twin Cities band Polara briefly and also released one solo record in 1998 and also formed The Twilight Hours with Munson. Matt Wilson’s latest project “Matt Wilson Orchestra” represents a return to songwriting for Wilson after a break. The “Orchestra” is made up of largely acoustic instruments and heavenly vocal harmonies. The lineup of instruments includes banjo and harp, as odd as that seems, but it totally works here and really comes as close to what I think Trip Shakespeare might have sounded like in 2020 as anything. The vocal harmonies recall The Mamas and the Papas. An all around gorgeous record and really should be on more peoples’ radars. You can order the CD/LP/Download from Wilson’s new label Pravda Records HERE.

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – Reunions Jason Isbell was quoted somewhere (I can’t find it at the moment) that his goal is to write songs that feel like the songs we heard on the radio years ago. To that end, I think he has achieved his goal. Isbell’s particular take on country and rock (he’s considered Americana, but these days I feel like he is really just rock to me, maybe in the same way The Eagles are really a rock band, even though they have “Desperado” and “Seven Bridges Road” in their catalog). Recognizing the tough position that brick and mortar record stores were in due to the pandemic, he released Reunions early to record stores in a special “Dreamsicle” orange pressing that came with a print of the album art and an art print of his 1959 “Red Eye” Les Paul done by Iowa artist Karl Haglund. This was a constant soundtrack this summer as I worked on my landscaping as a distraction from not being able to do anything out of the home.

TWINS – Dream On – Cedar Falls, IA band TWINS came back with a new album and new sound in 2020. Known primarily as a power pop band based on their guitars, hooks and harmonies of their first three records, the four years between Square America and Dream On saw the band change their lineup and gave lead singer and lyricist Joel Sires a chance to dig through his personal record crates to find inspiration in Springsteen, Mellencamp and Steve Earle. The resulting record represents a welcome maturity in the band and Sires flexes his lyric craft opening the door to his first solo release which comes out this year. Read my review at Little Village.

Tom Misch and Yussef Dayes – What Kinda MusicTom Misch got his start as a Soundcloud celebrity and released a few records under his own label. For his Blue Note Records debut, he partners with drummer Yussef Dayes to create what I think is the best example of what Blue Note Records should be in the new century. A blend of nouveau ideas about the landscape of music and jazz tonality. Misch is young enough to claim John Mayer as an influence, and the guitars on this album owe a debt to Mayer, but more than that, the album draws from Hip Hop and electronic music. In that regard it fits in with the likes of Thundercat and Kamasi Washington. The lyrics on What Kinda Music are a bit shallow so the tales of a tortured artist are not here, and honestly this would have kept this album off of a shorter list. But, the album sounds great and I found myself going back to this and his Mix Tape 2 album quite a bit in the last quarter of 2020.

Reno Bo – You Can See It All From HereReno Bo has been somewhat quietly cranking out brilliant rock records for about ten years. As a sideman he’s worked with the likes of Albert Hammond Jr. (of The Strokes) and Brendan Benson, and has been pretty busy in that capacity, but I anxiously await his solo releases. For his 2020 album You Can See It All From Here he returns with a sound that to me really reminds me of Tom Petty and Matthew Sweet (particularly “Like A Stone”). Bo is part of the Cabin Down Below band which holds Tom Petty tribute shows, so that isn’t probably far from the influences he would claim.

Monophonics – It’s Only Us – For Monophonic’s fourth album, the band returns with Kelly Finnigan on vocals and keys (at this point he’s a permanent member, I guess).The sunny 70’s soul and funk has been polished to a shimmer on It’s Only Us. In fact, I hear a lot of Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On? and The Spinners “I’ll Be Around” on it. This record is a banger from beginning to end. The title track is sheer brilliance.

Kelly Finnigan – A Joyful Sound – Speaking of Kelly Finnigan, he released another solo record in 2020, relatively soon after his 2019 solo record Tales People Tell (which got an RSD-exclusive instrumentals release in 2020) and the aforementioned Monotones album! A Joyful Sound is a holiday record on par with the Phil Spector A Christmas Gift For You. A stone cold classic that everyone needs in their collection. I wrote a review of it here.

Calexico – Seasonal Shift – Calexico put out its first holiday record in 2020. It was a collection of covers and originals. The covers include “Christmas All Over Again” by Tom Petty and “Merry Xmas (War Is Over) from Lennon and Ono. I would have liked to see “Gift X-Change” from the Aerocalexico tour album on here. Such a beautiful song from the band. Either way, a welcomed addition to the slowly-growing collection of Christmas vinyl.

Johnnie Cluney – Love Is Law – If you know of Cluney, it’s likely due to his signature illustrations for Daytrotter.com (R.I.P.). His musical output is equally notable and the Bedroom Shrine record was a favorite of mine. He continues the dusty lo-fi journey on his first album under his own name. The album sits somewhere in the neighborhood of Dinosaur Jr, Elliott Smith and Sebadoh. The physical release is a cassette and that’s pretty much the best way to listen to it. Read my review here.

Hiss Golden Messenger – Forward, Children and School Daze: Fundraisers for Durham Public Schools students – I’m kind of cheating here by lumping two releases together, but honestly they are a pair of releases that belong together, and likely everyone who bought one bought the other. Proceeds from the sales of these Bandcamp releases go to support Durham Public Schools, which ended up being even more essential as they needed to gear up for students newly in distance learning. The live shows from HGM are places where the recorded songs take on a life of their own. These two releases are made up of performances from the same tour in support of Terms of Surrender. The retooling of “Jesus Shot Me In The Head” on Forward, Children is worth the price of admission. Both of these releases support the idea that HGM could stand to have a physical live album release.

Anthony Worden and the Illiterati — ‘Voilá – Iowa City musician put out one of my favorite releases in 2020. Shining bits of guitar pop brilliance. Recommended if you stan Britpop from Costello or Nick Lowe. The additional vocals from Penny Peach take this record over the top. When’s her solo record out? Read my review in Little Village.

Elizabeth Moen – Creature of Habit – 2020 derailed the album release plans for Moen. She released two singles from her album that was supposed to come out (“Headgear” and “Ex’s House Party”) and had a tour planned to correspond with the release and then the pandemic hit. Stuck at home she started working on new songs that were anchored in synthesizers rather than her trusty guitar. The songs are some of her best yet and I can see how this “experiment” in different instruments could inform her songs going forward.

High Waisted – Sick of Saying Sorry – NYC surf-meets 60’s girlband outfit High Waisted is back with another slab of sunny dance-able pop rock. Front woman Jessica Dye really nails the 80’s girls with attitude vibe– think Linda Ronstadt, Debbie Harry and Pat Benatar. Her powerful soprano coupled with giant guitar is an infectious combination. This record was lost in the fog of COVID undeservedly and everyone should check this out.

Dope Walker – Save SaveDope Walker is an Iowa-Minnesota supergroup/side project made up of William Elliott Whitmore, Aaron Mader (producer Lazerbeak from Twin Cities hip hop collective Doomtree), Zach Westerdahl of Ten Grand, Mike Schulte from The Pork Tornadoes, Joel Anderson from FT (The Shadow Government). Save Save is the debut record from the collective and has a very polished post hardcore sound. This album kind of missed the radar of folks (including me for most of the year).

Grateful Dead – Buffalo 5/9/1977 Box SetFor the third RSD “Drop” on 10/24, we were treated to the second vinyl box treatment of the four-night May 1977 run represented in the Get Shown The Light CD box set released in May of 2017 for the anniversary of that 4 night run. In 2017 the legendary Cornell show was released as a vinyl boxed set. The second box set is from Buffalo the night after Cornell. This show is notable for the fantastic “Help Is On The Way” > “Slipknot!” > “Franklins Tower” opener, largely regarded as the best performance of this sequence. The Cornell show was the one that opened the door to the Dead for me, so I’m super happy to have this show. I think that the existence of the Buffalo show might hint that we’ll get the other two nights with a similar vinyl treatment.

Pylon – Box Seminal Athens, GA band Pylon got the reissue treatment from New West Records in 2020. The first two albums were returned to print on vinyl for the first time since the 80’s and the first time on CD since I think 1997 when DFA Records reissued them with bonus tracks. As part of this effort a WONDERFUL box set was released which, along with the first two albums Chomp and Gyrate also included the “Razz Tape” — an early recording of the band and “Extras” which included b-sides and rare tracks. There was also a beautiful hardbound book with photos and other ephemera from the band which also acts as a compliment to an exhibition at the University of Georgia of the band. I wrote an in-depth breakdown of the boxset here.

(Upcoming Release) Miles Davis Gets RSD Bitches Brew Outtakes LP – Double Image – A Deeper Dive – Out 10/24/20

Double Image : Rare Miles from the Complete Bitches Brew Sessions Cover Art

UPDATE: The 2020 COVID pandemic resulted in the standard April Record Store Day being canceled in favor of three “Record Store Day Drops” August 29th, September 26th, and October 24th. All of these are Saturdays, incidentally. The original Record Store Day list has been split up over these three dates. It’s worth noting that Black Friday Record Store Day (Friday, November 27th) has not been changed, yet, and is kind of a 4th “Drop” I suppose, coming a month after the last Drop.

The Miles Davis Double Image: Rare Miles from the Complete Bitches Brew Sessions will be released on the 3rd drop on October 24th.

The 2020 Record Store Day List came out this week, and I’m pleased to report that Sony is continuing the trend of releasing compilations of Miles Davis outtakes that they started for the 2019 Black Friday RSD Early Minor release for the In A Silent Way sessions. This release titled Double Image: Rare Miles from the Complete Bitches Brew Sessions, takes the unreleased studio recordings from the 1998 Columbia boxset The Complete Bitches Brew Sessions.

Double Image Full Packaging

Sony is stepping up their game with this release. It is a two LP gatefold with opaque red LP’s. Bull Moose Records (kind of the original home of RSD) shows their list price as being $25.97 (note: this price went up $1 since it was originally announced in March) which is a pretty fair price for such a nice presentation. According to the RSD site, there will be 6000 pressed worldwide.

The importance and influence of Bitches Brew in Miles Davis’s catalog can’t be overstated. The new electric direction he established with In A Silent Way in 1969 was refined even further for Bitches Brew by focusing on African rhythms and funk. Betty (Mabry) Davis, who was his wife from 1968 to 1969 is credited with being the inspiration for turning Davis on to the explosion of rock and funk from James Brown and Jimi Hendrix (and apparently renaming the project from “Witches Brew”) which fueled the somewhat polarizing (at least among fans of Davis’s career up to this time) new direction that he’d pursue through 1975, up until his disappearance from performing for five years.

Like many people, my first exposure to Miles Davis’s catalog started with his groundbreaking 1959 album Kind of Blue and by most accounts this is the album most people wanting to get into Davis or jazz in general should start with. Wanting to dig further into his catalog I went earlier in his career with his pre-modal style Prestige Records catalog, then moved into his early Columbia career with albums like Round About Midnight (1957), Sketches of Spain (1960) and Someday My Prince Will Come (1961). At the time I was aware of Bitches Brew, but it took a long time for me to really appreciate the album, initially seeming too cacophonous and lacking any discernible structure. For me it took listening to the Chicago jazz artists like The Chicago Underground Ensemble/Chicago Underground Trio and bands on Delmark Records who were related to post rock band Tortoise to really be able to appreciate Bitches Brew. Further, it was interviews with Tortoise bass player Doug McCombs about how Teo Macero’s tape editing work on Bitches Brew informed how his 2009 album with David Daniell Sycamore was created– improvisational recording sessions were edited into the resulting album that pushed me to take a closer look at the album.

The album as released was recorded over three days in August of 1969 (19th-21st) at Columbia’s Studio B in New York City. The band was the largest collection of musicians Davis had assembled to date. The core of the band was a partial carry over from the In A Silent Way sessions with Wayne Shorter on tenor saxophone, Dave Holland on bass, Chick Corea on electric piano, and Jack DeJohnette on drums. Notably, this was the live touring band and had already been performing some of the key pieces from Brew including early versions of what became “Miles Runs the Voodoo Down”, “Sanctuary”, and “Spanish Key”. According to Paul Tingen (who wrote the essential book on this period “Miles Beyond : Electric Explorations of Miles Davis, 1967-1991”), this pre-work with a band before hitting the studio was rare (apparently not considering the fact that most of the 1950’s Prestige releases were based on in studio takes of what was his live show at the time). The five-piece was joined in the studio by Joe Zawinul (electric piano), John McLaughlin (electric guitar), Larry Young (electric piano), Lenny White (drums), Don Alias (congas), Juma Santos, and Bennie Maupin (bass clarinet).

After some meetings with the band at his house where they, according to the JazzTime article Tingen wrote, brought in their own compositions for Davis to choose from and he made sketches that they would work from in the studio during the three days booked. At these sessions (with Teo Macero producing and engineer Stan Tonkel), Davis acted more like a conductor than composer. The tapes typically ran the entire time and he used playbacks to further tailor the works.

Davis left the post production work to Teo Macero. Macero used extensive tape editing and effects like delay and echo on previous albums In A Silent Way and Circle in the Round to create new works from the raw recordings which many consider to be groundbreaking work in itself. Extensive tape edits were done to create the first two tracks on the album “Pharaoh’s Dance” (which has 19 edits) and “Bitches Brew” (which has 15). Davis had the final approval of the recordings, but according to Tingen never really gave Macero the full credit he deserved and Macero’s own opinion was that Davis didn’t really want to credit even the musicians. This is why In A Silent Way and Bitches Brew are credited as “Directions in Music By Miles Davis” as a kind of way to take full credit for the recordings.

The second LP in Bitches Brew had less studio manipulation than the first two sides. This was largely because these songs were more fleshed out due to live performances. “Spanish Key” and “Miles Runs the Voodoo Down” had no edits. “Sanctuary” has one edit where Macero clips in a different take. “John McLaughlin” is an edit of a studio improvisation where Davis isn’t playing. According to Tingen, Davis gives some rough vague instructions during the session and they lumber along not knowing where to take the work until Davis says “John” and McLaughlin takes a guitar solo and then the band falls into lock step. Macero edited this down to McLaughin’s solo and following for the final recording.

The resulting album was somewhat baffling to the musicians who performed on it. Tingen quotes a famous story by Zawinul where he says he was standing in the offices of CBS and heard music over the speakers and asked a receptionist what it was when she replied that it was “that Bitches Brew thing.”

When you look at the jazzdisco.org entries for August 19-21, 1969 sessions and compare it to the track listing for Double Image, you’ll notice that the songs included were not recorded during the sessions that were used for Bitches Brew. So, what are these recordings?

Reissue producer of the Complete Bitches Brew Sessions Bob Belden told Tingen that they included the extra tracks that used a lot of the same musicians as Bitches Brew and also that these songs were additionally electric piano focused. As was typical of this later period Davis studio work, he had a lot of sessions recorded that were not intended for any particular album release, and CBS kept cranking out new albums that were ostensibly just compilations of unrelated songs– oftentimes songs many years apart. The 1979 compilation album Circle in the Round has tracks from 1955 through 1970. Exploitative? Maybe, but the renewed posthumous effort of getting Davis’s work released in a somewhat orderly fashion serves the purpose of making some sense of the progression made over his life in music.

Below is the track listing from Double Image: Rare Miles from the Complete Bitches Brew Sessions with my added notation of what the recording dates were.

LP 1 / Side A
“1. Yaphet” (11/19/69) 2. “Corrado” (11/19/69)
LP 1 / Side B
“1. The Little Blue Frog (master)” (11/28/69) 2. “The Big Green Serpent” (11/28/69) 3. “Trevere” (11/28/69) 4. “The Little Blue Frog (alternate take)” (11/28/69)

LP 2 / Side A
“1. Double Image (first version)”(1/28/70) 2. “Feio” (1/28/70)
LP 2 / Side B
“1. Recollection” (2/6/70) 2. “Take It Or Leave It” (2/6/70)

A YouTube Playlist of the tracks from Double Vision.

I’m going to predict that since we have had an LP from In A Silent Way’s complete sessions (which was box set #5 of the “complete” series) and now Bitches Brew (which was box set #3) that the next RSD release will be based on the 2003 box set for The Complete Jack Johnson Sessions (box set #6). The Jack Johnson album only had two tracks on it and there were a lot of sessions not used, so it should be interesting to see what they’d include on a vinyl comp.

The It’s Time to Play B-Sides Top 20 Albums of 2019

It’s that time of year again when I try to remember what I listened to for the last 12 months and also when I peruse the other Top Lists from other websites to see what I missed. Considering the state of flux and chaos that the music industry is in regarding musicians getting paid, the amount of new and essential releases that come out still amazes me.

2019 was a pretty strange year all around, but in the music industry we had the big kerfuffle over Taylor Swift’s catalog being sold as part of the acquisition of Big Machine by Ithaca. I doubt that she’s in any risk of losing her position as one of the richest musicians in pop today, but certainly she doesn’t have control over where or how her music is being used. She’s not the first artist to fall into the trap of trading control for album advances and she won’t be the last, I’m afraid.

Speaking of Swift; Ryan Adams, who did a track-by-track cover of her 1989 album in 2015 was exposed by The New York Times as being a sexual predator, misogynist and possibly a pedophile. For longtime fans (who include me) this was pretty earth-shattering. I’ve covered Adams a lot on this site over the years and was aware of how unstable he seemed to be, but never thought he was someone who was abusive to fellow artists (usually demanding quid pro quo sexual favors to help their careers.) Then there are the accusations about the inappropriate relationship he had with a minor. He denies all of this and there hasn’t been any legal reaction to any of this that we’re aware of, but Blue Note cancelled the trifecta of records he was going to release this year. He’s been largely silent since this came out, but in recent weeks he’s been testing the social media waters with some posts. I have a feeling that with enough passing of time, people will forget this and he’ll likely come back. The history of pop and rock music is dotted with stories like his (and in some cases mythologized– yikes). For now my RA albums are in a box on a shelf in the basement.

2019 was also the year of Lizzo. Her career took a really steep arc this year with her much-anticipated full length release on her new label home Atlantic. The singles have been all over the place, and “Juice” becoming the anthem. I had been following her career prior to her move from the Twin Cities to L.A. but admittedly Cuz I Love You isn’t on my Top 20 because I didn’t listen to it this year other than the singles and videos. Her Tiny Desk Concert is AMAZING, btw.

2019 marks the tenth year I’ve been writing for Little Village Magazine, I wrote a lot of reviews for Little Village Magazine this year covering what I think has been the most exciting year yet for Iowa music. It seemed like new records were coming out every week from new bands, and existing bands and artists came out with career-defining releases. I launched a streaming music video channel on SBTV.com called The Fly-Over Music Hour. Its focus is on Midwestern bands and artists who have created great music videos. SBTV.com is a video streaming platform that TV stations use to stream content they create and own ad supported. So, you can watch the news and other original content from stations across the US. The Fly-Over Music Hour is an example of a 24×7 channel of original content intended as kind of an example that stations could duplicate in their markets, but also it gives me a chance to shine a light on some of my favorite music coming out of this area. There are apps for iOS, Android, FireTV, AppleTV as well as on the web. You can visit it at https://sbtv.com/flyover

Here are my Top 20 albums of 2019 (in no particular order):

Dickie – Minus Thieves – Singer-songwriter Dick Prall is back with his second album under his band name Dickie. For Minus Thieves the band has a new lineup with multi-instrumentalist and drummer Billy Barton. This album continues the largely autobiographical songwriting from Prall, but takes a more outward view than the 2015 self-titled release (which made my Top 20 list for that year, too). The production was handled by Pat Sansone from Wilco and engineer Josh Shapera and takes a more stripped-down and guitar driven spin than the typical chamber pop we’re used to, which puts the focus appropriately on Prall’s vocals and lyrics. My review of Minus Thieves for Little Village.

Beth Bombara – Evergreen – It’s a good year when we get a new album from Beth Bombara. I loved her 2017 release Map and No Direction (which made the Top 20 for Play B-Sides that year). Evergreen continues the rock leanings she established on that release. This album compares favorably to releases from folk rockers like Sheryl Crow and Aimee Mann. This is an album I think I played more than any other this year. She released a really great video for the album which takes my two favorite songs and stitches them together into one video.

Shane Leonard – Strange Forms – I can’t say enough about Shane Leonard’s last two records. Printer’s Son under the moniker Kalispell really took me by surprise when it came out in 2016. Daringly personal and beautiful across the board. Strange Forms from this year picks up where Printer’s Son left off and continues the journey exploring familial roles and relationships and exploring his new role as a father and husband. To me these two albums belong together. It’s worth a listen if you’re into the more acoustic sounds of Bon Iver or Elliott Smith’s later albums. His writing style always makes me think of Aimee Mann’s later works, too.

John Coltrane – Blue World After the surprise release of Both Directions At Once in 2018, I wasn’t really expecting another “lost” Coltrane album to come out. But, happily we got one in 2019 thanks to a soundtrack he recorded for a Canadian film in 1963. I don’t think that this release is particularly essential in his catalog as it documents a small window in his career, and is comprised primarily of new recordings of earlier songs. But, it ends up being very listenable and Blue World ends up being a nice alternative to some of my most-spun releases in his catalog (Blue Train, A Love Supreme). My “Deeper Dive” article about Blue World.

The Diplomats of Solid Sound – A Higher Place It’s hard to believe that it had been over nine years since the previous release from The Diplomats of Solid Sound. I suppose from most peoples’ perspective the band had merely broken up, but Doug Roberson had been bringing the band out for live shows, so anyone paying attention knew it was still a going concern. A Higher Place sees the reunion of the Diplomettes as a trio with Abby Sawyer rejoining the band, and it is wonderful to have her back. My review of A Higher Place for Little Village Magazine.

Hiss Golden Messenger – Terms of Surrender While not at the rate of releases from, say Thee Oh Sees or King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, we’ve been blessed with regular releases from Hiss Golden Messenger— nearly every year since 2010’s Poor Moon— and this doesn’t include the occasional EP or digital single. The recording of Terms of Surrender comes on the heels of a very dark time for him personally, resulting in a record that feels more personal than the previous ones. Aside from that, the record carries the same groove we’ve come to expect and ended up being a regular rotation for me.

Halfloves – Dazer Iowa City band Halfloves came back with their sophomore album in 2019. Their 2016 self-titled release came along with a band renaming (formerly the Olympics) and the firm hand of Brandan Darner who helped the band watershed their new sound and direction. For Dazer the band is rejoined by Darner and while they still carry their trademark dark pop, the three years since the first album has focused their sound producing a beginning-to-end stunner with a big sound. My review for Little Village.

Subatlantic – Villians The debut LP from Quad Cities band Subatlantic came out in 2019. Subatlantic was a band that I had been keeping an eye on because a lot of my friends in the Quad Cities were talking about them. Villains is a wonderful record with a kind of 90’s shoegazer sound. Rebecca Rice’s vocals and lyrics are wonderful reminding me a bit of Throwing Muses or The Cranberries. My review for Little Village.

The Maytags – Meriweather – Des Moines R&B outfit The Maytags’ album Meriweather is a departure from their more classic R&B sound on their 2016 release. Work schedules of the members resulted in a more stripped down approach which at times sounds like Prince’s classic Minneapolis sound. My review for Little Village.

Pieta Brown – Freeway – In 2014 Pieta Brown released her last album on Red House Records. Paradise Outlaw was recorded at Justin Vernon’s April Base Studios and had some of the extended Bon Iver crew on it (Vernon contributed vocals to one track as well). After an untethered five years where she launched her own imprint Lustre Records and released an EP of outtakes called Drifters in 2015 and an album of collaborations called Postcards in 2017. She also acted in a film during this time. For Freeway, she went back to April Base to record resulting in an album that has a slightly more atmospheric vibe to it than her previous releases. This is due to the use of a band that aren’t her normal go-to studio guys. Righteous Babe Records (Ani DiFranco’s label) saw fit to release this on pink vinyl and this is the recommended way to consume this record. My review in Little Village.

Crystal City – Three Dimensionality – Dave Helmer and Sam Drella of Crystal City step out of the barstool blues of their previous albums and enlist some very talented friends to create a record with new complex sonic textures drawing from jazz and and leaning a little into the Steely Dan territory. A fantastic record with lots to keep your ears busy. My review for Little Village.

Hex Girls – More of That Cedar Falls proto-punk/no wave revival combo Hex Girls put out their super-high-energy debut record More of That with enough bombast and edgy guitar to make your cool aunt blush (the one who said she read the bathroom walls at CBGB’s in NYC in the 80’s). My review for Little Village.

Brother Trucker – 5 Legendary Iowa barroom blues rock and country band Brother Trucker put out what I think is their best release this year. It is steeped in brilliant story telling and ripsaw guitar riffs. My review for Little Village Magazine sums it up well, “Most of the songs in the Brother Trucker catalog capture regular lives — like Norman Rockwell paintings of Midwestern life viewed through the bottom of a beer bottle.”

David Huckfelt – Stranger Angels I figured it was only a matter of time before we got some solo records from the guys in The Pines. David Huckfelt participated in an artist-in-residence in Isle Royale National Park in Michigan where he watershedded the songs that would end up on Stranger Angels. As I state in the review I wrote for Little Village Magazine, these songs aren’t a dramatic departure from the songs that Huckfelt brings to The Pines, but the change of band brings some new edge we don’t hear from the atmospheric leanings of that band.

Pink Neighbor – Time Beach Universe This was a really fun discovery for me this year. Iowa City’s Pink Neighbor put out their first album and it’s a well-executed tribute to the sunny singles of the Sixties from bands like The Zombies and The Mamas & The Papas, but also has a bit of new wavey B-52’s vibe. My review for Little Village.

Elizabeth Moen – A Million Miles Away – 2019 was a big year for Vinton, IA native Elizabeth Moen. She released her second album, which was a refreshing departure from her more straight folk of the first record. A funky and edgy release showing Moen figuring out her footing while delivering a soul-laid-bare performance. I played this release a lot this year. She seemed to play pretty much everywhere and even did a tour of Europe. She had a successful kickstarter for her third album, so that will probably be out in 2020!

William Tyler – Goes West William Tyler is a go-to guitarist for a few bands including Lambchop, Silver Jews (R.I.P.) and Hiss Golden Messenger. His solo releases are steeped in the American Primitive guitar tradition but he takes it to a whole new level. I would recommend every album he’s put out if you’re looking for instrumental guitar. Goes West has a really great, almost cinematic spans to it. Even though it is titled Goes West, it isn’t particularly western in theme, but feels like it could be a soundtrack for a film set in the desert and mountains.

Surf Zombies – Return of the Skeleton Cedar Rapids music scene fixture Brook Hoover’s Surf Zombies came back in 2019 with their fifth album and second on vinyl (amen). Instrumental surf guitar extravaganza, per usual, but I’m a huge fan of classic surf rock from vintage bands like the Ventures and Dick Dale and newer bands like Los Straightjackets. Return of the Skeleton stands with the best of those bands.

Octopus Live – Cedar Falls bar The Octopus on College Hill has been recording multi-tracks of the bands in the bar as an archival project. This year they pressed a vinyl-only compilation of some of the notable shows dating back to 2017. Bands like TWINS, Elizabeth Moen, SIRES, Holy White Hounds and Brother Trucker all turn in fantastic performances. They only pressed a couple hundred of these, so you don’t want to sleep on this. CLICK HERE TO ORDER ONE.

Tripmaster Monkey – My East Is Your West – Quad Cities band Tripmaster Monkey made it to a major label in the Nineties and promptly fell through the cracks of the chaos of record label acquisition hell. The band got back together and worked on new songs resulting in an album that is a distillation and refining of their sound from 30 years ago.

(Upcoming Release) Black Friday RSD Release “Miles in Tokyo” Reissues Exclusive Japanese Live Album – A Deeper Dive

Get On Down reissue of 1969 album Miles in Tokyo reproduces the original Japanese LP artwork down the OBI strip.

Miles Davis fans are being treated with not one, but TWO exclusive releases for the 2019 Black Friday Record Store Day! The first one, a special release of outtakes from the Complete In A Silent Way Sessions, we covered HERE.

If that wasn’t enough, reissue label Get On Down is releasing a previously Japan-only album of Miles Davis in concert from 1964 with an early iteration of his “second great quintet.” It was released in the US on CD in 2005, but not on vinyl. Titled simply Miles in Tokyo, the album originally came out in 1969 on Sony/CBS and this release copies that release down to the gorgeous black and white cover art and the OBI strip (which is slightly modified to show the Get On Down catalog number and logo). The original pressing was a gatefold, I’m hoping the replicated that as well, but I have no indication one way or another. (Chris from Bull Moose hasn’t done his rundown yet. I’ll update this if he mentions it).

This recording follows the legendary February 12th, 1964 performance at the Philharmonic Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City. The performance was a benefit show to raise money to get black voters registered in the South. The band, made up of Herbie Hancock on piano, Ron Carter on double bass, Tony Williams on drums and George Coleman on tenor sax (who would be replaced by Sam Rivers for the overseas shows including Live in Tokyo) were not told until just before the show that they would be donating their salaries for the night and told that if they didn’t like it they could leave the band. Davis would credit the resulting tension for creating the fiery performance captured on two albums: My Funny Valentine and Four & More both released in 1965.

Sam Rivers joined Miles Davis’s quartet in April of 1964 replacing George Coleman according to the Sam Rivers sessionography. This database quotes Davis as saying he wanted to hire Wayne Shorter but Art Blakey had him tied up in the Jazz Messengers, so he hired Rivers at Tony Williams’s suggestion and took him on tour. Rivers would stay with the quintet through July 15th, which is the day after the Miles in Tokyo recording took place. Rivers would be replaced evenually with Wayne Shorter in September, which would establish the “second great quintet” which would stay in place until 1968 and recorded the albums E.S.P., Miles Smiles, Sorcerer, Nefertiti, Miles in the Sky, and Filles de Kilimanjaro.

I think the reason for Rivers’s short stint in Davis’s band is two-fold. Clearly Rivers was Davis’s second choice, and also the general opinion is that Rivers’s style on the sax didn’t mesh well with Davis’s, and this is apparent according to critics on the Miles in Tokyo album. To me the recording is notable in its frenetic pacing of the songs. I think it picks up the energy from the Lincoln Center performance, which shares a lot of the same songs, including the sped up “So What.”

Here is the track listing for Miles in Tokyo:

A Side : “If I Were A Bell”, “My Funny Valentine”
B Side : “So What”, “Walkin”, “All Of You”

Helpfully, there is a YouTube video of the complete album:

(Upcoming Release) Miles Davis Gets Black Friday RSD Silent Way Outtakes LP – Early Minor – A Deeper Dive

Front cover of Early Minor: Rare Miles From the Complete In A Silent Way Sessions

The Black Friday Record Store Day list came out yesterday, and there are a few releases that I think are pretty interesting and I’ll do posts on each, starting with this Miles Davis release. Titled Early Minor: Rare Miles from the Complete In a Silent Way Sessions, it is a selection of outtakes from his brilliant 1969 album In A Silent Way. This release has three outtakes that were originally released in 2001 on the 3-CD The Complete In A Silent Way Sessions box set.

Anyone familiar with the Davis catalog are likely familiar with the fact that his later years releases didn’t often correspond to the idea of an album release. When you look at the sessionography information for Miles Davis, he seemed to hit the studio whenever it suited him (or maybe when he needed money) and recorded with little regard to the idea of an album release.

The proper In A Silent Way album is two tracks, both of which were recorded on the same day. The expanded group of Miles Davis on trumpet; Wayne Shorter on soprano sax; Joe Zawinul on organ; Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock, electric piano; John McLaughlin on guitar; Dave Holland on bass and Tony Williams on drums hit CBS’s 30th Street Studio in Studio B on February 18th, 1969. The sessionography at jazzdisco.org shows that the group recorded three takes of “In A Silent Way/It’s About That Time” and two takes of “Shh/Peaceful.”

The band returned to the studio two days later on February 20th and tracked the over 26-minute “The Ghetto Walk” and “Early Minor.” According to Wikipedia’s entry on In A Silent Way, which quotes Victor Svorinich’s essay on In A Silent Way, “The Ghetto Walk” was originally considered for In A Silent Way, but was ultimately dropped in favor of “In a Silent Way/It’s About That Time.”

Those two tracks plus “Splashdown” which was tracked on November 25th, 1968 are what make up the RSD release. These tracks are notable as being the three songs on the Complete In A Silent Way box set that were previously unreleased prior. I prefer this over including multiple takes of “In A Silent Way/It’s About That Time” and “Shh/Peaceful.”

According to Svorinich’s essay, Joe Zawinul brought his composition “Shh/Peaceful” to the sessions, and it had a couple of working titles before it was settled, one was “On The Corner” which was the working title for the album at one point, and also “Mornin’ Fast Train From Memphis To Harlem” which was also a working title for the record. The Wikipedia article is a bit confused about this as it says that Davis composed “Shh/Peaceful” and Zawinul composed “In A Silent Way.” The facts of this are probably tied to how Teo Macero edited the sessions into the final recordings. This is further supported by the fact that Zawinul blamed Macero for editing the recordings and crediting Davis as the sole composer.

No matter what the details were about how the sessions were used, history has shown that In A Silent Way has become one of the most important albums in Davis’s career and is credited as the first complete foray into what would be his electric period and would pave the way for Bitches Brew.

I created a YouTube playlist of the three songs as they were included in the boxset so you can listen for yourself.

(Upcoming Release) New Unheard Release: John Coltrane – Blue World – A deeper dive

Impluse!/Universal has dropped another surprise John Coltrane release! Just over a year ago they announced the Both Directions At Once release of sessions from 1963– the tapes of which came from Coltrane’s personal collection of demo reels.

Titled Blue World, the album (out September 27th) is made up of recordings Coltrane’s classic quartet with Jimmy Garrison, Elvin Jones and McCoy Tyner tracked on June 24, 1964 at Rudy Van Gelder’s studio in Englewood Cliffs, NJ. These songs were tracked for Quebecois film producer Gilles Groulx to be used for his film Le chat dans le sac (“The Cat In The Bag”). The songs were mostly new recordings of songs from Coltrane’s catalog plus a new song “Blue World” (which, according to an article by NPR, was itself a variation of a previously-recorded song the pop standard “Out Of This World” by Harold Arlen-Johnny Mercer). Revisiting previous works in the studio isn’t something Coltrane had done before, or from what I can tell, since. This gives us a unique way to view the development Coltrane and band were going through by comparing previous recordings to these reinterpretations.

The first thing I did when I heard about this release was to check my faithful jazz session database at jazzdisco.org and it was missing! This has since been remedied as the details of this release came to light. According to the interview with Barbara Ulrich (who played the lead also named Barbara in the film) for the liner notes (written by Jazz scholar Ashley Kahn) of the release quoted in the NPR.org article, Groulx was a fan of John Coltrane and it was through an acquaintance that he knew Jimmy Garrison which was likely the connection to Coltrane’s involvement in the film. Groulx attended the recording session on June 24th and was handed the 37-minute 1/4″ mono tape at the end of the session. Since it wasn’t an official release and these sessions weren’t part of an album recording, they didn’t make it to the database.

In the Rolling Stone article about the Blue World release, they quote Ulrich’s recollection of the session. Groulx hadn’t started filming, so Coltrane wasn’t working from the film itself. In the end, he only used 10 minutes of the 37-minute session.

“Gilles had a list of the music he wanted and later he told me when he gave the list to Coltrane, Coltrane said, ‘Okay, I can do this — I can’t do that, it’s not mine. OK I get it, I know what you want.’ Then they just started jamming and recorded for several hours. Then Rudy gave Gilles the tape and that was it. When he got back he was absolutely ecstatic. He knew exactly where he was going to use the music in the film.”

In Eric Fillon’s dissertation on the film in his paper “The Cinema of the Quiet Revolution: Quebec’s Second Wave of Fiction Films and the National Film Board of Canada, 1963-1967” he explains how Coltrane came to be part of the film:

Le chat dans le sac featured an original score by John Coltrane, an African American saxophonist whose music was often associated with Black Nationalism. The film’s jazz soundtrack was dans l’air du temps [current fashion]. It echoed Louis Malle’s Ascenseur pour l’échafaud (1958) and John Cassavetes’ Shadows (1959) which featured contributions by jazzmen Miles Davis and Charles Mingus. However, the music also serves to validate the language of decolonization which Claude deploys throughout the film. Groulx’s main protagonist reads Frantz Fanon’s Les damnés de la terre, Louis E. Lomax’s La révolte noire and Parti pris. Claude, a [Quebecois separationist revolutionary] , listens to jazz as he plans his revolt. …. Coltrane’s music legitimizes Claude’s quest for emancipation in ways that Barbara cannot.

The Cinema of the Quiet Revolution: Quebec‟s Second Wave of Fiction Films and the
National Film Board of Canada, 1963-1967 p 60

The Rolling Stone article says that the tape eventually made it to the National Film Board of Canada and that was how Impulse! came to get it early last year. The National Film Board of Canada was the organization that underwrote Le chat dans le sac originally. There is a funny story in the Fillon paper I quoted above about how the NFB was only interested in producing television content at the time that Gilles Groulx was working with them. Groulx agreed to shooting a TV show, and apparently gave them the Canadian theme of “snow” for this project. Instead he took the funds and shot Le chat dans le sac.

Here are the tracks on the album along with my notation of which album the original version is on. It’s interesting, if not notable, that “Naima” from Giant Steps and the two songs from Jazz (“Village Blues”, “Like Sonny”) were all recorded originally during the same sessions in 1959 and 1960. In many ways Jazz can be looked at as the outtakes from the Giant Steps sessions.

TRACKS
SIDE A
1 Naima (Take 1) (4:34) originally on Giant Steps (1959)
2 Village Blues (Take 2) (3:41) originally on Jazz (recorded 1959, released 1961)
3 Blue World (6:08)
4 Village Blues (Take 1) (3:51) Jazz (1961)
SIDE B
1 Village Blues (Take 3) (3:45) Jazz (1961)
2 Like Sonny (2:43) originally on Jazz (1961)
3 Traneing In (7:42) originally on John Coltrane with the Red Garland Trio (1958)
4 Naima (Take 2) (4:10) Giant Steps (1959)

The title track from Blue World

Blue World has been mastered from its original mono analog tape by Kevin Reeves at Universal Music Mastering in New York. The new 180g vinyl edition’s lacquers were cut by Ron McMaster at Capitol Studios.

(Upcoming Show) Lindsey Buckingham at The Englert in Iowa City Sunday, 9/2/2012

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Lindsey Buckingham is having the time of his life.

At the time of his sixth solo album The Seeds We Sow in 2011, Lindsey Buckingham is able to frame his life as a musician and family man in the context of his journey thus far. He attributes his peace to two things. The first is his personal life, “To finally meet someone and to have the family thing happen, that’s been a real gift,” he says. The other is musical. “If there is a level of contentedness that I’ve arrived at, part of it is because I think in the last three or four years what I experienced during the solo albums and then what I experienced on the last Fleetwood Mac tour I felt like I had come to a point where there was so much foundation that I had built for myself making incremental steps forward as a musician and as an artist.”

Certainly, the last few years have been very productive for Buckingham, starting with an out-of-the-blue solo album in 2006, a derailed follow up that morphed into a new studio album for a re-ignited Fleetwood Mac, a re-imagining of the derailed follow up in 2008, a live album and then The Seeds We Sow in 2011.

The Seeds We Sow represents Buckingham taking full control over his career handling all of the recording, production and also releasing himself. The album is a very up-close-and-personal perspective of Buckingham at times sounding like a really well-produced home demo, which I suppose it really is.

I consider Lindsey Buckingham to be a personal musical hero. His distinct sound and contribution to the canon of rock music with his solo work as well as his years in Fleetwood Mac have impacted me at a level that might be chromosomal. I started listening to music on my own around the time of Rumours and his music has been with me ever since. I have been fortunate to see him with the Mighty Mac three times in my life but never solo, so the news that he will be performing at the wonderful Englert Theatre in Iowa City on Labor Day Weekend is exciting news! He will be performing at 8PM on Sunday, September 2rd.

The presale for the show started on Tuesday for Friends of the Englert, and general sale for the show starts on Friday,  June 22nd at 1PM. Tickets are $55 for Tier One Tickets and $45 for Tier Two.

Click Here for more information about Lindsey Buckingham at The Englert in Iowa City, including how to order tickets.

Click Here to find out about how you can be a Friend of the Englert and get in on great pre-sale deals and other perks.

 

(Upcoming Release) Umphrey’s McGee Launches Death by Stereo – Cover Art, move to ATO Records

Very soon on the heels of their self-released 2 LP and digital-only release of 2010 Hall of Fame that I reported on previously, Umphrey’s McGee announced their new studio album! To be titled Death By Stereo, it will be released on September 13th.

Death By Stereo marks the first release by the band since their move to ATO Records— home of Dawes, My Morning Jacket and Drive-By Truckers. While no explicit reason is given for the move from long-time home SCIFidelity, it is my opinion that this move will probably give the band some resources not available to them on SCIFidelity as far as distribution and promotion, if not visibility.

The press-release which came out earlier this week, says that Death By Stereo is a “lethal musical gumbo” which pretty well describes the genre-crunching band. The tracks mentioned in the article include “Wellwishers” which was originally going to be part of a digital EP series and was freely downloadable as an mp3 in exchange for an e-mail address via TopSpin (who was also the method for selling Hall of Fame) and also downloadable via umlive (my article here). Also mentioned are “Conduit” and “Booth Love” which both have been performed in concert (links to archive.org). “Conduit” was also included in the Summer 2011 free sampler provided by the band. Two tracks we haven’t formally heard as of this writing are “Miami Virtue” described as a psychedelic blend of Pink Floyd and Phoenix, and “Black Keys-style blues” track “Domino Theory.”

With the amazing pre-sale madness surrounding Mantis with its massive amount of free downloads, I’m sure we’ll get something just as cool with this release. Since they are on ATO, I’m hoping that the vinyl release will be 2 LP’s of 45 RPM 180g vinyl, just like Dawes has done for their two LPs. The band is already soliciting opinions about whether to include a CD or just download codes, so they are maintaining their practice of keeping their finger on the pulse of the fans.

Stay tuned for more details as they arrive!

Unplugged Musings has an article with some speculation on additional songs that could make Death By Stereo with video clips.

Upcoming Show: Umphrey’s McGee in Iowa City on 3/10/10 at IMU Ballroom

Umphrey's McGee Live at The Capitol Theatre 7-16-09
A little bit of New Year’s Umphrey’s McGee news is bestowed upon us as they announced new March 2010 tour dates which include stops in Madison, Iowa City and a three-night run in Minneapolis!

As Umphrey’s McGee is ostensibly a Chicago-based band you might imagine that they have played these cities frequently over the years and as such they have built a very strong fanbase in each of these towns. This is also bolstered due to the strong college populations in each of these towns. The Minneapolis multi-night run seems to be a recurring theme, and when I saw my first show last January it was at the beginning of a three night run as well. A lot of the great people I talked to at the show were going to hit all three nights as part of a package that also included a meet-and-greet with the band and a limited edition poster of the shows.

Tickets for the shows will pre-sale on January 5th with general sale on January 9th. As part of the announcement of the March tour dates, they also announced that they will be giving away tickets for shows through their Facebook fanpage. A week before any of the shows they will give away a ticket at random to a fan who has responded to the Facebook event for that show as “attending” and they will be able to bring a friend who must also have responded as “attending” or “maybe.” This is cool for them to do, but if you are a big enough fan you likely didn’t wait until the last week before the show to get tickets, so I don’t know how that works in reality unless you can get someone to buy the ticket you paid for. Maybe I’m missing something– feel free to explain.

The dates (from umphreys.com)

Wed, Mar 10th, 2010
Iowa Memorial Union Ballroom

125 North Madison Street – University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa
– show: 8:00 pm
– tickets will go on sale via pre-sale through Umphrey’s Ticketing on January 5, 2010; general on sale will be January 9

Thu, Mar 11th, 2010
Orpheum Theatre

216 State Street, Madison, Wisconsin 53703-2215
608.255.8755
– tickets will go on sale via pre-sale through Umphrey’s Ticketing on January 5, 2010; general on sale will be January 9

Fri, Mar 12th, 2010
First Avenue

701 1st Avenue North , Minneapolis, Minnesota
612.332.1775
– tickets will go on sale via pre-sale through Umphrey’s Ticketing on January 5, 2010; general on sale will be January 9

Sat, Mar 13th, 2010
First Avenue

701 1st Avenue North , Minneapolis, Minnesota
612.332.1775
– tickets will go on sale via pre-sale through Umphrey’s Ticketing on January 5, 2010; general on sale will be January 9

Sun, Mar 14th, 2010
First Avenue

701 1st Avenue North , Minneapolis, Minnesota
612.332.1775
– tickets will go on sale via pre-sale through Umphrey’s Ticketing on January 5, 2010; general on sale will be January 9

Free Download : The Horse’s Ha Unreleased Track and Tour


No sooner did I finish my review of the new Horse’s Ha album Of The Cathmawr Yards, then they announce a free unreleased track from the album! The song is a cover of a “Slow Moons Rose”  originally by Slapp Happy. Slapp Happy was an English-German experimental rock group that existed from 1972 -1975. “Slow Moons Rose” is from Slapp Happy’s self-titled 1974 debut on Virgin Records. Slapp Happy is notable as having Peter Blegvad as a member.

Click Here to download “Slow Moons Rose” (192 Kbps mp3)

The Horse’s Ha MySpace page has a Strobe Sessions performance where The Janet Bean Trio is performing “Slow Moons Rose” and the excellent Freakwater song “Cloak of Frogs” from May of 2008.

Here is Janet Bean, James Elkington and Fred LongbegHolm performing as The Janet Bean Trio:

As if that wasn’t enough, The Horse’s Ha have announced “the first of several mini-tours this summer” per their PR. That sounds cool if we can get some more midwest dates!
Fri. July 3 — Chicago, IL @ Schuba’s w/ Castanets – Record Release Show
Mon. July 27 — Pittsburgh, PA @ Thunderbird Cafe
Tue. July 28 — Arlington, VA @ IOTA
Wed. July 29 — Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s w/ Illinois, The Builder and The Butcher
Thu. July 30 — Brooklyn, NY @ Bruar Falls w/ Hospitality
Fri. July 31 — Brooklyn, NY @ The Bell House w/ The Mekons
Sat. Aug. 1 — New York, NY @ Mercury Lounge w/ The Mekons
Sun. Aug. 2 — Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Tavern
Sat. Sep. 19 — Champaign, IL @ Pygmalion Festival

Click Here to Download “Asleep In A Waterfall” from Of The Cathmawr Yards
Click Here to Download “The Piss Choir” from Of The Cathmawr Yards

Click Here to read my review of Of The Cathmawr Yards.