(Free Download) Umphrey’s McGee Releases New Studio Song “Wellwishers” and Announces “Bite Sized” EP Series

Chicago jamband heroes Umphrey’s McGee this week announced a plan to release their first studio recordings since the release of Mantis in January of 2009.  The Mantis release was an innovation in music distribution in that the CD unlocked content live songs, videos and cover art that was made available every month for a year. If you pre-ordered the album, you also got a large collection of demos and rare mp3’s.

From a collector’s perspective, this was quite a haul and frankly quickly solidified them as a band I wanted to follow.

So, this week’s announcement, while unexpected, is in line with the innovation they started with Mantis. The are going to release a collection of songs “in bite size pieces,” per their website. The songs will be new unheard songs (not performed live, yet) and some live favorites.

The upcoming releases will be available as series of digital EPs. You will have a few options to acquire them: buy the EPs separately or as a bundle; or splurge for the holidays on the box set which will include music and video for the discerning UMphreak, including a wealth of bonus tracks, previously unreleased rarities, and hand-picked, band curated material from studio and live work. The tracks will be available in multiple formats: MP3, FLAC, and 24-Bit Hi Res FLACs for select titles. Details will be released shortly.

Mantis was the first time the band had worked on an album in the studio that was largely not drawn from live performances. I say largely because at least one song had an early genesis in an improvisational jam that is known as a “Jimmy Stewart.” In the live shows leading up to that album’s release Umphrey’s was still debuting and playing songs that hadn’t made it to an album– tracks with working titles like “Search 4,” “Wappy Sprayberry,” “Gulf Stream,” and “Wizard Burial Ground.” I hope that these are the songs that will make it to this collection.

To kick things off, UM has provided a free download (with optional upgrades to FLAC and Hi Res FLAC) of a new song “Wellwishers.” It’s a laid back jam with a pumping electric piano part that reminds me of Gerry Rafferty. The song wouldn’t sound out-of-place on Mantis, in my opinion. It’s a free download, so check it out!

Here is a post from the bands blog about the recording of “Wellwishers”

Click Here to download “Wellwishers”

Or you can click on this nifty widget:

Umphrey’s McGee’s current list of fall tour dates is as follows:
Wednesday, October 6 Arcata Theatre Arcata CA
Thursday, October 7 McDonald Theatre Eugene OR
Friday, October 8 The Showbox Seattle WA with S2 EVENT
Saturday, October 9 The Wilma Theatre Missoula MT
Thursday, October 21 Mr. Smalls Theatre Millvale PA
Friday, October 22 Kalamazoo State Theatre Kalamazoo MI
Saturday, October 23 House of Blues – Cleveland Cleveland OH
Sunday, October 24 Bluebird Nightclub Bloomington IN
Wednesday, October 27 People’s Court Des Moines IA
Thursday, October 28 – Friday, October 29 Canopy Club Urbana IL
Saturday, October 30 – Sunday, October 31 The Pageant St. Louis MO
Wednesday, November 3 – Thursday, November 4 Higher Ground Ballroom South Burlington VT
Friday, November 5 – Saturday, November 6 9:30 Club Washington D.C.
Tuesday, November 9 Jefferson Theater Charlottesville VA
Wednesday, November 10 Legends at Appalachian State University Boone NC
Thursday, November 11 – Friday, November 12 Bear Creek Music & Art Fest Live Oak, FL
Wednesday, December 29, Thursday, December 30, and Friday, December 31 Riviera Theatre Chicago IL
Thursday, January 20 – Monday, January 24 Mayan Holidaze Puerto Morelos MEX

Click Here to visit umphreys.com

The Right Now – Carry Me Home (Review) & Upcoming Shows

I’m always concerned when an established band decides to change their name.

Chicago band The 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 setsCarry 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.

The Right Now - 7 to 10 7"

It’s also worth noting that The Right Now also has a 7″ out of a non-album track “7 to 10”  which they recorded in Memphis in September 2009 at Scott Bomar’s Electraphoic Recording Studio live to 2″ 8-track tape! The flip is “The One You Love” from the album. On the return trip they took the master to Larry Nix at the legendary Ardent Studios who cut the plates. They hand-delivered the plates to United Record Pressing in Nashville and got a tour. Here is Brendan’s MySpace blog article about the experience (with video!).

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.

Visit The Right Now Store to order Carry Me Home or the “7 to 10″ 7”

Click Here to visit The Right Now collection at archive.org for some streaming and downloadable live shows.

Click Here to visit The Right Now website.

Click Here to visit The Right Now Facebook Page

Here is where they Twitter.

Click Here for The Right Now on Bandcamp

Click Here for their last.fm page.

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

Upcoming Show: Ladyhawke in Chicago and Minneapolis 9/19 & 9/21

One of our favorite albums from 2008 was the debut release from New Zealand artist Phillipa “Pip” Brown who performs as Ladyhawke (yes, after the Rutger Hauer film of the same name). Released on Modular Recordings– also the home of Cut Copy– it launched four very successful singles in “Magic,” “Back of the Van,” “Paris is Burning,” and “My Delirium.”

How this record managed to not have a U.S. release before now seems unimaginable, but September sees the release of Ladyhawke in CD and LP on Universal/Decca Records in a Special Edition with bonus tracks.

Coinciding with this release is Ladyhawke’s first US tour which as luck would have it brings her to the Midwest in Chicago and Minneapolis. This tour is being sponsored by celebrity mud-slinger Perez Hilton under the “Perez Hilton Presents” banner. This questionable vehicle aside, Hilton seems to have the good taste to include Pip in the lineup of otherwise unfamiliar (except for Ida Maria, I guess) acts.

The tour stops at The Metro in Chicago on Saturday, September 19th and Minneapolis at the Fine Line Music Cafe on Monday September 21st. Both stops have the same lineup– Ladyhawke and Ida Maria as co-headliners and Semi-Precious Weapons from NYC and French electro-pop musician Sliimy.

The tour seems to be providing a fairly wide selection of artists and music (at least within whatever Hilton’s tastes are). At least in the Chicago and Minneapolis stops, we have dancy late 70’s/early 80’s new wavy rock from Ladyhawke, punky indie rock from Ida Maria, Semi-Precious Weapons sounds like The White Stripes-gone-Glam (a good thing, I think), and Sliimy provides a French-pop perspective.

Four diverse acts for under $30! The ticket prices seem to vary. If you get the Minneapolis tickets from Ticketmaster, they are a flat $25 (no fees!), but if you get the tickets from The Fine Line boxoffice, they are $18.  The Metro tickets are $17.50 from Metro on line (plus fees). So, visit the sites to find out the best way to get tickets.

Here are the other dates for the Perez Hilton Presents tour:

September 10th – Atlanta, GA – Variety Playhouse
September 12th – Washington, DC – 9:30 Club
September 13th – Philadelphia, PA – Theatre of the Living Arts
September 14th – Boston, MA – House of Blues
September 16th – New York, NY – The Fillmore @ Irving Plaza
September 17th – Toronto, ONT – Opera House Concert Venue
September 19th – Chicago, IL – Metro
September 21st – Minneapolis, MN – Fine Line Music Café
September 22nd – Milwaukee, WI – Turner Hall Ballroom
September 23rd – Kansas City, MO – The Beaumont Club
September 25th – Denver, CO – Bluebird Theater
September 26th – Salt Lake City, UT – Club Sound
September 28th – Seattle, WA – The Showbox @ The Market
September 29th – Portland, OR – Wonder Ballroom
September 30th – San Francisco, CA – The Fillmore
October 2nd – San Diego, CA – House of Blues
October 3rd – Hollywood, CA – Avalon

Click Here for the Ladyhawke Official Website

Click Here to download a free remix of “My Delirium” hosted at RCRD_LBL

Click Here for the Ida Maria Website

Click Here for the Ida Maria Daytrotter.com Session

Click Here for the Semi-Precious Weapons Website

Click Here for the Sliimy Website

Upcoming Show: Chicago Soul Group Eli Jones at Mahoney’s, Cedar Rapids 12/7/08

Eli Jones is an eight-piece band from Chicago that delivers tight accomplished Soul and R&B that draws equally from the annals of classic R&B and Soul of Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin or Stax as it does from the contemporary renewed interest in authentic Soul and R&B delivered by Alicia Keys, John Legend or Joss Stone. The seven-piece Eli Jones band led by the tasty guitar tone of Brendan O’Connell deftly supports the vocal powerhouse of Stefanie Berecz.

The band started in 2005 as a trio and added horns and Berecz arriving at their current lineup in 2007. They released their first studio album Make It Right in November of 2007 and are planning to release their second album in the Summer of 2009. The band has been gigging steadily around the Midwest and played Mahoney’s in Cedar Rapids back in April to a receptive crowd.

The group is coming back to the area again next weekend playing The Busted Lift in Dubuque on Saturday, December 6th, and here in Cedar Rapids at Mahoney’s on Sunday, December 7th. I’m not sure about the cover at the Busted Lift, but the Mahoney’s show is FREE! I can’t think of a better way to wrap up a weekend than some soulful, funky R&B, really. You can always watch “Desperate Housewives” online or Tivo it.

Click Here for the Facebook Event Page– let the band know you’re coming!

Click Here to visit Eli Jones’s website. They have four songs that you can stream.

Click Here to visit Eli Jones’s MySpace Page

Click Here to see the shows up on Archive.org

Click Here to listen to an amazing acoustic “Candlelight and Satin Sheets” from Alice FM in May. The song is taken to an intimate singer-songwriter performance.

Free Download: “Made to Measure” and teaser for Umphrey’s McGee’s Mantis

Since I’m watching the developments on the new Umphrey’s McGee album closely, ya’ll get to benefit by getting updates. It seems that January 20th is a long way off, so the UM camp has figured out that they are going to need to keep the fire going by throwing out little tastes of the album and bonus goodies to the fans.

Yesterday it was announced that the monster Chicago FM station XRT would be playing the first track from Mantis— “Made to Measure” as part of their new music Thursday today.

Additionally, a one-minute audio “teaser” was posted to The Floor today (the band’s blog). It has snippets of a couple of songs in it. Click Here to listen.

And, if that wasn’t enough– everyone who has pre-ordered Mantis will be given instructions on Friday on how to download an mp3 of “Made to Measure” for free!

B-Sides in the Bins #30 – Chicago – 9/12/08

Jazz Record Mart, Chicago

My wife and a friend of hers wanted to go to Chicago for a Gluten-Free Cooking Conference. This left her friend Sharon’s husband Bob and I with lots of time on our hands. Bob Najouks is one of the Sunday morning jocks on Kirkwood College’s Jazz and Blues station KCCK, so I thought a trip to the infamous Jazz Record Mart was in order. I hadn’t been to JRM in over two years so it was time for me to come back and Bob had never been there!

This weekend was wet. Lots of rain dumping on Chicagoland from Hurricane/Tropical Storm Ike pulled out of the Gulf of Mexico. Friday was blessed with small spots of light-to-no rain so hoofing it around downtown was an okay proposition. Our plans after breakfast was to hit Jazz Record Mart, lunch, and then to hit the Art Institute of Chicago then call it a day.

Bob teaches sketching classes at Kirkwood currently, but– in addition to his radio gig– also is a freelance artist. In the early 60’s he did some cover art for Franz Jackson who passed away in May. JRM had a number of still-sealed copies of Good Old Days by Franz Jackson and the Original Jass All-Stars (Pinnacle Recordings: PLP 109) that Bob did the cover art for, which was a neat dose of kismet. Bob picked up a copy to play– he still had the original 1965 pressing of the album at home.

Gorilla – Deal With It (CD, Thrill Jockey, Thrill 003-2, 1993)($5.99) Interesting find. Not Jazz-related at all. The third release on Thrill Jockey from back in the day. The mailing address was New York, so this is before Bettina moved to her current Chicago digs. Seattle Grunge band, I guess. Sounds very early-Nineties. Kind of punk, kind of retro 60’s sound with organ. Not great, but not horrible, really. Mostly a collector piece for me. It would appear that while the CD for this is very much out-of-print, the LP is still available?

George Freeman – Birth Sign (CD, Delmark, DD-424, 1993)($13.99) My first non-Thrill Jockey related Delmark purchase. This was playing on the stereo in the store while I was checking out and I impulse-purchased. George Freeman is the guitar-playing brother of tenor sax player Von Freeman (apparently the more famous of the two). Birth Sign is his debut album. Great album of Hammond-B3 fueled jazz typical of the late 60’s.

John Coltrane – Blue Train (LP, Blue Note, BST-91577, 1993)($11.99) This is the CEMA/Capitol Special Products pressing of the seminal Blue Note release. I own this on CD as well. In fact, my CD pressing of this is on 24-karat gold UltraDisc II from Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab. This is the album that broke open the gates of jazz for me.

Jeff Parker – The Relatives (LP, Thrill Jockey, Thrill 129, 2005) ($12.99) Wow, a really cool and rare find! The vinyl for this release has been out-of-print for a while, as is usually the case from Thrill Jockey vinyl. According to the price sticker, this has been in the bin since its release. Jazz Record Mart carries most of the Thrill Jockey releases, but it seems that a lot of the clientèle there don’t follow this label, which accounts for the fact that this release is still in the bins. I saw a couple of other rare TJ releases as well. Maybe I’ll come for them later.

The Dave Brubeck Quartet – Jazz: Red Hot and Cool (LP, Columbia, CL 699, 1954) ($3.99) This is an upgrade for me. My first copy was in pretty good shape, but this one is in much better shape and comes with the original Columbia paper inner-sleeve! The record is in immaculate shape and the cover is also very beautiful. I had never noticed before today that the vivid photograph of a young Brubeck entertaining a young, smoking (literally) woman leaning on his piano was taken by none other than Richard Avedon! Avedon, who died in 2004, took some famous shots of the Beatles and Marilyn Monroe as well as the well-known picture of Nastassja Kinski with a python.

All-in-all a good trip and it was cool to be there with a jazz afficianado. Bob and I will be back, I think.

Free Download: The Cool Kids – “Delivery Man”

Mountain Dew has a free mp3 download from their “Green Label Sound” website of Chicago’s buzzworthy hip hop duo The Cool Kids. The track “Delivery Man” has sparse drums and an organ hook flowing under lyrics that remind me of De La Soul or Black Eyed Peas at times. Fun and funky.

According to the PR, Chuck Inglish and Mikey Rocks met on MySpace.

Click Here to Download “Delivery Man”

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