Saturday, January 29, 2011

From Texas to Tennessee

I'm going to take it to the United Nations or to a rock and roll radio station... (Old 97's - Please Hold While the Train in Moving)

I've been listening to Bruce Springsteen's The Promise quiet a bit lately, but I wanted to talk about a couple others that are also on my current playlist.

First to leave the station from Texas, the Old 97's and their latest release The Grand Theatre Volume I. The Old 97's play rock and roll with a twist of Texas country. They are lead by charismatic front man/lead singer Rhett Miller, with Murry Hammond on bass and vocals, lead guitarist Ken Bethea and drummer Philip Peeples.

The Grand Theatre was recorded in Austin Texas after the band had rented out the Son of Herman Hall in Dallas and played the new songs to see how they would sound in concert. A couple of dozen songs were recorded. A second volume is to be released this spring.

At any rate, The Grand Theatre is the Old 97's besting outing since probably 2001's Satelite Rides. The cd starts off with the title track, a rocker with interesting lyrics; Every Night is Friday Night is instant likable breakup song; Champaign, Illinois is a rewrite of Bob Dylan's Desolation Row (Dylan is given half the writing credit); The Dance Class and Please Hold On While the Train is Moving are highlights; on Let the Whiskey Take the Reins gutiarist Ken Bethea is the star as Rhett Miller sings in a low voice; Murry Hammond takes over the lead vocals on You Smoke Too Much and You Were Born To Be In Battle with winning results.



Second up from Tennesee are Kings of Leon and their 5th album Come Around Sundown. After a change in direction on their last album Only By the Night from garage rock to stadium rock the Kings continue in that direction. Sundown is again produced by Angelo Petraglia and Jacquire King and leans a little in the direction of U2 with it's atmospheric sounds.

The cd opens with the very atmospheric The End; Radioactive, the fine lead single follows; Mary has a 50ish feel to it; the highlight is the ode to southern hospitality Back Down South. Come Around Sundown may not pack the punch of the Kings early work or have the mega hits of Only By the Night, but it is a fine listen.



Monday, January 17, 2011

Springsteen's Promise

I bought a shirt uptown in Bloomindales and babe I tried to make the latest scene; Hitting cool just like Jimmy Iovine... (Bruce Springsteen - Ain't Good Enough For You)

Bruce Springsteen's classic album Darkness on the Edge of Town was released in 1978 and to my ears the album is a cohesive, flawlsess gem that flows seamlessly from side 1 through side 2 The songs are dark and bold, but also filled with honesty and hope. With that said I believe the right songlist was chosen for Darkness on the Edge of Town.

The new Darkness 30th anniversary box set was released back on November 16 and includes 3 cd's; the remix of Darkness and 2 cd's worth of unreleased songs recorded for the Darkness record (also released seperately as The Promise); 3 dvd's; including 2 live concerts and the making of Darkness. Needless to say this treasure trove of Bruce materials has been a blast digging through.

The Promise includes 22 songs and has taken a little bit to get the feel for and I must admit that on first listen I was bit disappointed because the songs didn't necessarily sound like Darkness songs. I thought the Darkness outtake's released on 1998's 4 cd set Tracks, sounded more like Darkness songs; Bring on the Night, The Iceman, Don't Look Back all have Darkness qualities about them. However, upon futher listens I have found The Promise to be a rewarding experience and have discovered the songs for what they are... outtakes from Bruce's most productive era. The Promise in an intriguing glimpse into the evolution of not only Darkness on the Edge of Town, but also Bruce & the E Street Band.

Some of the songs on The Promise, Bruce gave to other artists; Because the Night - Patti Smith; Fire - The Pointer Sisters; Rendezvous - Gary US Bonds; Talk To Me - Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes. These songs are reborn here. Bruce's urgent singing matched with E Street' s muscle make these versions must listens.

Some of the songs are in different in forms; Racing in the Street ('78), Candy's Boy, Come On (Let's Go Tonight) - a cross between Factory and Johnny Bye-Bye. These versions are not up to the originals, but a fascinating listen nonetheless.

Some of the other songs should have been released on another album, maybe after Darkness and before The River; Save My Love is a great song; Ain't Good Enough, a 50's style rave up, is a highlight; Wrong Side of the Street is classic Bruce; Gotta Get That Feeling, Outside Lookin' In, It's a Shame, Breakaway, The Promise are all fine songs.

I don't know how many more of these unreleased discs we will ever get out of Bruce, so I am going to appreciate The Promise now.



Saturday, January 8, 2011

2010 Leftovers

So turn up your radio and darling dial me in close; We're riding on the airwaves and we're traveling coast to coast... (Bruce Springsteen - Save My Love)

2010 was a really good year in music; we finally got that box set of Darkness on the Edge of Town goodies from Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band; we got great new stuff from younger bands like The Black Keys & Gaslight Anthem; we got a fantastic cd from the side project band Broken Bells; and we got several fresh discs from the likes of Robert Plant, Alejandro Escovedo, Neil Young & Tom Petty.

Here are some videos in tribute to 2010.







Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Corners Best of 2010

I want you out on the streets making a noise for everybody; I want to hear your voice up above the crowd and the noise ... (Alejandro Escovedo - Down in the Bowery)

As I've said before, I love year end lists. I enjoy making them and reading others.

2010 was another good and suprising year in music. There were several suprises this year from Broken Bells to Black Keys. I saw several fine concerts this year: Alejandro Escovedo, Bob Dylan, Kings of Leon, Paramore, Arctic Monkeys, The Black Keys, The Avett Brothers, The Whigs, The Incurables, etc...

Here we go:

1. Broken Bells - Broken Bells - James Mercer of The Shins and musician/producer Dangerous Mouse released their debut record together in 2010. The result is a great blend of The Shins quirky melodies and lyrics with the experimental/hip-hop of Dangerous Mouse previous works. The CD is loaded with great tunes.

2. The Black Keys - Brothers - The duo from Akron, Ohio released a classic in 2010. Brothers is full of gritty blues, R&B and classic rock sounds. Highlights include Tighten Up, The Only One, Everlasting Light, Ten Cent Pistol and Sinister Kid.


3. Alejandro Escovedo - Streets Songs of Love - Street Songs of Love comes off like a classic record with a terrific mix of both rockers and ballads. The highlights include Down in the Bowery, Anchor, After the Meteor Shower, The Bed is Getting Crowded and Fall Apart With You.


4. Robert Plant - Band of Joy - Robert Plant, one of the great voices of rock and roll released another rootsy record in the vein of 2007's Raising Sand. Band of Joy features Buddy Miller & Patti Griffin and brilliant song choices: Angel Dance, Monkey, You Can't Buy Me Love, Silver Rider, Cindy I'll Marry You Someday, House of Cards, etc...
5. Bruce Springsteen - The Promise -Bruce finally released those outtakes from The Darkness On the Edge of Town era that we have been waiting for several years. The Promise is look behind the curtain into the most productive era on E Street. The songs range from classic E Street sound to 50's style rave ups to Southside Johnny territory. My review will be coming soon.

6. Kings of Leon - Come Around Sundown
7. Old 97's - The Grand Theatre
8. The Gaslight Anthem - American Slang
9. Band of Horses - Infinite Arms
10. The Hold Steady - Heaven is Now

My favorite songs of the year are as follows:

  1. Broken Bells - The Mall & Misery
  2. The Black Keys - The Only One
  3. Broken Bells - Mongrel Heart
  4. Band of Horses - Factory
  5. The Gaslight Anthem - The Queen of Lower Chelsea
  6. Alejandro Escovedo - After the Meteor Showers
  7. Broken Bells - Vaporize
  8. The Black Keys - Tighten Up
  9. Broken Bells - The High Road
  10. Alejandro Escovedo - Down in the Bowery

It's really hard to pick one favorite show this year, but Alejandro Escovedo was so good when I saw him In Lexington, KY at The Kentucky Theater back on October 19. Close behind was the Kings of Leon/Black Keys/The Whigs at Riverbend Music Center in Cincinnati, OH on September 2.