First Listen: Luther Dickinson

Garden & Gun have a first listen of Luther Dickinson’s solo album Blues & Ballads. If you’re not familiar with Dickinson, he was a founding member of the band North Missippi All-Stars, a raucous blues band hailing from their name sake Mississippi. Founded with his brother, they played a modern version of the blues soaked southern rock, with an emphasis on the former. I had the pleasure of seeing them both in a smaller outdoor club setting as well as a larger festival type setting, both times blowing the doors off the crowd. Not sure his vocals will ever be considered above average, but the accompanying vocals from the likes of Mavis Staples balances it out. The lyrics and guitars more than make up for his singing, and its obvious the apple didn’t fall from the tree, as you can tell he knows his way around the studio.

As first listens go, I’m enjoying it and will certainly be added to the rotation the next week.

Tunesday: Bully

This band just rocks me. I can not wait for the whole record. God knows what bands they listen to.

Steve Albini, do your homework.

Pixies? Sure.

Nirvana? Had to.

Bands I missed out when I was doing stuff? I want to know them too.

Please, more music like this.

That bass line. Be still the 23 year old still in my heart.

Grand Ole Opry

I didn’t grow up listening to the show, but I did listen to enough AM country growing up traveling around the country and out and about with my father to have a deep appreciation for what it meant to those who did. Visiting the Opry is still on my bucket list.

It appears the Opry house in its current incarnation turns 40 this month, and Garden & Gun’s article Lordy, Lordy, the Opry’s 40! has a few quotes from artists who’ve performed there over the years. My favorite is from Ricky Skaggs.

“I used to go to sleep on my grandfather’s lap, listening to the Grand Ole Opry in his Ford pickup truck out by the barn. The sound would come and go up in those Kentucky mountains, but when it would come back in, it was the greatest sound in the world.”

Perhaps the reference to sleeping on his grandfather’s lap as the music came and went is what struck me, as I my earliest memories of music were with my head asleep on dad’s lap as we drove across country.

Tunesday: Crooked Fingers

While revisiting the Avett Bros tonight in my music library, the next band was Archers of Loaf, which got me to thinking what was Eric Bachmann’s subsequent project up to? So I Googled them and discovered they’re going to be in Tampa February 26.

One of the seminal shows I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing in Ybor City (or any where for that matter) was a Crooked Fingers show at the New World Brewery. It was one of the coldest nights, particularly that late in winter I’ve ever known. Due to some circumstances beyond my understanding, they had to play New World, and because of the cold, had to play inside. One thing led to another, sound issues, I don’t know, but the band played, literally, on the bar unplugged. Mind you, there might have been 50 people tops in the place that night, but if you ask anyone now, they were there. I mean, if you’ve ever been inside that bar, it’s not big. They were standing on the bar, moving from as you enter counter clock-wise until they finished up the set in front of the jukebox. If the cliché “epic” could better be applied, I’m not sure where.

I’ve gathered more of their music over the years, still find myself listening to the Archers of Loaf’s All the Nation’s Airports and am stoked to see a where a serious song writer’s taken his craft.

Tunesday: The Gourds

Today I bring the first installment of an idea I had, Tunesday. Get it, Tuesday + tunes = Tunesday? OK, not the most ingenious idea I’ve ever had, but since getting my iPhone, I’ve been listening to a lot more music since it’s always with me. And subsequently, I thought it’d be nice to feature some of my favorite bands, as a nice little break for anyone who wanders through, or follows me on Twitter.

First up in the installment is The Gourds. One of my all time favorite bands, especially live, I thought it would be appropriate to feature them as they’ve got a new album out, Haymaker!.

The Gourds hail from Austin, TX, and for the casual listener, might characterize them as country, however their sound is definitely more than that, despite the types of instruments they play. (Ironically enough, I’ve chosen an in store performance of a new track, Country Love to feature from YouTube).

I would simply characterize their sound as “feel good”, albeit with a definite Alt-Country/Americana bend.

I was first turned onto the Gourds about 10 years ago by my friend Sandy. Soon there after, I found a copy of their second album, Stadium Blitzer in a thrift store of all places, but it wasn’t until she started working at Munich Records and gave me a copy of Bolsa de Agua that I really saw the light. I must have played that album straight through 5 times that first night. Hallelujah Shine is still one of my all time favorite songs.

Since then, through the beauty of Emusic and Munich Records, I’ve been able to collect all of their albums, and each has been a treat to listen to. That said, their aforementioned release, Haymaker! is their best since Bolsa de Agua in my opinion.

If you’d like a invite to emusic for a trial membership and 50 free downloads (you’ll have to give a CC#, but they don’t charge until after the first month), leave a comment with the email address you’d like it sent to, and I”ll send one your way. Shameless confession – you can do a trial membership without the invite from me, but if you were to sign up with emusic after the trial via invite, I’d get a 50 song credit.

Favorite Album of 2008: The Gaslight Anthem’s The ’59 Sound

The '59 SoundFirst, let me reiterate, it’s my favorite album of 2008, not a declaration that’s the best album of the year. From the opening crackles of the old skool sound of a needle on vinyl on Great Expectations to the melancholy anthem-esque The Backseat, The ‘59 Sound is just a great listen all the way through.

The album is ripe with all the things I turn to in the music I listen to regularly—whiskey and cigarette tinged vocals, driving bass lines, and jangly guitar riffs. The subject of the lyrics tend to revolve around mortality, regret, and lost loves, without ever sounding like there’s no chance for redemption.

But every slow mans song
Is a night I’d like to spend with you
Just twisting the night away

From Cassanova, Baby!

Critics of the Jersey based band have sighted the obvious Springsteen influences (think Nebraska era Springsteen, not Born in the U.S.A), which to me isn’t a bad thing. However, they also have a punk tinged sensibility ala another band that’s still in heavy rotation in my music players, Lucero. I lament having missed The Gaslight Anthem this fall when they passed through town, however, they are playing the Langerado Festival this year, which has a line up that reads like my 5 star ratings in iTunes. Ryan Adams, Lucero, The Gaslight Anthem, The Pogues, Bad Brains, the list goes on. I certainly hope to catch them in a club on their way to or from the festival, as that’s really the environment I think they’d be best. Packed, sweaty, and bourbon fueled.

Several other albums were on my list of faves for ‘08. Second place most certainly would go to The Hold Steady’s Stay Positive if for nothing other than the last track, Slapped Actress. However, the whole album simply rocks. Also on the short list would be the Brian Eno/David Byrne collaboration Listen Everything That Happens Will Happen Today.

Other highlights for 2008 were Cat Power’s Jukebox, Drive by Trucker’s Brighter Than Creation’s Dark, Okkervil River’s Stand In, Vampire Weekend’s Vampire Weekend, and Deerhunter’s Microcastle, though that last one was only recently released, and I’ve not listened to it a lot yet, but my initial thoughts are it’s a nice change of pace from my regular listening styles.

Any indie albums at the top of your list for 2008 I should check out? I’m always looking to discover new music (especially indie bands I can get from emusic).

Last.fm and iTunes

For many reasons, I have not used the streaming music from Last.fm. That is, until today. I first read a hint on how to use iTunes and Apple Scripts, however, that solution didn’t work. Another comment on the hint pointed to Amua, which basically streams the music via iTunes. Excellent stuff. I now can stream my last.fm music through my stereo, using the Airport Express. If you are a last.fm user, by all means, add me as a friend, or at least check out my musical tastes. Though still a bit buggy, my Lifestream also tracks my most currently played selections.

Pimping Emusic Again

I just can’t say enough about this site, and have been that way for the 5 on and off years I’ve been using it. I’ve downloaded everything from Charlie Parker to the Cows. Some of the recent stuff I’ve downloaded includes Tres Chicas, Minus the Bear, and some old stuff including fIREHOSE’s if’n.
So if you are interested in a free trial -50 downloads (will require credit card, but won’t be charged unless you don’t cancel after month), and want to help me get some free downloads (if you like the service and keep it after the month trial, I get 50 downloads myself), leave a comment or use my Contact Page. I’ll send you the special link that will help me get the hook up too.

Emusic Affiliate

A quick advertisement (did I say that on a personal blog), but I so highly recommend this site for such a long time, that I have no problems advertising it along with personally subscribing to it. Labels like Merge, Matador, Bloodshot, 4AD, not to mention Jade Tree and Polyvinyl. All done in VBR Mp3 format. Consider Itunes is $.99 a track, the basic plan offers 40 tracks a month for just $9.99. You do the math. Best part is they offer a free trial of 50 downloads, so you can’t go wrong (and I get a kick back for every trial, so help me pay for my hosting while you fill in that back catalog of the Pixies, Pavement, and check out the new album from Daniel Lanois)

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